In this article, we share our pick of the best cycling destinations in Europe and why we think they should be at the top of your must-do list.
Making this kind of selection is always tough, but we hope it helps inspire your 2024! We’ve ordered the list by season of the year – you’ll find our favourite places to cycle in each season to help with the question of when to go where – making it easier to plan your bike trips in Europe.
While we believe these are the best cycling destinations Europe has to offer, we’d love to hear your thoughts, too – let us know in the comments if you have any other preferences!
For our pick of the best cycling destinations outside Europe, read this.
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|Winter sun and exhilarating coastal riding
You’re right, only part of Turkey is in Europe!
But if you’re looking to kickstart 2024 with a dose of winter sun, this 5-day cycling extravaganza from Boostcamp could be what you’re after.
Starting on 26 March 2024, you’ll ride up to 100 kilometres per day along the southern coast of Marmaris. You can expect coastal roads, pine forests and a fair amount of climbing (8,000 metres if you opt for the harder routes!).
To support your endeavours there’ll be top-quality guides, support vehicle(s), food and 5 star accommodation as well as daily recovery sessions, workshops and seminars led by some of Turkey’s cycling pros.
To find out more about March 2024 Boostcamp, click here.
Can’t make that date or prefer a bespoke holiday? Click here to find out about bespoke cycling tours in Turkey.
Best spring cycling destinations
|Balearic Islands, Spain
|Varied terrain and cyclist-focused services
The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca has been extremely popular with holidaymakers over the last 50 years or so. Over the last twenty years, the island has developed its offer, and helped along by Team Sky’s (now Team Ineos) regular training camps, it is now considered to be one of the best places to cycle in Europe.
As with so many parts of Spain, Mallorca boasts 300 days of sunshine a year and combined with mild winters and easy accessibility from main European cities, it is seen as the number one ‘go to’ location for many cyclists, and one of the most suggested cycling regions for anyone seeking recommendations. It is certainly the most visited destination guide on www.epicroadrides.com, which is quite some achievement when you consider that there are no UCI WorldTour stage races held on the island.
For the amateur cyclist who wants to cycle Europe, there is an ideal mix of terrain, from the Tramuntana mountain range in the west to the flat but very scenic roads in the south and east. Added to that, of course, you can test yourself on the same stretches of road that the professionals from Team Ineos, Movistar and countless other teams ride on whilst at their training camps.
The climbs of Sa Calobra and Puig Major, while not as steep as the mountains you would find in mainland Europe, are extremely popular and packed with cyclists in the high season. The Mallorca 312 (a 312-kilometre sportive) is going from strength to strength and takes place every April. It all makes for one of the best cycling holidays in Europe, and one of the best cycling destinations in the world.
Our in-depth guide to Mallorca (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
|Costa Brava, Spain
|Cultural delight and quiet traffic traffic-free roads
If Mallorca is where the professional cyclists train and hold their training camps, then Girona is the city where a disproportionate amount of them live. Further north than Mallorca, and within touching distance of the Pyrenees, you would be hard-pressed not to spot a professional cyclist as you take to the super smooth and virtually traffic-free Catalonian roads.
First made famous by Lance Armstrong, who lived in the city for many years, a lot of professionals from outside of Europe now base themselves in the area as geographically it affords easy access to the premier races on the UCI race calendar in neighbouring France and Italy.
As you walk through the streets of Girona’s old town, you can see the cycling influence: restaurants and cafés (some owned by ex-professionals) are intermingled with high quality bike rental, tour and cycling service companies. It oozes chic sophistication and with fantastic, quiet roads its undoubtedly one of the best places to cycle.
There is a mix of terrain starting from gentle climbs, such as the popular Els Àngels, to the more arduous tests of Mare de Déu del Mont and the well-known Rocacorba. Stray a little further to the north west as you hit the front ranges of the Pyrenees and the climbs get more demanding.
Many would say that Girona is one of the very best road cycling destinations in Europe.
Our in-depth guide to Girona (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
|Off-season sunshine and quiet roads
The Costa Daurada (Golden Coast) sits just south of Barcelona on Spain’s eastern coast and is certainly less famous than Mallorca and Girona.
The area is working hard to build its reputation and at the moment still remains a pretty well-kept secret – but given its fantastic climate, roads and cycling routes, we’re not sure it will stay that way for too much longer, and may soon be part of the discussions when looking at the best cycling holidays Europe has to offer.
If you don’t like crowded roads and want to get away from it all then the Costa Daurada and its long coastline is well worth a closer look. It is extremely accessible being served by both Barcelona airports as well as nearby Tarragona. Two professional teams, Bahrain Merida and UAE Emirates, have held training camps in the area and there are now more and more cyclo-tourists riding the roads around Cambrils and Salou.
The resort is an ideal place to clock up those pre-season base miles and whilst there are many flat roads adjacent to the coast, there is no shortage of climbs in the Serra de Montsant, Muntanyes de Priorat, Mussara and Prades areas. Most of the ascents are under 10 kilometres in length at manageable gradients of between 3% and 6%.
So, if you’re looking at cycling holidays abroad this year, the Costa Daurada is definitely worth a look before it gets wider recognition as one of the best European cycling destinations, and the crowds begin to descend.
Our in-depth guide to Costa Daurada (which includes links to related route guides and articles). We’ll also give a little shout-out for the nearby Terres de l’Ebre region, just to the south of the Costa Daurada and the Barcelona region just to the north. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the Costa Daurada!
|Pre-season training in a sunny and quiet environment
The Algarve offers some of the best cycling holidays in Europe thanks to its diverse terrain, warm climate, and quiet roads.
While it might not (yet) be the most popular road cycling location in Europe, it is slowly growing in reputation, not least thanks to some WorldTour and ProTeams using the region for their training camps. This year alone, both Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (WorldTour) and Human Powered Health (UCI ProTeam) held their pre-season training camps here.
The Algarve borders Spain in the east and lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to the west, so the climate is temperate all year round, although summer can be extremely hot, reaching temperatures of 20°C first thing in the morning! That’s why spring is probably a better bet, as temperatures are more manageable throughout the day, yet you don’t have to fight for hotels or space on the roads with tourists that visit during the high season for the beaches.
In terms of cycling, there are decent-sized mountains inland, with the most famous climb being the Foia climb in the Serra de Monchique. It is often used in the professional stage race, Volta ao Algarve, which is held on an annual basis, usually in mid-February, and attracts some of the best professional cyclists in the world. The organisers also put on a sportive on the same weekend as the professional race, and we’ve covered this and two other key events, (including a mountain biking race) in our article here.
Elsewhere there are more rolling hills to contend with, and for those who prefer flatter routes, we recommend staying near the coast. There are also plenty of bike hire options if you don’t fancy taking your own.
If you’re looking for the best cycling locations Europe has to offer, the Algarve certainly won’t disappoint.
Want more spring cycling destination ideas? Read this.
Best summer cycling destinations
|Testing ascents made famous by the tour de France
People have been cycling through Europe, and in particular the French Alps, from time immemorial. However, the ever-increasing publicity surrounding the Tour de France and the willingness for amateur cyclists to punish themselves on these fabled slopes ensures that they will never lose their appeal.
Excitingly, as part of a continuous improvement process in the area, a very ambitious ‘made for cyclists’ project has recently been launched. Entitled the ‘Via 3 Vallées’ project the three ski resorts, south of Moûtiers, namely Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens are being linked by the creation of asphalt mountain roads for the exclusive use of cyclists! So it won’t just be one of the best places to bike in Europe anymore, it will also offer some of the best road cycling in Europe too.
Stages one and two have now been completed which means that you can cycle from the altiport at Courchevel (circa 2,000 metres) up and over the Col de la Loze on a brand new 6-kilometre road. This incidentally increases the height of the Loze to 2,304 metres meaning it will be the 11th highest col in France.
Then, at the end of 2019, another new ‘cyclist only’ road (7.5 kilometres) down the other side to Méribel was completed, meaning that the two resorts are now connected by bicycle. This has created a superb 62-kilometre circular loop (1,970 metres) starting and finishing in Les Allues and incorporating the ‘new’ Col de la Loze and the new roads.
The final part of the project will see another ‘cyclist only’ road between the Col de la Loze and the Val Thorens ski station – a cyclist’s dream! So, if you’re thinking of where to go this year, this really could be one of Europe’s best places for cycling holidays!
Our in-depth guides to the Alpe d’Huez region of the Alps (based out of Bourg d’Oisans) and the Iseran region of the Alps (based around Bourg Saint Maurice). These include links to many related route guides and articles.
Alpe d’Huez/Bourg d’Oisans: here.
Col d’Iseran/Bourg Saint Maurice: here.
Find out about cycling Col de la Loze and the Gran Fondo Col de la Loze here.
|If you’re looking for some of the best cycling in Europe, look no further.
Nice has been synonymous with cycling for over a hundred years, indeed it was in 1906 that the fourth edition of the Tour de France visited the capital of the Côte d’Azur. It’s been back many times and in 2024, Nice will host the final stage (which is being moved from Paris due to the 2024 Olympics).
The best European cycling holidays combine a pleasant climate, great culture and top-quality cuisine – and Nice is famed for all three (along with its stunning coastline).
Other than a great coastline bike path that runs from Nice’s port to Antibes, much of the area is dominated by big climbs as you leave the city and head for the hills. To the north west lies the Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur where you will be able to test your climbing legs on the 19-kilometre ascent of the Col de Vence.
Head out to the east, on undulating terrain, in the direction of Monaco and the Italian border and you will eventually reach the seaside town of Menton. If you then traverse due north into the hills of the Alpes-Maritime you can then climb the Col de la Madone (Lance Armstrong’s training climb) and the nearby, hairpin-laden Col de Braus as well as the aforementioned Turini.
If you want some of the best cycling Europe can offer, with some tough challenges, then Nice is worth checking out.
Our in-depth guide to Nice and the Côte d’Azur (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
|Giro d’Italia history and big climbs
When you visit a town with a reputation for downhill skiing you know beforehand what sort of terrain you are likely to encounter! Situated in northern Italy and very close to the border with Switzerland, Bormio transforms itself in the late spring and summer months into a mecca for cyclists (don’t arrive too early in the year – many of the passes don’t usually open until May/June!). It’s highly recommended as one of the best cycling trips in Europe.
Top of the bill is the legendary Passo dello Stelvio which sits on the edge of the town. The description by the Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport probably best sums up the climb when it wrote that the mountain was ‘a serpent of asphalt, five tunnels, 21.5 kilometres and 1541 metres of climbing’.
That said, the north eastern ascent of the mountain from the village of Prato is generally regarded as the classic ascent due to the 48-hairpin bends that are contained within the 25 kilometres of vertical ascent. It is probably the most photographed mountain in cycling history. (There is also a third ascent of the Stelvio available starting in Switzerland via the Umbrail Pass).
Also within cycling distance of Bormio are the famous climbs of the Passo Gavia and the super hard Passo del Mortirolo, both steeped in Giro d’Italia folklore. Stage 18 of the 2020 Giro d’Italia saw the peloton climb the Stelvio (from Prato) before scaling the hairpin-packed and spectacular Torri di Fraele to finish by the Cancano dam.
A truly incredible region with the potential of making it one of the best cycling holidays in the world.
Our in-depth guide to Bormio and the Stelvio region (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
You might also like our pick of the best places to cycle in Italy.
|A mixture of terrain with fantastic scenery – an authentic ‘cycling Europe’ experience
Ever since the Innsbruck Road World Championships in 2018, Austria has seen more interest as a destination for road bike holidays in Europe. Testing gradients and the scenic views are just two of many reasons Austria should be on your list of cycling destinations in Europe to visit.
Austria lets you tailor your trip to your preferred style of riding. If you like mountains, then head west, where there are cols here to rival those in France and Italy. If heat is a deciding factor in your Europe cycling tours, then head to the east, particularly around Vienna, where it is also flatter.
The ideal time to visit Austria is between June and September, particularly if you’re wanting to visit the mountains where outside of these months you might experience some road closures due to snow. The fantastic scenery and variety of terrain make Austria one of the best cycling trips Europe has tucked away – though the growing popularity means it can’t be considered a hidden gem for much longer.
Our in-depth guide to Austria (which includes links to related route guides and articles). If you’re looking for places to stay in the mountains but want a destination a little less-known than France, read our article on the best places to stay in the Alps.
|Discovering a new cycling destination with plenty of quiet roads and eco credentials
Slovenia is a fantastic destination, one of the best places for cycling holidays in Europe, and it’s also recognised as the continent’s most sustainable country. It’s somewhere cycling is encouraged as both a mode of transport and for tourism.
Slovenia is a country full of hidden gems, and with the rise of the strength of Slovenian riders in the professional peloton like Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, it’s somewhere that more and more cyclists are considering for their European cycling tours and holidays.
Slovenia does have a lot to offer, particularly in the summer. Ride along dedicated cycle paths and discover gorgeous places like the Vipava Valley, Lake Bled, home to blue and green lagoons and traditional castles and architecture. Alternatively, challenge yourself in the Julian Alps.
Our in-depth guide to Slovenia (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
Want more summer cycling holiday inspiration? Read this.
Best autumn and winter cycling destinations
|Warm, wind-free cycling
Another new winter cycling destination has emerged as Cyprus starts to gear up to welcome more and more cyclists to the island. Driven by a national push to encourage more people to use bicycles as a means of reducing their carbon footprint, a cycling culture is clearly developing. For winter cycling trips, Europe’s best destinations offer over 300 days of sunshine – and with Cyprus averaging 326 days each year, there’s a lot to like!
The island has a diverse selection of terrain, from flatlands in the east to undulating terrain in the south. The area around the Troodos mountain range is arguably the best place for cycling on the island, offering an opportunity for the climbers to test their legs.
In addition to the warm weather, an added bonus due to the particular climate of the region is that there is little or no wind on the island. If you normally spend your winter in colder climes, this is a huge plus point!
As a popular holiday destination, there is a good selection of quality hotels, restaurants and shops, and there are now established cycle routes and bike rental outlets in all the main towns and cities such as Larnaca, Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos.
Definitely one to consider for 2024 if you’re looking at different places to go cycling.
|Sunshine and great quality traffic-free roads
Costa Almeria is a gem of a hidden cycling destination! A coastal province quietly tucked away on Spain’s southern coast between the commercialised areas of the Costa Blanca (e.g. Alicante and Benidorm) and the Costa del Sol (Marbella and Malaga), with its own microclimate and average temperatures of between 16 and 22 degrees in the winter months.
It’s a perfect winter cycling destination in Europe.
Sitting by the sea and the nearby Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata-Níjar and surrounded by the Sierra Filabres mountain range, you will find the holiday resort of Mójacar and a good range of hotels, restaurants and shops. Venture west into the hills, and you will have the super smooth roads to test your legs as you climb the Sierra Bedar and the Puerto de la Virgen (a pre-season favourite hill climb test for the professionals).
Heading further west to the town of Gérgal, you can sample two ‘Especial’ climbs made famous by the Vuelta a España, the Alto de Velefique (Almeria’s own Alpe d’Huez) and the 30-kilometre-long climb to the giant observatories at Calar Alto. This area sits alongside the Desierto de Tabernas, the only true desert in mainland Europe and the one made famous by Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Western movies.
A word of warning – don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a car or another person for miles! This is a sparsely populated part of Spain, and in reality, when you get into the hills, it’s just like riding on closed roads. In our view, it’s more than worthy of being called one of the best road cycling holidays in Europe.
Our in-depth guide to the Costa Almeria (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
Our guide to nearby Murcia may also be useful.
|Sunshine and big climbs
The Canary Island resort of Gran Canaria has quickly earned a reputation as an excellent new cycling destination in Europe and is a great choice for winter cycling holidays. Sitting just 100 kilometres off the northwestern coast of Africa, it boasts some 3,000 hours of sunshine each year – that’s 8 hours per day on average!
But there’s much more to it than the weather, as the island has everything required to get you in shape for the forthcoming season. Challenging climbs, good quality road surfaces, stunning coastal roads, and deep canyons. The added advantage of it being a popular holiday destination also means that hotels, shops and restaurants are in plentiful supply, particularly on the coast.
The Vuelta a España has, in recent years, visited the island and raced to a stage finish at the summit of the popular Pico de las Nieves (Snow Peak), which at 1,950 metres is the highest point on the island.
One of the other highlights of Gran Canaria is the infamous Valley of Tears, probably the most revered climb on the island. It’s a brutal climb with sections at 25% and is clearly steep enough to test anyone’s legs!
It’s fair to say that Gran Canaria is thought of by many as one of the best road cycling destinations out there.
Our in-depth guide to Gran Canaria (which includes links to related route guides and articles).
What did you think of our selection?
Which of these best cycle holidays in Europe have you tried, and what would be in your top 3?
Comment below and let us know!
If you want guides to the scores of other places that narrowly missed our top 12, check out our cycling holiday destinations page, here!
Other related articles that might be useful:
- Inspiration for the best cycling routes in the world, Europe or the UK.
- The best cycling holidays in Europe that you can drive to from the UK? Check out this article.
- You might also like our pick of the best cycling weekends away and the best cycling holidays in Europe that you can drive to from the UK!
Want to check travel advice before you go? If you live in the UK, a good place to start is the government’s travel website.
Useful books to help you plan
If you want to continue your planning, check out these beautiful books. They’re full of stunning photography and information to inspire your next adventure.
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Published 27 October 2011
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Published 1 April 2021
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