Finding the best cycling routes in Europe can be tricky. There are so many to choose from that it can be quite overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of what are, in our opinion, the best long distance European cycling routes.
We hope it will help you narrow down where you might want to travel next on your bike. All the routes we’ve selected are
So read on and decide where your bike will take you next.
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All metrics in this article are approximate.
In the interests of complete transparency, we haven’t (yet!) cycled all of the routes/events in this article. If you have ridden any of these, let us know in the comments below!
France cycling routes
London to Paris cycle route
The London to Paris bike ride is an iconic ride. There are many different ways to ride this route, but one of the best known is the Avenue Verte. Beginning in London, it takes in the sights as you head south towards the coast where a ferry shuttles you across the Channel. From there, you ride through quiet towns into the bustling capital of France, Paris.
Although you can use a road bike on this route, we’d recommend fitting some wide tyres to deal with the greenways as you may encounter some gravel. You can also do this route in reverse, for the Paris to London bike ride.
Veloscenic cycle route
The Veloscenic cycle route is one of the best cycling routes in France, with its easy riding and long stretches of greenways.
It’s perfect for those looking to see the sights often missed on other French cycling routes, including the Eiffel Tower and the Bay of the Mont St-Michel.
The route is ideal for laid back family cycling holidays in Europe. It’s well signposted and has plenty of accommodation along the route called Accueil Vélo. In English this means ‘cyclists welcome’. If you’re keen on finding good cycling routes in France for all abilities, then the Veloscenic route is certainly one to read up on.
Route des Grandes Alpes
The Route des Grandes Alpes is a really tough route and certainly earns its position on our list of the world’s best cycling routes.
Beginning in Geneva, before heading south to Nice, riders take in the panoramic views of some of the most famous cycling routes (and climbs) in the world.
Over 18 mountain passes and a leg-straining 17,000 metres of climbing, this is not a route for the faint-hearted.
There are tour companies who specialise in taking the hassle out of these trips so you can focus on riding the best long distance bicycle routes and soaking in the glorious alpine views.
It’s a brilliant chance to tick off some of those bucket list cols you might not otherwise get the chance to ride, and really put your climbing legs to the test. But don’t forget to bring some extra gearing!
Read out in-depth guide to the Route des Grandes Alpes for more information.
The Trans Pyrenees is one of the most well known biking routes in Europe.
Most people create a route from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean coast and ride it as a supported or self-supported ride. The statistics above are based on the route described in our article on the Trans Pyrenees (here).
Lost Dot, the same company that runs the Transcontinental race, also runs an event in the region. Riders are given checkpoints and parcours to ride rather than a set route. This gives riders the freedom to test their navigation and route plotting skills on top of the already massive challenge in front of them.
These great cycling routes are fantastic challenges for hardcore cyclists who want to experience bikepacking and being self-sufficient on the bike across some of the prettiest (and most challenging) landscapes in Europe.
Find out more about the Trans Pyrenees here.
Belgium and Netherlands cycling routes
Flanders cycle loop, Belgium
Belgium is steeped in cycling history and provides some of the best cycling Europe has to offer. The country is home to professional heroes such as Eddy Merckx and Lotte Kopecky, and also some of the toughest cobbled climbs and harshest terrain there is.
The Flanders cycle loop takes in a long loop of Belgium, exploring each corner of Flanders. It’s 952 kilometres long and has 5,155 metres of climbing on offer. The key thing about this route is enjoying your surroundings.
Belgium is among the best places to cycle, and this route demonstrates why – taking in some of the picturesque towns and cities and undulating routes around the Flanders region.
Zuider Zee route, Netherlands
One of the most popular Europe cycling routes is the Zuiderzee (otherwise known as the Ijsselmeer Tour) in the Netherlands. It traverses around the Ijsselmeer lake, which was created after the closing of the south sea (Zuiderzee) by a dam. The dam is part of the route and is 37 kilometres long!
The Netherlands is well known for its bike-friendly culture. The Zuiderzee route combines their official cycle routes, LF21, LF22 and LF23 to create one of the best long-distance cycle routes Europe has to offer. It is quite flat and is great for beginners if you don’t want to ride the full route.
Spain and Portugal cycling routes
Camino de Santiago cycle route, Spain
Cycling the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James as it’s also known, is a less traditional way of approaching this pilgrimage. Typically, hikers adorn the trails but we think cycling is a much more time-efficient and enjoyable way to do it.
There are five recognised Camino de Santiago cycling routes to choose from, all varying in starting place and thus length. But, whichever one you choose, you’ll be riding one of the most historic cycle routes Europe has to offer.
To get your Compostela, or your accreditation to certify you have completed the Camino de Santiago by bike, you need to ride at least 200km of this long distance cycle route.
Given that the terrain is split between gravel and road, the best bike for the Camino de Santiago is either a wide tyre gravel/touring bike or a lightweight mountain bike.
N2 road, Portugal
The N2 road in Portugal isn’t just one of the best known Portugal cycling routes, it’s also becoming one of the most popular road trip routes Europe has to offer.
Beginning in Chaves in the North, riders travel 739-kilometres south over undulating terrain and through stunning scenery to reach Faro.
If you’d like to know more about these bike tour routes, read our new article about the N2 road here and discover one of the best European cycling routes. Our guide on cycling the Algarve might also be useful.
Italy and Slovenia cycling routes
Via Francigena cycle route, Italy
The Via Francigena bike route is steeped in history and is one of the best known long distance cycling routes in Italy.
It begins on the Swiss-Italian border and travels south towards Rome, taking in both asphalt and off-road terrain. Following the route is relatively simple, with the places to cycle carefully mapped throughout Italy with blue and white signs.
There are a few ways to tackle this route, including one of the EuroVelo routes. It’s recognised under the EuroVelo route 5 banner and begins in Canterbury, England before heading across Europe to Rome. It is based on a historic 3,000-kilometre journey taken by Sigeric the Serious to meet the Pope in 990AD and has resulted in one of the best long distance cycle routes Europe offers.
Tour of Slovenia’s Julian Alps
The Julian Alps are some of Slovenia’s best-kept secrets. On this loop, you’ll ride 324 kilometres of challenging terrain and beautiful scenery.
The Tour of the Julian Alps is one of many Slovenia cycling routes that provide jaw-dropping views.
For GPX files and more in-depth detail, read our guide to cycling in Slovenia here.
Multi-country European cycling routes
EuroVelo cycling routes are an indispensable resource for finding biking routes in Europe; they have worked over many years to create a dense network of routes for cycling across Europe.
One of the great things about the EuroVelo cycling routes is that they are well signposted and easily followed to help ensure you have a successful trip cycling through Europe.
Atlantic-Black Sea cycle route
The Atlantic-Black Sea cycle route, EuroVelo 6, is among the most scenic cycling routes Europe has.
It travels from western France all the way across Europe to the city of Constanța in Romania. It takes in beautiful countryside like the Loire Valley in France and historic cities like Vienna and Budapest, making it one of the most popular EuroVelo routes there is.
It’s not for the faint-hearted as it’s 4,450-kilometres in length, but the reward is knowing you’ve cycled one of the best cycle routes Europe has to offer.
Rhine cycle route
The Rhine cycle route is part of EuroVelo route 15.
Beginning in Andermatt, Switzerland, riders get to see first hand the Rhine from ‘source to sea’.
From Lake Toma in Switzerland, the route takes you north, along the Rhine River, through France, past Lake Constance in Germany and all the way to the Rhine Delta at the North Sea in the Netherlands.
While it’s not quite such a popular bike route as some of the others listed here, cycling the Rhine is special as you get to travel with the water. It’s suitable for road bikes and covers a distance of 1,500-kilometres. All the while riders take in plenty of culture and picturesque surroundings. As with other EuroVelo road biking routes, it’s well signposted and easy to follow.
Danube cycle path
The Danube cycle path is a very popular route, with scenic riverside views and leisurely towpath riding.
Beginning in Donaueschingen, riders follow the Danube river, passing through Germany and Austria before eventually reaching the capital of Hungary, Budapest.
If you’re into your adventure cycling routes, it’s good to know that this cycle path is well maintained and allows riders to create their own itineraries by visiting towns and places just off the route. Places where riders can stop and rent pergolas for example are just part of the charm.
The river continues all the way to Romania, where it becomes part of the Black Sea, but the paths past the Budapest point are not as well developed for cycling.
Moselle cycle route
One of many bicycle routes in Europe that follows a river is the Moselle cycle route. It’s 512 kilometres in length and begins in the Vosges mountains in France before heading north through Germany.
The route is entirely on cycle paths which are, for the most part, well-paved. This means a hybrid or road bike with wide tyres will be more than sufficient for this trip.
The infrastructure improves significantly once you reach Metz, the industrial capital of northeastern France. There is plenty to see and do along this route, and it’s quite easy going so you won’t be too tired to head out sightseeing after your ride.
Baltic Sea Cycle/Iron Curtain Trail
The Baltic Sea Cycle and Iron Curtain Trails are part of the renowned EuroVelo cycling routes, which incorporate some of the best long distance bike rides across Europe. The EuroVelo routes connect Europe by bike through a network of long distance routes and are perfect for testing the legs over multiple days.
The Baltic Sea Cycle route is referenced as EuroVelo 10, and the Iron Curtain Trail is known as EuroVelo 13. The southern section of the Baltic Sea Cycle follows the same waypoints as the Iron Curtain Trail. They both travel through Estonia, Latvia and more, following the coast of the Baltic sea, until the routes reach Germany. From there the Iron Curtain Trail heads south, and the Baltic Sea Cycle heads north to continue following the Baltic Sea shoreline.
Partially drawn up to remember the history of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, the European Union has supported the growth and development of these bike tour routes not only to raise awareness but to support less popular regions with tourists.
Both the Baltic Sea Cycle and the Iron Curtain Trail can be ridden either as single long distance cycle rides or as smaller chunks to cater to more abilities and time frames. They’re ideal for those who enjoy a variety of landscapes and cultural exploration on their bicycles.
Which long distance cycling routes in Europe have you tackled?
We’d love to hear your experiences and opinions on where to find the best cycling in Europe – share them in the comments below!
Likewise, let us know which routes you think we’ve missed from our list. We love to hear your thoughts!
Looking for more inspiration? Head to our multi-day route hub page. Alternatively, for our pick of the best cycling routes in the World, read this and for our pick of the best cycling routes in the UK, read this. Or head to our destinations page where you’ll find guides to cycling destinations around the world.
Want to check travel advise before you go? If you live in the UK, the best place to start is the government’s travel website.
Want a personalised map to commemorate your long distance ride?
These cycling map prints are just the ticket.
More info here. Prices start at £35.
Books that will help continue your research
For more inspiration on the world’s greatest cycling rides, check out some of our favourite books (you can find even more in this article!):
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