If you fancy a spot of summer cycling during May, June, July and August, then this guide will help you find the ideal bike holiday destination to suit your cycling style, budget, preferences and timescale.
From cycling in Mallorca in May to touring Romania’s hidden delights during August, there’s no better option during summer than a European cycling holiday, when the weather is at its finest.
While we love Mallorca, there is so much more to summer breaks on two wheels than that well-cycled island. How about cycling holidays in Austria, UK family cycling holidays or cycling holidays in Italy, for example?
Whether you fancy tackling the challenging climbs of the Yorkshire Dales, taking on the French Alps or Dolomites or sampling the cycling life in Austria or Slovenia, this article will point you in the direction of the best British, French, Austrian, Slovenian, Romanian and Italian cycling holidays for summer.
1. Yorkshire, UK
Best for staycationing cyclists
If you like challenging climbs, wild weather and getting off the beaten track, then Yorkshire could well be the best cycling destination to head for during summer. The mildest climate conditions can be expected at this time of year, and opting for this cycling holiday in the UK means you won’t even have to take your bike out of the country.
Yorkshire is at the forefront of the British cycling scene due to the events the north-eastern region hosts. Cyclists have flocked here each year for the Tour of Yorkshire and the Etape du Dales, both held during May, as well as international events.
So which parts of Yorkshire make for the best cycling breaks? Highlights for those traversing the area’s roads on two wheels include the Strines in the south, the eastern Yorkshire Wolds and Calderdale in the west, while many of Yorkshire’s the steepest hills are located in the Yorkshire Dales.
May, June, July and August are the months to visit, as the weather is more likely to be kind (although this is of course far from guaranteed)! Whether in blazing sunshine or drizzly rain, this landscape of dry stone walls, old cottages, desolate moors and rolling green hills offers some of the best cycling holidays in the UK.
For more guidance on the best cycling routes, where to find breathtaking climbs, where to hire bikes and our recommended cycling hotels, check out our complete guide to cycling in the Yorkshire Dales.
2. French Alps
Best for ticking off Tour de France climbs
Take a short hop across the English channel and you can experience all that French cycling holidays have to offer. Completing epic climbs here is incredibly rewarding, and the summer weather is pleasant but not too hot thanks to the elevation.
Cycling holidays in France are understandably popular – not least because of the world-famous Tour de France. So of course you’ll find some of the best cycling routes in Europe here. If you love the thrill of a tough climb followed by an electrifying descent, then you have to experience a road cycling holiday here at least once.
The best cycling climbs are found throughout the north, south and central French Alps, so you can choose between skirting close to the shores of Lake Geneva, tackling the fabled Alpe d’Huez or sweeping along the roads of the Cote d’Azur and more.
If tackling 2,000 metre peaks sounds like a challenge you’re ready to take on, then France offers some of the finest cycling holidays in Europe. Add to that soaring Alpine peaks, glittering lakes and native wildlife, and you have the recipe for the cycling weekend or longer holiday of a lifetime.
3. Dolomites, Italy
Best for mountain goats
If you’re considering Italy, then considering a Dolomites cycling holiday is a no-brainer. Majestic peaks that tower over you no matter how high you climb, an impressive road cycling heritage and arduous ascents are just some of the reasons to visit.
This area of northern Italy forms part of the Italian Alps, and lies to the north of Venice and south of the Austrian border. There are plenty of peaks with formidable gradients to tackle here, all set among an unspoiled, natural landscape dotted here and there with grazing mountain goats. This incredible landscape makes it one of the best places to cycle on earth. Did we mention that it’s a UNESCO world heritage site?!
If you time your visit carefully, you may also get to experience the Dolomites Bike Day, the Sella Ronda Bike Day or the Maratona dles Dolomites. These are annual events held during mid or late June and July respectively – in one of the best cycling countries on the planet. At any time during summer, the best routes include the Sella Ronda, the Maratona loop and the Funes Valley area.
May or June are great months to visit the Dolomites if you can, as you’ll avoid the Italian school holidays held in July and August.
Best for varied terrain
If you’re keen on tackling a range of terrain during a cycle holiday, then an Austrian cycling holiday could be perfect for you.
In contrast to other mountain cycle holidays in Europe, Austria isn’t just about the steepest gradients. While there is an abundance of mountains to climb here, it’s also ideal for those seeking cycling holidays for beginners.
The 2018 Innsbruck World Championships plunged Austria into the road cycling spotlight, and what’s great is that you can access a range of cycling destinations within a relatively small country. There are lofty peaks in the west to rival Europe’s finest, and flatter terrain in the east that’s well suited to family cycling holidays.
Austria’s best-known cycling challenge is the Grossglockner climb, while the vast majority of locations lying to the east of Salzburg are a lot flatter. The tarmac here tends to be slick and well-maintained, and there’s a thriving cycling scene with plenty of bike shops.
Whether the vineyards of the Bucklige Welt area, the lakes around Salzburg, the flora and fauna of Bregenz Forest or classic Alpine scenery appeals most, this compact country offers Austria cycling holidays to suit everyone.
For the ultimate guide to cycling in Austria, take a look at our guide.
Best for eco tourism
If you like to tread – or wheel – gently over the earth’s surface, then Slovenia offers some of the best cycle routes in Europe for eco-conscious riders. This is a country well set-up for Europe cycling holidays, as it’s a pursuit actively encouraged by the government – as well as something of a hotbed for talented pro cyclists.
Another factor in favour of Slovenia is that there’s a good variety of terrain, and you can see a range of landscapes during Slovenia cycling holidays too. The Julian Alps also tick the challenging ascents box that’s so important to some riders.
Other cycling highlights of Slovenia include the undulating hills and flat terrain of the Alpine foothills, the eastern plains and vineyards, and the gravel tracks of Mediterranean Slovenia.
If it’s cycling family holidays you want and other aspects of Slovenia such as lush green valleys, clear blue lakes and the Mediterranean coastline appeal as much as the Alpine climbs, then cycling holidays in Slovenia could be the ideal choice.
Best for hidden gem lovers
Another option for those looking beyond UK cycling holidays or the usual destinations is Romania. Some of the best cycling in Europe can be found here, and it’s a welcoming and very affordable place to spend time in (as long as you’re happy with the risk from bears and dogs).
Epic cycle rides found in Romania include the Transfagarasan Highway, an uncommonly switchback filled route. Those who make the climb on the northern side are rewarded with heart-stopping views from various parts of the uppermost sections. To the south, you can take on the challenging climb that commences from Vidraru Dam and passes the magnificent lake of the same name.
The TransAlpina Highway is Romania’s other hidden gem. Set out from Tau Bistra to experience a legendary ascent to a summit more than 2,000 metres above sea level. En route you can also encounter emerald forests, vast swathes of meadow and even enjoy authentic Romanian hospitality while taking a refreshment stop.
Other hot tips for those taking self-guided cycling holidays in Romania include the Drumul Vinului Race and the Sultanu climb. Due to more favourable weather conditions, summer is the best time to take these bike riding trips in Romania.
If you do go, just make sure you’re ready with the bear spray – it could come in useful for Romania’s notorious dogs too!
Where’s your favourite place to cycle in summer?
There is so much more to summer bike rides in Europe than cycling holidays in Mallorca – though of course they are also one of the top options around!
Don’t forget to check out some of our other posts while you’re here, such as our pick of the best French Alps cycle tours, the top Italian cycling destinations and the finest routes in the UK and Ireland.
If you liked this guide or would like to share one of your own summer cycling secrets with us, please do let us know via the comments section below.
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