Looking for interesting and scenic cycling routes in Western Europe? Lucky you! You are spoiled for choice. Continental Europe is criss-crossed by a network of excellent cycle-ways and there are great routes to suit all abilities and offering different challenges. Choose for your self whether to cycle all or just part of a route. Want help to plan an itinerary or to move your luggage on each day? There are expert tour companies who will do all this and more. All you have to do is decided where.
You’ll need to consider how much effort you want to put in and plan your route accordingly. There are lots of excellent illustrated guides with diagrams to show you how hilly (or not) a route is. Some also indicate places with accommodation so you can get a feel for how much cycling you’ll need to do each day. Do you want to combine cycling with sightseeing? A circular tour or an A to B route? These are all factors that will have a bearing on your choice of destination.
Bike Tours Direct offers guided cycle tours all over Europe and one of their most popular is a seven night tour around Berlin and the surrounding area, focussing on the route of the Berlin Wall and “No Man’s Land”. It’s not just about cycling through the German capital: this tour takes in some beautiful countryside and passes fairytale castles and magnificent palaces. You stay in a different hotel each night and when you pack up each morning, your luggage will be sent to the next hotel making your ride more comfortable. Daily cycling distances vary between 20 and 44 kilometers.
The Dutch are well known as cyclists and anyone who has visited Amsterdam will know that the city is a giant cycle-park. A relatively flat country, the Netherlands is a great place for people who want to cycle but wish to avoid hills. A very scenic cycle-path follows the North Sea coast and connects the historic cities of Delft, Gouda and Haarlem. Experienced cyclists who don’t mind rising early should be able to easily cover up to twenty-five miles and have the afternoon to spend exploring one of these charming towns.
In France the Canal du Midi, which links the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean, is a fantastic natural cycling route. Although there are some sizeable places along the way (Carcassonne is just one of the beautiful places you could stop), this is quiet route that passes through vine-growing areas and is mostly lined with grand poplar trees. You should bear in mind that this part of France gets very hot in summer so choose your time carefully or else cycle early in the day, take a break in the middle of the day, and resume again in the early evening.
Cycling is not a pastime one might bring to mind when thinking about Ireland but the country does have many miles of scenic cycle routes. Only a few sections are dedicated cycling paths and therefore traffic free but in rural areas you’ll not encounter many cars. County Kerry has the most challenging terrain with lots of hills but you’ll be rewarded with some superb scenery such as the Lakes of Killarney. In Northern Ireland the Inis Eoghain Cycleway is a manageable fifty-five kilometer route that takes in Lough Swilly and Inch Island and passes near to the historic city of Derry. As it is part of Great Britain, this is an official route on the National Cycle Network and is well sign-posted. Maps can be obtained for any National Cycle Network routes from Sustrans an organization that encourages people to ditch their cars when possible and walk, cycle or use public transport.