Not only does cycling decrease stress levels, improve joint mobility and increase cardiovascular fitness, but it also allows you to explore new coastal paths, nature reserves and breath-taking city streets at a faster, more exciting pace, than if you’d chosen to walk. And with beautiful routes to discover all across Europe, we’ve narrowed your scope down to five incredible cycling paths you should consider tackling this summer.
1. Lead the way through Lahemaa National Park
Established as a National Park back in 1971, Lahemaa is one of the last unspoilt regions on the Baltic Coast, which roughly translates to “land of bays”, as it adjoins the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The total area of Lahemaa National Park is 747,84 sq km, making it not only the largest National Park in Estonia but one of the biggest national parks in Europe. Home to moose, wild boars, brown bears, lynxes, foxes and over 200 different kinds of bird species, the park also has a number of fascinating historical points of interest that are perfect for exploring on two wheels.
On our Cycle the Baltics adventure, you’ll enjoy discovering this vast area by bike on days two and three of your trip. Beginning at Palmse Hotel, a converted distillery and one of the grandest baroque mansions in Estonia, you’ll ride past Sagadi Manor with its orchard and flower gardens and on towards the 400-year-old fisherman’s village of Altja. After this, your route will take you to the seaside resort of Võsu and the quaint coastal village of Käsmu before making a loop back through hushed Estonian forests and meadows.
2. Bike from the Barmash Pass to Vlorë
Why not plot out your next cycling trip in a country that not many others have travelled to – Albania. After a brutal Communist dictatorship that saw religious factions banned and travel prohibited, this beautiful country opened up its doors in 1991 once the Communist period ended, and yet for many travellers, it remains a place they’ve yet to explore.
During our Cycling in Albania adventure, you’ll get an exhilaratingly varied ride from breathtaking mountain plateaux to the bustling Albanian Riviera. On your route, you’ll enjoy visits to the thermal springs near Benje, the waterfalls of Tepelene, Ottoman houses in Gjirokastra and the archaeological remains of Butrint that date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. However, one of the most interesting days of the trip for avid cyclists may be the challenging climb you make through the heart of the Grammoz Mountains on day two, where you’ll pass numerous cols, rock formations and breathtaking wildflowers before you make your way over Barmash Pass (1,159m) towards the sleepy village of Gërmenj nestled in a tranquil valley.
3. Saddle up on the Silver Coast
The Algarve may get more attention from travellers, but the shimmering Silver Coast of Portugal, stretching 240km across the western side of the country, is an equally beautiful place to explore on two wheels. And on our Porto to Lisbon Atlantic Ride, you can enjoy the most scenic cycles along the way that take you through the Pinhal de Leiria (Leiria Pine Forest), the towering dunes of the São Jacinto Natural Reserve and the fortified medieval village of Óbidos.
On day six, you’ll also get the opportunity to ride towards Nazaré, one of the most famous fishing towns in Portugal, thanks to its record-breaking waves. The latest surfer to break the Guinness World Record was Sebastian Steudtner in 2020 when he surfed through a wave that measured a staggering 26.21m (86 feet), so keep an eye out for adventurous surfers while you’re there.
This itinerary is also bookended with visits to the spectacular port town of Porto and the colourful city of Lisbon. Before you get on the bike on day one, you’ll enjoy a cultural tour of Porto’s historic centre and a guided wine tasting in one of the town’s famous port cellars, while on the last day of your trip, you can explore the iconic “City of Seven Hills” to the beat of your own drum. We recommend you visit the Tower of Belém and the Monastery of Jerónimos. For incredible sunset views, head up to Miradouro de Graça and grab a drink.
4. Take on Tara Canyon
Interested in exploring lesser-visited destinations on two wheels? Then our 15-day Cycle the Balkans trip which covers key cycling routes across Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia won’t disappoint. Starting your cycling adventure in Tirana, the capital of Albania, you’ll make the transfer to Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe before crossing the border into North Macedonia. Here, you’ll ride through Galicica National Park to Ohrid Town. Over the next few days, your cycling route will take you past Lake Mavrovo and across the Kosovo border to Brezovica National Park and the spectacular Sharri Mountain range which is home to lynx, bear and roe deer.
On day six, you’ll make the climb through the forest of Kodra e Diellit and visit the historic city of Pizren, known for its traditional handicrafts, wine and Byzantine architecture. Next, it’s onto Montenegro, where you’ll make the cycle to Rozaji to bask in the beauty of the Hajla and Turjak mountain peaks. But one of the most memorable parts of this trip through the Balkans is the section where you ride through Tara Canyon on day 10. With a maximum depth of 1,300 metres, the Tara River Canyon is the deepest canyon in Europe, boasting over 80 large caves that are dotted along its 82km stretch. The crystal-clear water from the river is also so clean that it’s drinkable – making this place the perfect pit-stop to quench your thirst after a morning on the bike.
5. Pedal the Pelješac Peninsula
There’s no denying that Croatia is a wonderland for cyclists. With its mild climate and cycle paths that weave around pine-clad islets, fortified medieval towns and traditional fishing ports, it’s arguably one of the most idyllic spots in Europe to plan your next cycling holiday and our Cycling the Dalmatian Coast trip ensures you hit the best central Dalmatian islands, while also enjoy a relaxing ride across the Pelješac Peninsula.
Beginning in Split, you’ll take the ferry to Stari Grad on Hvar Island. The following day, you’ll have the chance to explore the old Roman roads to Vrbovska and ride along coastal roads to the village of Jelsa. On day three, you’ll transfer to Korcula, known for its seafaring history and alleged links to adventurer, Marco Polo. After two days exploring the island of Korcula, (where you can also choose an optional afternoon visit to the island of Mljet), you’ll make the transfer to the Pelješac Peninsula.
Around 30 miles northwest of Dubrovnik, this narrow piece of land is only 40 miles long and stretches from the town of Ston to the cape of Lovišta, which makes for a perfect morning ride off the beaten track. On day six, your route passes through this haven of olive groves, fragrant vineyards and sleepy Croatian villages before heading to Dubrovnik, “the Pearl of the Adriatic”.
Do any of these cycling adventures spark your interest this summer? Why not browse our collection of cycling tours in Europe?