Old road bicycle in the autumn

Cycle Europe: Top destinations for all abilities

Quick enough to see the sights, and leisurely enough to not miss anything, there’s nothing quite like exploring a new place on two wheels. Whatever your cycling ability, there’s a fantastic destination just waiting to welcome you. Try casually coasting down city streets, getting your heart thumping on off-road routes or even packing up and taking a long tour right across the continent. So grab your bicycle and get ready for an adventure you won’t forget – here are some top cycling destinations in Europe.

Explore the city

Cycling in Amsterdam
Image by Jannes Glas

With hundreds of miles of cycle routes and more bicycles than people, where better to experience the freedom of two wheels than Amsterdam?  A short break in the world’s cycling capital is perfect for riders of all standards – and if you don’t have your own bike, there are plenty of places to hire one all over the city. Just remember: half of the city centre’s journeys are made by bicycle, so the lanes can get busy during rush hour.

Get off the beaten track

Cycling in the Loire Valley
Image by Dennis Jarvis

Grab your mountain bikes and explore the riverside forests, sprawling vineyards and glassy lakes along “La Loire à Vélo” trail. The 800km long cycle route in the Loire Valley provides both short, easy terrains for families as well as longer off-road treks for a more challenging trip. Crossing through quaint villages and lively city centres, the diverse route has plenty of cosy eateries and natural beauties along the way.

In for the long-haul

Cycling from Calais to Paris
Image by Revolution_Ferg

A ferry crossing has to be the most convenient way to bring your bike to the continent – you can start pedalling as soon as you’re out of the port. If you’re attempting your first ever long ride, the Calais to Paris route is a relatively straightforward place to start. You can either take the direct Avenue Verte route, using as many traffic-free greenways as possible, or begin by taking the coastal roads southwest of Calais for a longer but stunning journey. More serious cyclists seeking a greater challenge should head towards Germany, passing through France, Belgium and Luxembourg before ending in the Black Forest – terrain hilariously documented in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men on a Bummel.

Go pro: Le Tour de France and more

Le Tour de France in Paris
Image by Glenn3095

Seeing your idols tackle the world’s most revered races is an extraordinary experience for any cycling fan. The Tour de France is the obvious choice each July, but don’t forget the cobbled classics of Belgium and France, including the Tour of Flanders and de Ronde, which are some of the most remarkable cycling events to see live. After watching the professionals tackle the Koppenberg climb in Oudenaarde, why not pack your road bike and try it for yourself?

If these destinations have whetted your appetite, find out more about travelling with bicycles on P&O Ferries.

Featured image by James Evans.