The most beautiful cycle paths in Europe for all levels
Whatever your skill level or holiday destination, there are plenty of breathtaking cycle routes across Europe. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly expedition through the British countryside or a 10-day trek across the continent, here’s our pick of Europe’s finest cycle routes!
Challenging long-distance cycling routes in Europe
If you’re someone who hopes to cross several different countries and spend as much time as possible on two wheels, you’ll be happy to know that there are some nice long-distance bike paths for more experienced cyclists.
1. Passau to Vienna
The cycle route from Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria – also known as the Classic Danube Cycle Route – is a classic that every bike lover should try. It’s one of Germany’s most popular cycling holidays, making for a long but relatively easy route through plenty of stunning vistas. Stop at the many picturesque towns, churches and breathtaking landscapes as you travel through several towns in Germany and Austria. Stretching over 287 kilometers, the journey takes about six to seven days.
2. Canterbury to Rome
The historic Canterbury to Rome route, also known as the Via Francigena, is not only a cycle route, but also a pilgrimage route starting in the cathedral city of Canterbury, through France and Switzerland, and then on to ‘in Puglia, Rome. In medieval times it was an important pilgrimage route to visit the Holy See and the tombs of the Apostles Paul and Peter. Stretching over 1,700 kilometres, it takes around 9-10 days to cycle this beautiful trail.
3. North Sea Cycle Route
The North Sea Cycle Route, also known as EuroVelo12, is a highly diverse route that spans many parts of northern Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Encompassing areas below sea level in the Netherlands to coastal heights of 300 meters in Norway, this route is one of the most geographically diverse. The full route is 7,050 kilometers long – which would take around 90-100 days of cycling – including the ferry rides – but it is also possible to do only short stretches of the route.
4. Croatian coast
Enjoy all that Croatia has to offer with this bike ride along the Dalmatian coast, admiring the beautiful Adriatic, its pristine beaches and secret coves. Stop to sample fresh seafood and sublime fruit, and even sip delicious wines from the vast Croatian vineyards. The route is 555 kilometers long and takes around five to seven days, but the incredible beaches might convince you to stay a bit longer.
5. C2C (sea to sea)
The Sea to Sea Cycle has become one of the most popular cycling routes in the UK, which is no surprise given the rolling green hills, towering peaks and beautiful lakes it crosses. It is recommended to follow the bike path from west to east as the inclines are more gradual making it an easier trip. Your journey will take you through the Lake District National Park, the Valley of Eden and the Pennines, before finally stopping in Tyneside. The path is about 265 kilometers long and it takes about three to six days to complete.
More quiet cycle routes across Europe
Not sure if you’re ready to embark on a multi-day cycling trip? Don’t worry, there are also a number of breathtaking short-distance cycle routes in Europe if you’re looking for a more leisurely trip.
6. Dunajec River Gorge
This beautiful trail crosses the Pieniny Mountains, on the border with Poland. On either side of the road are steep hills that rise up to 300 meters, and with the Dunajec River running through the middle, this creates an unforgettable view. You can also stop and discover the unique flora that only grows here on limestone and dolomite. Just over seven kilometers long, this route is perfect for a short bike ride in a beautiful location.
7. Piva Canyon Route
The Piva Canyon Road is a beautiful track at the very top of Montenegro, skirting the Piva Reservoir. At 675 meters above sea level, it is the highest artificial reservoir in the world. The route runs along the Piva River with huge cliffs and canyons on either side, but the most amazing aspect of this track is the 56 man-made tunnels carved into the canyons. The route is 136 kilometers long and can therefore be covered in a day, if you are up to it.
8. Vasco Novarro Railway
The Vasco Novarro Railway is a 143 kilometer long greenway in Spain and follows the route of a train that once connected the two important regions of Estella-Lizarra and Bergara. It crosses the mountains of Araba and Navarre, with beautiful landscapes all around for the enjoyment of visitors. This trail is perfect for those who love history as well as biking as the trail retains most of the old railway line. The path also contains shrines and religious monuments that visitors can enjoy.
9. Rothorn area
The Rothorn Zone trail is where three Swiss cantons meet: Lucerne, Bern and Obwalden. At just 24 kilometers long, it’s a short but beautiful ride. You arrive at the start by taking the cable car up to the top of Brienzer Rothorn mountain, then follow one of the many trails back down. The terrain here is formidable, yet exhilarating!
10. The camel trail
The Camel Trail is a beautiful cycle route in Cornwall, England that runs along two disused railway tracks. It’s packed with stunning English beauty and, at 29 kilometres, is perfect for a day trip by bike. It runs from Padstow to Wadebridge to Bodmin, before finally ending at Wenfordbridge. After a long bike ride, treat yourself to a fish and chips!
The most beautiful cycle paths in Europe
All of the routes on this list will of course give you stunning views, there are cycle routes in Europe that are known to be particularly beautiful.
11. Romantic Road, Germany
Founded in 1950, one of the most beautiful cycle routes in Europe is the Romantic Road in Germany. Starting in Würzburg and ending in Fussen, this path in Bavaria is full of romantic and idyllic towns, incredible landscapes and delicious German cuisine. The path is about 500 kilometers, or five days in love in Germany.
12. Tauern Cycle Path, Austria
The Tauern Cycle Route in Austria is a paradise for cyclists, with views of the Krimmler waterfalls. The path is about 300 kilometers long. It starts at the foot of the Hohe Tauern, which is one of Austria’s largest rivers, then continues via Salzburg to Passau. Along the way are the largest ice caves in the world, with stunning views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress in the background. This route is an incredible experience that every cyclist should experience at least once in their life.
13. Baltic Sea Cycle
The Baltic Sea Cycle Route is approximately 820 kilometers long, the longest in Denmark’s national cycle route network. The route is beautiful and you also have the option of taking a ferry if you want to mix modes of transport. Surrounded by the calm rhythms of the Baltic Sea and then passing through typical Danish villages with an ambient and warm atmosphere, this route is the perfect opportunity to meet friendly locals and taste regional dishes!
14. Elbe Cycle Route
Another wonderful cycle route is the Elbe Cycle Route, which connects Czechia to Germany. Indeed, it’s actually Germany’s most popular cycle route, running 1,220 kilometers between the Spindleruv Mlyn in the Krkonose Mountains and the North Sea. The route is full of adventurous sites, ancient Gothic churches and picturesque villages, all against the backdrop of a unique natural landscape.
15. Windmills in Kinderdijk
This cycle route is unique as it includes the largest collection of historic windmills in the Netherlands. The path is not only beautiful, but can also be done on foot or by bicycle, making it a very nice trip at your leisure. There are 19 historic windmills in Kinderdijk, which is near Rotterdam, and the 43 kilometer long route is full of beautiful canals and incredible nature.
Start planning your next cycling trip now!
With summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start planning your next cycling vacation. No matter how far you ride or what country you visit, all of these bike trails are sure to give you a great workout as well as breathtaking views and a memorable experience!
This article originally appeared on IamExpat in Switzerland.