Best cycling destinations in Europe
The most epic European routes for active holidays on your road bike
Road biking and active holidays are becoming more and more popular. Many people are rediscovering the only sport that allows them to explore a region or a whole country while improving their physical condition.
Europe offers endless possibilities, but it is not necessarily easy to know where to go and when. Here is a selection of destinations offering picturesque landscapes and the best conditions throughout the seasons for road cyclists. Many of these destinations are also popular with World Tour teams where they organize training camps under the sun to prepare for their season.
Want to leave your usual training routes to discover new horizons? Ready to challenge yourself by climbing the passes where professional cyclists train? Pack your best cycling kit and explore Europe's best roads for cycling.
1. Tenerife, Spain
Welcome to cyclists' paradise, welcome to Tenerife! The main island of the Canary archipelago off the coast of Morocco enjoys an ideal climate all year round for road cycling with average temperatures ranging between 22°and 25°C.
For several years now, Tenerife has become World Tour teams’ favourite destination for winter camps. In addition to a perfect climate and breathtaking landscapes, the geographic variety of the island is perfect for stays at high altitude; Lance Armstrong was one of the first to experience it by staying at the famous Parador de Cañadas del Teide hotel at over 2000m altitude.
As you can see, you may come across professional cyclists while climbing El Teide, the emblematic volcano of Tenerife. Do not miss the winding roads leading to Masca or those of the rural park of Anaga.
2. Provence, France
Located between the south of the French Alps and the Mediterranean, Provence is one of the must-see destinations during the Tour de France. The hinterland of Nice and Monaco offers intermediate topography and good climatic conditions almost all year round. Many professional cyclists have also chosen Monaco as their training base and place of residence.
Ready to conquer the giant of Provence? The mythical Mont Ventoux offers a demanding climb averaging 10% over 18km from the village of Bedoin; there are 3 fairly easy routes to reach the top of the mountain (over 1900m). For a more "relaxed" stay, the roads of the Côte d'Azur between Hyères and Menton offer magnificent panoramas over the Mediterranean.
You are a Tour de France addict? Each year amateur cyclists follow in the cyclists‘ footsteps: letapedutourdefrance.com.
3. Dolomites, Italy
The number of passes (passo in Italian) is almost limitless with an incredible amount of possibilities. Passo dello Stelvio, the highest road pass in the Italian Alps with an altitude of 2758m, is used regularly during the Giro; be aware that it can be a major challenge. The Dolomites have many villages that will allow you to recharge your batteries.
The region is the setting for famous amateur races and each year two important cycling events take place. Each time, the Sella Ronda Bike Day and the Maratona Dolomites bring together thousands of cyclists to conquer the region's passes, a unique opportunity to ride on closed roads.
4. Andalucia, Spain
Located in the far south of Spain, Andalusia is certainly the region of continental Europe which offers the best climate to extend the practice of cycling outside of summer.
The region offers great possibilities for beaches, nature and culture routes. Whereas the famous Costa del Sol offers stunning panoramas over the Mediterranean, the interior of the region with its varied relief offers lovely views. Challenge yourself and tackle the roads that crisscross the mountains and the typical Pueblos Blancos around the town of Ronda.
In winter, many professionals like Peter Sagan do training camps in the Sierra Nevada, south of Granada. The massif offers very good climatic conditions and roads that are always very calm and of good quality. The most spectacular climb is for sure La Carretera de la Cabra (36.7km at 5% average) which connects the sea to Granada.
France and Italy are probably the best-known countries for cycling climbs but Switzerland and its mountains offer new possibilities on lesser known terrain. The Swiss are very welcoming and the roads in perfect condition.
Although Switzerland has many valleys where you can recover in between two climbs, it is mainly intended for cyclists who are used to climbing difficult passes. The country is small but the number of passes is limitless. For example, you can attack the Susten Pass and make a loop by linking with the Furka Pass (do not miss the photo opportunity in front of the Belvedere hotel) then Grismel Pass, 3 peaks over 2,200 m on a route 120 km long.
Even though it may not be advisable before starting an ascent, you will definitely benefit from the local gastronomy during your training camp in Switzerland: think divine chocolate and scrumptious cheeses!
6. Algarve, Portugal
Located in the south of Portugal, the Algarve region is one of the sunniest in Europe, with a pleasant climate all year round. In July and August, the coastal roads are very busy with tourists who come to enjoy the beaches, but the rest of the year is very calm and offers excellent training ground.
The interior of the region is very sparsely populated and hilly with roads; at over 900m altitude, Mount Foia is the highest peak in the region. To enjoy nature, set off from Sagres towards Aljezur, continue towards Mamelette and then Monchique before the ascent to Foia. Need to refuel? During your stay in Monchique we recommend a stop at "Velochic" a new establishment offering a menu dedicated to cyclists exploring the region.
When planning your routes, take a look at the "Volta ao Algarve", one of the first professional races that brings together a great gathering of cyclists every February.
7. Mallorca, SPAIN
If you want to avoid the bad conditions in spring or autumn and swap your thermal tights for bib shorts, then you've come to the right place!
Mallorca has become a classic destination for professional and amateur cyclists thanks to a perfect climate before and after summer and magnificent roads and activities for all.
It is in the northern part of the island between the lovely villages of Soller and Pollença that you will find the mountain range of the Serra de Tramuntana and its roads suitable for training.
Located at the far north of the island, Cap de Fromentor offers probably the most beautiful panoramas and one of the most epic routes in Europe. The road leading from Port de Pollença to the tip of the cape is not easy (35km long, + 1,000m) but the memory of the landscape, between sea and mountain, will remain with you for a very long time.
Slovenia is currently in the spotlight thanks to its talented champions who shine by winning the biggest European races; why not explore the training routes of these Slovenian greats?
Although small, the country's geography is diverse and allows you to discover a wide variety of landscapes in a minimum of time. The roads are generally of good quality and the country, turned towards ecotourism, very welcoming to cyclists.
If you like challenges and spectacular climbs then you must head for the Julian Alps, on the Italian and Austrian borders. The Vršič Pass and Mangart Saddle have little to do with the most famous passes and at the same time offer incredible views of unspoiled nature.
If you don't like climbing, Slovenia also offers more accessible routes in the valleys at the foot of the Alps or in the Mediterranean region.
Norway normally does not come to mind when it comes to cycling, yet it is an ideal destination for lovers of unspoiled nature and epic roads.
The Atlantic Road has been voted the most beautiful road for cycling in Norway; it is not terribly difficult but there are great seascapes and at times you will find yourself surrounded by sea on both sides. This road is quite busy in high season.
For quieter routes, follow the Fjord Coast north of Bergen and its dramatically deep fjords surrounded by mighty mountains. You will enjoy unpolluted roads, little traffic and noise to concentrate on your effort.
July and August are the best months to discover Norway by bike. It is also in August that the most northerly professional race in the world, the Arctic Race of Norway, takes place each year; you can take inspiration from the stages of the race to plot your own routes.
Croatia is a perfect destination if you want to combine cycling and discovering a country with unspoiled nature, secret beaches and small fishing ports. The climate on the coasts is Mediterranean, with summers where the sun shines every day while spring and autumn are very mild.
In the north of the country, Istria is an ideal region for pedalling in a hilly setting strewn with vine, and discovering villages with Romanesque architecture. Do not miss the medieval village of Motovun, the coastal town of Rovinj (the local Saint Tropez) or the arenas of Pula. Further south, Dalmatia will offer you some of the most beautiful coastal roads in Europe; from Split to Dubrovnik there are many islands, villages and small beaches to explore on your journey.
Finally, for those looking for more difficult roads, why not head to Slovenia from Zagreb, the Croatian capital. The neighbouring country offers magnificent passes that are still very little known and in unspoiled nature.
11. Azores, Portugal
The Azores have become one of the best destinations for an active holiday surrounded by nature. You can practice many sports such as hiking, climbing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking and road cycling.
Located off the Portuguese coast in the middle of the Atlantic, the Azores archipelago is made up of 9 islands with a mild climate all year round. If you love nature, the ocean and epic roads, this is probably the destination for you.
The island of Sao Miguel is the largest island and therefore the most suitable for the practice of road cycling; the island allows several more or less difficult circuits: the ascent to Alto da Lagoa requires good physical condition but rewards you with an amazing panorama on arrival. The islands of Pico and Terceira also offer great possibilities. Tour ideas can be found on the Komoot app.
Reconnect with nature and yourself - Discover the Azores!
Are you looking for a place where you can feel far from all civilization, just you and your bike? Have you ever thought of Scotland?
Although alone on the road, you will not tire of landscapes as varied as the weather, all in a single day. Adventure will always be part of your trip dotted with the most beautiful castles in Scotland, famous lochs and typical fishing villages where time seems to stand still.
Scotland, this glorious country, offers terrain for all skill levels: flat or from the rolling hills of the border with England to the lofty mountains of the Highlands.
When to go? Mai and September
Nearest airports: Book your flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports
Where to stay: If you want to explore the Highlands, you can stay in Inverness or Ullapool. The village of Peebles is an excellent base for exploring the border area.
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