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10 of Europe’s Greatest Cycling Routes

By Jen Sotolongo

Mar 29, 2019

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Cycling tours—both self-guided and with groups—are becoming an increasingly popular way to explore the best of Europe’s backroads. The Ciclovia Alpe Adria Radweg (pictured above) is so well-signed that maps are practically unecessary.

Photo by Jen Sotolongo

Cycling tours—both self-guided and with groups—are becoming an increasingly popular way to explore the best of Europe’s backroads. The Ciclovia Alpe Adria Radweg (pictured above) is so well-signed that maps are practically unecessary.

Interlinked paths and trails span countries across the continent, offering sweeping views along the way for riders of all skill levels.

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Europe is fast becoming a standout destination for cycling holidays. Across the continent, beloved and (mainly) car-free routes accommodate all levels and ages of cyclists, whether you’re a beginner setting off on your first quick trip or you’ve pedaled thousands of miles across the world. From gastronomic cycle tours featuring delicious food and wine stops to historically immersive rides through medieval towns, the following routes offer a little something for everyone looking to see the best of Europe from two wheels.

Ciclovia Alpe Adria Radweg

  • Where: Austria and Italy
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Great for: Mountain views, small town stops, Italian cuisine

Not to be confused with the hiking route of the same name, this 259-mile (416-km) bike path starts in Salzburg, Austria, winds through the Alps, and ends on the Mediterranean coast in Grado, Italy. The Austrian section was designed to show off the beauty of the Alps without impossible mountain climbs, while the Italian portion winds along rivers and lively towns offering copious wine and pasta.

The Danube Cycle Path follows the Danube River, which creates a natural border between Austria and Germany.

Danube Cycle Path

  • Where: Germany and Austria
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Great for: Family travel, medieval landmarks, calm countryside

The Danube Cycle Path is one of the most well-known and well-traveled bike routes in Europe. It follows the Danube River from its source in Germany all the way to the Black Sea, but the most popular stretch of the trail is the 190-mile (306-km) portion between the scenic German village of Passau and Vienna, Austria. Almost entirely car-free and fairly flat, this path—which crisscrosses the border between Germany and Austria throughout much of the ride—is perfect for cyclists of any age and ability.

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In Belgium’s Flemish region, you can bike between breweries, passing medieval castles along the way.

Flanders Beer Routes

  • Where: Belgium
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Great for: Beer, beer, and more beer!

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Belgium has the beer lovers covered with a variety of brewery routes in the Flanders region. Choose your own adventure by piecing together several dedicated beer routes in the Flemish Brabant province. These loops, which range from 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 km), will lead you to traditional Belgian breweries and abbeys producing some of the world’s best beer. 

Located close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro’s Piva Canyon Road is part of the European route E762.

Piva Canyon Road

  • Where: Montenegro
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Great for: Quiet roads, river gorges

Just after you cross into Montenegro from Vučevo, Bosnia, a steep climb up the otherwise undemanding E762 road sends you nose-diving into a deep gorge carved by the teal waters of the Piva River. The Piva Canyon Road route continues along the river and passes through more than 60 tunnels, winding through a canyon before reaching Plužine, a little resort town where cyclists can take a dip in Lake Piva. [Editor’s note: Although tunnels normally pose a danger for cyclists, most tunnels along this 17-mile (26-km) stretch are short and cars are rare, drastically reducing the threat of an accident.]

The Iron Curtain Trail (also known as EuroVelo 13) crosses Bulgaria’s borders with Serbia and Macedonia, leaving Bulgaria for short sections in Greece and Turkey.

Iron Curtain Trail

  • Where: Bulgaria
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Great for: Remote roads, pristine nature, inexpensive luxuries

Mountains, inexpensive spa towns, and delicious food and wine are all part of the journey along the Bulgarian section of the Iron Curtain Trail. The route begins on the low-traffic roads of the Thracian Valley, which is home to several wineries including Orbelus Organic. Then the path heads east into the mountains that form the border with Greece, passing through affordable spa towns like Gotse Delchev and Devin. From there, climb into the untouched nature of the Rhodope Mountains, where abundant sheltered picnic areas provide fresh spring water and free camping options.

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isles, is an island chain off the coast of mainland Scotland.

Hebridean Way

  • Where: Scotland (United Kingdom)
  • Skill Level: Easy to intermediate
  • Great for: Abundant wildlife, scenic coasts and landscapes

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The 185-mile (297-km) Hebridean Way Cycling Route—also known as National Cycle Network Route (NCR) 780—crosses 10 islands in the Outer Hebrides that are connected by ferries and causeways. The remote and peaceful roads meander alongside rugged Atlantic coastline and soar over hills that offer awe-inspiring vistas and plenty of opportunities for wildlife encounters in the Western Isles (think: sheep, miniature horses, and puffins).

The Parenzana cycling route passes through picturesque fishing villages, hilltop towns, and fertile, vineyard-dotted valleys along the Istrian Peninsula.


  • Where: Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Great for: Local wine and olive oil, beach towns, Istrian cuisine

The 75-mile long (123-km) Parenzana Railway used to connect Trieste, Italy, with Poreč, Croatia. It later became known as the “Path of Health and Friendship” and now unites all three countries of the Istrian peninsula. The hilly route cuts through olive and peach groves, vineyards, and colorful Adriatic villages, with plenty of opportunities for gourmet food stops along the way.

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The Alsace Wine Road stretches from Strasbourg to Colmar in eastern France.

Alsace Wine Road

  • Where: France
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Great for: Wineries, charming villages, quiet roads

Cyclists won’t need to feel too bad about indulging in all the wine and food available in the Alsace wine region thanks to this 105-mile (170-km) route, which runs along the eastern slopes of the Vosges Mountains. The Alsace Wine Road is one of the most beautiful cycle routes in France; the route follows former rail lines and parts of the Roman road and often leads to intimate wine tasting experiences in villages.

Bringing the kids or beginners? Stick to the first 16 miles of Rallarvegen, where the road is in good condition.


  • Where: Norway
  • Skill Level: Beginner to advanced
  • Great for: Dirt roads, glaciers, mountains, valleys, fjords

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Originally built to transport materials for the construction of the Bergen-Oslo Railway, this is one of the most popular scenic cycling routes in Norway. Hop on the train from Bergen or Oslo with your bike, or rent one in town, and set off on the dirt path between the towns of Haugastøl and Flåm. Combining history with in-your-face nature, the 51-mile (82-km) route can be completed in one day, or you can take it slow and extend the journey over several days, staying in towns along the way.

Cyclists following the Vasco-Navarro Railway route will pass through small villages between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Estella-Lizarra in Basque Country.

Vasco-Navarro Railway

  • Where: Basque Country, Spain
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Great for: Nature, historic landmarks, small villages

Formerly a train route, the converted 51-mile (82-km) Vasco-Navarro Railway (also known as the Vasco-Navarro Greenway) is now one of the longest bike routes in Spain. The flat path guides cyclists from the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz to the historic city of Estella, passing through mountains, rivers and gorges, and attractive towns and villages. In Estella (or Lizarra in Basque), the path connects with the Camino de Santiago, a UNESCO-recognized network of historic pilgrimage routes that can also be explored on bicycle.

This article originally appeared online in November 2017; it was updated on March 29, 2019, to include current information.

>>Next: 5 New Bike Routes Through America’s Offbeat Locales

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