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The best cycling holidays in Europe

From Switzerland to Spain, Albania to the Dolomites, we've got you covered for your next two-wheeled getaway with our guide to the best spots to cycle on the continent

Cycling in Lausanne, Switzerland

Jaw-clenching descents, crippling climbs, rolling hills, ocean vistas and endless tarmac. The 109th edition of the Tour de France may have sped its way to a cinematic climax, but Europe has a rich array of cycling experiences, perfect for experiencing the action without the inevitable aches and pains.

Below we’ve detailed ten of the best cycling holidays in Europe. They cover all sides of the spectrum, from laid-back jaunts that are great for families to intermediate tours that’ll give you an amazing snapshot of a region to intense experiences cut bespoke for the most assiduous cyclist.

For anyone looking for a self-powered, high-octane trip into the heart of the Europe - the below will certainly fit the bill. 

The best cycling holidays in Europe

Classic Tour de France climbs in the French Alps

Are your legs made out of adamantium? Link up with industry-leading cycling operator Saddle Skedaddle for an eight-day road cycling journey across the Southern Alps, taking on some of the most infamous and legendary climbs in the race. We’re talking lung-busting, back-breaking, leg-lacerating ascents – topping out in the rarefied air of Mont Ventoux, Col du Vars, Col d’Izoard and Col Lauteret, as well as the most famous alpine climb of them all: the legendary Alpe d’Huez. You’ll have the special opportunity to count the 21 famous hairpin bends before reaching the summit and concluding the journey. This trip is certainly not for the inexperienced, but those who pursue it will be rewarded with a powerful motor, great snaps and bragging rights.

Skill Level: Advanced

skedaddle.com

Choose your own Tour de France adventure with Campsited

For those who would like to tackle the less Herculean sections of the Tour de France, Campsited specialised in open-air, sleep-outside experiences throughout the continent, and boasts overs 90 campsites within 20 kilometres of the 2022 Tour de France route. Optimal for catching up with friends and family in mother nature, choose sites that range from the peaks of the Pyrenees to the coastline of the Atlantic and the chasms of the Verdon. Being France, if the cycling gets a bit too intense, you’ll have the opportunity to lick your wounds with wild swimming, French cuisine and, most importantly, French vin.

Skill Level: All

campsited.com

Learn the bikepacking ropes in the Peak District

Bikepacking has been gaining ground as one of the most popular ways to discover the wild places, allowing you the freedom of backpacking with the ability to cover much more distance, and Much Better Adventures is offering a weekend trip in the Peak District to instruct on its fundamentals. Participants will roll through the best terrain in the Peaks, taking in everything from country lanes and gravel tracks whilst sleeping in a giant tipi. Being the Dark Peak area, you’ll have peerless opportunities to stargaze without light pollution. Along the way you’ll learn the ins and outs of how to make a bikepacking mission successful, with tutorials on everything from kit lists to loading your bike to staying upright on tricky tracks, all while hitting up charming cafes, punchy pubs and fire-cooked barbecues.

Skill Level: Intermediate

muchbetteradventures.com

Take it easy in Lausanne

Cycling in Lausanne, Switzerland

Point it to the Swiss Alps and the lakeside city of Lausanne in particular for a high altitude cycling experience. Known as the Olympic Capital of the World, Lausanne is ideal for an active holiday, and quite family-friendly as well in case the kiddoes are burgeoning Wigginses. Stage 8 of the 2022 Tour De France saw competitors travelling over nine kilometres of Lausanne’s Hills from Dole in the Jura mountains to the Vaud Capital. For something a little more laidback, families can opt for an e-bike tour from Vevey to the UNESCO-listed Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, enjoy one of the many cycling routes through the city, and refresh themselves with wild swimming on the lake or lounging on Lausanne’s Vidy beach.

Skill Level: Entry

Wine and wind your way through the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley offers an incredible mixture of god-sized chateaus, world-beating wineries, rich-as-Croesus dining and, erm, troglodytes residing in tufa caves. It’s best experienced riding the iron horse to burn off the excess. Intrepid Travel is running a seven-day, small-group adventure stitching together the valley’s most picturesque countryside and alluring medieval villages. Whilst cycling along the serene Loire River, you’ll have the opportunity to tour the grounds and gardens of some of the region’s most esteemed properties, imbibe terroir-driven wines and gorge yourself on all the cheese. If that doesn’t fill you with joie de vivre, we’re not sure what will.

Skill Level: Intermediate

intrepidtravel.com

Experience Italy's mountains in the Dolomites

Topping out in the limestone deserts of the Dolomiti hinterlands

If you’ve got miles under your belt and are ready to saddle up for a legitimately challenging week of cycling, head to the Italian Dolomites for eight days of high-octane riding through one of Europe’s most bewitching, fairytale landscapes. Renowned for its towering limestone peaks, this Dolomiti journey will thread the gaps through the National Parks of Marmolada, Sella and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, offering up some excruciating climbs such as the mountain ascent of Passo Giau (2,236m) alongside a bevy of beautiful, bucolic stretches through alpine meadows and along mountain rivers. Highlights include a 10km multi-switchback descent down Passo Falzarego; a loop ride through Ampezzo and the Three Peaks of Lavaredo; and an optional ride down the route of the Maratona delle Dolomiti.

Skill Level: Advanced

skedaddle.com

Pump your legs in the Sierra Nevada and Grenada

Channel your inner ​​Miguel Induráin and set your sights on the restive mountain ridges of Andalucia, with a cycling expedition through the Sierra Nevada and Grenada. Saddle Skedaddle is running a 7 day trip that will take in some spectacular highlights. These include a quad-killing climb to the village of Trevelez, which at 1,476m is one of the highest settlements in Spain. There’s also the infamous Category 1 Puerto de la Ragua climb; a 2,038m ascent often features in Spain’s Vuelta a España; a 1,000m twisting descent into the northern side of the Sierra Nevada, past the castle-topped town La Calahorra and onto Jerez del Marquesado. Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in the fresh wines and tapas that have made Spain such a popular repeat destination.

Skill Level: Advanced

skedaddle.com

Cycle the Danube from Prague to Vienna

Do your best Patrick Leigh Fermor impression – on wheels – tackling one of Central Europe’s most iconic stretches of river. Intrepid Travel is running a cycling trip that meanders along the mighty Danube River from the Gothic-spired city of Prague to the Baroque squares of Vienna. Over eight days, you’ll wend your way past medieval villages, hilltop hamlets and unforgettable rolling countryside satiating your hunger with excellent local cuisine and quenching your thirst with delicious regional wine. Cycling the Danube is one of Europe’s classic routes, suitable for anyone from teenagers to pensioners, and for many is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Skill Level: Intermediate

intrepidtravel.com

Get spooky in Albania's Accursed Mountains

Cycling the Accursed Mountains in Albania with Much Better Adventures

Looking to get off the beaten path and establish some travel creds along the way? The Accursed Mountains of Albania have been gaining clout as one of the most eclectic adventure travel destinations in Europe of late and Much Better Adventures is running a dope cycling holiday that will see you exploring the foothills of the Albanian Alps as well as the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake. Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to spot rare wildlife like European lynx, wild swim in turquoise waters, SUP on the sublime Lake Shkodra and enjoy delicious home cooking. With plenty of riding in between, it’ll be as good for the body as it is for the soul.

Skill Level: Intermediate

muchbetteradventures.com

Cycle the good life in Provence

Is any cycling list complete without Provence? Its fields of lavender, rolling hills, ocean vistas and bonny climate have been attracting visitors for ages, but also make it perfection for a cycling tour. Wind your way past neat rows of vineyards, beneath towering aqueducts and through forests on this active cycling adventure through Southern France. You’ll be rewarded with an idyllic blend of scenic trail riding, historical sightseeing and, of course, wine tasting. Visit the serene gardens of St Remy to see where Vincent van Gogh created his famous works. Savour regional red wines at a vineyard outside Avignon. Walk the cobbled streets of Les Baux and marvel at the stunning views from atop its limestone cliffs.

Skill Level: Intermediate

intrepidtravel.com

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