This week 6-14 June is Bike Week, delivered by Cycling UK. It’s an annual celebration to showcase cycling across the UK. Now more than ever, people are jumping on their bikes to explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, a fine weather cyclist or thinking about buying some wheels for the first time. This week is the perfect time to get going.
Whilst you discover all the UK routes across the great British summer, we wanted you to keep dreaming of where you can explore next. Europe is a cyclist’s paradise, from beautiful mountain passes to leisurely rides along the lakeside, there’s a cycle route for everyone. To celebrate Bike Week we have put together some of the most beautiful European cycle destinations that need to be on your bucket list.
Swap two legs for two wheels in Lake Annecy. There’s a cycle route for all abilities here.
Take it easy
This is a perfect spot if you want to get some distance without the challenge – there’s a 31-mile circuit of flat cycle paths paired with 31 miles of amazing scenery. Hire an e-bike if you’re looking for an extra cruisy ride.
The views are worth the ride – hit the road and head up to Semnoz, where you can enjoy beautiful views over the lake. Make sure you pack your climbing legs as its 16 km in length, when cycling from Annecy, with an average gradient of 7%. This climb featured in the 2013 Tour de France.
Head to the forest of Semnoz and take in the views of Lake Annecy before you tackle the 1300m vertical drop through the forest. A must-do for adrenalin junkies, either go at it by yourself, with friends or you can follow an experienced guide the whole way down.
Put Chamonix on your shortlist if you’re a road rider who wants a challenge in the mountain passes– think steep climbs and long descents.
Take it easy
Perfect for beginners or cruisers, are the easy cross country trails along L’Arve river, passing through many of Chamonix valley’s villages where you can stop off to refuel. Hire an e-bike to get all of the views and none of the muscle aches.
There are so many routes to choose from, you have easy, hard or multi day trips to decide between. But if you’re making the journey to Chamonix and want to say you’ve been there, done that AND got the t-shirt, we recommend the Tour du Mont Blanc. It’s 330km of extraordinary scenery as you cycle around the famous Mont Blanc, starting in Chamonix, you pass through Switzerland and Italy before returning to Chamonix. Some choose to tackle this in 1 day, but if you really want to take in the scenery, we suggested stretching over a few days.
What we love most about mountain biking in Chamonix– the cable cars! You and your bike can jump in a cable car to reach the heights without the uphill struggle. Then enjoy flying down the mountain through a wide variety of trails. We suggest starting in Le Tour and taking the Charamillon gondola, at the top you’ll have many trails to choose from to make your descent.
Morzine is a world class mountain biking destination. Take either a road or full suspension mountain bike to explore one of the world’s best biking areas.
Take it easy
E-bikes are available to rent from most sports shops in Morzine in the summer. With the size of some of the climbs in this area, it’s the best way to travel. With charging points around the Portes du Soleil area, there’s no excuse not to spend a whole day exploring.
Ride part of the Tour de France route – Col de Joux Plane, considered one of the toughest climbs in the Tour and one that broke Lance Armstrong in the 2000 tour, where he claimed “That was without doubt my worst day on the bike”. The climb is 10.9 km long with an average gradient of 6.5% and a maximum gradient of 11%. Think you’ve got this one in you?
Mountain biking in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil is amongst the best in Europe. It is home to Europe’s largest MTB park with an endless variety of terrain and trails making it world famous for downhill, free-ride and cross-country riding.
The Dolomites - Corvara
Cycling within a UNESCO world Heritage site has to be on the wish list, right?
Take it easy
A handy e-bike sharing scheme makes cycling in this area of the Dolomites even more accessible. The Alta Badia tourist office have teamed up with the bike manufacturer Pinarello so visitors can pick up the latest e-bikes in one village and drop it off at another. This means you can cycle from Corvara to La Villa without having to cycle back uphill again. We like the sound of that!
Corvara is known as one of the ideal bases for those planning to tackle the prestigious Sella Ronda route. In winter it’s covered in skiers and in summer it’s covered in cyclists. This is a famous route in within the Dolomites, so much so, there is a day dedicated to this each year. The route takes you 53km through the mountain passes of Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo and has a total elevation gain of 1600 metres.
Tackle the Sella Ronda off-road. Rely on the lifts to reach the four passes - Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo and ride the single trails all the way down. Not one for the faint-hearted.
With so much to explore – a bike comes in really handy here. Medieval towns, wineries and bike-friendly Island Monte Isola are best explored on two wheels.
Take it easy
We suggest hiring an e-bike and venturing out to the Franciacorta wineries. Strada del Franciacorta suggests five cycling routes, all of which are accessible to everyone, and are recommended for travellers who are looking for a peaceful outing and a glass of wine!
The Giro del Lago is a 65KM route around the entire lake – a great opportunity to complete your very own time trial. It is also possible to cycle around Monte Isola, a traffic-free island in the middle of the lake accessible by bike-friendly ferry.
Mountain bikers can climb up through the forests to some of the higher altitudes nearby – but in all honesty, the show stopper here is the Giro del Lago route around the Lake.
Saalbach & Hinterglemm – Kitzbühel
Take it easy
Explore all of these trails on an e-bike with ease. Specially marked routes allow you to effortlessly explore the mountain world and take in the breath-taking landscape. But there are also several hidden trails and tracks which provide e-bikers with the right thrills for an all-around exciting day on the tracks.
This town was made for mountain bikers, but if it’s road cycling you’re after, then look no further than Kitzbühel. Here you will find the Kitzbühel Horn, which has one of the steepest climbs in Austria. It’s 20.6km in length and has an elevation gain of 990m. Thomas Rohregger a former pro rider commented “My local climb! The Kitzbühel Horn is without a doubt one of the toughest climbs out there – anywhere”. Are you up for the challenge?
With over 70km of trails to choose from there’s almost too many to choose from, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed - their interactive trail map means orientation in the "Home of Lässig" becomes child’s play.