After something a little different to lounging about by the swimming pool? Satisfy your inner adventurer and plan a cycling holiday in Europe instead! Kids will love the active aspect to it, and you’ll get to see some of your favourite destinations from a fresh perspective. When you pre-plan a little from your holiday rental, and put in some pedal power, European cycling holidays reward the soul just as much as they do the body.
You don’t need to be the next Mark Cavendish or Lizzie Deignan to reap the rewards of this type of getaway. There’s routes to suit all abilities, and plenty of well-organised cycling tours that offer support along the way. Europe’s littered with such tracks, gifting cyclists a selection of scenic wonders, starting with the Spanish Canary Island of Lanzarote…
Arid plains, Atlantic coasts and volcanic hills – you’re in for some dramatic scenes whatever route you choose to take in Lanzarote. For a fairly straight forward seaside ride along the coastline, head from the village of Arrieta to the nearby village of Órzola. Take it one step further and continue along to the foot of the Mirador del Rio, one of the island’s best known landmarks. As well as a refreshing sea breeze, you’ll witness the stunning variety of beaches the island is known for.
Fancy taking things up a gear? Lanzarote is home to Timanfaya National Park, which is packed with steep inclines and descents if you want to put your off-road cycling to the test.
The Aegean Sea is dotted with picturesque Greek islands, each with cycling routes uncovering their most tranquil spots. Bike holidays were made for Corfu’s blend of vegetation, turquoise waters and treetop viewpoints. On Crete, cycling from the chapels of Chania across the bay to Kalami is a popular route, serving up Aegean views at their finest. Fuel up on fresh seafood and enjoy a Blue Flag beach before setting off on your travels once again. Cycling further down the coast is equally rewarding, depending on your family’s abilities.
As well as being Portugal’s southernmost slice of sun and sea, the Algarve’s lagoons and hillside trails are perfect for a European cycling adventure. Serious riders can take a mountain bike from Quinta do Lago to Praia de Faro, or alternatively hit the wider roads with a hybrid model. Portugal’s shores are well suited to families wanting to take it steady, with plenty of beaches to help you cool off after a long ride. There’s ample opportunities for birdwatching too, so bring a pair of binoculars in your kit bag!
From the inland Troodos mountains to the Akamas Peninsula National Park, exploring Cyprus by bike is a dream for any cyclist. For younger families, there’s plenty of short, guided tours, whilst more adventurous types can opt for an off-the-beaten-track experience in Cape Greco National Forest Park. Elsewhere, Paphos Forest is the ideal way to escape from the busier coastlines, and is within cycling distance from the iconic Aphrodite’s Rock.
Want to know the best thing about a DIY cycling holiday? You can tailor it to suit your family’s exact needs and wants. Whether you take your own bikes or hire once you’ve landed, take a gentle flat route or head for the hills – European cycling holidays put the region’s best attractions on a platter.
Ready to saddle up and put the pedal to the metal? Take a look at Villa Plus accommodation in these top cycling hotspots and a wide range of other destinations.
By Arianne Fabrice, a travel journalist who specialises in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.