Touring is one of the best ways to see the world. Bicycle tourists see the world up close, at a pace that allows them to really experience it, not being "trapped" inside a bus or car. Getting off the beaten track and seeing things beyond the standard tourist trap spots that everyone sees. For those who are interested in seeing Europe in a way that few tourists ever get to, bike tours are the way to go. Here are five destinations we love going on bike tours in Europe, whether in Portugal, Spain, France or Italy.
One of the regions for going on a bike tours in Europe is in Alentejo, Portugal. Of all the bike tours in Portugal, this is one of the most popular and for good reason. Alentejo is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and is located in the heartland of the country. Voted best wine country of the world in 2014 by USA Today, Alentejo is well known for its local gastronomy, wine farms and cellars, secular traditions and millenial castles, all of which you'll get to see by riding on rolling hills, with the ocasional climb to check out the beautifull view up by the castles. It's car free roads and trails make it a great option for beginner and intermediate cyclists, as this region in mostly composed of plain terrain.The most popular times for a bike tour in Alentejo are spring, when the flowers are blooming, and autumn, when the grapes are harvested.
Some of the sights that are available to see on a bike tour of Alentejo are the royal stud farm, Coudelaria Real, which was established to preserve the Lusitano horse two hundred and fifty years ago. You can choose to stay at the "Pousadas" and sleep in former convents and castles, some of which dated as far back as the 14th century, which are unique in the country and remain historical landmarks. For history and culture, visit the UNESCO heritage city of Elvas and Évora, the Ducal Palace of Vila Liçosa and the fortified city of Monsaraz.
Provence, France is a well-known beauty spot and tourist destination. The fields of Provence are rightly celebrated for their beauty, and what better way to see the fields of Provence than from a bicycle. From the vineyards to the olive groves, Provence is the site of not only natural beauty but also delicious, artisanal foods served in local villages and towns. Bicycle tours of Provence often allow for stops at local wineries for wine tastings.
There are other sites worth seeing on a bike tour through Provence. Many tours allow bikers to see Vincent Van Gogh's home, the landscapes that inspired him, and even the asylum where the great painter spent his final days. Visitors to the region can also see sites from the French Resistance movement, as well as picturesque villages, olive mills, caves, and Mont Ventoux, the "Bald Mountain" which, at 1912m of elevation, is the biggest challenge for cyclists riding in the area.
Chianti is a prime wine-making region in the famously beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy. Bike tours in Tuscany allow visitors to experience all the wonders of Chianti and the wider Tuscany area. Some of the most common stops on bike tours of Chianti are a twelfth century castle that currently operates both a winery and an olive oil factory, both of which can be tasted on site. Other wineries and farms are located in the region, allowing for multiple stops, depending on the length of your bike tour.
Bike tours of Chianti often include trips down winding country roads, tree-lined avenues, and past vineyards and fields full of beautiful native foliage. Another advantage of bike tours in Tuscany involve traditional Italian meals and the world-famous hospitality of the Italian people. All of these factors work together to make Chianti and Tuscany one of the most popular bike tour locations in Europe.
Another of the best bike tours in Europe is in Mallorca, Spain. This region is best for veteran cyclists as it involves some intense mountainous regions. Some of the climbs are near 8000 feet and this region also includes the second deepest gorge in Europe - the hilli "Sa Calobra". There is a reason why many cyclists train on the island of Mallorca in the off-season. The mountains are good for training and many daily rides are in excess of fifty miles, even with the hills.
The other advantage to bike tours in Mallorca is the incredible natural beauty of the island. Sitting in the Mediterranean, this island offers spectacular ocean views as well as the gorgeous mountain views. Visitors can stop at the historical lighthouse. Foodies can refuel after a hard day of riding at some of the best diners and restaurants on the island.
Finally, visitors to Europe can experience one of the best bike tours in Portugal by going to Douro. The Douro valley is a UNESCO world heritage site, both for the incredible natural beauty and microclimate the valley creates and for the exceptional man-made terracing on the walls of the valley that allow the area to be used as vineyards. Bike tours in Douro include challenging mountain climbs that hug the curves of the hills as well as stops at the many spectacular vineyards of the region.
The Douro region also offers stops for history fans, as the region is home to some of the best paleolithic rock formations as well as ancient castles that were originally built to protect Portugal’s border with Spain. Riding through the Douro, cyclists get to experience the beauty of the local views, the river, and ancient groves of olive and almond trees, as well as tasting the famous Porto and Douro wines, considered some of the best wines of the world.
Bike touring in these destinations provide a way for cyclists to see some of the greatest sites in the world, experience the history of Western civilization from the saddle of a bike, and relax after the daily rides with some of the best cuisine in the world. Europe is home to some of the best bike tours in the world, any of which offer an experienced cyclist the vacation of a lifetime.
Check out our latest post on 10 reasons to choose Europe for your next bike tour.
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