This blog post was updated on July 26, 2021.
If you’ve thinking of a cross-country European vacation and also love cycling, then you’re in luck. While many major cities in America are becoming increasingly bike-friendly, it’s old hat for olde Europe. Bikes are economical, environmentally clean, pro-physical health, and highly adept for zipping through narrow, traditional cobblestone streets.
Whether you’re an amateur rider or looking for a challenges, here are a few places worth peddling to:
One of (if not the most) bike friendly countries in the world, Netherlands also has the most bikes-per-capita of any nation. About 99% of citizens are cyclists, and 25% bike to work. In fact, 4 of the top 20 most bike-friendly cities are in the Netherlands, with Amsterdam ranking #1 since 2011. Dutch streets are built with bikes in mind (not with after-thought bike lanes), so its definitely safe. With its flat, even terrain, it makes for a smooth ride for even the most novice bicyclists.
“Where to cycle” in Netherlands is really more of “where can’t you”. With the most extensive cycling network in the world, it can be hard to chose a place to start. For a peaceful ride, take part of the 370km (230m) trek in Utrect along the Vecht river. Take in the country sights – and yes, with windmills!
For an urban variation, see Amsterdam via Cycle Route 10, a 4 hour/ 26m (42km) ride takes you through Holland’s famous street market, and the former Heineken brewery.
A signer of the Charter of Brussels, Austria remains determined to keep making its cities even more safe for bike riders. In fact, Vienna is currently finishing out a 5 year plan to replace parking spots with bike lanes and ease traffic congestion for riders. Vienna also has a plethora of rental and bike-share operations, which make it easy to procure one (which keeps your flight costs way down). Salzburg and Graz are also high on the list of most-bike friendly cities, since 2009. The latter recently held a competition for companies to submit designs to make themselves a bike-friendly employer.
Probably one of the most popular is The Danube Bike Trail from Passau to Vienna. Paved roads makes it easy ride for all levels of riders, with tons of cultural sights across the 192m (308km) route.
Get a taste of the Alpines on the Vorarlberg Trail. With many routes for varying degrees of difficulty, it definitely is for those seeking a challenge. Along the way is also the Lake Constance Loop, which also accesses Germany and Switzerland.
Right after football (soccer), biking is the top sport in the country of Belgium. 8% of all trips are made by bike. Brussels has an extensive network of urban bike paths, and the Flemish regions are practically made for cyclists. From preserved cities with beautiful architecture, to smooth flatlands and waterways, to rolling hill terrain, there’s something for every kind of rider.
You’ll definitely want to bike along the Waterways, which offer smooth pavement and almost no care traffic within the extensive, 1,242m (2,000km) network.
Of course, the famous 497m (800km) Vlaanderen Fietsroute will take you along the Flemish countryside. Within that route is the Route du Comte Jean, a 137m (220km) section with challenging winds, that will send you right into Northern France by the trip’s end.
For more thoughts on this, check out the recap from our May 28th #OneTravelChat. You can jump into other great conversations every week, Thursdays, 2pm EST.