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7 great destinations for unforgettable cycling tours

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Seeing the world on two wheels is every cyclist’s dream, but you don’t need to be a fitness enthusiast to enjoy A-to-Z bike tours. Boosting a release of endorphins, cycling is known to improve your mood, adding bursts of energy and positivity to your travels. It’s also a wonderful mode of transport for exploring a destination more sustainably, marvelling at the finer details that would otherwise pass you by, and interacting with local cultures and communities in more intimate ways.

Whatever your reasons are for choosing a cycling tour (and whether or not you already own a closet full of Lycras), as long as your fitness level is on par with your preferred route, you can set out to enjoy these unique and incredibly wide-ranging experiences across the globe. Many of them are offered by our on-the-ground experts, so you’ll have an easier time planning your next wellness holiday. There’s no better time to get on the saddle and explore.

Shimanami Kaido, Japan

Combine a cycling trip with Japan’s surreal scenery, and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a bucket list-ticking experience. Showcasing the country’s impressive cycling infrastructure both inland and on the coast, this island-traversing route takes you from Onomichi in southwest Honshu to Imabari on Shikoku’s northern coast, across a distance of approximately 70 km. The route spans over six islands as you follow a distinctive blue line across a network of bridges, passing small towns, ancient sites and resting areas as you go. Marvel at the mesh of natural and man-made landscapes sprawled out before your eyes, and encounter more than 150 shops offering facilities for cyclists to rest up and recharge, in a typical display of Japanese hospitality. Experienced riders could complete the route in a day, but to fully appreciate your time here, it’s entirely possible to spread it out over the course of several days – remember to slow your pace and enjoy the landmarks along the way.

Loire Valley, France

In stark contrast to the modernity of the Shimanami Kaido, France’s Loire Valley offers a magical route filled with nostalgia and painterly quality. Start in the city of Orléans and make your way to the town of Saumur, across a varied route that spans the banks of the Loire river, rolling fields and vineyards in the valley’s more remote reaches, and urban paths leading into Tours – known for its half-timbered buildings and hearty gastronomic offerings. Explore quaint villages, sites filled with cultural significance, and architectural wonders aplenty – including some of the country’s most entrancing chateaux. Whether you’re travelling by e-bike or geared up for a more energising trip, you’re guaranteed a scenic and sun-drenched visit of central France.

Cambodia

Pack your activewear and make for Cambodia, where on a family-friendly journey between Angkor and Phnom Penh, you could set out to uncover the secrets of the country’s ancient pilgrimage route. A very special time is on the cards, as you venture by bike across the stunning verdant countryside and enjoy a warm welcome from the locals. Make an early-morning start in Angkor so as not to miss the sunrise over the temple, then follow unpaved routes through small sleepy villages, jungle trails lined with rivers and waterfalls, and dirt roads along lakes and rice fields. Along the way, immerse yourself in the rural Cambodian way of life as you learn about traditional crafts and meet local families; for a cycling escape steeped in age-old traditions, you could find no better.

North Holland, Netherlands

Give your bike tour a classic Dutch spin as you slow-travel through North Holland, where the landscape is gloriously flat and the cycling route is a pure delight to explore. Starting and ending in Amsterdam, you’ll soon learn the ways of the locals and understand why they’re so attached to this mode of transport. Meander along canals and coastal waterways to find charming villages and towns, including Edam (yes, the same one that’s famous for its mellow cheese), Hoorn, Medemblik and more. You’ll have plenty of opportunities along the way to dive into the local culture, whether you’re visiting churches and castles, pedalling past historic harbours and 17th-century windmills, and of course, taking in those iconic tulip fields – it all really is as scenic as it sounds.

Garden Route, South Africa

Starting in Cape Town and culminating in Port Elizabeth, this 750 km stretch across South Africa is challenging but can usually be completed in under a week, and offers a formidable chance to familiarise yourself with the country’s coastline. The Garden Route is, after all, a much-loved and established leg on many South African itineraries, and experiencing it by bike adds another layer of fun and fascination. Enjoy peaceful roads and ever-evolving landscapes, spanning rocky cliffs, vast swathes of sand, and mountains clad in vibrant greenery. Don’t forget to hit the brakes every once in a while to admire the wildlife en-route, from friendly elephants to bottlenose dolphins, and make time to savour local flavours on food- and wine-tasting tours.

Southern Peru

You’ll find many ways to soak up Peru’s unrivalled natural beauty, and one of our favourites is an e-bike tour across its southern landscape, overflowing with adventure and otherworldly scenes. Encompassing a huge variety of topographies and geographical features, from lakes and canyons to valleys, volcanoes and cloud forests, a cycle from Arequipa to Cusco is nothing if not spectacular. Combine lesser-seen sights with the classics, as you venture through picturesque villages, across the Altiplano high plateau and around the shores of Lake Titicaca. Those looking for complete immersion will enjoy interacting with the local communities, whose traditional day-to-day activities you could explore and learn about along the way.

Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

No list would be complete without a mention of Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway, one of the world’s most popular and sought-after cycling routes, taking you between Dushanbe and Osh. Best suited to those of moderate to expert fitness levels, it makes for a tough yet utterly breathtaking trip. Those with a spirit for adventure will relish the prospect of its vast mountainous landscapes, filled with long but gentle climbs, stops in remote villages, and endless views across valleys, rivers and snow-capped peaks. The terrain can be unrelenting, yet at the same time, completing this route is a rewarding experience – whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking to take on a new challenge, or a lover of the great outdoors who’s answering the call of the wild.

Make it happen

Feeling ready for a different kind of adventure? Reach out to one of our local destination experts today – they’re on hand to help you craft the perfect itinerary, for a trip on two wheels that you won’t soon forget.

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