Picturesque Pedalling for Pleasure

Top 5 bicycle tours around the world
/ New Delhi
Picturesque Pedalling for Pleasure

Bicycling on-road and off-road has become increasingly popular (Photo: Italy Tourism)

As sustainable tourism takes hold on travellers and destinations alike, bicycle tours are becoming increasingly popular, with many destinations offering a wide variety of tours to suit all ages and interests.
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One of the hottest and fastest growing niche products in tourism is bicycle tours as travellers seek different kinds of experiences and also try to minimise their carbon footprint. As many European cities have taken the lead in promoting bicycles as the way ahead for urban travel, the most popular bicycle tours in the world are also found here. India Outbound curates the five best circuits for fans of bicycle tours in the world.

Photo: Ian Taylor/ Unsplash

French vineyards can be best explored on bicycles Photo: Ian Taylor/ Unsplash

La Loire à Vélo, France

Perhaps one of the best ways to combine enjoyment with exercise is cycling. The activity is not only adventurous but is also ideal for those who prefer solitude and also those who prefer to be around people and nature. The best site to go cycling in France is to ride along the Loire River Valley. Loire is France’s longest river and on its bank is Loire à Vélo (Loire on bicycle) which is the country’s most popular and unique 800 km cycle route.

The picturesque track offers sweeping and contrasting panoramas. With very little traffic around, it’s a dream destination for cyclists and bikers. The project was started in 1995 by the Centre Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire regions to form the western section of Eurovélo 6, an itinerary that links the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea. The first stage of 21 km was opened in 2018 by the Loire Region and was certified as the first safe bike trail by the region.

A large stretch of the Loire Valley has been recognised by UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also referred to as France’s Valley of the Kings and as The Garden of France. The region boasts of numerous magnificent castles, many of them along the Loire River and its tributaries. The chateaux recount a significant chunk of the history of France. Over the past few decades, the fortresses have evolved into vast countryside estates to create magnificent parks and gardens.

When on a bicycle, one can also get a combined view of old architectural monuments especially the châteaux, such as the Château de Montsoreau, Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Chambord and many more.

Loire by bike is a leading cycling route in the world with more than 1 million cyclists riding it every year. Cycling along the route will glue you to witness France’s great wild river and admire its sandy banks. Its vine-covered slopes and a resplendent diversity of landscapes offer a pleasant environment to nature enthusiasts. Historic cities like Orléans, Blois, Tours, Angers, and Nantes can also be explored during the journey.

The archetypal French towns and villages, food and its unique atmosphere further add to the charisma of the destination. The route ends at the Loire’s Atlantic estuary.

Avid cyclists will want to ride the entire route at once, and relaxed riding doesn’t get more vibrant than this. The relatively flat region’s low relief also makes it ideal for family bike trips.

La Loire à Vélo, France

• Distance: 800 km
• Time: 53:23 hours
• Cost to rent a cycle: EUR 15/day
• Difficulty level: Easy

Dolomite Alps in Italy offer unique mountain experiences (Photo: Hugo L. Casanova/Unsplash)

Sella Ronda Loop, Dolomites of Italy

Also known as the Dolomite Mountains, Italy’s Dolomite Alps offer some of the best mountain experiences in Europe. The breath-taking view of the landscape that one must be a spectator of is in the Dolomites of Italy. The scintillating turquoise water of the beautiful lakes and rugged mountains, along with scenic hikes makes the onlookers believe in heaven on earth. Here, travel enthusiasts can visit during the summer as well as winter months. Not only cycling but there are countless activities one can try such as hiking, rafting and skiing.

The Dolomites, a UNESCO site, is a must-go for every cyclist. One can experience this adventure by cycling in the shade between the uneven yet beautiful mountains and dreamy meadows. The best cycling trail here is the Sella Ronda Loop which covers a distance of 52 km. The mountain called Sella is located in the heart of Dolomites, and four valleys stretch out from it. The Sella circuit passes through four mountain passes namely the Passo di Campolongo, the Grodnerjoch (Passo di Gardena), the Passo di Sella and the Passo Pordoi.

Every year, Biking Days are celebrated in June and September when people not only have friendly competitions but also enjoy a leisurely ride with their friends and family. A note, if one is going for the full Sella Ronda, it is recommended to do so counter-clockwise. There are several cafes and restaurants along the route, so one can always stop by to freshen up and regain energy.

Around 30,000 cyclists register to participate in the event but only around 9,000 are allowed to take part each year. The event is also telecast live on national television. The next Biking Day is going to be held on September 12, and all the passes in the Dolomites around the Sella Group will be reserved for the bicyclists.

Sella Ronda Loop, Dolomites of Italy

• Distance: 52 km
• Time: 5–6 hours • Difficulty level: Medium


La Farol is one of 7 civil engineering wonders of Cuba (Photo: Ricardo IV Tamayo/Unsplash)

La Farol, Cuba

This spectacular 55 km-long viaduct, about 880 km from capital Havana, is one of the favourite spots for cyclists. It connects Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa which is also the first village in Cuba established by the Spanish and is located on the eastern most part of the island. Prior to 1965, this place was accessible only by sea or by use of donkeys and mules. Thus, La Farol was created to make it possible for people to travel from Guantanamo to Baracoa by vehicle. Did you know? Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is a place where suspected terrorists captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Iraq are kept.

La Farol’s long and beautiful pathway has been declared one of the seven wonders of Cuban civil engineering. When it comes to exploring the scenic beauty of La Farol, what is the best way to discover it? Yes, you guessed it right, cycling along the road and gulping down the fresh, unpolluted air makes the experience not only adventurous but also relaxing.

The mountainous terrain means it won’t be an easy ride; the route includes winding cliff-side roads, steep inclines, and equally steep descents, certainly a demanding route, for cyclists used to mountain routes. Once you pass the city of Guantánamo, the road closes the distance with the southern coast which features karst formations just by the deep blue of the Caribbean. Then the legendary La Farola Road crowns the trip meandering between the green Sierradel Purial mountains. Views from the road are unique and magnificent. Lush green sceneries, diverse local plantations and nine suspension bridges will leave you surprised and awestruck. The arid climate vegetation sprawls on both sides of the road – cacti, bushes, and a variety of endemic palms which further adds beauty to this nature’s wonder.

La Farol, Cuba

• Distance: 55 km
• Time: 5 hours
• Cost to rent a cycle: 15 CUC for 1 day
• Difficulty level: Advanced

Photo: Niagara Falls Tourism

Cycling around the Niagara Falls is an adventure (Photo: Niagara Falls Tourism)

Niagara Falls, Canada

Cycling around Niagara Falls can actually be one of the best adventurous experiences, one can write a tale about. The 56 km Niagara River Recreation Trail, constructed in 1986, is a paved path for non-motorised traffic. The path is 95 pc separated from the traffic. The best time to visit this beautiful trail is from early spring to late fall. Divided into four scenic sections stretching from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie. Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the most beautiful, historic and picturesque towns in Ontario, Canada. Old or young, alone or with friends and family, this trail is a good way to go cycling for all.

As one approaches the falls, the trail goes right over the various parts of the river, providing excellent views of the upper and lower rapids approaching Niagara Falls. The magnificent path then takes you to the edge of the river with stunning views of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border and American Falls on the American side. Although, if anyone doesn’t want to travel the path in its entirety then one can certainly turn back at any time due to its design and layout being an out-and-back route.

The four sections of the trail are Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston, Queenston to the Whirlpool Aero Car, Chippawa to Black Creek and then Black Creek to Fort Erie. Onlookers will certainly have a hard time choosing which sight to be mesmerised by since there is a list of historic sights and attractions which will beckon you to drop everything and be hypnotised by their rich history and scenic beauty. There are wineries, the Butterfly Conservatory, the beautiful Niagara Botanical Gardens, the mighty Whirlpool and, of course, Niagara Falls and many more!

There are numerous parks here that cyclists can enjoy taking a walk or spending a quiet time. With many other things to explore, the trail is finite but the choices everlasting. After a long day of adventure, the bikers can rest their feet and ride a horse-drawn carriage through the Historic Old Town Niagara on the Lake. The Old Town has 11 flourishing parks. The rest of Niagara-on-the-Lake has nine parks and other green spaces for fun, recreation and relaxation. While departing, one can enjoy sightseeing as there are historical sites, tasting wineries, restaurants, shops, fruit stands and more.

Niagara Falls, Canada

• Distance: 56 km
• Time: 5 hours
• Cost to rent a cycle: CAD 10 charge for half day
• Difficulty level: Easy

Photo: Lavanya Nayar

The Netherlands was first nation to make its cities bicycle-friendly (Photo: Lavanya Nayar)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A perfect destination where one can enjoy and cycle the entire day is Amsterdam. Here one can have around 515 km of dedicated cycle lanes and is rated as the 2nd most bike-friendly city in the world, behind only the Danish capital Copenhagen. Cyclists can witness plenty of lush green bushes and beautiful scenic routes. Bikers and tourists can never be bored as there are many cycling companions around. Almost a quarter of people do cycling in the Netherlands. Each trail takes you to a secluded location to discover old and new buildings, city forests, beaches, parks and waterways. Want to know all about the past of the Dutch capital? Then it is better to hire a guide around. Here are few select trails that one should not miss here:

1) Waterland – The Waterland route begins and ends at Amsterdam Centraal station. This route takes you past Dutch jewels, such as 17th-century wooden houses, typical Dutch villages and the countryside. The traditional Dutch villages and countryside are a treat to the eyes and engulf the minds of the travellers. The cycle route is 40.8 km which takes around 2 hours and 18 mins to complete.

2) Amsterdam Bos – If you want to explore nature and enjoy a peaceful ride then this is the perfect spot. Glittering lakes, long and narrow bike paths, and lots of tall evergreens form the background, so just pedal the two wheels and lose yourselves within the beauty of the trees. The cycle route is 30 km which takes around time 4 hours to complete.

3) Flowers of Amsterdam Cycleseeing Route: If you love flowers, then this is the perfect route to stick around while cycling in Amsterdam. The route begins at the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) and ends in Aalsmeer, near the largest flower auction in the world. The cycle route is 50.8 km which takes around 3hours and 10 minutes to complete.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

• Distance: 515 km
• Cost to rent a cycle: EUR 10 for 1 day
• Difficulty level: Easy

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