By Kate Amos
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” --Ernest HemingwayThere’s no better way to explore the world than on two wheels. Moving quickly enough to cover lots of ground but also slowly enough to truly appreciate the sights, riding a bicycle is an ideal means of discovering some of the great wonders the world has to offer. Dream big as you pack your suitcase for these ultimate cycling destinations.
The Dolomites (Italy)
Italy lays claim to one of the world’s greatest cycling cultures, and for good reason—the dramatic landscape is enough to make anyone want to hop on a bike and pedalare
. The impressive Dolomite mountain range plays host to some of the most legendary stages of the world famous Giro d’Italia bike race, but it also offers amateur riders plenty of opportunities to accomplish their own epic mountain climbs. A ride through these classic climbs will allow you to experience first-hand just why Italians are so passionate about this beautiful sport.
Nga Haerenga (New Zealand)
One of the most ambitions cycling trails on the planet, the New Zealand Cycle Trail is a nationwide network that showcases the very best of what this truly diverse and unique landscape has to offer. From pristine lakes to temperate rainforests, the Nga Haerenga links up 23 “Great Rides”, providing riders with a world-class cycling experience. The trails are predominantly off-road, although no great technical skill is required to ride them. Access to the trail is free, or you can take advantage of a wide range of guided tours.
Known for its pristine beaches, this Spanish island located in the Mediterranean Sea is also an incredible destination for a cycling vacation. Whether you prefer relaxing flat rides through orange groves or steep climbing up fearsome hairpins, Mallorca has something for everyone. Visit in December and January to rub shoulders with professionals at early-season training camps, or plan your trip for late Spring when you are likely to see more cyclists than motorists on the well-maintained roads of this cycling paradise.
The Alps (France)
It’s no accident that France is the site of the biggest cycling event in the world, the Tour de France. With stunning mountain passes that offer incredible panoramic views of quaint villages and pristine lakes dotting the countryside, riding through France is sure to take your breath away. From the famous 21 switchbacks of the Alp d’Huez to the thrilling descent to Briançon, the Alps are a dream destination for any cyclist.
Napa Valley (USA, California)
There’s no better way to explore the world-class wineries of California’s central valley than by bicycle. The stunning scenery, quaint towns, lush vineyards and flavorful wines provide a perfect backdrop for a relaxing cycling vacation. A pure delight for those looking for a taste of the best of what the Golden State has to offer, a ride through California’s wine country is sure to charm and inspire.