Bike touring and long distance cycling is a growing tourism trend that has changed the way many travelers experience a new destination. The challenge of powering your way through the countryside, mountains, valleys, and cities, accompanied with the slower pace that comes with this transportation mode, has made biking one of the most rewarding travel experience for many travelers who are looking for an active, more in-depth, and authentic experience with the destination.
If you’re interested in having a physically active and unique experience on your next trip, here I recommend seven of the best countries you can explore on a bicycle.
With thousands of kilometers of clearly marked cycling routes, Denmark is undoubtedly one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world. Bike routes connect everything in the country, from remote villages to the densest parts of Copenhagen.
Most parts of the 11 main National Cycle Routes consist of long stretches of dedicated bicycle paths where no motorized vehicles run. One of the top cycling routes is number 29 from Nibe to Hvalpsund, which takes you through several scenic towns along the Danish countryside.
Denmark's official tourism website provides detailed maps and information to help you plan a biking trip all over the country. In addition, there are several organized bike tours that take you to the highlights all over Denmark, from the city to the countryside. If you’re just visiting Copenhagen, the city is one of the most bike-friendly capitals in the world, so it is still worth renting a bike to hop between its highlights and off-the-beaten-path sights.
Iceland may not have the same cycling network as Denmark does, but if you’re an avid biker, traveling across Iceland on a bike will be one of the most rewarding –albeit somewhat grueling– travel experiences you’ll ever have.
You can circle the entire country by biking the Ring Road, which is mostly flat on most parts along the south and western regions. The Ring Road, while easy to access, takes you close to many of the most stunning landscapes and waterfalls you can see in Iceland. If you’re into a more challenging experience, you can head off the Ring Road and bike along the F-Roads towards the highlands. The deeper you go, the more beautiful, alien and unspoiled the landscape will be.
But, be aware that Iceland is an island created by hundreds of volcanic eruptions, so the deeper you go, the more rugged, rocky, and mountainous the landscape will be.
The home of the world’s biggest and most famous bike race, the Tour de France, couldn’t be left out of this list. Whether it’s Paris, Cannes, the Alps, Mont Ventoux, Luberon Valley, or the Col de Galibier, France has you covered with its well-established cycle tourism infrastructure that spans to all of its regions, making them all accessible to anyone pedaling their way through the country.
If you’re a cycling fan, time your trip to see some of the stages of the Tour de France as you cycle your own way through the same roads that have seen many of the Tour legends.
China has more bicycles in regular operation than any other country in the world. Throughout history, the Chinese have relied heavily on their bikes as a regular means of transport, so the country has made a decent effort to maintain a good bike infrastructure that spans to several regions in the country – especially in its big cities and their adjacent countryside. In traffic-congested cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, biking becomes an advantage to moving around with ease.
Having said all this, China still has its challenging regions where biking or traveling off-the-beaten-path can be hard. You could face some adverse terrain in the middle and western regions of China, and meet curious locals wondering why are you there in the first place, but that’s part of what could make your trip a greater adventure.
Cyclists love Norway not only for its natural beauty, but also for the vast bike infrastructure it has available including designated bike lanes, bike parking, public rental bikes, and the world’s first bike lift, known as the “Trampe” and located in Trondheim, which takes cyclist up steep hills without having to get off their bikes.
Bikers can enjoy the long Norwegian summer days biking along its smooth winding roads while spotting the wildlife around it, marveling at its stunning natural scenery, and camping where the night catches them (if the sun comes down).
In the last decade, the US has done a pretty good job of creating infrastructure for cyclists who wish to discover the country on two wheels. From campsites to bike lanes and well-stocked bike supply and repair shops, you now have the opportunity to discover everything from the redwood forest to vast desert landscapes, to mid-size cities like Ann Arbor and Key West, and the big cities like New York and San Francisco while riding your bike. A popular bike route is along the Pacific Coast, where you’ll find a high number of like-minded bikers taking on the same challenge.
While not all interstate roads are bike-friendly, there are many low-traffic roads and secondary roads that are much safer to bike. The cycling community is still growing in the US, so all of this infrastructure is only getting better and more connected as time passes.
Patagonia is one of the best places in the world that you can explore by bike. The Andes region will throw its wild weather at you as you ride its gravel roads, passing by great lakes, pine forests, and even a few glaciers, but that’s part of what makes Patagonia such a unique and adventurous region.
Nature is king here, so be prepared to camp along the way in unspoiled and isolated scenery, and traverse some high altitude mountain passes along the Chilean and Argentinean border. Many bikers take the challenge of riding the Carretera Austral in Chile and the Route 40 in Argentina, among other routes, from Ushuaia to Pucon and even further to the Atacama Desert, Peru, and beyond.
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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