As any cyclist will tell you, there's few better ways to see the world than on two wheels. From Armenia to Vermont, here's some of our favourite bike trips across the globe. Let us know your own favourite cycling holidays below.
For bike rental costs, opening hours, trail routes and how to get there, see www.coedllandegla.com.
1) The 370km Green Metropolis Leisure Route is predominantly flat and mostly away from busy roads, running from Düren in North Rhine-Westphalia via Limburg in the Netherlands to Beringen in Belgium. For a map of the route (including a PDA-downloadable format) see www.gruenmetropole.eu.
2) The Tour de Fries is a 250km trail in Ostfriesland in the far northwest of Germany. It begins at Wilhelmshaven, where you cross by boat over Jadebusen and continue in the saddle to Bockhorn, Friedeburg, Wittmund, Schillig, Horumersiel and Hooksiel before stopping for a well-deserved beer in the brewery town of Jever. For maps and detailed itineraries see www.friesland-touristik.de.
3) If off-road biking is more your thing, head to the Solling Vogler Nature Reserve in northern Germany, where the terrain varies from valleys crisscrossed with streams and forested trails up to exposed wide ridges of the Grosse Blösse peak (528m). There are fifteen different circuits along 600km of trails (varying from easy to challenging) and one 160km trail around the entire park, which includes 2700m of climbing over two to four days. For itineraries and reservations contact the local tourist office: www.hochsolling.de.
Though Paris is packed with iconic sights, it is not a large city. The main attractions – such as the Champs-Elysées, Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Avenue de l’Opera, the Marais, Pompidou Centre and Bastille – are all within walking distance of the principal train hubs: Gare du Nord (for those arriving on Eurostar), Gare de l’Est (for those arriving from the east) and Gare de Montparnasse (for those travelling up from the south).
The metro system can get you across Paris quickly, but the best way to see the sights in a day is from the comfort of a saddle. You can be more spontaneous: stop off en route at the shops and markets, cross one of the many bridges over the River Seine, or follow a dead-end alleyway that leads to that exquisite pavement café. You even begin to feel like a Parisian.
The city’s self-service cycle hire scheme, “Vélib”, which was introduced in the summer of 2007, has been a great success. It allows you to pick up and drop off bicycles throughout the city at over a thousand locations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Spend a gentle day’s cycling in the fresh air and at the same time learn about a proud part of Sweden’s heritage. The Göta Canal was one of the country’s largest civil engineering projects: built between 1810 and 1832 to transport goods for export, it has a whopping 58 locks that link rivers and lakes for 190km, from Mem on the east coast to Sjötorp at Lake Vänern.
There are several long sections of the canal where you can cycle along a renovated towpath. The most popular attractions are the canal museum at Sjötorp (where there are classic boat motors and old naval maps) and the seven locks at Berg, where you can watch boats being lowered over 18m.
If your limbs ache after a day’s cycling, you could opt for a change of scene the next day, and either go kayaking or just relax at the water’s edge and enjoy the calm of the canal.
For more information about the history of the Göta Canal, events and other places to stay en route see www.gotakanal.se.
The riding club is in Ashtarak, 20km from Yerevan. All levels are catered for and equipment is provided. For further details of tours see ayastour.com/tours-in-armenia/biking-cycling-tours-in-armenia/
The route is divided into sections of between 35km and 60km each day, though there’s still ample time to dismount and explore the many World Heritage Sites along the way, such as Český Krumlov, a picturesque medieval settlement with a magnificent castle, the chateaux of Valtice and Lednice, and the Renaissance town of Telč. Nights are spent in either rural or small town-centre guesthouses, and as Heritage Trails was set up by the founder of the European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism, visitors can be assured that bringing the benefits of tourism to rural areas is at the heart of everything it does.
For more on tours and accommodation see www.heritage-trails.cz.
The trail system is managed by a non-profit conservation organization called Kingdom Trails, which has developed smooth tracks along disused cart paths and scenic country lanes. The tracks are built using a comprehensive drainage system, which works to curb the effect that any build-up of water can inflict in terms of eroding soil and vegetation. The trails are open from mid-May to the end of October (depending on conditions), but the best time to go is in the autumn, when the crisp air keeps you cool and you can admire the glorious autumnal colours of Vermont’s broadleaf trees.
For directions from Southern Vermont, Connecticut, Boston and Québec, as well as a list of bike shops and accommodation, see www.kingdomtrails.org.
The tour also explores the darker sides of Cambodia’s past, such as the notorious Killing Fields. But this is counterbalanced by visits to the many inspiring projects run or supported by PEPY, such as the development of environmental school clubs in rural classrooms, ride-to-school groups and rainwater-harvesting schemes. And when you finally reach the white sands of the beaches in the south, a celebratory splash in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand makes for the perfect finale.
See www.pepytours.com for further information.
Dotted with pretty fishing villages, rugged landscapes and quiet bays warmed by the Gulf Stream, the Lofoten Islands are Norway’s flagship eco-destination: an adventure playground for walkers, cyclists and kayakers.
Lofoten Kajakk runs courses for kayaking as well as day-trips and multi-day adventures with overnight camping into the Trollfjord (a deep, narrow fjord surrounded by snow-covered mountains) and the Risvær/Svellingan archipelagos – home to white-tailed sea eagles, ptarmigans, seals and porpoises. As well as these, Lofoten Kajakk runs multi-sport trips (including hiking, mountain biking and rowing), taking care not to overuse the few marked trails and travelling instead on harder, more durable terrain so as to protect Lofoten’s fragile ecology.
To get there from Oslo take the train to Bodø then a local bus to Lofoten. For prices, booking and details of activities see www.lofoten-aktiv.no.
Where would you recommend for the ultimate cycling holiday?