There’s a tricky debate for those who love to explore the world by bike: to do so by trail or tar? This can be a difficult decision to make just based on the number of both options to choose from.
This can be especially different if you are travelling with a group with mixed preferences when it comes to the routes they take. So, why choose? Instead, find a destination that finds the best of both worlds when planning your cycling trips in Europe. Here are some of our favourite cycling destinations that offer incredible routes that are both trail and tar:
Italy – Dolomites
This picturesque mountainous belt is the perfect destination for cycling trips in Europe for cyclists who love both tar and trail. The great news is that these days – thanks to a trusty ski lift – mountain bikers have the opportunity to go where they previously weren’t able to access: the Sella Massif, The MTB tour, the Sellaronda, allows avid cycling pros the opportunity to experience routes through Gardena, Campolongo, Pordoi and Sella in a day – giving them access to a place that was almost solely ‘reserved’ for skiers. If the ski lifts feel like a cop out to you, then you can head to the Val Gardena-Alpe di Siusi MTB area. 1000km of trails make up this breathtakingly beautiful area and there are routes perfect for any level of fitness.
For the tar lovers, there are ample paved mountainside roads to explore in the area. But prepare to climb, one of the most famous being the Maratona dles Dolomites. Actually made up of three different sportives, this route is not for the faint of heart. To put it in perspective, even the easiest climb is at a gradient of 7.9%. If you decide to go that route, make sure you have done adequate training.
France – Chamonix
For those that want to incorporate some Alpine scenery into their cycling trips in Europe, heading to Chamonix in France is another great option. The iconic Mont Blanc forms the backdrop of Chamonix, which is largely known for its resorts popular with skiers and climbers (who have been visiting the area since the 18th century) and is an equally perfect destination for cyclists where the off-road trails are in abundance.
The road cyclist will also be thrilled with this destination, either on short stints in and around the area, or for the brave, a massive round trip like that on the Tour du Mont Blanc which spans a whopping 325km with 7,400m elevation gain – a trip ideally spread over two days, unless you participate in the actual event which takes place in one day.
The great thing about the area and the reason that it is gaining popularity with cyclists is the number of tracks to explore and the varying levels of difficulty and length. One thing to note is the limit on mountain biking in certain areas in July and August, bikers that don’t want to be restricted should aim to visit outside of these months.
Spain – Costa Blanca
The incredible sun drenched coast of the Costa Blanca is a favourite winter or summer playground for avid cyclists. And with the over 300 days of sunshine a year, incredible aquamarine waters, soft white sandy beaches, phenomenal routes and a cycling community – it’s little wonder why it’s popular with tourists and cyclists alike.
The bike routes here offer awe-inspiring climbs and descents with unbeatable views and a spectacular climate. Mild winters are sunny and are the perfect time to explore the area without the sometimes insane temperatures of summer. That’s not to say summer is not a good time to cycle the area – early morning and afternoon rides are wonderful in the summer months.
The cycling culture is a massive plus for this area which means easy access to parts, bike hiring shops and biking events such as the Costa Blanca Bike Race for mountain bikers and Gran Fondo Quebrantahuesos for the road cyclists.
Another major pro of the area – apart from the historical sites, natural scenery and gorgeous beaches are the delectable food. Fresh seafood paella, Denia’s famous red prawns, beautifully created tapas and olives from the area. If you are looking for one destination that is truly the ultimate location for cycling trips in Europe, then this would be it.
If you are looking for more information for the best cycling trips in Europe then take a look at our phenomenal guide: 15 Top European Cycling Destinations. Alternatively, if you are sold on a trip to Costa Blanca, contact us to find out more information on the area, or to book a stay at one of our incredible Calpe hotels.