Are your daydreams made up of stretches of open road, winding mountain passes, incredible scenery, places that have unbelievable cycling cultures, not to mention fantastic cols and climbs? And are you looking for some unique places while cycling around Europe to get your fix of road routes? If you said yes to those two questions, then these four spectacular destinations are perfect for you:
Alpe d’Huez, France
People cycling around Europe make sure to put this destination on their checklist, not because it’s one of Europe’s most challenging climbs, or because they want to enjoy the epic views. They do it because it’s the kind of route that cycling myths are made of. It’s an important route in the Tour de France, so much so in fact, that the 22 hairpin bends are named after tour winners and many will remember some hair-raising moments on the famous climb. But you don’t need to sign up for the Tour de France to get a feel for it, because La Marmotte, one of Europe’s sportives, also takes place on this route. La Marmotte spans 178km, has an altitude gain of 5,180, (total) and three climbs (HC). If you are an avid cyclist, this is undoubtedly one for you.
For those who are cycling around Europe and want an incredible experience then the route of the Tour of Flanders is a great option. Spanning a distance of 250km, many make the mistake of thinking that route is a walk in the park – so to speak. This route, contrary to what people might think, is not flat. It has a total of 19 climbs with some reaching gradients of 19%! In addition to the undulating hills, the flat parts of the route are less flat (and smooth) and more bumpy.
This isn’t a smooth-paved road; these stretches are extremely uneven, paved with cobblestones from ancient times. It’s this diverse nature of the course that makes a race such as Ronde Van Vlaanderen a firm favorite. But Flanders isn’t only a great cycling destination for the pros, because of its amazing architecture, general cycling culture and varied history, it’s a great place to visit for cyclists of every fitness level.
The Great Swiss Passes, Switzerland
If you are just casually cycling around Europe looking for road tracks for an easy cycle, then this one is certainly not for you. In fact, only the seriously fit should dare to tackle Grimsel, Furka, Susten, Gotthard and Nufenen at 2000m! Best taken on in June and September (or prepare to face some very snowbound passes) these unbelievable trails have so much in the way of contours, peaks, climbs and sights for the cycling enthusiast/thrill-seeker. But it’s more than the passes themselves, the incredible villages that you pass or stop at are so worth the journey.
The Pyrenees, France & Spain
When cycling around Europe, one of the best places you could venture to is certainly the Pyrenees. Set on the border between France and Spain, the sight and immense beauty of this incredible mountain range is something worth going the distance for. Having featured prominently in the Tour de France, it’s famous for more than just the iconic nine cols and their steep gradients.
The passes take you past beautiful lakes, pastures and age-old hamlets. Take on the Raid Pyrenean to make the most of your time where, where you will ride from sea to sea (the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea) in less than 100 hours. On this route, you will experience some serious tests of endurance (particularly on Tourmalet, Aubisque and Pailheres), but the roads are in good condition, and traffic is scarce.
Hungry for more epic routes to take when cycling around Europe? Then download our guide: 15 Top European Cycling Destinations. We at AR Hotels are industry leaders when it comes to Costa Blanca hotels that are perfect for cyclists.