How To Cycle Europe This Summer

Bike in BarcelonaI had a fantastic time touring parts of the Spanish countryside by bicycle at the end of 2012, and cannot recommend a cycling holiday enough. In today’s guest post, published in partnership with Headwater Cycling Holidays, we share some more options for you to hit up the open trails of some of Europe’s best cycling hot spots. Enjoy!

A summer cycling holiday is a wonderful way to see the world and gives you a great chance to get under the skin of a destination. It allows you to see sites that you might not otherwise see, means you can keep fit whilst you holiday and is just a little bit different from your regular summer break.

There are some amazing destinations both in Europe and beyond that are ideally suited to a cycling holiday. A great range of these can be found at www.headwater.com. Whether you are a Bradley Wiggins fanatic who thinks nothing of doing 50 miles a day or someone eager to check if the old adage about never forgetting how to ride a bike is true, there is sure to be a suitable cycling holiday out there for you.

Bike ride collage

One huge benefit of a cycling holiday is that it allows you to enjoy all the best things about a vacation, including fine food and drink, but without the post-holiday guilt when you get on the scales on your return. If you like to keep fit and normally let your exercise regime slide when you go away then this could be the perfect break for you. Equally if you are looking to kick-start a fitness programme then such a holiday can be the ideal way to do so.

Away from the stresses, strains and time constraints of everyday life you may find you actually enjoy cycling and, even better, when you get home you may even be looking forward to getting your own bike out from the shed before it is entirely consumed by rust. Best of all though, rather than cycling through England’s busy traffic under grey skies wearing gloves and thermals (in summer!), you can feel the warm sun on your back, breathe in clean air perfumed by wild flowers or the fresh saltiness of coastal trails and do so without battling cars and busses on quiet country lanes, through sun-dappled forests or on purpose-built cycling trails.

Flying bicycle against sky silhoutte

One great itinerary is through Catalunya, an area with miles of almost traffic-free cycling that is very well suited to the nervous rider, those with children, or simply those that enjoy the freedom of the open road. You will take in trails that run alongside wide sandy beaches, enjoying the cooling sea breeze on a hot Spanish day, whilst inland you will pass olive groves, orchards of peaches, apples and figs and summer’s yellow blossom as you ease through the gently undulating hills of the interior.

Numerous medieval towns and hamlets will punctuate your journey, providing delightful local eateries to stop for lunch whilst the beach is never far away if you prefer to picnic al fresco. Begur is a picturesque hilltop town offering fantastic views out to the coast, whilst the 11th century church is well worth a visit. La Bisbal, inland, is a wonderful market town with splendid architecture and a good spot to pick up some gifts, with the market well known for its range of pottery and antiques.

There are so many different options, from the chateaux and vineyards of France to Italy’s rolling hills, whilst more ‘off the beaten track’ options include the Austrian Lake District or Portugal’s wild Atlantic coast, the latter of which is easy to combine with Lisbon. However, one thing which is the same no matter where you choose for your cycling adventure is the wonderfully languid pace of such a holiday. There are no trains to rush for, no planes to catch and no whizzing passed breath-taking scenery in a car, missing all the best bits as you go. You can go at a slow, steady and gloriously unhurried pace and this allows you to get closer to real life and real people.

A cycling holiday may not be an automatic choice for many people but with health benefits, both mental and physical, and the ability to slow things right down and really get to understand a location, it should be something you try at least once.




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