Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Pedal the Danube from Vienna to Budapest
Gliding along the banks of the Danube river as it gently winds through central Europe is a cyclist’s delight. Whether you're a casual rider looking to take in the scenery or an avid cyclist hungry for a challenge, a bike tour from Vienna to Budapest offers something for every skill level.
This stunning ride takes you through the heart of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, past impressive palaces, rolling vineyards, and charming villages. It follows cycling paths along the river for 250 miles, through two European capitals with their own unique charms.
Vienna enchants with its grand imperial architecture and rich musical history. After soaking in the city's atmosphere, the cycling path leads you out through the Vienna Woods. Towering trees provide shade on hot days as you make your way toward the Wachau Valley, perhaps stopping at medieval abbeys along the way.
In the Wachau Valley, apricot orchards and terraced vineyards cascade toward the river. This wine region entices you to stop for tastings at local wineries and heurigen, or wine taverns. Spend a night along the way in charming towns like Krems or Melk after exploring one of the many grand monasteries perched above the river.
The ride continues toward Hungary, passing through a landscape dotted with baroque castles, farms, and quiet villages. Stop to wander cobblestone streets and sample Hungarian delicacies before ending up in Budapest, a cosmopolitan city spanning both sides of the Danube.
In Budapest, take some time to recover while experiencing thermal baths, riverside promenades, and a thriving cafe culture. The city's distinct Buda and Pest sides each have their own appeal, linked by impressive bridges.
While the length of the ride allows for a leisurely pace, some find the cycling path along the river requires stamina. "My legs were burning on some of those uphill climbs out of the river valley," said James, an avid cyclist from Manchester. "But riding through the Wachau Valley with its epic scenery made it worth the effort."
Travelers with less experience also enjoy the ride. "I was a bit nervous at first," remarked Lauren, a new cyclist from Dublin. "But the well-marked paths and availability of e-bikes made it a pleasant two-week adventure. I'll never forget picnicking among the vineyards and exploring those quiet villages."
What else is in this post?
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Pedal the Danube from Vienna to Budapest
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Cycle through Tuscan hill towns in Italy
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Bike along the Rhine in Germany
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Ride the cycling paradise of Mallorca, Spain
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Pedal past tulip fields in the Netherlands
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Experience fjords and mountains biking in Norway
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Cycle through vineyards and castles in Bordeaux, France
- Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Ride along the dramatic Amalfi Coast in Italy
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Cycle through Tuscan hill towns in Italy
Winding your way through the rolling hills of Tuscany, passing by medieval castles and vineyards stretching toward the horizon, you’ll find cycling in this corner of Italy delivers scenery that dreams are made of. From quiet country roads to paths used by pilgrims for centuries, a bike tour through the Tuscan hills allows you to experience this enchanting region at your own pace.
One of the most rewarding rides leads you from Siena to the charming towns of Monteriggioni, Pienza, Montepulciano, and Montalcino. After spending a day immersed in Siena’s Gothic architecture and lively central plaza, you can head south through the sparsely populated, vine-covered countryside.
The first stop is Monteriggioni, a striking walled village built atop a hill by Siena as a defense against Florence in the 13th century. “When the medieval walls of Monteriggioni first came into view, I felt like I was transported back to the Middle Ages,” remarked Jamie, an avid cyclist from Dallas. “It was like something out of a fairy tale.”
From Monteriggioni, the route winds through farmhouses, olive groves, and fields of sunflowers on its way to Pienza, known for its Pecorino cheese and UNESCO-listed Renaissance center. Take time to recharge and picnic on the town walls overlooking the expansive Val d’Orcia valley.
Your next hill town pedal brings you to Montepulciano, with its churches and aristocratic mansions built of golden-hued stone. Sample the region’s famous Vino Nobile wine before coasting to your last stop, Montalcino. This town is home to Brunello di Montalcino wine, one of Italy’s most prized red wines.
The ride appeals to riders of all abilities. “Don’t be intimidated by the hills,” advised Mark, a beginning cyclist from London. “The climbs are never too severe. Taking them slow gave me time to soak in those breathtaking vistas.”
Just be prepared for the occasional headwind as you traverse this exposed countryside. Rewarding views await those who make the effort. From the hill towns, gaze over a landscape of vineyards and silvery-green olive orchards punctuated by cypress trees and stone farmhouses.
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Bike along the Rhine in Germany
Pedaling along the Rhine river as it flows through Germany offers a delightful way to experience the heart of German wine country. This route takes you through peaceful riverside villages, past medieval castles perched on forested hillsides, and through terraced vineyards producing some of Germany's finest Rieslings.
Starting in Bingen, you can follow dedicated cycling paths northward, right along the riverbanks. “I loved how easy the paths were to follow,” said Simone, an avid cyclist from Leipzig. “You almost don’t need a map as they hug the river the whole way!”
The route provides a fairly flat profile, passing through the Mittelrhein region where the Rhine carves through a dramatic slate gorge. Hillside castles top rocky cliffs above vine-covered slopes marching down to the river. Stop to stroll the castle grounds and sample wines produced on site before hopping back on your bike.
Quaint half-timbered villages like Bacharach and Kaub line the shores, revealing colorful medieval squares perfect for grabbing a drink or meal after a day exploring on two wheels. “Coasting right along the river into those old villages felt like you were biking into a fairy tale,” remarked Louisa, a new cyclist from Brussels.
One of the ride’s highlights is the Lorelei Rock, where legend says a siren sat atop the cliff, luring sailors to crash against the rocky shores with her beauty and voice. Heinrich Heine turned this legend into a famous poem, helping solidify the Lorelei as an iconic spot along the Rhine.
The route offers opportunities for hikes into hillside vineyards and down to the riverbank outcroppings. “I loved exploring those little trails between villages,” said Mark, an avid hiker and cyclist from Dresden. “You get such a neat perspective of the gorge and villages from below after hiking along the river.”
Near Koblenz, you can take a break to explore the massive Ehrenbreitstein Fortress before the Rhine meets the Moselle. Then you can turn around and drift back downstream or venture further north into the idyllic Rhine Gorge.
With its shady cycling paths, flowing river vistas, and world-class wines, it’s easy to see why biking along the Rhine through Germany captures the hearts of cyclists everywhere. As Louisa from Brussels remarked, “Two wheels are the perfect speed to soak in all that gorgeous scenery. I’m already dreaming of my next Rhine cycling trip!”
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Ride the cycling paradise of Mallorca, Spain
With over 1,200 miles of paved roads wrapping around its rugged coastline and rolling interior, Spain’s Balearic island of Mallorca has rightfully earned its nickname as “the cyclist’s paradise.” This Mediterranean jewel offers endless options to satisfy road cyclists, from leisurely coastal rides to challenging climbs up mountain passes. The island’s idyllic weather means you can comfortably ride here nearly year-round.
One ride not to miss brings you from the capital, Palma, along the relatively flat route to the charming west coast village of Valldemossa. “I loved cruising past the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean while smelling the lemon and almond trees,” said Claire, an avid rider from London.
The ride passes through Camp de Mar and Andratx before the road begins gently climbing inland through olive groves and forests of Aleppo pine. “While it wasn’t too difficult, the steady incline gave my legs a good workout,” explained James, a cyclist from Manchester training for his first triathlon.
Your reward at the end is Valldemossa, perched in the Tramuntana Mountains with postcard-worthy views from its terraces. Take a break to wander the town’s steep, cobbled lanes and refuel with traditional tapas before coasting back downhill through evergreen forests and verdant valleys.
For a taller challenge, tackle the ride from Soller to Pollensa along the MA-10. “I’d heard about those switchbacks but the views were so worth it,” remarked Alison, a cycling enthusiast from Chicago. This scenic mountain road winds its way up over 2,000 feet through the Tramuntanas.
A highlight is the Mirador Es Colomer viewpoint overlooking the rugged Formentor Peninsula. But be ready for a workout—the route features over a dozen switchbacks and grades up to 10 percent in places. “My legs were burning but I forced myself to stop and drink it all in,” recalled Tim, a seasoned cyclist from Manchester.
The ride ends by coasting downhill into Pollensa and its historic center, framed by the Puig de Maria monastery perched on the hillside. Take a stroll through the town’s remains of Roman walls before indulging in fresh seafood along the lively port.
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Pedal past tulip fields in the Netherlands
Come springtime, the Netherlands transforms into a kaleidoscope of color as millions of tulips burst into bloom. There's no better way to experience these floral wonders than from the seat of a bicycle, pedaling past vibrant stripes and swathes of tulips in every hue.
One exceptional route brings you from Amsterdam to the expansive tulip gardens of Keukenhof. After navigating Amsterdam's charming canals and narrow streets, you'll find dedicated bike paths leading you south through bulb fields exploding in brilliant yellow, red, and purple.
"I could have spent hours wandering the grounds and greenhouses," explained James, a traveler from Manchester. "But seeing those sweeping fields of tulips on my bike ride there was even more magical."
For a longer tour, head north from Amsterdam to the flower parade in Bollenstreek. You'll traverse open countryside dotted with windmills and grazing sheep before entering the vivid patchwork of the bulb region.
Fields of hyacinths, daffodils, and crown imperials add to the colorful spectacle. "The vivid purple and golden hues of the hyacinths were so intense," described Lauren, a cyclist from Dublin enchanted by the diversity.
Your ride ends in Haarlem, where blossoms adorn floats parading through the city in a floral extravaganza. Top off the experience by wandering narrow lanes dotted with gabled merchant houses blooming with purple wisteria.
While tulips rule April, these cycling paths delight year-round. The abundant bike infrastructure links charming towns like Leiden and Haarlem. Verdant fields, quaint villages, and historic windmills paint a quintessential Dutch landscape.
"Even outside of tulip season, getting to experience the countryside and villages by bike was idyllic," explained Alison, a cycling enthusiast from Chicago. "Those routes gave me the perfect taste of Holland beyond Amsterdam."
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Experience fjords and mountains biking in Norway
Cruising along quiet roads hugging the edges of Norway's majestic fjords provides cyclists endless opportunities to soak in dramatic landscapes. Whether you're an avid biker looking to challenge yourself on mountain climbs or simply want to immerse yourself in Norway's awe-inspiring scenery, cycling here delivers.
One exceptional route follows the 18 hairpin bends of Trollstigen mountain road. "I'll never forget rounding a bend and seeing the road snake its way up the sheer mountainside," recalled Alison, a cyclist from Chicago. "It seemed crazy a road could even be built there!" While the 10% inclines provide a workout for your legs, the surrounding vistas are your reward. Waterfalls dropping over cliffs and deep ravines packed with evergreens unfold as you climb.
Higher up, the road cuts through alpine plateaus offering postcard views. "Reaching the top felt like biking into another world," described Tim, an avid cyclist from Manchester. "Everything was so pristine and quiet except for the sound of streams tumbling into the valley."
For those seeking less of a challenge, Norway's coastal roads tempt. One dream route hugs the Sognefjord, Norway's longest and deepest fjord, for 112 miles. Towering, glacier-carved cliffs juxtapose brightly painted villages nestled along the glassy waters.
"I'd stop and just stare for several minutes trying to comprehend the grandeur surrounding me," explained Lauren, a cyclist from Dublin still awestruck by the terrain. Calm bays perfect for wild swimming provide a refreshing break from pedaling.
Inlets slicing into the mountains beyond each bend hold yet another breathtaking vista. "I biked that road at a snail's pace and loved every minute," remarked James, a traveler from London. "Each glance seemed to reveal another captivating scene."
The west coast also impresses with its beauty. Cycling here you can experience the Geirangerfjord, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its plunging waterfalls and abandoned farms clinging to sheer hillsides. A ride over Norway's highest mountain pass - Strynefjell - rewards you with vistas stretching out to the Jostedal Glacier.
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Cycle through vineyards and castles in Bordeaux, France
Few places tantalize the senses like Bordeaux, with its storied châteaux and vineyards producing some of the world's most prized wines. Exploring this region by bicycle allows you to immerse yourself in its beauty andSAMPLE BOI ARTISAN OLIVE OIL FRANCE delicacies at a leisurely pace. Whether you're a cycling enthusiast or simply want to experience the freedom of traversing Bordeaux on two wheels, its lush terrain and cultured splendor never disappoint.
One exceptional route has you meandering through premier wine country and charming bastide villages. After setting out from Bordeaux,Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Bundle Garmin you'll soon find yourself coasting through orderly rows of vines just starting to bud with the spring season. The route rolls through fabled vineyards producing the likes of Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour wines.
"I loved the opportunity to go deep into Pauillac and glimpse those epic châteaux before getting back on the rural cycling paths," described Claire, an oenophile and cyclist from Paris looking to taste this region's best. "Pedaling by those vineyards made me feel immersed in the history and terroir in a way driving just can't."
The route continues through charming wine villages like Saint-Émilion, where you can stop to refuel at a local bistro and sample the town's namesake wine. From there, quiet country roads lined with wildflowers and vibrant yellow canola fields lead you to the fortified hilltop village of Saint-Émilion.
Beyond Saint-Émilion awaits the Gironde Estuary, dotted with fishing villages and historic port towns. "Coasting into Blaye and seeing its imposing citadel looming over the river gave me goosebumps," remarked Alison, a cycling enthusiast from Chicago. Here you can explore a 12th-century château and wander narrow streets lined with ancient stone buildings.
If you have the energy, continues north through the Médoc wine region to reach the Atlantic coast. "I'll never forget reaching Lacanau Ocean and seeing the waves crashing below as I cycled along the craggy clifftops," described James, an avid cyclist from Manchester. "The blend of wine country, castles, and natural scenery showed me why everyone adores Bordeaux."
Saddle Up: 6 Cycling Gurus Reveal Their Top Destinations to Ride in Europe - Ride along the dramatic Amalfi Coast in Italy
Gliding along the Amalfi Coast’s winding cliffside roads as vibrant fishing villages and terraced lemon groves unfold around each bend offers cyclists a bucket list ride. This UNESCO-protected coastline wows with its vertical terrain plunging into azure waters. While the roads and hairpin turns prove challenging, the payoff comes big.
“I’d seen photos, but still wasn’t prepared for the pure drama of that landscape,” recalled Alison from Chicago. She opted to start her Amalfi Coast ride in Sorrento to avoid the most congested stretch near Positano. From Sorrento, roads climb inland through olive and citrus groves with stunning vistas over the Bay of Naples.
The ride along the coast beckons with colorful Praiano and its flower-draped terraces hovering above the sea. From there, hairpin turns reward your efforts with heart-stopping views. “Every glance revealed a new postcard scene—steep cliffs, bobbing boats, distant islands,” described Lauren from Dublin.
As you approach Amalfi, whitewashed villages carved into seaside cliffs leave a striking impression. But Lauren cautioned, “Don’t get distracted by the scenery or you’ll end up in a ditch!” She recommends stopping to soak in sights rather than trying to snap photos mid-ride.
Once you’ve conquered the coastal stretch, sink your tired legs into the pebbly beach lido in Amalfi. Soak in the bustling waterfront atmosphere before indulging in fresh seafood along the harbor. From Amalfi, you can catch a ferry to sleepier Atrani before shuttling bikes up to Ravello.
Perched high above Amalfi, Ravello enchants with its cliffside gardens and classical concerts on warm summer nights. Claire from Paris spent an afternoon getting lost in the gardens of Villa Rufolo, which inspired Wagner’s Parsifal opera.
For those with stamina, keep pedaling east to Minori and Maiori. “Seeing each pastel village tucked into the coastline was like discovering another gem,” said James from Manchester. Minori’s quiet streets and pebble beach offer the perfect spot to stop for a bite and refresh.