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There are many different ways to see the world: by plane, by car, by train, and by bus. But for an intimate and up-close view of exciting new places, peddling your way around the world is an incredibly rewarding experience. Some travel destinations are best explored by bicycle to make the most of little-known local stops and panoramic views. Not only will you get an excellent workout when traveling by bike, but you’ll also feel more connected to the people and places around you and be more observant of the little details along the way.
While mountain biking is an adventure sport of its own kind, road cycling typically involves traveling longer distances and often even carrying your own gear with you to set up camp. These are some of the most incredible destinations and routes that are best seen on two wheels.
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La Route Verte, Canada
Canada is a huge country in terms of square mileage, which makes many cyclists feel intimidated to tackle it on two wheels. But one of the best ways to explore this beautiful terrain and rugged wilderness is on La Route Verte, which is a cycling route that spans over 3,200 miles from east to west across Quebec. You’ll enjoy lovely mountain and river views on this route, as well as lots of fresh air and wide-open spaces. This is a great route because it has helpful signage and plenty of places to stop and sight-see along the way.
Morocco is a fascinating travel destination that provides some of the most beautiful rides in the world. One popular option for cyclists is to take a scenic nine-day road biking tour of Toubkal. This route covers about 425 miles and is very mountainous. Make sure to get in plenty of training before attempting this route because there are lots of uphill and downhill slopes. You’ll see Morocco’s stunning mountains and desert regions while pedaling through Toubkal. This is a great cycling trip for travelers who want to get off the beaten track. Other nice coastal rides in Morocco are the route between Marrakech through the Draa Valley to the Sahara Desert and the route between Essaouira and Agadir.
There’s just something purely magical about exploring the luscious green hills and valleys of Ireland on a cycling trip. Although the country is notorious for rainy days and you’ll need to pack some sturdy rain gear, the Galway area provides some of the most serene views you’ll ever see. Multi-day guided tours often go along the rugged, non-touristy parts of Western Ireland. The summer months are best suited for this journey, in which you’ll see Connemara, Mayo, and much of Galway.
Green Mountains, Vermont
People in Vermont love their bicycles, and the sustainable, eco-friendly, nature-focused culture here lends itself well to a cycling journey of your own. The Green Mountains are a wonderful place to take your bike. There’s a 70-mile loop over Appalachian Gap that’s definitely worth checking out, and the Middlebury Gap involves a tough 11-mile climb with scenic views at the top. The Burlington area of Vermont is also very bike-friendly if you want to schedule a city break for tasty local food and brews.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam has some amazing cycling opportunities and is a budget-friendly destination that’s long been favored among backpackers and adventure travelers. To experience the local culture and beaches, bike the route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, which are the largest urban areas in Vietnam. The full route is 746 miles, and you’ll often encounter uneven road surfaces. This is a route best suited for experienced cyclists who have built up their strength and endurance. On the route, you’ll encounter the Hai Van Pass, which divides North Vietnam and South Vietnam, as well as some beautiful beaches to take a break and recharge.
Friendship Highway, China
Plan your journey along China’s Friendship Highway between the city of Lhasa in Tibet to the border of Nepal, which spans about 500 miles. This is a high altitude ride that requires some serious training at high elevations. You’ll really need to plan ahead for this ride because there are some great distances between towns, some challenging terrain, and high political tensions between bordering nations. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be among an elite few who have accomplished one of the world’s greatest adventures. Highlights of this ride include Gyatso La mountain pass, the prayer flags at Gampa La mountain pass, and views of Mount Everest.
Munda Biddi Trail, Australia
Perhaps the very best cycling route in Western Australia is the Munda Biddi Trail, which means “path through the forest” in the native Aboriginal language. You’ll pass through eucalyptus forests and possibly even see some native wildlife on the ride, including western gray kangaroos and western brush wallaby. If you travel from Mundaring to Collie, that stretch is just over 200 miles, but you can also take spur routes to get to Albany. Another great place to ride in Australia is Tasmania, where cycling tours depart from St. Helens and travel along the coast to Bicheno.
In 2013, the famous Tour de France started in Corsica, a Mediterranean island that promises an epic ride and stunning scenery. There are several tour options that you can sign up for to experience the island’s incredible cycling routes, but keep in mind that this region is best for intermediate riders due to its mountainous terrain. Expect to pass by chestnut trees and pine forests, sparkling blue sea waters, and the red granite rocks of Calanques de Piana.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is another premier adventure destination that’s worth visiting for any cycling enthusiast. You can easily rent a bike and pedal around the Arenal Volcano and nearby villages to get a sense of what Costa Rican culture and landscapes are all about. One great ride is the La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which is an off-road ride that runs about 167 miles. It runs from the west coast to the east coast of the country and requires some hardcore mountain bike tires. There’s actually an annual bike race on this route in November. Expect muddy roads, mangrove forests, sandy beaches, and steep climbs!
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
The Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia often get bypassed by travelers, but that would be a shame if you’re someone who loves cycling. Local tour operators lead Baltic States tours for cyclists from around the world in multiple languages. The best times to do this route is in May or August, and plan to put in between at least 12 and 34 miles per day. Most of the terrain is pretty easy, so this is a great tour route for lots of people. Expect to see lots of sights along the way, including churches, castles, forests, national parks, beaches, quaint towns, and monasteries.
Great Divide, Canada to Mexico
One of the greatest American cycling routes you can take is the Great Divide, which runs south from Banff in Alberta, Canada, to the Mexican border near Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The route follows the Continental Divide and passes through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Keep in mind that this route requires mountain bike tires and suspension forks since much of the route is void of pavement and has rough terrain. If you plan to tackle the whole route, make sure that you have about three months to spend on the road.
Carretera Austral, Chile
Patagonia is an ultimate travel destination for nature and outdoor enthusiasts, so why not incorporate a long bike ride into your Patagonian adventure? The Carretera Austral route spans about 621 miles and isn’t for the faint of heart. The road is mostly unpaved, so make sure your tires are up for the challenge. Only attempt this route in the summer due to weather and road closures. But during this warmer time of year, your hard work will be rewarded with views of the mountainous terrain, glaciers, and lakes.