Wind in your hair, landscapes whipping by, cruising through peaceful forests: embracing the outdoors on two wheels is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable ways to get around. Here’s our round-up of great cycling routes which offer something for everyone, from multi-day adventures to relaxing day trips.
Berlin-Copenhagen, Germany/Denmark (630km)
This dedicated capital-to-capital route whisks you from the Brandenburg Gate to the Little Mermaid through bucolic scenery, including Germany’s Muritz National Park (home to more than 130 lakes), a stretch aboard a ferry across the Baltic Sea between Rostock, Germany, and Gedser, Denmark, and along gorgeous sea-hugging paths following the Danish coast.
Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve, Buenos Aires, Argentina (km: variable; park: 360 hectares)
It may not be a specific named route per se, but this eco-reserve on the edge of Buenos Aires is a cyclist's paradise. The reserve boasts a network of paths and boardwalks across marshes and wetlands, with ample birdwatching and views of the river, the Rio de la Plata. And in summer, the stretch along the water is also a few degrees cooler that the steamy city. But all year round, this expanse of green is a tranquil escape from the bustle a mere 10-20 ride from the fashionable San Telmo and Puerto Madero neighbourhoods.
Lake Balaton Cycle route, Hungary (about 200km)
Hungary’s most famous cycle path goes all the way around Lake Balaton, Europe’s largest freshwater lake. Pedal past vineyards stretching from the water up the hills, Mediterranean-style lakeside towns, a bounty of restaurants serving fresh local fish and plenty of opportunities for dips in the milky green lake.
Cape Cod Rail Trail, Massachusetts, USA (35km)
One of New England’s most popular cycle trails runs along the path of abandoned railroad tracks on Cape Cod, Massachusetts’ thin hook of a peninsula. Stretching between the Dennis and Wellfleet townships, the trail meanders through quaint seaside villages with low-key food shacks serving clam chowder, lobster rolls (a lobster sandwich/New England fave) and freshly shucked oysters. It connects to several shorter bike paths, but we’re partial to the turn-off for Nauset trail: it drops you right on Coast Guard Beach, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and set beneath rising dunes.
Berliner Mauerweg/Berlin Wall Cycle Route, Germany
This route traces the former path of the Berlin Wall, which was dismantled piece by piece in the early 1990s. Cycling the entire circle - about 160km - would take a few days, but most people explore a portion past some of Berlin’s most famous sights, such as the Reichstag, home to Germany’s parliament and topped by a Norman Foster-designed glass dome, the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s neoclassical landmark, and the Berlin Wall Memorial Site, where you can examine reconstructed remnants of the wall learn about its history.
Lands End to John o’Groats, UK (1480 km)
Each year, thousands of people hit the road and cycle the entire length of the UK from top to bottom between John o’Groats, Scotland, and Land’s End in Cornwall, England. There are three routes to choose - the standard route hits major roads, the fastest sticks to busy thoroughfares, and the most scenic follows small roads. But they all pass dramatic landscapes including the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District and the wild Cornish Coast.
Ruta Austral, Chile (1300km)
Extending from Puerto Montt in central Chile to northern Patagonia via a series of ferries, this long and rugged span juts through Queulat and Cerro Castillo national parks and wows with spectacular blue-white glaciers, majestic fjords and chiseled mountains between sleepy villages.
Munda Biddi Trail, Australia (about 330km)
Mundi Biddi means 'path through the forest' in local Aboriginal language, and this trail in Western Australia winds its way through long stretches of countryside packed with eucalyptus trees, pretty river valleys and offers ample opportunities to see local wildlife like wallabies, possums and kangaroos.
Tai Wai to Tai Mei Tuk, Hong Kong, China (20km)
This city cycling path starts in Tai Wai village, a mere subway ride away from the centre of town, and takes you past temples, green spaces and along the waterfront to end in Tai Mei Tuk, another village sitting between Tolo Harbour and a rugged ridge of mountains.
Utrecht to Amsterdam Cycle Route, The Netherlands (54km)
Unsurprisingly, there’s a growing network of cycling superhighways linking Dutch cities, but our favourite takes you from Utrecht to Amsterdam. The route features urban and village sections, goes over the Breukelen Bridge (Brooklyn, New York, is named after the village of Breukelen), skirts the Amsterdam Rhine canal filled with massive barges and the tranquil Gein river.