If you’re a cycling enthusiast or simply wish to explore more new places on two wheels, 2023 offers exciting opportunities to embark on unforgettable cycling adventures. From incredible landscapes to well-established routes, these worldwide locations promise sensational experiences for riders of all levels.
Cycling holidays offer the advantage of traveling at your own pace, providing the freedom to leisurely explore new environments or take on thrilling challenges by conquering difficult terrain. Alternatively, there are cycling tours packed with culture and ancient history that’ll allow you to discover parts of your destination you didn’t know existed.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some must-visit cycling destinations that will satisfy your wanderlust and ignite your passion for cycling.
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Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The mountainous terrain of Bosnia and Herzegovina makes it the perfect location for avid cyclists, posing challenges in the form of steep hills. There are also plenty of small and quiet roads that go through charming villages.
The most popular cycle route in the Balkan country is the Ciro Trail, a 157km long trail built on a narrow-gauge railway that heads from Mostar all the way to the Croatian coast in Dubrovnik. During this trail, you’ll pass by old railway tunnels, mountain watchtowers, and monasteries. More notably, you’ll come across the Vjentrenica caves and the ancient hilltop fortifications of Počitelj.
The route is mostly flat, well-signposted, and free from traffic, and will typically take you around three days to complete. You can find accommodation along the trail in the form of stunning old railway stations.
Japan’s cultural capital offers visitors captivating scenery and the chance to become involved in many of its ancient traditions. The best way to explore the city is to cycle, enabling you to discover all its hidden gems, including striking temples and tranquil gardens.
Kyoto’s mostly flat terrain and well-maintained cycling infrastructure make it an accessible and rewarding cycling destination for all ages and abilities. We recommend cycling from Kyoto Station to the Botanical Gardens via the Kawo-Gama River. It’s a great leisurely cycle and the main highway for cyclists in Kyoto.
Moab is a must-visit cycling destination located in the heart of the American Southwest. It offers an unparalleled mix of challenging trails and natural wonders.
Here you can explore the famous Slickrock trails, ride through iconic national parks like Canyonlands and Arches, and witness the raw beauty of the desert. Moab’s diverse terrain and world-class mountain biking trails have made it an adrenaline-pumping destination for countless cycling enthusiasts.
Bilyana’s Note: Bulgaria as a Cycling Destination
I bet you never thought of Bulgaria as a cycling destination. Bulgaria is a hidden gem when it comes to cycling destinations (and not only), but for those who decide to give it a chance, it has a lot to offer. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and charming towns, Bulgaria offers a unique experience for cyclists of all levels. Here are some reasons why Bulgaria is a great choice for cycling:
- Scenery and landscapes: Bulgaria boasts a diverse range of landscapes, from the stunning Black Sea coastline to the rugged mountain ranges like the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodopes. Cyclists can enjoy coastal rides, mountain climbs, and scenic countryside routes, all within a relatively small geographical area.
- Historical and cultural sites: Bulgaria has a rich history that spans thousands of years, and cyclists can discover its cultural heritage while exploring the country. From ancient Roman ruins and medieval fortresses to traditional villages and monasteries, there are plenty of fascinating sites to visit along the cycling routes.
- Affordable travel: Compared to many other European and American cycling destinations, Bulgaria offers affordable travel options, including accommodations, meals, and bike rentals. This makes it an attractive choice for budget-conscious cyclists who still want to enjoy a memorable cycling experience.
- Culinary delights: Bulgarian cuisine is delicious and diverse, blending flavors from the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Cyclists can indulge in traditional dishes such as banitsa (a pastry filled with cheese or spinach), kebapche (grilled minced meat), and shopska salad (a refreshing salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and feta cheese).
But unfortunately, Bulgaria doesn’t have the best cycling infrastructure. My country Bulgaria has been investing in its cycling infrastructure in recent years, making it more cyclist-friendly. However, cities have some designated bike lanes, but not nearly enough. In Sofia, for example, cycling lanes get cut at the weirdest places, and then cycling has to either continue cycling on the road along with the card or on the sidewalks.
I don’t really recommend cycling in the cities, but there are plenty of other places to visit in Bulgaria for a cycling adventure, including:
- The Danube cycling route: The EuroVelo 6 route follows the course of the Danube River, offering a scenic journey through Bulgaria’s northern region. Cyclists can explore charming towns like Ruse and Vidin, pass through lush countryside, and enjoy beautiful views of the river.
- The Black Sea coastline: Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline offers a delightful cycling experience. You can ride along the coastal roads, passing through popular beach resorts. Enjoy the stunning sea views, visit historical sites like Nessebar and Sozopol or the city of Varna, and relax on beautiful sandy beaches. I personally love Sinemorets (pictured above) and use the village as a base for cycling trips to Strandzha Mountain.
- Strandzha tour: The Strandzha Tour is a popular 180km cycling route that takes you through the beautiful Strandzha Mountains in southeastern Bulgaria. Known for its untouched nature, rich biodiversity, and unique cultural heritage, the Strandzha region offers a memorable cycling experience. I almost completed the tour a couple of years ago, but then we had a bike issue and had to quit it. Hopefully, we’ll be back to do it end-to-end another time.
- Rhodopes Mountain: The Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria provide a fantastic setting for mountain biking enthusiasts. This route takes you through picturesque villages, dense forests, and rugged terrain, offering both challenging climbs and thrilling descents.
- Borovets: Borovets is renowned for its mountain biking trails, which cater to riders of various skill levels. The ski resort that sits at the foot of Rila Mountain has a well-developed mountain biking infrastructure with a range of trails, including downhill tracks, cross-country routes, and enduro trails. These trails offer thrilling descents, challenging climbs, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
- Bansko and Pirin Mountain: Bansko is a popular destination for mountain biking enthusiasts due to its extensive network of trails. The Pirin Mountain offers a range of trails suitable for different skill levels, from gentle and scenic routes to more technical and challenging singletracks. The trails provide a combination of thrilling descents, rewarding climbs, and breathtaking views of the mountain scenery.
- Balkan Mountain: The Balkan Mountains, also known as the Stara Planina, span across central Bulgaria. Cycling through this region provides a combination of challenging climbs, scenic routes, and the opportunity to discover charming mountain towns like Koprivshtitsa and Tryavna.
And that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed this list of cycling destinations and would consider embarking on a two-wheel adventure sometime soon. If you decide to visit my home country and need more information or tips on traveling around Bulgaria and cycling around the country, don’t hesitate to contact me.