11 Of The World’s Most Exhilarating Cycling Routes
No matter where you live, cycling is one of the best ways to connect with your environment and explore your surroundings.
If you want to experience dramatic scenery, panoramic views, and steep climbs, you have come to the right place! Keep reading to discover some of the world’s best routes to add to your cycling bucket list.
Route Des Grand Crus, France
Route Des Grand Crus cuts through France’s stunning wine country, making this an ideal journey for wine enthusiasts. Cycling through quaint villages, centuries-old vineyards, and paths lined with ancient stone walls is nothing short of surreal. This route spans 37 kilometers, beginning south of Dijon, winding through Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, then ending in Santenay.
Route Des Grand Crus will lead you through landscapes where some of the world’s most prestigious wines are produced, so stopping for a wine tasting along the way is a must-do. The best time to bike this route is between May and September, boasting colorful wildflowers and pleasant temperatures.
The Friendship Highway, China
Also known as the China Nepal Highway, The Friendship Highway passes through some of the most impressive mountain ranges on the planet, and even showcases Mount Everest. This highway begins in Lhasa, Tibet, and runs 806 kilometers to the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge at the China-Nepal border.
With the jaw-dropping scenery along the way, including meadows, mountain vistas, and cultural monuments, The Friendship Highway is one of the most beautiful cycling routes in the world. However, with a significant elevation gain, be prepared for a workout!
Route of the Hiawatha, USA
The Route of the Hiawatha may only be 15 miles long, but this short stretch covers some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. Running from the East Portal of the St. Paul Pass Tunnel (at the Montana-Idaho border) to Moon Pass Road in Idaho, this path is mostly gravel.
While this trail used to be one of the most beautiful railroad stretches in the United States, it is now a cycling path that showcases magnificent waterfalls, mountain terrain, and enchanting forest areas. This route notably includes the Taft Tunnel, a 1.6-mile tunnel that runs under the Bitterroot Mountains and only allows bikers and walkers.
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, USA-Canada
Beginning in Alberta, Canada, and running all the way to New Mexico, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route offers a variety of postcard-worthy landscapes. With 200,000 feet of elevation gain and 4,400 kilometers of trails, this is the longest off-pavement road in the world.
Nearly 2,100 miles of this path are unpaved, while the remaining track includes 60 miles of single-track trails, 50 miles of paved bike paths, and 950 miles of paved roads. Boasting abundant wildlife, Rocky Mountain views, dense forests, and alpine meadows, this trail is one of the best ways to explore the North American wilderness.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
Running between the Victorian cities of Allansford and Torquay, The Great Ocean Road is the most spectacular route in Australia, if not the entire world. Located on the southeastern coast of Australia, this 240-kilometer road winds through adorable towns, stunning rainforests, and along an exhilarating coastline.
While many travelers drive this iconic path, cycling it instead is guaranteed to be a challenging, yet unforgettable, journey. This road makes for a moderately difficult ride, so don’t forget to bring your helmet and any other gear you’ll need!
North Sea Cycle Route, Europe
Also known as Euro Velo Route 12, the North Sea Cycle Route spans eight countries and covers 6,000 kilometers, making this the longest signposted cycling route in the world.
The trail begins in Scotland’s Shetland Islands, then runs along the coasts of Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, then ends in Norway.
As you cycle your way through Europe, you’ll cut through charming villages, view dramatic coastal cliffs, and explore vibrant port cities. The North Sea Cycle Route is perfect for bikers who want to experience everything that Europe has to offer.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores, Costa Rica
Featuring mud roads, lush rainforests, white sand beaches, coffee plantations, and an extinct volcano, La Ruta de los Conquistadores spans from the Pacific side to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. This path follows the route of the Spanish conquistador Juan de Cavallon, who explored the island in the 16th century.
Encompassing 270 kilometers, the trail begins at Jaco Beach, passes through San Juan, and ends on a Caribbean beach. This route involves lots of climbing, so don't forget to bring your water bottle!
The Shimanami Kaido, Japan
Featuring a flat terrain, paved path, separate cycling lanes, and blue navigation lines, The Shimanami Kaido is one of Japan's most family-friendly biking paths. This route spans 70 kilometers and leads cyclists over the Seto Sea, crossing numerous islands along bridges and suspended cycle lanes.
You can also marvel at mountain landscapes in the distance, intriguing museums, and historic castles along this route. There are about 13 bike hire shops along this path, making it easy to rent a bike if you didn’t bring your own.
Pacific Coast Highway, USA
Boasting panoramic ocean views and coastal vistas, the Pacific Coast Highway is ideal for those who love the water. Starting in Vancouver, Canada, and stretching down to San Diego, California, this paved cycling route is 2,900 kilometers.
Divided into five parts, cyclists can choose as many or as few sections to tackle at once, making this a flexible option. The Pacific Coast Highway features not only coastal views, but also rolling hills and lush landscapes, so you’ll get a little bit of everything along the way.
Tour D’Afrique, Africa
Beginning in Cairo, Egypt, Tour D’Afrique runs down to Cape Town, South Africa, for a total distance of 11,010 kilometers on a mixed path, with paved, gravel, and dirt roads. Showcasing some of the most incredible landmarks in the world, including the Great Pyramids, Victoria Falls, and Mount Kilimanjaro, this is easily one of the most unique riding experiences on the planet
As one of the longest cycling routes in the world, this is not for the faint of heart. However, those who are up for the challenge will experience Africa’s breathtaking beauty and unforgettable landmarks.
Carretera Austral, Chile
Also known as Route 7, Carretera Austral is a highway in southern Chile which stretches about 1,200 kilometers. The road begins in Puerto Montt, runs through Patagonia, and ends in Villa O’Higgins. Cyclists travel from all over the world to experience the scenery along this route, which includes snowcapped mountains, azure lakes, rushing rivers, and spectacular views.
The further south you ride on Carretera Austral, the wilder the landscapes get. About 40% of this road is paved, while the other 60% is gravel. The route's highest point is near Cerro Castillo, at about 1100 meters, meaning you won’t have to climb too high. However, the road is generally very hilly, so you will still experience many short climbs throughout the journey.
Whether you're looking for rocky coastlines, tropical beaches, dense rainforests, European villages, or dramatic cliffs, incredible adventures await on your bicycle. So what are you waiting for? Grab your helmet and go!