With a climate that favours outdoor cycling year-round, Türkiye has breathtaking bike routes for all skill levels.
Cyclists: Türkiye wants you, and your wheels. Whether you exercise your pedal power on a road bike, a mountain bike, a gravel bike or an e-bike, the country has a lot to offer, and for Aydin Ayhan Güney of the Argeus Travel and Events agency, its climate has a lot to do with it.
“Türkiye can offer the possibility for outdoor cycling all year round,” Aydin said. “The south and west coasts of the country are very suitable for cycling during cold winter months. The Black Sea Coast offers good weather conditions during the hot summer months. Spring and autumn months are perfect for cycling in central Türkiye”.
These conditions are equally attractive for professional cyclists as for holiday makers, he says. “The Antalya area, during the winter, offers a lot of good quality all-inclusive hotels with extremely reasonable prices. That is why there are a lot of professional and amateur cycling teams coming to Türkiye for winter camps. Ski resorts like Erciyes and Palandöken in central Türkiye are also a preferred destination for their high altitude for training camps during summer.”
He added: “Besides the suitable weather all around the country, accommodation possibilities are limitless with very reasonable prices, especially in off tourism season.”
Where to park your wheels
Accommodation is key to a strategy Türkiye has adopted in order to encourage more bike tourism, as a sustainable way for visitors to see the country: an accreditation certificate for Bicycle-friendly Accommodation Facilities.
Hotels that want to be accredited have to fulfil conditions including providing a secure parking space for bicycles as well as a bicycle washing and repair area and maintenance equipment, employing staff with knowledge of cycling routes in the area and who can provide information about road conditions and weather forecasts, and even serving menus that are nutritionally suitable for cyclists.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), who jointly launched the accreditation scheme in 2020, have already certified several Bike Friendly Accommodation facilities.
These range from luxurious resorts by the sea such as the Limak Atlantis Deluxe Hotel in Belek, Antalya, and its sister specialist sports resort, the 97,000 square metres Limak Arcadia Sport Resort Hotel. The latter has facilities for football, basketball, volleyball, judo, tennis, rugby and baseball, as well as for cyclists. It also hosts tournaments and training camps. Other options include spa and wellness-centred hotels such as the Korel Thermal Resort just outside Afyon, or the beachside Hapimag Sea Garden Resort in Bodrum.
Get into gear
So now that you're sorted with where to stay, where are Türkiye's best cycling routes?
For Aydin, it's an easy question: “The best area for cycling in Türkiye and probably in the world is Cappadocia. With its unique landscape, history, Anatolian culture and limitless off-road network, it is a true paradise for cyclists, especially mountain bikers and gravel bikers.”
The area, which sits comfortably on the Unesco World Heritage list, offers plenty of options for road and mountain bike riders.
On the road, routes include Kayseri, Erciyes and Develi, while trails for mountain biking include Ürgüp-Ortahisar-Ürgüp, which passes through vineyards, perfect for a refreshing break; Ürgüp-Damsa Dam-Ürgüp, on which you can see 10th-century cave churches, and an easy trek from Güzelyurt through the Ihlara Canyon to the Underground City Of Derinkuyu.
Alternatively, the European cycle route network EuroVelo – 17 routes totalling 90,000km across the continent – has recently extended Route 8, its Mediterranean route, to Türkiye, where it follows the coast of the İzmir Peninsula for 500 kilometres, tracing the history of settlements from the ancient Ionians to the Ottoman Empire. Cyclists can coast through two of the region’s most important ancient cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites Pergamon and Ephesus
Marmaris offers gentler routes suitable for gravel and e-bikes as well as challenges for road and mountain bikers, while the Köyceğiz, Ortaca and Dalaman area offers routes for both mountain and e-bikes (through forests of rare sweetgum trees, along rivers and around lakes and past ancient rock tombs).
Aydin says the country's recents efforts to promote cycling tourism have paid off, and expects the sector to keep on growing.
“I have been doing cycling holidays for over 30 years,” he recalled. “It was extremely difficult in the beginning as bikes were thought of as a toy for kids. But there are more people cycling now and using it for transportation and sports. It is still not where we hoped to be, but it is increasing fast, in the last five years, especially.”