Ahead of World Bicycle Day on 3 June, discover Europe's most picturesque cycling routes.
Looking to explore Europe on two wheels this summer?
There’s never been a better time to ditch your car for a more active - and sustainable - form of travel.
With more and more European countries investing in cycling infrastructure, the continent is crisscrossed with an endless web of scenic routes just begging to be explored.
To help you decide where to start, we’ve delved into the best cycling holidays in Europe. Using data from UK price comparison website Compare the Market, these are the most Instagrammed bike routes across the continent.
What is the most picturesque cycling route in Europe?
Taking the top spot is the Wild Atlantic Way on the Inishowen Peninsula in Ireland’s County Donegal.
At over 2,500 kilometres in length, the route winds along Ireland’s stunning west coast.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to views of towering cliffs, sheltered bays and emerald islands. The route is broken into 14 stages, meaning you can complete it across the course of multiple trips.
Cyclists from across the world have snapped over 1.7 million posts under the hashtag #wildatlanticway, making this Europe’s most Instagrammed cycling route.
Where are the best cycling routes in France?
Home to the iconic Tour De France, it’s no surprise that France takes the lead as the country with the most picturesque cycling routes. Of the top 20 most Instagrammed routes, it is home to no less than five.
With 427,561 Instagram posts shared, the Camino Francés is Europe’s second most popular spot overall. This scenic route runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port across the border to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. On the same route, the Way of St James bags fifth place.
France also clinches the third spot on the list with Cinglés De Ventoux in Bédoin. Here, serious - or crazy - cyclists challenge themselves to complete the route three times in 24 hours, amounting to over 4,400 metres of ascent in 136 kilometres.
The winding Routes des Grandes Alpes, from Lake Geneva to the French Riviera, and La Marmotte - an annual summer cycling challenge in Bourg d'Oisans - also made the list.
Where are the best cycling routes in the UK?
The UK also has its fair share of picturesque cycling routes, with two Welsh routes, one Scottish route and three English routes making the top 20.
The Taff Trail in Cardiff Bay, Wales, comes in eighth place for its serene blend of riverside paths and forest roads. The route runs 88 km from the city of Cardiff to the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Wales is also recognised for the Mawddach Trail in Dolgellau, an accessible 14 km route along a disused railway line in Snowdonia National Park.
Scotland’s Bealach na Ba Circuit from Tornapress comes in 11th place. This rollercoaster ride along the country’s west coast boasts breathtaking views and the longest steep hill in the UK.
England’s 180 km Fred Whitton Challenge is popular for its scenic trail through the Lake District. Cycling pros complete this route in under six hours, but if you’re new to cycling, don’t be disheartened if it takes you over 11 hours.
Also in England, the Cyclone in Newcastle - more an annual event than an official route - draws cyclists to complete routes of varying difficulty, ranging from 55 to 174 km.
King Alfred’s Way - 350 km circular off-road adventure route starting in Winchester - also makes the list.
Where are the best cycling routes in Italy?
Traversing forests and thousand-year-old towns, Italy’s Tuscany Trail comes in 10th place.
Starting in Monterosso al Mare, the 450 km route hosts the world’s largest annual bikepacking event, which draws around 3,000 participants from over 40 countries.
Trailing close behind in 12th place, the Parenzana in the coastal town of Muggia, Trieste, follows the 129 km route of an old narrow-gauge railway into Porec, Croatia, passing beaches and salt pans along the way.
Where are the best cycling routes in Germany?
Germany just edges into Europe’s most picturesque cycling spots. The Iron Curtain Gravel Trail comes in 19th place, spanning 687 km across the middle of the country.
Starting from the Drei-Länder-Stein in the Harz Mountains, it stretches all the way to Dreiländereck on the Czech border. Cutting through mountains and national parks, this trail is dotted with plaques that tell the story of Germany’s divided past.
The Danube Cycle Path, also known as the Donauradweg, takes 20th place. Starting in Donaueschingen in the Black Forest, the riverside route runs all the way through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary to Romania’s Black Sea coast.
Where else is great for cycling holidays in Europe?
Europe has no shortage of picturesque cycling routes, and various other countries make it into the top 20.
La Vuelta - an annual cycling race that takes place in Spain - comes in fourth place. It challenges riders to cover flats, hills and mountains in 21 stages, each taking place in a different part of the country.
In sixth place, the Kungsleden in Sweden is a whirlwind of snowy mountain peaks and wild moorland. Running from Abisko to Hemavan, the 430 km route is also the country’s longest hiking trail.
Winding 273 km, Belgium’s annual Tour of Flanders road cycling race comes in seventh place, while Norway’s North Sea Cycle Route from Bergen to Kristiansand comes 18th.