7 of the best cycling holiday destinations

03 May 2019

This week we will see hundreds of cyclists saddle up for the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire (2-5 May).

Before Tour de France visited Yorkshire in 2014, the northern county’s passion for cycling was subdued at best. However, the race has grown from strength to strength every year, expanding from three days to four in 2018.

The men’s race – which hits all four corners of the county and pedals through 150 villages, towns and cities along the way - has been upgraded to the highest-ranking HC status by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world's governing body in the sport of bicycle racing. Meanwhile, the women’s race can expect greater exposure and more spectators following the decision to hold it on a Friday and Saturday.

Cycling is undoubtedly one of the most accessible and enjoyable sports around, so in honour of the Tour de Yorkshire, we’re pulling on the lycra and freewheeling through our pick of cycling holiday destinations.

Tenerife, Spain

Pretty much any serious Tour de France contender spends some time training in Tenerife and that’s thanks to one thing: Mount Teide.

Peaking at 3,718 metres above sea level, this volcano dominates the island’s landscape and offers the longest continuous road climb in Europe, which explains why it is a major pull for top cycling professionals, such as Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

The climb begins around sea level and with almost 40km of the 2,300-metre road route gradient tilting to 6%, even experienced cyclists struggle to complete it under two and a half hours.

Lighter, less challenging routes mean that more casual cyclists can also look forward to year-round sun, dramatic volcanic scenery and beautiful views over the glistening Atlantic as they ride along Tenerife's coastal roads.

Where to stay: Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife, The Ritz-Carlton – Abama, The Hotel Botanico & Oriental Spa Garden

Tuscany, Italy

Widely regarded as the heartland of Italian cycling, Tuscany takes cycling very seriously. Touring by bicycle is the best way of exploring ‘Chianti country’, with plenty of opportunities to stop off for authentic food and wine.

The regional capital of Florence offers a good base with its multitude of museums and monuments and leisurely cyclists keen for some wheels just to get about and see the sights will have no trouble renting a bike.

Heading out south of Florence towards Siena, there’s a challenging hill that rewards you with a breathtaking view and descent to another wine valley. Radda is another great place to base your trip.

Many of the older men out on Tuscan roads look as fit as professional racers, and probably have better bikes. Don’t feel intimidated though, there’s no discrimination between cyclists and getting about on two wheels is all part of the local DNA.

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, Excelsior, La Pace

Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii may have a big reputation for being laidback, but cycling in Maui can be far from easygoing, with almost 11,000ft of climbing spread over a challenging 105-mile loop route.

Most visitors to Hawaii probably have intensions of surfing and sipping cocktails out of pineapples, so it’s understandable why not so many people come here to tackle heavily wind-swept coastal rides with 16% gradients. The reward though? Spectacular views and swooping pedal-free declines on the other side.

For incline junkies, there’s Haleakalā. Also known as the East Maui Volcano, it offers 35 miles of straight climbing followed by a 35-mile descent, and a taunting 3,000-metre peak, which is viewable from almost anywhere on the island. Any rides on Hawaii are best started early ahead of the midday heat.

Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton - Kapalua, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is amongst some of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, hosting many high-profile cycling events through the year, such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour.

Now considered to be the biggest timed bicycle race on the planet, the Cape Town Cycle Tour was first held in 1978 as a protest ride to encourage the city council to include bicycles as part of its urban planning and look after cyclists on the increasingly busy roads. Today, it usually comprises a 109km (68 mile) route and coincides with Lifecycle Week in early March with the MTB Challenge, held out in the Cape Winelands.

For the rest of the year, Cape Town has no shortage of epic cycling routes, with the 18,000-acre Cape Point Nature Reserve, the 7km Sea Point Promenade, and Chapman’s Peak Drive to go at. The unignorable Table Mountain offers many cycling and mountain bike trails too.  

Where to stay: One&Only Cape Town, Southern Sun Cullinan, Cape Grace Hotel

Bangkok, Thailand

Cycling in a large sprawling metropolitan city like Bangkok presents very different risks and challenges than pedalling out on a rural trail, with air pollution and chaotic traffic to deal with.

Despite its somewhat unappealing nature, some would say that whoever hasn’t cycled through Bangkok has not yet seen Bangkok. As such, there are many enlightening guided bike tours, ranging from a gentle three-hour ride through the heart of Bangkok’s business districts to the 4.5-hour sunset ride through Bangkok’s Thonburi side, showcasing the Thai capital’s culinary and cultural strengths by night.

Where to stay: Banyan Tree, Shangri La, Akyra Tas Sukhumvit Bangkok, Amari Watergate

Marrakech, Morocco

With a diverse landscape, faultless weather and rich culture, Morocco is a stunning place to visit with or without your cycling gear. But throw in well-maintained roads and a vast network of dirt tracks and it’s easy to see why mountain bikers flock here from the world over.

Biking tours in Morocco can include impressive canyons and lush valleys with high plateaus of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in the background, as well as the spectacular Qati Gorges and the legendary Draa Valley.

Where to stay in Morocco: Selman, Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, Mazagan Beach Resort

Corsica, France

Situated just under 150 miles southeast off the French mainland, Corsica is often described as 'the mountain in the sea', so any cyclists here can expect to battle some tough inclines.

Almost two-thirds of the island is covered by natural parks and while there aren’t any specific cycle routes right now, tarmac surfaces are good on most roads. Heading onto minor routes, road conditions aren’t as great but still cyclable and there’s the risk of encountering pigs, goats and other animals on the road in the mountains. It is possible to swerve the climbs by sticking to the coast.

Corsica’s versatility suits road riding fanatics hungry for a challenge as much as leisure cyclists who just want to take it easy and explore the island's culture, heritage and beaches (such as the busy Pietracorbara and the remote Rondinara) at their own pace.

Take your cycling adventures overseas and contact your Travel Counsellor to take advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.

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