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The 9 best summer destinations for cyclists who like to push themselves

Recently updated on June 5th, 2023 at 02:12 pm

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a casual peddler, summer is the perfect season to take your two wheels on tour. In honor of World Bicycle Day on June 3, we’re rounding up nine of the best summer cycling breaks for cyclists who want to push themselves on unique trails. From Alaska’s open roads to the sunny trails of South Africa’s Western Cape, here’s where to get on ya bike this summer.

1. Denali Highway, Alaska, USA

Denali National Park Alaska

Alaska’s Denali Highway is a captivating, 135-mile route that comes alive in the summer months. Open only from mid-May to mid-October, you’ll glide past the spectacular Alaska Range, and perhaps spot some local wildlife along the way like caribou, moose, eagles, and bears (from a safe distance only!). 

This rugged highway is only partly paved and is also very remote. Only experienced cyclists should attempt this adventure and should prepare for all kinds of terrain while carrying supplies for a few days. Touch down in the main cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks and rent bikes and supplies before heading out on this epic journey.

GET INSPIRED BY: Majestic Alaska

2. Trollstigen & Atlantic Road, Norway

Trollstigen road Norway

Trollstigen and the Atlantic Road are two of Norway’s most iconic routes for cycling breaks, best explored in the summer months when the roads are clear from snow. From the hairpin bends of Trollstigen to the island-hopping Atlantic Road, these routes offer some challenging and exhilarating rides. 

If you really want to test yourself, you could enter Styrkeprøven, the annual long-distance bicycle race. Aptly known as “The Great Trial of Strength,” the race is around 335 miles long, starting in Trondheim and finishing in Oslo. It’s one of the most gruelling bicycle races in the world, but the course takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of the Norwegian countryside, from fjords and mountains to charming rural towns.

GET INSPIRED BY: Nordic Adventure

3. Carretera Austral, Chile

Carretera Austral Chile cycling breaks

The Carretera Austral, also known as the Southern Way, is a remote highway extending over 770 miles through Chilean Patagonia. Starting in Puerto Montt and ending in Villa O’Higgins, this extraordinary route covers Patagonia’s unique landscapes, from rainforests and glaciers to fjords and mountains. The best time to do it is the summer months of December to March, as the roads can be impassable during the harsh winter.

You’ll find all terrains on this route, from paved sections to gravel and dirt roads, and many steep climbs and winding roads through the mountains. Services and supplies along the route can also be minimal, so cyclists need to carry enough food, water and repair equipment for a few days. While this is a highly challenging route for experienced cyclists only, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable adventure through these unique landscapes. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Wonders of Patagonia

4. Icefields Parkway, Canada

Icefields Parkway, Canada

See the Canadian Rockies on two wheels with one of the most stunning cycling breaks along the Icefields Parkway. Winding through the heart of the Rockies, this route takes in breathtaking glaciers, turquoise lakes, and mountain peaks. The best time to do it is summer when the roads are clear from ice and snow.

There are plenty of rental bikes available in the hubs of Banff or Jasper. Or if you want to get competitive, you can take part in L’Étape Canada in Strathcona County, Alberta in August. You’ll compete for authentic Tour de France jerseys but you can choose from the 9-mile family ride to the challenging 87-mile ride. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Secrets of the Rockies and Glacier National Park

5. Ring Road, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss waterfall Iceland

The iconic Ring Road is an 828-mile route circling the entire island, with breathtaking landscapes like the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, and the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. As you cycle through Iceland’s extraordinary landscapes, you’ll see everything from volcanic fields to glaciers and geysers. You could even spot some of Iceland’s unique wildlife, like the Icelandic horse, puffins, and whales off the coast.

While the Ring Road is mostly paved, there are some gravel sections, and both hill climbs and flat stretches. Summer is undoubtedly the best time to cycle the route. However, you should still prepare for sudden changes in weather and rainy conditions. If you’re up for a challenge, you could take part in the WOW Cyclothon. Not for the faint of heart, this is the longest road race in Iceland around the Ring Road, encompassing 844 backbreaking miles.

GET INSPIRED BY: Iceland including the Blue Lagoon

6. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Isle of Skye Scotland

The Isle of Skye is one of the very best summer destinations for cycling breaks. With the harsh winter weather clearing to milder summer temperatures, cyclists will find everything from leisurely coastal rides to challenging mountain climbs in these spectacular landscapes. Take on the circuit of the Trotternish Peninsula to see awe-inspiring mountains, the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr rock pinnacle. Or explore the lush landscapes of the Sleat Peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye.  

If you want to challenge yourself, take part in the Bealach Mor cycle event. Running for 90 miles from Kinlochewe, it involves the biggest hill climb in the UK. It also takes you past some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery, including breathtaking views of the Isle of Skye. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Scotland’s Highlands Islands and Cities

7. Hokkaido, Japan

colourful flower fields Hokkaido Japan

The summer heat can be sweltering in Japan. But if you head to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, you’ll enjoy pleasant temperatures and gorgeous landscapes… Perfect for a summer cycling adventure. Start in the main city of Sapporo and sort out your bike hire. Then choose your cycling trail, from leisurely routes through farmland and flower fields to challenging mountain passes. You can tackle the UNESCO-listed Shiretoko Peninsula route past coasts and cliffs. Or meander through the Furano and Biei trails to see the famous lavender hills and patchwork hills.  

RELATED CONTENT: 9 of the most bike-friendly cities in the world

8. Western Cape, South Africa

aerial view over Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa’s glorious summer runs from December to February, and it’s the best time for cyclists on the Western Cape. There are dozens of cycling routes taking you from the coast to the mountains. The Cape Peninsula Loop is 67 miles of cycling along the Atlantic and False Bay coastlines. You’ll take on a tough climb up Chapman’s Peak and enjoy stunning views of Table Mountain. 

For something a little lighter, cycle through the Cape Winelands and stop off at the beautiful wine estates to sample some of the world’s best wines. You could even cycle the famous Garden Route, with scenic coastal roads and mountain bike trails in the Knysna Forest. Cape Town also hosts the Cape Town Cycle Tour in summer, the largest timed cycling event in the world.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of South Africa

9. Groningen, Netherlands

Groningen, Netherlands summer cycling breaks

Famed as the “World’s Cycling City”, Groningen is a city where bikes outnumber people. It’s also one of the best summer holiday destinations, with hundreds of miles of well-maintained bike paths suitable for cyclists of all abilities. You can choose trails through the charming cityscapes or the peaceful countryside dotted with traditional Dutch windmills and farms. Cycle through the historic villages of Haren and Zuidlaren and the fortified village of Bourtange. If you want to push yourself, you can cycle for miles along the UNESCO-listed Wadden Sea, with views over the salt marshes and mudflats. 

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Holland

What are your favorite destinations for cycling breaks? Let us know in the comments below!

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