Fully loaded bicycle (Shutterstock.com. See main credit below)
Article Words : Wanderlust team | 21 August

The Wanderlust guide to cycling and mountain bike travel

Healthy, green and slow enough to soak up the local atmosphere. Isn’t it time you got in the saddle?

Cycling is quite simply one the best ways to travel. Bike touring is green, it’s healthy, it’s slow enough to take in the country you’re passing through, yet fast enough to cover plenty of ground – whether you have a week or a year to spare.

Cycling is also open to all. Novices may not want to tackle a trail through the Nepalese Himalayas, but there are plenty of paths perfect for pedalling first-timers. From a gentle roll through the lavender fields of Provence, France, to the redwood-dotted route along coastal California, USA, to the miles of fine trails waymarked through England, Scotland and Wales, there is something for every beginner cyclist.

However long you cycle for, wherever in the world you chose to cycle, you’ll find touring by bike is an eye-opening experience. The freedom to stop where you choose and talk to local people as you explore, the fact that you’re not in a flashy sealed vehicle – these will open up interactions and situations that, in a car or plane, just wouldn’t be possible. 

Silhouette of an cycling (Shutterstock.com)Silhouette of a man cycling (Shutterstock)

Looking for inspiration?

Cycling is arguably the most versatile way to travel in the world. You may work up more of a sweat getting to some destinations, but there is no shortage of places your two wheels can take you. You’re spoiled for choice.

With that in mind, Hayley Lawrence has put together a list of 10 great cycling destinations. Admittedly, Kazakhstan doesn’t spring immediately to mind, but according to Hayley, it’s awesome.

For something a little more sedate, Matt Carroll has listed England’s best cycling routes, while the Wanderlust Team recommend the 4 best cycling routes in New Zealand, one of the most popular places in the world to go two-wheeling.

It’s even less strenuous if you explore the Lake District by electric bike. Phoebe Smith tells you how.

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10 great cycling destinations – Hayley Lawrence

England’s best cycling routes – Matt Carroll

4 of the best cycling routes in New ZealandWanderlust Team

Exploring the Lake District by electric bike – Phoebe Smith

Cycling in Amsterdam (Dreamstime)

City cycling

Cycling is an integral part of city life in many European cities. That’s what makes exploring them on two wheels such a delight. Susie Maggie Thorne recommends the continent’s 9 best cities for cyclists. Some cities in Asia are great to cycle in too, says Ahimsa Kerp. She lists her five favourites.

Having said that, each city does have its particular cycling quirks. Rosie Driffill reveals the secrets to cycling in Paris safely. And Russell Shorto gives his 6 tips for cycling in Amsterdam, another city where cycles rule the roads.

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Europe’s 9 best cities to cycle in – Susie Maggie Thorne

Five fantastic cities to cycle in Asia – Ahimsa Kerp

The secret to cycling Paris – Rosie Driffill

6 tips for cycling in Amsterdam – Russell Shorto 

(Cycling in Vietnam 9KE Adventures)

Cycle touring

You’ve cut your teeth cycling in the city but you’re hankering for the open road, cycle trips where the highways open up before you and distant destinations beckon.

Sarah Elliot has put together a list of the world’s greatest cycle tours that will help you realize that dream. But before you go off cycling towards the (distant) horizon, may we suggest you read Robert Penn’s Beginner’s Guide To Cycle Touring? His hard won advice will save you from avoidable pain and suffering down the road. Andy Moss’s advice for first time cycle tours is worth reading as well.

Looking for packing advice? Colin Gray lists the three essential items you need to shove in your panniers.

Ready to go? How about 4 epic European hill climbs? If you’re up for the challenge, Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding tell you everything you need to know.

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The world’s greatest cycle tours – Sarah Elliot

The beginner’s guide to cycle touring – Robert Penn

Advice for first time cycle tours – Andy Moss

Bike touring: 3 essential items for your panniers – Colin Gray

4 epic European mountain climbs – Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding


Mountain biking in the US (Jim Davies Mountain Kingdoms)

Mountain biking

Mountain biking is a totally different beast altogether. There are no easy rides along perfectly sealed roads here. You’ll be right amongst on rocky paths that will lead you up mountains, across rivers and along cliff edges.

Chris Goodman crossed the Massif Central by mountain bike and offers six tips so you can do the same. Harriet Constable reveals how to get the most out of mountain biking in the High Atlas mountains in Morocco and Mark Eveleigh offers advice on how to mountain bike across Tasmania.

If you’re looking for something a little less hardcore, Anthony Lambert suggests New Zealand’s Otago Central Rail Trail.

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6 tips for crossing the Massif Central by mountain bike – Chris Goodman

Mountain biking in the High Atlas Mountains – Harriet Constable

Cycling New Zealand's Otago Central Rail Trail – Anthony Lambert

Mountain biking across Tasmania ­– Mark Eveleigh

Cycling through nature (Shutterstock.com)Cycling through nature (Shutterstock)

Popular destinations explained

OK, you’ve got the hows and whys of cycling and mountain biking. But what’s it really like to take on a trip like this? Our team of experts have ridden around most parts of the world and have reported back on the kinds of experiences your likely to have. Doug McKinlay reports back from Japan. William Gray took a slow bike through China. And Vanessa Knight tackled the USA’s immense South West.

What’s it like to ride in New Zealand? Chris Moss reveals all. What’s Spain like as a cycling destination? Sarah Baxter jumped on her bike to find out for you. And our very own Tom Hawker toured the North York Moors. By tandem. There are no lengths we won’t go to keep you informed!

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Cycling in Japan – Doug McKinlay

A slow bike through China – William Gray

South West USA by bike – Vanessa Knight

New Zealand by bike – Chris Moss

Spain recycled – Sarah Baxter

North York Moors by bicycle – Tom Hawker

Bike outside Wat, Cambodia (Shutterstock.com)Bike parked outside Angkor Wat (Shutterstock)

Off the beaten tracks

Looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary? How about visiting the temples of Angkor Wat by bike? Or cycling through cane fields of Cuba? Or trundling along the length of Lake Malawi?

Perhaps you’d like to do a pilgrimage on two-wheels. Jaime Gill explains how to tackle the Camino de Santiago by bike. Or take your life into your own hands? Simon Heyes reveals all about cycling the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia.

Maybe you want to really challenge yourself and tackle the big distances. You’ll want to check out the blogs of our long distance cycle heroes, Charlie Walker and Helen Moat. Charlie cycled around the world. Helen rode from the UK to Turkey. Follow their travels for inspiration and hard-won information.

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Angkor Wat by bike – Anna Krahn

Cycle through Cuba – Lizzie Matthews

Cycle through Malawi ­ – Sarah Baxter

Cycling the Camino de Santiago, Spain ­ – Jaime Gill

Cycling the world’s most dangerous road, Bolivia – Simon Heyes

Freewheeling blogs – Helen Moat

Charlie Walker Explores – Charlie Walker 

Cyclist wearing Go Pro (Shutterstock.com)Cyclist wearing a Go Pro camera (Shutterstock)

Capturing it all on film

Whether you’re cycling across Africa or through the busy streets of Paris, the last thing you want is to be grappling with a camera to capture memories of your journey. That’s why more and more cyclists are turning to rugged, compact adventure cameras. Fix one to your helmet and you’ll be able to delight friends and family back home with photos and videos of every pedal of the way.

While you may not be planning to make a documentary about your cycle adventure, Russ Malkin’s advice on making the most of today’s light and robust cameras is a must-read.

If it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their cycling adventures. If they don’t make you want to get on your bike and cycle off into the sunset, I don’t know what will!

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Russ Malkin: Tips for budding documentary makers

Readers’ photos

Couple cycling through mountain (Shutterstock.com)Cycling on a mountainside (Shutterstock)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our Cycling And Mountain Biking Travel Guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by our Cycling And Mountain Biking recommendations page too for information on individual cycle journeys. We’ve rounded up the latest news about cycling and mountain biking travel too.

If you have a particular question about rail travel, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about cycling and mountain biking travel. The answer to yours might already be there.

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Cycling and mountain biking travel guideWanderlust team

Cycling and mountain biking recommendations Wanderlust team

Latest cycling travel news

Forum posts about cycling and mountain biking

Cyclist riding through green hills (Shutterstock.com)Cycling through green hills (Shutterstock)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours from our partners. From cycling coastal paths in Lithuania to two-wheeled road trips across the USA, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

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Our Trip Finder can help you find your next cycling adventure

Main image: Fully loaded bicycle (Shutterstock)