The best cycling routes in Europe for a scenic adventure

The best cycling routes in Europe for a scenic adventure
Cycling under the aurora at Sweden's Kungsleden

All 44 European countries have lots of beautiful scenery to enjoy, especially on top of a bicycle.

With so many options, choosing a destination to explore can take time and effort. The good news is that you don’t have to settle into touring a single location. You can hop on your bicycle and travel across the continent on some of its most iconic cycling routes. So which one should you pick for your next journey?

The Danube cycle path

One of Europe’s most popular cycling routes, the Danube Cycle Path, sees you explore the beautiful river scenery across four different countries. The entire cycle route is 1,260 kilometres long, so you may want to explore it in patches. The cycle path starts from Donaueschingen in Southern Germany, heading east to Northern Austria. From there, you’ll briefly visit Slovakia before finishing in Budapest, Hungary.

During your travels, you can explore vineyards, monasteries, cathedrals and beautiful cities like Vienna and Bratislava. When you yearn for nature, you’ll be surrounded and greeted by the wonderful Danube River, mountain tops and vast forests. The route offers a bit of everything for all types of cyclists.

The North Sea Cycle Route

If you’re an experienced cyclist looking for a challenge, you might want to explore the North Sea Cycle Route. Officially known as the EuroVelo12, the route is the world’s longest cycle route. You can start the course at any point, as you occasionally need to travel across the seas - so don’t forget to check the ferry tables.

The route will take you to Scotland, England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. You’ll see many different landscapes across your journey, from the flat Dutch fields to the breathtaking Norwegian fjords. The path is a wonderful way to see just how diverse European landscape is.

The Camino Francés (Camino de Santiago)

Camino de Santiago is a popular route taking you from France to Spain. The cycling route begins at St. Jean Pied-du-Port, from where you’ll cross the Pyrenees mountains to Spain. The path finishes in the quaint town of Santiago de Compostela. You’ll also find the route a popular pick for hikers, but cycling the trail is easy. There are a few bumpier spots along the way, but it is possible to take a slight detour if you’re not feeling these parts.

The route is around 790 kilometres long. It has plenty of mountainous terrain, so you want to take your time if you’re not used to cycling. However, the route is well-signposted, so finding your way won’t be hard. There are also lovely small towns along the road, providing you with opportunities for breaking your cycling into manageable chunks.

The Parenzana

If you’re looking for something shorter, you could explore the Parenzana. The beautiful route is just under 125 kilometres, taking you from Croatia to Slovenia. The cycling route partly follows an old railway line that operated between 1902 and 1935. The scenery is full of vineyards and hill towns - not to forget the stunning ocean views.

The official website for the route suggests exploring on top of mountain bikes due to the gravel on many parts of the route. However, websites like Rolling Existence have said they fared well on full-rigid touring bikes. Parts of the trail are paved, so it’s up to your preference and skill!


Northern Europe offers plenty of options for a fun cycling trip. Sweden’s Kungsleden, which means the King’s Trail, is one of the most popular ones. The scenery takes you deep into the Swedish forest as you start the journey from the Abisko National Park in northern Sweden. You’ll make your way towards the south to finish your trip at Hermavan. Overall, you’ll cycle in four national parks, meaning you can enjoy mountains and forests - not to forget the reindeer you’ll meet!

The cycling route is 440 kilometres long, offering a fair challenge to cyclists. The route is a popular hiking route, but you can easily cycle it on a gravel or mountain bike.

Slovenia’s Julian Alps

If you want something short but challenging, head down to the Julian Alps in Slovenia. The beautiful scenery of the Alps is guaranteed to leave you breathless, and the rewarding landscape is one of the hidden gems in Europe. The route isn’t as popular or busy as some Central European routes, but it’s definitely worth it. The 324 kilometres take you on public roads, but riders are generally very welcoming and considerate of cyclists on this mountainous path.

The Wild Atlantic Way

Ireland has a stunning cyclist route offering experienced and beginner cyclists an adventure. The 2,500-kilometre path is long, but you can easily do only a portion of it if you want. The superb route has some of the most memorable scenes in Europe. You get to explore the jagged cliffs, white beaches and rugged fields of the Irish coast.

You can pick and choose where you’d like to start. If you want a stunning end to your journey, then Killarney National Park is an excellent location to finish your adventure. The Wild Atlantic Way is an extraordinary adventure in a historical setting.

The European Divide Trail

Finally, we need to mention the longest, predominantly off-road bikepacking trail in the world. The 7,600-kilometre-long trail is stitched together from different European cycling routes, offering an immense challenge to adventurers. The course is worth it, as you’ll truly explore a lot of the scenic beauty the continent has on offer.

The route takes you all the way from Grensse Jakobself in Norway to Cabo St Vincent in Portugal. Created by Andy Cox, you’ll explore the grittiness of Scandinavia in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. You’ll also cycle in the grasslands of Central Europe in Germany and France before finishing in the beautiful coastal countries of Spain and Portugal.

Exploring Europe on a scenic adventure

Cycling is a great way to explore a region - you get to take in the scenery and do something healthy. Europe is an excellent place to go on a cycling journey, as there are plenty of established routes in good condition.

You’ll also find the paths mentioned here offer something for everyone. And the most important thing is to take your time and enjoy the cycling routes as you’d like. You can whiz through them as a challenge or take your time exploring the local food and culture during your trip.

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