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Have you joined the chain gang?

There has been a large increase in the number of people taking cycling holidays in Europe. But where should they be heading? Travel Editor Frank Baldwin investigates.

Thousands of cyclists are already aware of the health benefits of cycling whether it be off-roading, racing, a gentle ride through the countryside, or using a bike for their commute.

The restrictions caused by the recent pandemic also saw more people getting back in the saddle and this has led to an increase in riders combining cycling with their annual holiday or a short break trip.

Touring European destinations by bicycle is affordable, eco-friendly and a great way to explore new places surrounded by breath taking scenery.

It can be done individually, as a group, or as a family activity. You can choose to base yourself in one place and explore different areas each day or plan a route with different stopping places on the way.

Tauernradweg nahe Festung Hohenwerfen

Data was gathered on the number of biking trails per country using Alltrails*, a reputable hiking trail aggregator, to find out which are the best countries in Europe for bike touring by calculating the number of trails per 1,000 km² of each country. Here are their results.

1. Switzerland
Switzerland is a cyclists’ paradise with an estimated 92 trails per 1,000 km². One popular biking trail to consider if you want to explore Switzerland on two wheels is the route from the country’s capital Geneva, to Lake Constance, the central European lake that borders Germany, Austria and Switzerland. You don’t have to cycle it all, but if you are inclined, this route is approximately 526 km (326 miles) and you will get a chance to see most of Switzerland’s natural beauty.

2. United Kingdom
The United Kingdom comes in second place as the best country in Europe for its bike touring routes — 92 trails per 1,000 km². One of the most scenic biking trails in the UK is the Great North Trail, starting in the Peak District and going all the way to John o’Groats in the far north of Scotland. This route is 1,287.48 km (800 miles) long and you’ll be able to see Loch Lomond, the Yorkshire Dales, Trossachs National Park, Loch Ness, the Peak District, and Kielder Forest along the way.

3. Germany
The third most popular country for bike touring routes is Germany with 24 trails per 1,000 km². One of the most beautiful routes is the Elbe Cycle Path (Elberadweg). With a length of 894 km (555 miles), the path begins at the North Sea in Cuxhaven, it crosses seven German federal states before ending in the Czech Republic.

4. Denmark
Denmark has 21 biking trails per 1,000 km². If you enjoy being around bodies of water, the Furesø Rundt is a trail that makes you explore all around lake Furesø. The landscapes are very varied, from forests to flower-bursting fields, and of course, the lake itself, this is a great place not only for biking but also for camping.

5. The Netherlands
It is well known that cycling is popular with the Dutch, so it is a bit of a surprise the research found the country to be only the fifth best for bike touring routes with an estimated 18 per 1,000 km² available cycling trails. One particular trail to experience is the Pijnacker–Rotterdam route. Going for approximately 40 km (25 miles), you will pass over the two bridges across the river Maas.

6. Italy
In sixth place is Italy with 12 biking trails per 1,000 km². If you would like to explore the combined beauty of the sea and mountains, the biking trail in Liguria called ‘Riviera dei Fiori’ is the one for you. Stretching across 25 km (15 miles), you will have the opportunity to visit beautiful cities and towns such as Cipressa and Sanremo.

7. France
In seventh place we have France with 11 biking trails per 1,000 km². A breath-taking route in France is the Véloroute du Lin & Littoral Cycle Route. This path runs from Hautot-sur-Mer to Fécamp and is 75km (47 miles).

8. Spain
With 10 biking trails per 1,000 km², Spain is the eighth best European country to be explored whilst cycling. One of Spain’s top biking routes is from Teruel to Valencia Vía Verde de Ojos Negros. If you prefer mountain trails, another option is the Transpirenaica which goes from Cabo de Higuer to Cabo de Creus.

9. Austria
In ninth place is Austria with nine biking trails per 1,000 km². Again, if you are a big fan of lakes, Vorarlberg Trail and Bodensee Lake Loop is a scenic trail between Bludenz and Bregenz that offers a variety of attractions and activities such as hiking, fishing, and even shopping.

10. Hungary
With three biking trails per 1,000 km² available, Hungary is the 10th best European country for bike touring routes. If you are interested in exploring the beauty around Lake Balaton, the Siofok Loop from Szabadifürdő is a great trail to follow. This tour is only 162 km (101 miles) long and it also includes a scenic ferry trip!

*The research was carried out by LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk, the online ticket-exchange market place for sports fans, in conjunction with Alltrails.

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