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Active Vacation: The World's Best Cycling Routes

Written by
Byron Thomas, Emily Opie, Keith Jarman & Jane Dumble

Cycling is a great way to keep fit on your travels and see the world from a different vantage point.

From Argentina to Indonesia, some of our favourite destinations are best seen on two wheels.

Here are five of the best cycling routes in the world that truly make the most of each country's landscape.

Mountains & Glaciers
Patagonia
Art & Culture
Java
Ocean views
Cape Town
Hikers at glacier Patagonia

To the horizon: Patagonia, Argentina

The setting

The reason most travellers make the journey to the region around El Calafate is to witness the incredible view of Perito Moreno Glacier, but away from this natural phenomenon, breathtaking plains that change colour with the light of the day extend towards the distant mountains.

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

Between the town of El Calafate and Perito Moreno, the 3,000 hectare estate of Eolo gives travellers an insight into the Patagonia that would have been experienced by the land’s first settlers and adventurers.

Eolo Estate, Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

The ride

While staying at the lodge on the Eolo estate, guests can set out on mountain bikes to explore the trails and lanes of this remote and beautiful landscape that stretches all the way to the horizon.

Cycling, Eolo Estate, Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

The stay

The estate’s modern lodge is comfortable, spacious and bright, with panoramic views from each of the huge windows, as well as the luxury of an indoor pool and sauna. Guests can learn about the indigenous culture, flora and fauna, and take part in a number of outdoor activities.

Restaurant view, Eolo Estate, Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
Temples, Java, Indonesia, Sunrise over Mount Bromo

Against the grain: Java, Indonesia

The setting

In the centre of the island, the modern city of Yogyakarta is Java’s artistic and cultural hub. It’s also a big draw for travellers due to its close proximity to famed archaeological sites Prambanan Hindu temples and the world’s biggest Buddhist temple Borobudur; one of the country’s most iconic spots.

Plataran Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

The ride

Away from the city and major tourist sites, see another side to the Yogyakarta region by cycling through the countryside outside the city, along a route that winds through small villages to scenic rice paddies, where you can find out how to farm rice with the option of trying it out yourself.

Cycling, Plataran Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

The stay

Plataran Borobudur is a tranquil retreat away from the city, set amidst forest and mountains, and overlooking Borobudur Temple. In fact, sunrise over the temple can be seen from the hotel’s deck. The opulent Indonesian-style villas have private pools and gardens, with a spa and the opportunity to do yoga onsite too

plataran-borobudur-java-indonesia
The coast by Ocean Road, Cape Town, South Africa

Ocean Road, Cape Town, South Africa

The setting

Colonial architecture, the waters of the cape and a backdrop of Table Mountain, make Cape Town especially striking. Plus, with the city as a base, you’re close to spectacular ocean roads, sandy bays and the idyllic Winelands.

Kiteboarding near Table Mountain and Cape Town in South Africa

The ride

From Camps Bay, a trendy beach-side suburb, this cycle route takes you all the way along the coastal road with the ocean on one side and Table Mountain on the other. The route encompasses Clifton’s beaches, Darwin’s Point – where you can find out a bit about the explorer – the country’s oldest lighthouse, and natural landmarks such as Lion’s Head mountain.

Table Mountain Hiking Trail Cape Town South Africa

The stay

With its prime beachside location in Camp’s Bay POD is an ultra-stylish boutique hotel that combines glamour with a beautiful natural setting. The urban and contemporary design is eco-friendly, and features a wraparound pool and terrace with views of the bay. POD is also close to the city’s hippest restaurants and bars.

Beachfront decking, POD, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Inle Lake, Myanmar

Vine trail: Inle Lake, Myanmar

The setting

In the peaceful mountains of Myanmar’s highlands, Inle Lake’s tranquil waters are distinguished by the unique local fishing boats, wooden stilted villages and floating markets, as well as the famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda.

Fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar

The ride

From Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake, this cycle route leads through the town and into the surrounding countryside, past farmland and through rural villages to the hillside vineyard Red Mountain Estate. Take part in a wine tasting and try some of the local cuisine, with a panoramic view of Inle Lake, before cycling back to Nyaung Shwe.

Bicycles on the mountainside

Myanmar doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a wine destination, but after importing 400,000 plants from France and Spain, with the experience of the resident French winemaker, the vineyard has thrived in the cool climate and highland soil.

Young PaO Tribe Farmer, Inle Lake, Myanmar/Burma

The stay

Wooden walkways and bubbling streams separate the luxe hillside villas at Pristine Lotus Spa Resort, which is set amongst gardens that lead down to the lake. After exploring the local area, lie back in resort’s natural spa or grab a bite to eat in the teak-canopied restaurant.

Interior view, Pristine Lotus Spa Resort, Inle Lake, Myanmar
moray-inca-ruins-cusco-peru

Valley ride: Sacred Valley, Peru

The setting

In the scenic surroundings of the Peruvian Andes, northwest of Cusco, the land that was once a base for the Incan culture now draws travellers for its Incan ruins and indigenous culture, as well as the sheer beauty of the valley, mountains and river that winds through.

peruvian-women-national-dress-sacred-valley

The ride

This downhill route takes cyclists along dirt roads and horse trails to the culturally rich town of Maras, before continuing on to the local salt mines, then finishing the descent into the Sacred Valley. The route ends here with transfers back to your hotel.

Cycling, Sacred Valley, Peru

The stay

The modern riverside resort Tambo del Inka fuses Incan design with contemporary style, with a luxe spa and both an indoor and outdoor pool. The resort is a comfortable base from which to explore the valley, and to try out the outdoor pursuits on offer.

Pool, Tambo del Inka, Sacred Valley, Peru
Kopenhagen, Nyhavn

Copenhagen, Denmark

The setting

A Viking fishing village which has evolved over the centuries into the epitome of Scandi chic, Denmark‘s trendy and welcoming capital is characterised by its enchanting cobbled streets, colourful 18th century houses and striking waterways, with a food and drink scene to put most cities to shame.

Copenhagen Skyline

The ride

For the best way to see the city, make like the Danes and hop on a bicycle. Traverse the cobbled streets of the city’s compact centre, hop from cafe to cafe sampling delicious pastries and artisan coffees, skim the waterfront at Nyhavn and zip past the charming Tivoli Gardens, not forgetting to pay a visit to the Little Mermaid statue, the city’s most famous resident.

Women cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark

The stay

This sumptuous and stylish boutique hotel boasts a prime location right by the entrance to the Tivoli Gardens, and adds to the magic of its setting with rich fabrics, antique furnishings and crackling fireplaces throughout its 17 individually designed rooms.

nimb-hotel-food-copenhagen-denmark
Palamidi Castle, Nafplio, Greece

Coastal ride: Nafplio, Greece

The setting

The stunning historic city of Nafplio is awash with grand monuments and sights spanning from ancient times right through medieval. Venture into the countryside for beautiful views of the ocean and mountains.

Old town of Naflio, Greece through stone window

The ride

The 12km cycle around Nafplio’s coast will reward you with sweeping panoramas of the sea and the surrounding mountains. A gentle ride for all levels, you can refresh yourself along with way with a swim at a quiet secluded beach.

Three people cycling on a beach, Nafplio, Greece

The stay

Perched atop the ancient acropolis of Akronafplia, the Nafplia Palace Hotel commands sweeping views over the rooftops of Nafplion down towards the sea. Relax and rest your muscles in its private heated pools or outdoor Jacuzzis.

Pool, Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas, Nafplio, Greece
cycling-tuscany-italy

Tuscany, Italy

The setting

Tuscany is rural Italy at its most picture perfect, known for its verdant rolling hills, Renaissance cities, culture, wine, fine food and rich historical heritage. From Florence to Siena or the Chianti vineyards, it’s a masterpiece of a region.

chianti countryside Italy

The ride

Drink in the rustic charm and bucolic beauty of Tuscany on a bike ride through its undulating landscape, passing medieval hilltop towns, cypress-lined Roman roads, centuries-old farm houses, silver olive grows and ancient vineyards as you go.

Cycling, Tuscany, Italy

The stay

The perfect haven to retire to after a day out exploring, this 10th century castle is nestled within a 4200-acre estate an has every luxury you could desire from a grand country restaurant – not to mention a sublime restaurant serving delicious Tuscan cuisine.

Sunrise at Te Mata Peak, Napier, Hawkes Bay

Cycle the vineyards: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

The setting

One of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions, the wine country around Hawke’s Bay is characterised by its golden colours and vast arid plains. Vineyards and fruit-filled orchards lie amongst the fertile farmlands, sweeping down to the perfect waves on the coast and laidback seaside settlements.

view-from-te-mata-peak-new-zealand

The ride

The best way to appreciate the golden countryside and panoramic views of Hawke’s Bay is by bike. Cycle between charming coastal settlements, stopping to sample some delicious local food and wine, rest on a remote coastal beach or visit a Maori elder who can provide you with a unique insight into their indigenous culture.

Young man riding his mountain bike

The stay

Escape to The Farm at Cape Kidnappers with its spectacular ocean views and 6,000 acres of lush pasture-land. Its 22 spacious suites have private balconies and even an outdoor jacuzzi, ideal for soaking up the views after a day’s exertion.

Aerial view, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand

Talk to one of our expert travel designers and start creating your perfect luxury cycling vacation.

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