Mid-winter blahs are the perfect excuse to begin planning your next vacation—there’s no better way to banish the blues and give you something new and exciting to look forward to.
If you’re a passionate cyclist who is also an avid traveler, your thoughts naturally turn to the most exotic, exciting, and exhilarating places to ride your bike when the weather turns (or, better yet, where the local season is already summer). So, to make it easier for you to get the most mileage from your bicycle daydreams, we’ve compiled our own list of memorable and unique destinations for you to consider this year.
Of course, it’s not an exhaustive list—just a few our crew knows and loves. Take a look and tell us what you think about these awesome places to cycle. If we’ve missed your favorite (or a place you’d like to go), be sure to let us know in the comments.
1. Take a KOM at Taiwan’s stunning Taroko Gorge National Park.
If you’ve got a passion for the Far East, it won’t take much to convince you that Taiwan’s “marble mountains” are the perfect place for your next bicycle adventure. Taroko Gorge National Park is connected to Taipei by the Central Cross-Island Highway—considered one of the most scenic and thrilling roads in the world.
Taroko Gorge is the most stunning of all Taiwan’s national parks; it’s also the site of the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival. You’ll climb the stony cliffs past colorful temples and shrines on the Taiwan KOM challenge, some 105 kilometers and 11,000 feet into the heart of Taiwan. Tackle as much or as little of this gorgeous road as you like, in a country teeming with history and culture, there is something for everyone here.
2. Bike through Rovinj, the “Pearl of the Adriatic” on Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula.
Lonely Planet calls Rovinj the star of the Istrian Peninsula—and we definitely agree. Ornate Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture, narrow, cobbled streets, and charming city gates make a gorgeous backdrop for cycling.
Nearby Lim Bay, a protected estuary, once divided the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Italia; today, it’s a sanctuary for birds and waterfowl, and a fabulous place to find delectable mussels, oysters, and fish. Rovinj is an adventurer’s paradise—cycle, kayak, fish, or just while away an afternoon along the coast on one of the town’s gorgeous beaches.
3. Cycle into the heart of ancient Patagonian forests on Chile’s Seven Lakes route.
What comes to mind when you think of Patagonia? Glaciers? Arid tundra? Forbidding icefields and windblown steppes? That’s just the beginning. Patagonia is also gorgeous fjords, lush forests, and incredible geoparks and nature preserves. It’s every outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
The Route of the Seven Lakes is one of the most spectacular circuits in an area known for breathtaking beauty. Glassy sapphire water, snow-capped peaks, emerald forests, and even volcanoes—all of nature’s best on one incredible ride.
4. Cruise the Ironman circuit on Cozumel’s dramatic coast.
You may think of Cozumel as a lovely Caribbean resort destination, a place to swim, snorkel, scuba, and just soak up sun, but it’s also the place where serious cyclists and athletes of all stripes come to test their mettle. This beautiful island hosts an annual triathlon, an Ironman competition, and the Gran Fondo Cozumel.
Imagine riding the island’s dramatic coastline—a full 30 miles of which is completely dedicated to bicycle track for the annual athletic competitions. Cycle this flat section – at your own pace – along the turquoise sea with the gentle Mayan breeze at your back. Is there a more picture-perfect sight to chase away your winter doldrums?
5. Work off a wee bit of whisky with a ride around the Isle of Arran loop.
The bicycle was born near Glasgow, Scotland, and the island remains a paradise for those on two wheels; that it’s a paradise for whisky lovers is just a bonus. The Isle of Arran is known as “Scotland in miniature,” and there’s no better place to experience the lush moors, craggy coasts, ornate castles, and towering peaks the country is famous for—all in one place.
You’ll love the fresh air and dramatic scenery as you pedal around the island. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a craft beer and a tour of Arran Brewery or visit the famous Arran Distillery for a wee bit of whisky.
6. Ever been to the Center of the Universe? You’ll find it in a Seattle neighborhood.
Flanked by the majestic Cascade Mountains to the East, and sparkling Puget Sound to the West, Seattle is a popular destination by virtue of its views alone. The city’s creative culture is not limited to its world-famous music scene. Its Fremont neighborhood is an art hub, where you’ll find a large-scale sculpture of a troll holding an actual Volkswagen bug, a 7-ton, 16-foot statue of a communist revolutionary, and a cold-war era rocket’s fuselage on display.
Fremont proudly claims the title, “Center of the Universe,” made official by the local county council’s 1994 proclamation. Bike the rails-to-trails Burke-Gilman alongside Lake Union into Fremont – or better yet, start your ride in the Cascades on the John Wayne Trail and coast down into The Emerald City.
7. Forget Tour de France! Climb Alto de Jaizkibel on the Clasica San Sebastian circuit in Spain.
Who needs Mont Ventoux, where the legendary Tom Simpson made his last stand, when you can make like Michal Kwiatkowski and climb Alto de Jaizkibel in Basque Country? This San Sebastian staple is an 8 kilometer climb with countless hairpin turns and 15% gradients—and marvelous views of the Bay of Biscay.
And there’s nothing like Spanish wine, fresh seafood, and mouth-watering Basque cuisine to help you relax and refuel after your ride.
8. Explore previously inaccessible roads on the north face of Triglav in Slovenia’s Julian Alps.
We couldn’t neglect the mountain bikers in the group—and nothing is more perfect for an MTB adventure than the Julian Alps. On an e-mountain bike, it’s not so daunting climbing “The Wall,” mighty Triglav’s north face, and a national symbol of pride in Slovenia. At 1,000 meters tall and 4,000 meters wide, it’s the highest peak in the Julian Alps.
9. Conjure your inner “Dances with Wolves” as you ride through Spearfish Canyon.
If you loved the stunning winter scenery in this Oscar-winning film, you can see it up close and personal biking through South Dakota’s pristine Spearfish Canyon. Once accessible only on horseback, now you can cycle past Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls as you wind through the canyon’s limestone cliffs.
Biking South Dakota’s amazing canyons is a feast for the eyes—oceans of brilliant wildflowers in spring and summer and masses of jewel-toned leaves in fall. There’s never a bad time to see this spectacular state.
10. Marvel at Fox Glacier as you cycle New Zealand’s Western Coast.
Glaciers might not be the first thing that come to mind when you think of New Zealand, but Fox Glacier, on the western coast of South Island, is a place you’ll never forget. Over 13 kilometers long, and situated in the Tai Poutini National Park, Fox Glacier is the crown jewel of New Zealand’s Glacier Country.
In addition to marvelling at the glacier from the seat of your bike, why not explore the glacier’s ice caves and arches on a heli-hiking expedition?
11. Bike Colombia’s Alto de Letras, the “Longest Climb in the World.”
If you’re into challenge, you won’t want to miss the “longest climb in the world,” an 80 kilometer slog to over 12,000 feet in Colombia’s famous Paramo. Colombia is one of only three countries in the world where you can find this dynamic and quickly evolving ecosystem, a mix of moorlands, mosses, and rare orchids and trees.
Wind down with a muscle-soothing soak in volcanically heated thermal pools at Los Nevados National Park and start fresh the next morning with a cup of fragrant Columbian coffee.
Ready to ride?
Something catch your eye on our list of dream destinations? Then get in touch today and see how easy it is to visit one of these unusual and awesome places to cycle for yourself. You can always sign up for our free email course if you’d like more information about planning a bicycle adventure. And don’t forget to let us know your favorite unusual biking destination in the comments.