3 top bikepacking destinations in Europe
I am a big fan of bikepacking and have enjoyed a few tours, including one last summer to northern France. My bikepacking saddle bag has also been in big demand from friends who have been keen to discover whether bikepacking is for them. Most have enjoyed it so much they have bought their own bikepack.
The basics of bikepacking is travelling light and exploring new places by bike. You can choose to camp, bivvy or stay in accommodation you’ve booked ahead or when you arrive in each place.
Bike packing is fast growing in popularity and travel booking website Dealchecker has come up with a list of some of the rising star destinations. Here’s my pick:
Good for short road cycling. With dramatic sweeps of untouched coastline, sublime mountainscapes and endless miles of winding roads, Norway’s Lofoten Islands are every adventurous cyclist’s dream come true.
Route to try: Henningsvær to Stamsund (approx 3.5 hours)
A meandering rideof 40 miles into the heart of Lofoten’s most beautiful scenery, this route winds through the enchanting towns of Gimsoy and Vestvagoy.
Good for long road cycling. Norway’s coast is notoriously rugged, lengthy and full of inlets, peninsulas and islands. A trip along its entirety could take months (and result in some very chilly weather), but undertaking smaller sections is becoming increasingly popular with hardcore bikepackers.
Route to try: The Atlantic Road Stretch (approx 12 hours)
Beginning from the Romsdal Peninsula in the city of Molde, this 124 mile stretch works its way west through the Midsund, Sandøy and Aukra islands, and runs over islets and reefs on the Atlantic Road before ending in Kristiansund.
A favourite destination of mine.
Good for short road cycling. Home to Croatia’s iconic Dubrovnik Harbour and beaches of Split and Zadar, sprinkled with medieval towns, quaint fishing villages and some of the most jaw-dropping beaches in Europe, the Dalmatian Coast is an incredible setting for road cycling trips.
Route to try: Park Suma Marjan, Split (approx 2 hours)
A 15-mile road hugging the edge of Split’s Park Suma, this route begins at the Stadion Poljud and loops along the ocean’s edge to Aci Marina.
Good for long road cycling. Often featuring in competitive cycling events, the Istrian peninsula has earned its yellow jersey. A collection of charming villages, shorelines and tangles of forest offer some superb bike pack touring.
Route to try: Pozane to Pula (approx 7 hours)
Once the 14th stage of the Giro d’Italia, this 75-mile stretch begins at Croatia’s border with Slovenia and weaves through Buzet, (the ‘city of truffles’ and home to the hallowed Truffle Festival in Oct-Nov). The road continues through Pazin, the beautiful Lim Fjord and Vodnjan medieval town before ending in the seafront city of Pula.
Good for short road cycling. Thanks to an EU-funded project, Malta and Sicily have recently had more than 600 miles of new cycle lanes laid. As a result, the country’s Gozo Island is a cycling hotspot, with much of its beautiful coastline accessible on two wheels.
Route to try: Gozo Coastal Route (approx 2.5 hours)
Completing a full, 26-mile loop of Gozo, this route begins at the Port of Mgarr, traverses the picturesque, Gozitan villages of Ghajnsielem, Xewkija, Kercem, Nadur and Qala, as well as its beautiful capital Victoria.
East Coast, Malta Island
Good for long road cycling. Home to the country’s vibrant capital and lapped by the Mediterranean Sea, Malta’s east coast is blessed with miles of quiet, ocean-front roads that stretch forever through medieval towns, rugged coastline and the occasional bustling city.
Route to try: Sliema Loop (approx 4.5 hours)
Beginning and ending in Sliema, this 33-mile route snakes through the trendy beachside town of Saint Julian, as well as Naxxar’s sublime Palazzo Parisio.
Read more bikepacking ideas from Dealchecker.
Also read: Have you tried?: Bikepacking