Chapter 4: Five Great Places To Ride
Choosing where to go can be the toughest part of bicycle touring. These are some of our favourite destinations and they’re all wonderful choices for a first tour.
1. The Netherlands
No country caters for cyclists as well as The Netherlands.
There are thousands of bike paths to follow so you rarely need to ride in traffic. With a little help from the internet, you can even see all the long distance bicycle paths and plan a bike route online. These websites are often in Dutch but are fairly easy to figure out. On the odd occasion where you have to share the same road space as cars, drivers are very respectful of bicycles so there’s nothing to worry about.
Cycling in the Netherlands: a paradise for bike tourists. Photo by TravellingTwo
For a glorious sight, come when the tulips are in bloom (late April to early May). You can also explore windmills galore, museums filled with the paintings from the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer, and long beaches along the North Sea.
Dutch food is cyclist-friendly too (hearty pancakes and apple cake with whipped cream can be found at almost every café) and the location can’t be beat. Flights from around the world land at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport or you can arrive by train from anywhere in Europe. Once in the Netherlands, it’s easy to continue on to more super cycling countries such as France, Germany and Denmark or to follow the popular North Sea Cycle Route.
- Twenty Tips For Bike Touring In The Netherlands (free eBook!)
- Long-distance bicycle paths
- Online route planner
- North Sea Cycle Route
2. Tasmania, Australia
Hop on a ferry from the city of Melbourne and within a few hours you’ll be rolling your bicycle onto the small island of Tasmania.
They’re trying to encourage bike touring here so your first stop should be the tourist bureau for free maps and information designed just for cyclists. That’s impressive in itself but there are many more reasons to come cycling in Tasmania.
The landscape is truly beautiful. Expect everything from high mountain passes to thick forests and roads that hug the coastline. Finding a place to stay is also breeze. Aside from the usual options such as hotels and commercial campsites, Tasmania has dozens of free or very cheap camping areas, usually run by the local municipality.
- Bicycle Touring In Tasmania (general information)
- Free Bike Touring Map of Tasmania
- Our Notes On Cycling Tasmania
3. Southeast Asia
For an international winter getaway, we highly recommend a trip to Southeast Asia.
Thailand and Malaysia have fantastic food. Cambodia boasts the famous Angkor Wat temples. In Laos, you can climb high into rain-forest covered mountains on nearly empty roads.
Costs are reasonable across the region. You can feast on street food and get a basic hotel room for just $20 U.S. a day.
The only downside is the heat and humidity. Get up early to avoid the worst of it and take breaks in the middle of the day.
A beautiful temple in Thailand. Photo by TravellingTwo
Japan always seems to get glowing reviews from the many bike tourists who cycle there.
It’s not just the temples, sushi and hot springs that make Japan so much fun. The people are friendly and love to help foreigners. It’s also very safe. There is almost no violent crime in Japan.
Perched at the western tip of North Africa, Morocco’s exotic kasbahs, ancient markets, high mountains and magical deserts are easily reached by ferry or low-cost flights from Europe.
The tourist industry is well developed so you can choose to sleep in formal accommodation or to simply pitch your tent in the wild: maybe in a dip between mountains, under a palm tree or beside nomad tents in the desert scenery of the south.
Morocco also has a strong tradition of hospitality. It’s very common for travellers to be invited to share a cup of tea a meal with a family. You do have to be slightly careful; in tourist areas the cup of tea is often just the start of a long sales pitch to buy a carpet but in the countryside the offers are usually genuine.
For more information, the excellent Morocco Per Rad has many helpful tips and free GPS tracks to download. It is a German website, so you may have to use Google Translate to understand it.