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10 best European cycle paths (in my opinion)

As the years go by, the number of bicycle tourists, as well as of cycling paths, is growing in our old continent. Of course, central European countries, counting on thousands of km of bike lanes and bicycle paths - which represent an important sustainable income source - are driving other "not so bike friendly" countries. In this article I will be listing 10 most beautiful European cycle paths or, at least, the ones I love: we will be travelling together from Spain to Italy, cruising through Austria, Germany, France, and the U.K., but also other European destinations!

 

 

Discovering the European bicycle paths

To list 10 best European cycle paths is no easy task, because the most classic itineraries are really different from each other, in features and settings. I can certainly state, though, that these bicycle paths you'll read about in this article, during the last year have been improved in a sustainable perspective of tourism development of territories and all of them, more or less, offer to bicycle tourists what we'd like to find in the bicycle paths not included in the list too. 
 

 The Danube cycle path

It is the most widely-known and frequented cycle path in Europe, following the river Danube from the river's source in Germany to Constanta, on the Black Sea. The Danube cycle path counts a lot of minor paths and secondary roads, crossing the 3 "B" capitals Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.
Length:
2860 km
Nations crossed:
Germany, Austria,  Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine.
Not to be missed:
Some places not to be missed during a bicycle trip along the Danube cycle path are: the 3 "B" capitals Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade, the Wachau region - the wine valley, the river delta emptying in the Black Sea between Romania and Ukraine - also UNESCO heritage, the evocative  Schoenbuehel Castle and the beautiful capital of Austria, Vienna.
Useful resources:
Have you ever cycled the Passau - Vienna itinerary, entirely on a cycle path and more and more frequented by bicycle tourists every year? If you want to discover a less known and less touristy part of the route, you can follow the Vienna - Budapest itinerary. If you want to follow entirely the Danube and pedal along the Inn and the Loire, you can choose the Euro-Velo long-distance cycling route Eurovelo 6.
pista ciclabile sul danubio

 The Loire River cycle path

This cycle itinerary follows entirely the river path in France, from the city of Nevers to the river's Atlantic estuary. This cycle path is known by the name Loire à vélo, for its castles, some important and culturally interesting cities such as Nantes and its services for bicycle tourists.
Length:
750 km
Nations crossed:
France
Official website:
Loire à vélo
Not to be missed:
Some of the places not to be missed during this trip are: the pleasant Nantes, easy to be cycled, the castles such as Chambord, d'Amboise and Chenonceau, the Saumur fortress and Joan of Arc's city, Orléans. Don't forget to sip a good glass of Savennières wine.
Useful resources:
If you've never cycled along this route, download the Loire cycle path track and leave for your next adventure!
valle della loira in bici

 The Via Claudia Augusta cycle route

This cycle path starts in the city of Augsburg in Germany and follows the old Roman road route, built by Claudius Augustus in 47 AD. After crossing Austria and entering in Italy through Reschen Pass, it follows the Venosta Valley cycling path until Merano and the Adige River cycling path until Trento. In the capital of Trentino the Via Claudia Augusta cycle route divide into two branches: the first one climbs down along the Adige river reaching Ostiglia; the second enters in Valsugana, on cycle paths and secondary roads until the city of Altino, near the sea and Venice.

segnaletica via claudia augusta
Length:
750 km
Nations crossed:
Germany, Austria, Italy
Official website:
Via Claudia Augusta
Not to be missed:
Some beautiful places not to be missed during a bicycle trip on the Via Claudia Augusta cycle path are: the beautiful and elegant Augsburg, starting point of this path, the Lake Reschen with the steeple of a submerged church, the fortified village of Glorenza in Venosta Valley, Merano with its Austrian personality, Trento and its Castle of Buonconsiglio, the castles in Beseno and Sabbionara d'Avio and (why not?) finally a good glass of red wine from Piana Rotaliana valley. Don't miss a plunge in Caldonazzo and Levico lakes, in Valsugana.
Useful resources:
You can either choose to follow the entire track or follow just one bit of it, such as the Adige River cycle path, the Venosta Valley cycle path or the Valsugana cycle path. These three alternatives are covered by railways. 
via claudia augusta

 The Alpe Adria cycle path

The Alpe Adria cycle path connects Austria and Italy, precisely the cities of Salzburg and Grado, on the Adriatic Sea. The path crosses the Alps and then climbs down to the sea and, from Tarvisio to Udine it follows the old railway trail. Because of this detail, bicycle travellers will enjoy a lot of viaducts and evocative tunnels. 
Length:
412 km
Nations crossed:
Austria and Italy
Official website:
Ciclovia Alpe Adria Radweg
Not to be missed:
Some places not to be missed during this trips are: the beautiful city of Salzburg with its numerous attractions, Venzone, the city of lavender in Friuli, Gemona with its cathedral and the famous frico (a cheese crisp), the beautiful Udine and the Adriatic Sea in Grado, Lignano and the other coastal cities.
Useful resources:
The Alpe Adria cycle path, awarded as best cycling path during an important Dutch event some years ago, is for sure one of the most beautiful European cycle paths, to be accomplished in little legs as we tell in our Alpe Adria by bicycle.
Venzone e la lavanda

 The Berlin - Copenhagen cycle route

The Berlin - Copenhagen cycle route connects the German capital to the Danish one, in a sequence of multi-coloured little villages from the most intense nuances of green to the emotional blue of the Northern Sea.
Length:
710 km
Nations crossed:
Germany and Denmark
Not to be missed:
Some places not to be missed during this cycle path are: the two capital cities seen from the bicycle seat, Rostock and the Northern Sea, the Danish islands and the great family and bike-friendly services.
Useful resources:
Did you know that the Berlin - Copenhagen cycle route is part of the EuroVelo long-distance cycling route Eurovelo 7

 The Inn cycle path

The Inn cycle path follows the river from its source, on Maloja Pass in Switzerland, until its mouth in the Danube in Germany. The long route connects little and beautiful alpine villages until it reaches the German plains.
Length:
412 km
Nations crossed:
Austria and Italy
Official website:
The Inn cycle path in Austrian Tyrol
Not to be missed:
Some experiences and places not to be missed during this bicycle trip are: the Majola Pass (1815m a.s.l. between Engadine and Bregaglia Valley), the prestigious Saint Moritz, Landeck, the Kufstein area, some small villages like the little Braunau am Inn and bigger cities like Rosenheim in Germany.
Useful resources:
The Inn cycle path crosses Switzerland, Austria, Germany before ending on the Danube cycle path. We have cycled it only in the Kufsteinerland region, but it was worth.
ciclabile inn 2

 The Drau cycle path

The Drau cycle path starts in Puster Valley, in Toblach and, after cruising in Austria, it enters in Slovenia to end in Maribor. The Drau cycle path, and particularly the route between Innichen and Lienz, is one of the most cycled in Europe. An ideal project would be to extend the route until the river mouth, in the Danube, but it's not yet realized.
Length:
366 km
Nations crossed:
Italy, Austria and Slovenia
Official website:
Drauradweg - Drau cycle path
Not to be missed:
Some experiences and places not to be missed in this cycle path are: to pedal in the Puster Valley with the Dolomites surrounding the cycle path, to cross the Punbrugge wooden bridge, the Hohenburg castle, to birdwatch along the river and to walk along the little streets of Maribor.
Useful resources:
The Innichen - Lienz cycle path overlaps the first leg of the Drau cycle path and can be cycled by families with children. If you want to embark on a different journey, you can change direction and travel on the Puster Valley cycle path towards Franzensfeste.
ciclabile dobbiaco lienz

 The Lake Constance cycle path

The Lake Constance cycle path follows the perimeter of this lake situated in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The route is easy and suitable for families with children.
Length:
270 km
Nations crossed:
Switzerland, Austria and Germany
Official website:
Bodensee Radweg - Ciclabile del Lago di Costanza
Not to be missed:
Some experiences and places not to be missed during this trip are: to visit the Reichenau island, being named after the monk author of the first gardening book, an afternoon at the Arenenberg castle, a morning walk to the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen and a visit to the Mainau island.
Useful resources:
The Lake Constance cycle path (Bodensee Radweg in German) is part of the EuroVelo long-distance cycling route Eurovelo 6.

 The Ojos Negros greenway

The Spanish Vias Verdes are greenways created on old railways. The Ojos Negros greenway is the longest route in Spain with its 162 km (it might be extended to 203 km soon) and twists and turns in the Valencia region. This cycle path can be done even without being trained if you choose to cycle it from the hinterland to the sea. The other way around the difference in height is around 1300 m.
Length:
162 km
Nations crossed:
Spain
Official website:
Via Verde Ojos Negros
Not to be missed:
The Ojos Negros greenway is interesting from a panoramic and historical point of view: viaducts, bridges and tunnels from its railway past. Nonetheless, during the route, you will pass through Segorbe with its cathedral and the old Roman aqueduct and Jèrica with its Arabic atmosphere.
Useful resources:
The cycle path is one of the Spanish greenways but there are more. We had the chance to cycle on some of them during our Spain bicycle trip: the Campiña greenway, the Aceite greenway and the Sierra de Alcaraz greenway.

 The Paris - London greenway

One of the most common among the European cycle paths is the Paris - London, the Avenue Verte, connecting the French capital to the U.K. one. The majority of the cycle path runs in France, between evocative castles and picturesque villages. The English leg follows preexistent routes belonging to the National Cycle Route.
Length:
460 km
Nations crossed:
France and U.K.
Not to be missed:
The Avenue Verte, the Greenway connecting Paris to London can boast fascinating places, rich in history and culture. Firstly you cannot miss the beautiful Paris and London. Then take your time to enjoy the silence and colours of the French countryside, the English cliffs and the hospitality in southern England.
Useful resources:
The Avenue Verte greenway connects the two capitals through secondary roads. You can download the GPS route of the Paris - London cycle path directly from our webpage. 
parigi in bici
 

Did you ride some of this cycleways? What about your best European cycle Paths?

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Francesco - Life in Travel

ITA - Ho 32 anni e sono piemontese, anche se da qualche anno vivo e lavoro in Lombardia. Dopo un inizio da totale inesperto in questo campo, mi sono avvicinato al mondo dei cicloviaggi e della bicicletta sempre più. Oggi posso definirmi "cicloviaggiatore", e assieme all'altra mia passione - il videomaking - non mi fermerei mai! Cyclo ergo sum, pedalo quindi sono, per cercare di capire perché andare in bici sia così bello, terapeutico, ricco... E ogni volta che provo a capirlo, non ce la faccio, e sono costretto a ripartire sui pedali!

ENG - I'm from Piedmont and I'm 32 years old, I have been living and working in Lombardy for a few years. After a start without any competence in this field, I then approached the bicycle world more and more. Today I can call myself a bicycle traveller and videomaker who would never ever stop. Cyclo ergo sum, I cycle therefore I am. I ride my bike trying to understand why it is so beautiful, rich, therapeutic. And every time I try, I do not understand it. So I must leave again...

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