If sitting around in the back of a tour bus for days on end isn’t really your scene, then why not saddle up for a cycling adventure? Wherever in the world you want to see, there’s sure to be a way on two wheels – it’s a fun, different way to see the sights and what’s more, the environment will certainly thank you.
For the relaxed rider, meander around this historic, colonial land, with an eight day tour of Cuba. Visit the infamous Bay of Pigs, where the failed 1961 invasion attempt took place. Take in the World Heritage Sites of Cienfuegos and Trinidad – colourful throwbacks to a time gone by. Continue through the Topes de Collantes national park, and cool off with a dip in one of the lush green swimming holes, with a roaring waterfall overhead. Finish up in Castro’s capital, the enigmatic Havana. There’s still plenty of time for sightseeing, and you’ll also get to experience the hospitable Cuban culture – with friendly local families providing refreshment stops along the way.
West Coast – Tasmania
The compact size of Australia’s Apple Isle makes it the perfect destination for exploring by bike. The mountainous terrain of the west coast provides the ideal challenge for the average cyclist. You’ll be covering an average of about 70km per day, every day for a week, winding through Hobart, up to Cradle Mountain and back down to Devonport. Along the way, explore historic old towns and copper mines, and learn about the area’s fascinating convict past. Through the week, you’ll pass through a diverse landscape of scenery, from deep, dense forest, to the semi-arid countryside, looking out over clear blue waters. Rest up each night in quaint bed and breakfast or chateau-style accommodation.
Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam
Sat on a saddle has become an increasingly popular way to see this beautiful South-East Asian destination, with a variety of options offering anywhere from a single day tour, to a full expedition of two weeks or more. A popular option amongst tourists is the Highway 1 route – running from Hanoi in the north of the country, to Ho Chi Minh City. Pedal up the Hai Van Pass, the highest point in Vietnam and the symbolic border between the North and South of the country. Take in the majestic views of endless lush green scenery, as you literally pass through the clouds. Further along, visit the historic, pretty town of Hoi An, dotted with an array of traders selling all kinds of arts and crafts goods. Suitable for those who are after a mixture of riding and relaxation, many tours around Vietnam offer the option of catching a ride for the more strenuous mountain climbs.
Otago Rail Trail – New Zealand
The Otago Rail Trail is a constant fixture on almost any list of the world’s best cycling trails, and it’s not hard to see why. Following the path of an old railway track, this 150km section runs from Clyde to Middlemarch, and was completed only in the year 2000, being completely re-laid with a gravel surface. The average guided tour along the Rail Trail runs for about five days, though can be customised for more advanced cyclists looking for a challenge. Explore abandoned gold mines off the beaten track, and enjoy sweeping views of Mount Cook. If you’re lucky enough, you may even spot a few blue penguins while passing through Oamaru, a coastal town featuring historic Victorian architecture.
Alps & Pyrenees – France
For the true cycling enthusiast, you really cannot go past France. Home to the world’s most famous and gruelling bike race, the Tour de France, several official tour operators also offer packages combining unparalleled vantage points to watch the famous race, as well as challenging, guided climbs over some of the Tour’s toughest terrain. Featuring a challenging daily itinerary, these tours are not for the faint-hearted, and focus on the most difficult stages of the Tour, including the notorious Pyrenees. In many instances, you’ll have the chance to ride parts of the race, just a few days before the real competitors. Highlights include pedal pushing up the legendary Col du Tourmalet, the highest road in the central Pyrenees, with an ascent of more than 19km, as well as the scenic Alpe d’Huez, in the Central Alps region.
Cape Breton Island – Canada
Overwhelmingly cited as North America’s most popular cycling adventure, Cape Breton Island is on the bucket list of many cycling enthusiasts worldwide. The Cabot Trail runs almost 300km around the top of the island, and features a few moderately challenging climbs along the way. The effort will be well worth it however, as you coast along this vast, rugged mountain coastline, overlooking remote bays. A five day tour provides the perfect mix of challenging riding, offset by options such as fishing for salmon, swimming (weather permitting of course) and even whale-watching. Cape Breton is often described as one of the most beautiful islands in the entire world, and upon experiencing it for yourself, you’ll find it hard to disagree.
Portugal is a dream destination for cyclists of all ages and abilities – crossing crystal blue coastline, to rolling vineyards, and traditional market towns – there is always something special to see. Coast along through the heartland of the country, through the Alentejo region, with a springtime tour. It’s the most beautiful time of year to see this quiet countryside, with new blooms of native poppies and wildflowers providing an array of colour. There’s plenty to do during your breaks from the saddle, with shopping side trips for local arts and crafts, and the chance to learn more about the local culture with a visit to a remote stud farm. A day trip to the World-Heritage listed town of Evora, one of the oldest towns in Europe, and still partially enclosed by ancient medieval walls, is another highlight. Complete the experience with your accommodation – staying in converted monasteries and a 14th century fortress.
Find out more from your local, personal travel manager. Visit http://www.travelmanagers.com.au/ptm-search/