Seven Stunning Cycling Tours
The Douro Valley, Portugal. Photograph courtesy of DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co
Get on your bike and see the world on two wheels this summer.
There’s no shortage of thrilling ways to explore the world: planes, trains, hot-air balloons, you name it. The options are almost endless. But to MR PORTER’s mind, one of the most satisfying methods is to explore far-flung lands by bicycle. It’s an exhilarating and immersive experience.
Plus, with slow travel on the rise, people are becoming increasingly interested in escapes that not only get their blood pumping, but also introduce them to a new way of getting from A to B. From time-honoured routes to new itineraries, here are our favourites.
Bonnieux, Provence. Photograph by PatitucciPhoto, courtesy of DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co
Provence draws visitors like moths to a flame, thanks, in part, to its sprawling lavender fields, sun-kissed beaches and weekly markets brimming with delicious produce. DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co’s six-day Provence Bike Tour is a classic adventure, which starts in charming Avignon and winds its way through the forested heart of Petit Luberon, the hilltop villages of Les Alpilles and Provençal countryside landscapes marked by vineyards and olive groves. You will also be able to browse the boutiques of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, admire art in the galleries of Les Baux-de-Provence and even learn to cook traditional dishes in a local’s home – all while staying at the finest luxury properties along the way.
Insider tip: indulge in local delicacies such as Picholine olives, goat’s cheese and wines such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
What to wear
Havana to Viñales National Park, Cuba
Viñales Valley, Cuba. Photograph by Mr Mark Edward Harris, courtesy of Backroads
There’s never been a better time to visit Cuba. Its time-worn but magical colonial-style cities haven’t changed much over the generations, but the island is in the midst of a revival since US sanctions were loosened. Backroads was the first US travel company to offer road cycling trips in Cuba, and its week-long Cuba Bike Tour is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the country. Tourists pedal from the bustling capital Havana to the dramatic domed hills of Viñales National Park. Prepare to visit a tobacco farm and learn to roll Cuban cigars, take salsa lessons and enjoy farm-to-table meals against a backdrop of stunning scenery.
Insider tip: brush up on your Spanish because you’ll be meeting plenty of chefs, musicians, performers and farmers.
What to wear
The Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Photograph by Gallery Stock
Trek Travel’s six-day Alaska experience offers the ultimate adventure in America’s final frontier. From snow-capped mountains and glaciers to steep fjords and barren gravel tracks, epic landscapes almost become commonplace. If you’re (un)lucky, you’ll encounter grazing caribou, packs of wolves and looming bears on the hunt for spawning salmon. In addition to cycling, this multisport trip also features kayaking in Seward’s Resurrection Bay, floating along the Talkeetna River and a ride on the Alyeska Aerial Tram for unparalleled views.
Insider tip: it may seem intimidating at first, but this trip is categorised as a leisure adventure, so beginners shouldn’t find it too taxing.
What to wear
Bali, Indonesia. Photograph by Mr Samson K Hatae/Offset
Bali has been revered as an idyllic seaside paradise for years, beloved for its spiritual ambience and natural beauty. With more than 17,000 islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago, the adventures on offer are seemingly endless, which is precisely why Black Tomato launched its customisable 12-night Highlights of Indonesia tour. Cycle along Bali’s back roads and gaze at the endless beautiful rice fields. Stops en route include coffee plantations, serene village temples and the beaches of Medana. There is also a home stay with a local family when travellers have the opportunity to try their hand at cooking traditional Balinese dishes.
Insider tip: there’s never really a bad time to visit Bali, but low season is from January to April, which means better hotel deals and more affordable flights.
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The mediaeval hilltop village of Marvão, Alentejo, Portugal. Photograph by Mr Martin Thomas Photography/Alamy
Portugal’s really popular right now. One of its lesser known but still fascinating areas is Alentejo, the south-central region sandwiched between Lisbon and Spain. Butterfield & Robinson’s six-day cycling tour provides the perfect introduction. Here, medieval castles, converted convents and Roman temples push up against marble quarries, vast farmlands and undulating vineyards. Starting and finishing in Lisbon, this round trip combines a slew of unforgettable experiences, such as wine tasting at the Monte dos Perdigoes winery, a stop at a local estate to learn the complexities of cork farming, pottery lessons in El Corval and dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Santiago do Escoural.
Insider tip: the moderate terrain makes this trip attractive for beginners to advanced cyclists as steep hills are balanced by flat and downhill stretches.
What to wear
Tokyo to Kyoto, Japan
The Fruit Line in Yamanashi, Japan. Photograph by Mr Lee Basford, courtesy of Rapha Travel
Japan ranks highly on many sightseers’ bucket lists for myriad reasons. There are few places on earth that blend timeless traditions with modern-day life so harmoniously. Japan is known for being a cultural powerhouse, replete with remarkable cities, celebrated artworks and award-winning cuisine. But the volcanic archipelago is also a nature-lover’s nirvana, comprising staggering mountain peaks, dense forests and ancient shrines. One of the most astonishing, albeit challenging, ways to discover the country’s contrasting terrains is on Rapha’s seven-day Japan Randoneé itinerary, which covers 90 miles from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Insider tip: cyclists who book one of the Japan Randoneé trips get exclusive discounts on Rapha apparel.
What to wear
Formentor Lighthouse, Mallorca. Photograph by PatitucciPhoto, courtesy of DuVine Cycling & Adventure Co
Ever dreamed of jumping headfirst into one of those postcards you have on your fridge? The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is adored for its sun-drenched beaches, secluded mountain towns and pastoral fincas that have been transformed into rustic retreats. Its stunning coast has attracted Europe’s jet-setting elite for ages, but it has also been gaining popularity among cyclists. DuVine’s Mallorca Bike Tour highlights all the top attractions, such as the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, the famous lighthouse at Cap de Formentor and the town of Pollença, an artists’ sanctuary once frequented by Ms Agatha Christie and Sir Winston Churchill.
Insider tip: visit in July and August when the island hosts spirited parades and ferias (festivals).