Cycling in Europe
- For General information on cycling as well as cycling on other continents see cycling.
Most Western and Central European countries have well-developed tourist routes, in addition to commuter cycling in cities.
Pan European routes
Europe is developing an international network of touring routes, known as EuroVelo. These often follow existing national routes, but bring them together to make thematic and very long journeys, such as the North Sea Route, which takes in the coastlines of the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Norway. The furthest destination east is Moscow. Route 2, the Capitals Route, starts in Galway, Ireland and routes through Dublin, London, Berlin, Warsaw and Minsk before arriving in Moscow.
North South routes
- EV 13: Iron Curtain Trail (10,400 km) Barents Sea – Black Sea
- EV 6: Atlantic Ocean to Black Sea: (4,448 km): Nantes - Constanta. This route includes the Loire valley route and the Danube Cycleway.
- EV 10: Baltic Sea Cycle Route: (Hansa circuit - 7,980 km)
The picture is mixed in the former Soviet Baltic states, although the capitals like Tallinn have good networks.
- Main article: Cycling in Denmark
Cycling in Denmark is very popular for both recreational and commuting and is often compared to that of the Netherlands. Because of this (or perhaps the other way around) Denmark has a quite extensive bicycle infrastructure, including a network of nationally appreciated bicycle routes extending more than 12,000 km (7,500 mi). In comparison Denmark's famous coastline is only approx. 7,500 km (4,500 mi)!
Finland has generally good cycling in and around the cities (often with exception of parts of the centre). In the countryside you can often find suitable quiet routes, but sometimes this requires some effort. Not all major roads allow safe biking. There are bikers' maps for many areas. Biking off road is regarded as part of the right to access, but biking may cause erosion or other harm, so choose your route with consideration and lead the bike at sensitive sections. Bikes are available for rent in most towns and can be taken on buses and trains for a fee.
There are some stunning officially marked leisure routes, that take in many of France's well-known landscapes, like the La Loire à Vélo.
Nearly 15% of journeys are by bike in Berlin and cycling is common in cities like Hamburg. Some small to medium sized cities, especially university towns like Greifswald, Erlangen or Münster have made a lot of progress in becoming more bike friendly and bicycle may well be the prime mode of inner-city transportation in these cities. There are over 70,000 km of routes in total. Some of the longer, more famous routes include:
- Berlin-Copenhagen Cycle Route
- Elbe Cycle Route or Elbe Radweg starting near the origin of the river in the Czech republic it passes through Dresden, Magdeburg and Hamburg before reaching the North Sea at Cuxhaven
- Rheinradweg – part of Rhine Cycle Route (EV15)
- Via Claudia Augusta
- Donauradweg - part of EV6
As Germans like to have a Verein for almost anything there is one for cyclists as well, the ADFC, which can give you resources on bike safety, maintenance and maps for popular tours ranging from day trips to week-long holidays.
There is also a list of "bike friendly" hotels. (i.e. hotels that are happy to accommodate travellers with bicycles that are only staying one night, and can also provide resources such as bike-sheds, lunch-boxes and maps)
Norway may not seem like a natural cycling destination, but it has some well-developed routes, which take you through some spectacular scenery and along the coastline. Wild camping is permissible in Norway, which makes some of the routes easier.
In Portugal, cycling facilities are improving in Lisbon.
Facilities are developing well in parts of Spain, especially cities. Major roads in Spain also have a standard cycling reservation. Drivers are generally polite to cyclists in Spain.
Most Swedish cities have separate bike/pedestrian paths or lanes. Quality is generally adequate but worse than for example Netherlands and Denmark. Many bike facilities focus on providing a car-free route for children, but may not be designed for speeds above 15 km/h. Some cities (esp Stockholm) have cycle lanes more adapted for adult vehicular cycling. Bike route signage is generally lacking but is improving in many cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Lund have mostly good signage).
Inter-city cycling is generally quite possible. Some railway lines have been converted to bike roads, otherwise intercity bikeways are few. Minor roads are usually paved, low-traffic and can be quite suitable for cycling. There are two national networks of signposted routes along mostly minor public roads : "Sverigeleden" and "Cykelspåret".
Bike helmets are mandatory for riders under 15 years old. Using a bike lane is officially mandatory if it's parallel to the road, but many exceptions exist. If the bike lane is not well-kept (for example, full of snow or debris) it's better taking the normal lane. In winter / spring (november - march in Stockholm) studded winter tires are recommended.
Stockholm has a bicycle rental system called Stockholm City Bikes. Some bike rental is available at bike shops in larger cities and some coastal resorts. Some local commuter trains (Stockholm free, Uppsala, Skåne for a fee) allow bikes being taken as-is on board during non-rush hours; otherwise a bike should be folded and put in a bag to be brought on board trains.
Vätternrundan is an open 300-kilometre race for amateur cyclist, starting and finishing in Motala, as a leg of the Swedish Classic Circuit. This race is quite popular; usually sold out one year in advance and with a somewhat hefty entrance fee (1500 SEK). Randonneur long-distance (200 to 1000 km) amateur races / rides are also organized in cities from Malmö to Sundsvall, and usually only require registration at the start or some days in advance.
Cycling in the United Kingdom is quite good for leisure routes, with a national network developed and signposted by Sustrans. Some routes follow former railways. Cycling is good in some cities, especially Oxford and Cambridge. London has a network of cycle routes, although they are not as safe or pleasant as a city like Amsterdam. In general, UK city cycling is well below average for Europe.
If you are considering touring in the United Kingdom, it's worth considering buying the maps and guides produced by Sustrans to accompany the national routes they have helped develop. The routes themselves can be found on Open Cycle Map, but Sustrans' guides are helpful for nearby places to stay or visit. See also Cycling in Scotland for an overview of touring and mountain biking.
Many major European cities now have bike-sharing schemes. As most of these schemes are government subsidized (unlike their counterparts in North America) they are often very cheap and worth trying out even for travelers. Furthermore, many systems are integrated with one another. A "nextbike-card" from Dresden for example can be used in Nuremberg or the Ruhr area as well as several other countries.