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2 cyclists riding through a forest

Top 5 Alternative Cycle Routes

The joy of riding a bicycle is that you can travel wherever you want, whether it’s to the shops or the park and all you need to do is grab a bike, climb aboard and pedal swiftly with no costs whatsoever. Not to mention that cycling is good for the environment and nature; if you are eco-conscious and looking for an eco-friendly accommodation then be sure to check out our blog on eco-friendly hotels. Some cyclists, however, prefer their rides to be little more dramatic. Maybe a scenic, remote or a mountainous route. Wait till you discover some of our favourite cycle routes we’ve listed for any type of cyclist and cyclist ability.

Celebrate with us the Tour de France 106th year anniversary. A 21 day-long cycle route which starts today in Belgium, were cyclists cover nearly 2,200 miles around France where it then ends Paris.

1. Chicago, United States

The coastline of Chicago with rows of highrise buildings

Distance: 18 miles (one-way) Time: 2 hours

Lakefront Trail

One of Chicago’s most beautiful assets is its expansive shoreline. Lakefront Trail is our top pick for the best cycle route in Chicago. This coastal trail, with its amazing views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, is a biking paradise! This cycle route is Chicago’s most popular tourist cycle route, which around 70,000 cyclists use on busy summer days. This 18 mile long stretch is a path for all types of cyclists and should take around two hours to complete. The route can begin from many different points, however our best alternative spot is to start from Edgewater Beach than the opposite route starting from South Shore. For the majority of the time you’ll be left speechless from the amazing landscapes, as on your left you’ll see the glistering view of the lakefront and on your right will be the jaw dropping view of Chicago’s skyscrapers.

There’s more! On route you should stop by at the famous baseball stadium Wrigley Field, step on Chicago’s 3,300-foot-long navy pier, visit Lincoln Park Zoo, shop at Chicago’s commercial district the Magnificent Mile and relax at the Millennium Park until you reach the South Shore. Children can also enjoy this ride although we recommend you choose a shorter route; you could stop and return from the Lincoln Park Zoo, which works out to be a 10 mile round trip. Bikes are available on hire through local operators, as well as the many Divvy bikes (Chicago’s bike share scheme) which are found around Edgewater beach.

Take me to Chicago

To get to the Lakefront trail, you’ll need to catch a flight to O'Hare International Airport (ORD) with United AirlinesLufthansaBritish AirwaysSwiss International Airlines. By taxi or uber, Edgewater Beach from the airport will take around 30 minutes to get to.

2. Cornwall, England

2 cyclists riding through a forest

 Credit: Manfred Antranias Zimmer

Distance: 17 miles (one-way) Time: 2 hours

Camel Trail

If you’re looking for a relaxed, family friendly and carefree cycling route, the Camel Trail has this all for you. This route is England's most popular tourist cycle route that attracts 350,000 cyclists each year. The 17 mile route one way will take you around 2 hours. Bodiam to Padstow is our alternative route option to the normal route starting from Padstow. From Bodiam, you’ll be cycling under the shade of trees for some of the ride until you reach an old railway line besides the north Cornwall estuary where you’ll then see yourself cycling alongside the River Camel and the sandy shores of Camel Estuary in Padstow which is a paradise for birdwatchers.

The flat landscape makes it ideal for small children riding their own bikes or sitting in trailers and, while biking both ways is a long day out, you can alternatively just ride from Wadebridge to Padstow and back which is a short 12 mile round-trip lasting around 90 minutes long the way you may be lucky enough to spot local wildlife such as otters, kingfishers and little egrets. There are a range of bikes available for hire as well as tagalongs for children who’ve just recently started biking, trailers for toddlers, and tandems for adults and teenagers, from an affordable price of £28. What’s the reward? Once you’ve reached the beautiful harbour town of Padstow with its cosy cafés and pubs and cobbled streets, kids can enjoy homemade Cornish ice cream and you can all satiate your hunger at Rick Stein’s famous fish and chips shop.

Take me to Cornwall

Fly to Cornwall Airport Newquay (NQY) with the following airlines: Virgin Atlantic, Delta AirlinesUnited AirlinesAir France. Camel Trail is a mere 20 minutes taxi ride or if choose to catch a train from the airport to Bodmin Parkway Train Station which will take around 90 minutes.

3. Ayrshire, Scotland

A remote Scottish village and island

 Credit: Vincent van Zeijst

Distance: 19 miles (one-way) Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way

Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way route has some amazing scenery, as well as beautiful wildlife and nature to spot along the way. Irvine to Ayr is an alternative option to the normal route starting from Ayr. Starting out from Irvine, the path runs along the Irvine Beach Park with views out to the Isle of Arran before heading towards two Scottish wildlife reserves, Gailes Marsh and Shewalton Wood. You then return to the coast at Troon and follow along the remarkable Ayrshire shoreline towards Ayr. To stay energised along the way, you can stop at the many shops and cafes for refreshments and you can even have the chance of stopping for an ice cream on the beach.

The majority of the terrain is tarmacked, with some off-road and on-road sections, making it a good choice for family cycling trips and great for any type of cyclist. Some cyclists, especially children, may feel tired and not be able to do the full round trip, it’s therefore advised they do a short nine mile journey where they can stop and return from Prestwick which in total is a two hour round trip. From Ayr, some cyclists may wish to take a train journey back to Irvine. Pre-planning a cycling trip is important and there are many local train services you can use to get you back to where you’re staying, with stations at Irvine, Barassie, Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. Bike hire is available from Irvine Cycles who offer all sorts of bike and accessories for any type of cyclist.

Take me to Ayrshire

Fly to Glasgow Prestwick Airport (PIK) with the following airline British AirwaysVirgin AtlanticLufthansaDelta Airlines. Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way is a 35 minutes taxi ride or just 15 minutes if you choose to catch a train from the airport to Irvine railway station.

4. Brisbane, Australia

Visitors looking out across a leafy Brisbane

 Credit: Tatters

Distance: 7 miles (one-way) Time: 90 minutes

Brisbane, Australia

Mount Coot-tha is technically not a mountain, despite the slightly misleading name. However, at 287 metres tall, Mount Coot-tha is still Brisbane’s highest peak and a training favourite for cyclists. Mount Coot-tha provides a number of trails for you to tackle in Brisbane's bushland oasis. We recommend taking the more challenging anti-clockwise loop route starting at the base of Mount Coot-tha on Sir Samuel Griffith Drive as an alternative route to the normal clockwise loop route for the less experienced cyclists with a moderate in the saddle climb. The alternative anti-clockwise loop route is ideal for the professional mountain bikers who love a good leg burning ascent.

This challenging route is approximately seven miles long and takes around 90 minutes to complete. From Sir Samuel Griffith Drive the road climbs through natural bushland filled with wildlife before heading up to the summit. If you make it to the summit, you'll be rewarded with the best scenic views of all Brisbane bike routes as you stare out over to the city, Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Islands. On top of this, the Kuta café offers a welcome snack break before you make your decent back down to Sir Samuel Griffith Drive.

Take me to Brisbane

To get to Mount Coot-tha you’d need to fly to Brisbane Airport (BNE) using the following airlines: Virgin AustraliaAmerican AirlinesDelta AirlinesAir Canada, A taxi or Uber ride from the airport to Mount Coot-tha takes around 22 minutes or if you wish you can take a bus from the airport and catch the bus line 375. The journey, including transfers, takes quite a lot longer at 90 minutes, but it's a much cheaper option.

5. The Black Valley, Ireland

The mountain valley of Black Valley with picturesque lake and trees

Distance: 35 miles (one-way) Time: 3 - 4 hours

Black Valley Loop

The Gap of Dunloe and the Black Valley are among the most well-known areas for tourists in Ireland. The glacial landscape route appears timeless and for the most part untouched by modern life. The Black Valley Loop is a strenuous but rewarding 35 mile loop cycle route taking around 3 - 4 hours and is better for more experienced cyclists. A hybrid or racing bike is recommended, although if you don’t have one you can hire from one of the three main suppliers in Killarney Town including Cycling KillarneyKillarney Rent a Bike and Killarney Bike Rental who can offer you a bike you’re more comfortable with.

The normal route starts from the town centre and takes the road to Killorglin on the Ring of Kerry. We recommend you take a more scenic route by cycling into the National Park and viewing from afar the Ross Castle on the shores of Lough Leane. Most of the ride is on quiet roads with no traffic which gives you lots of opportunity to take in the natural surroundings, including views of Lakes of Killarney, MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Purple Mountain, Ladies View and Muckross Park. If the ride becomes a little tiresome, you can then fuel up at the many few cottages and cafes on route who are open all year round.

Take me to The Black Valley

Fly to Kerry Airport (KIR) with following airlines Aer LingusBritish AirwaysAmerican AirlinesAir France. The Black Valley from the airport is a 43 minutes taxi ride with Windmill Cabs who’ll charge £50-£60 from a one way trip.

Top tip: How on earth will I take my bike to the other side of the world, I hear you cry! Rest assured, be sure to check out our guide on flying with a bike. Also, to make life easier, you can hire a bike for a fraction of the price at the many locations we’ve suggested.

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