Picture the scene: it’s just you and your companions, two wheels each, the open road and some beautiful views. You’ve got warm, sunny weather to enjoy as you ride, and the extra feeling of knowing that you’ve left the cold, wet, grey British winter behind.
Cycle touring can be an immensely pleasurable way to spend time on a bike, and doing so in the winter opens up a new world of possibilities for a cycling-related holiday. This guide highlights the best winter cycle touring destinations around the world, and why it’s a great time of year to head off on a tour.
Why go winter cycle touring?
Going winter cycle touring allows you to try many countries and destinations that would be too hot to ride in during the summer months. In places like the Mediterranean, however, it still tends to be warm enough to make for a pleasant experience: while it’s still worth taking your winter gear with you, this may well only be as a precaution.
The other major advantage of a winter cycle tour is the price: because it’s outside the peak tourism season, flights and accommodation tend to be much cheaper. As long as you avoid the school holidays and the period over Christmas and New Year, it’s possible to pick up some real bargains.
On a more practical level, availability of good-quality hire bikes (assuming you aren’t travelling with your own) can sometimes be an issue in summer in some of the more popular destinations. Planning ahead and going in winter can neatly sidestep this problem and ensure that your expedition isn’t compromised.
Our favourite winter cycle touring destinations
To give you some inspiration, we’ve picked out a selection of the best winter cycle touring destinations all over the world. Some are short-haul trips while others are long-haul adventures, but all have their own individual characteristics to make for unforgettable experiences:
It may be the most obvious choice because of the easy access to cheap flights and accommodation, but there are plenty of choices open to you across different parts of Spain. The north and central regions can be very cold and wet in the winter, but the mountains around Malaga offer the best combination of warm weather, stunning views and good quality road surfaces. For something off the beaten track, head further south-west towards Seville, Jerez and Gibraltar, or even take the longer flight towards Gran Canaria and Tenerife where quiet roads and high temperatures are as good as guaranteed.
Much like Spain, the climate in Italy means much of the north of the country is realistically off-limits in the winter months: taking on famous climbs like the Stelvio and the Mortirolo isn’t much fun when they’re covered in snow. Instead, you can head further south and get a real authentic sense of Italian country life, especially in Puglia in the south-east of the country. For those who still prefer a mountain adventure, why not try Sicily and the volcanic peak of Mount Etna: it’s been a regular feature in the Giro d’Italia in recent years, meaning the road is in great condition.
You might not have considered Africa when coming up with your shortlist of destinations, but at just 3-4 hours’ flying time, Morocco stands out as an off-beat pick. There’s a little bit of everything in terms of landscape: coastal roads, desert treks and even the peaks of the Atlas Mountains. Make sure you take your winter gear for this one, as it can be chilly early in the mornings, but the scenery, food and drink will make it more than worthwhile.
Most of Latin America is pretty much a no-go for cycling tourism, due to violence, crime, political instability and often chaotic and dangerous traffic. However, Cuba stands out as a relaxing alternative, especially now that its diplomatic relations with much of the rest of the world have improved. Its crime rate is very low by the standards of the region, and it’s a fascinating island to explore on two wheels. And from the locals, you’re bound to get a welcome that is as comfortably warm as the weather.
It’s a long way to go, but imagine the things you’ll see and the stories you’ll have to tell from a cycling trip around New Zealand. The ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ has forests, plains, rugged coastline and much more, and has the added benefit of being in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning our winter months are their summer. You won’t have any traffic worries, either: the population density of New Zealand is just 19 per square kilometre, compared to 276 in the UK, meaning you can ride with confidence wherever you go.
Get cycling travel insurance with SportsCover Direct
Even though cycle touring is a relatively leisurely way to spend time on a bike, accidents can still happen, whether caused by terrain, traffic or human error. What’s more, if you’re travelling abroad, then there is always the risk of travel disruption, or of your luggage being subject to loss, theft or damage.
This is why cycling travel insurance is so important, and why we’ve devised comprehensive cover options for cycle tourers just like you. Whatever unforeseen circumstances may befall you, we can make sure you don’t lose out financially, especially if you need medical care beyond the scope of the European or Global Health Insurance Cards.
Find out more on our cycling travel insurance policies, including our competitive rates and flexible payment plans here.