There’s a world of wonder to discover on two wheels. And thanks to our expert guides’ keen local knowledge, they know exactly which cycling routes and off-track paths to take you on, so you experience the best parts of a destination. With over 45 years of crafting incredible itineraries, it’s our expertise, that makes your adventure. So why not cycle with the best leaders in the business? You don’t just need to take our word for it either, as we’re the only adventure travel specialists to be named a Which? Recommended Escorted Tour Operator this year. So where will your wheels of wonder take you in 2023? We’ve collected our top 5 favourite cycling routes that’ll inspire you to get on the saddle!
1. Explore the lush tea estates of Sri Lanka by bike
Sri Lanka’s rural country lanes and green hill country and spice-growing region, make it a delight to explore on two wheels. And our Cycle the Backroads of Sri Lanka adventure ensures you experience a spectacular variety of terrain, from the hill country towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya to tropical rides through Bundala National Park and coastal cycles to Hambantota.
Enroute, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Dambulla cave temple, climb the Sigiriya Rock and enjoy a tour of the fascinating ruined city of Polonnaruwa, which dates back to the 10th Century. When you start riding through the foothills of the spice-growing region, you’ll have the chance to dismount outside Kandy and explore a local spice garden to learn about the spices used to make the famous piquant Sri Lankan curries.
If you’re up for a challenge halfway through the trip, the ride through the tea estates up to Nuwara Eliya allows you to take on thrilling climbs, undulating windy roads and twists, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of terraced paddy fields and the sweet scent of fermented tea leaves. There’s also an optional train ride for those who want a relaxing journey up to Nuwara Eliya. Once you’ve explored the tea estates, you’ll visit the rock-cut Buddha statues at Buduruvagela. After this, you’ll head out on a search for the elusive leopards on a game drive in Yala National Park before making your way to the coast where you can go whale watching off Dondra head, near Mirissa. If you’re thinking about exploring Sri Lanka, this cycling itinerary ensures you see the best parts of the country on two wheels.
2. Discover Baroque hill towns on a ride through Sicily
A cycle through Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, not only gives you the opportunity to enjoy rewarding scenic climbs and idyllic coastal rides, but it also allows you to appreciate how different civilisations such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Spanish have left their mark on this beautiful island. By pedalling through the Baroque towns of Ragusa and Modica, you’ll explore beautiful churches, chocolate shops and vineyards, before heading along the coast to the picturesque fishing village of Marzamemi, where you may be able to see pale pink flamingos in the marshes enroute.
Next, you’ll ride towards the Vendicari Nature Reserve, where Ospreys, Eurasia spoonbills and Purple herons can be spotted. Your route then veers towards the UNESCO World Heritage Site town of Noto – known for its honey-stone buildings and delicious cannoli alla ricotta and almond pastries. On day 6, you’ll take on a rewarding climb to San Corrado di Fuori before enjoying a hairpin descent back to Noto. The cycling adventure ends with a visit to the historic old town of Syracuse.
3. Cycle past coffee plantations and volcanoes in Costa Rica
One of the best ways to enjoy Costa Rica’s brimming biodiversity and tropical landscapes is on two wheels. And our two-week Costa Rica Coast to Coast Ride takes you to the most picturesque parts of the country. Starting in San Jose, you’ll ride to Atenas past rural communities and tropical forests before taking a private boat tour in Rio Tarcoles in search of Crocodiles and Scarlet macaws. After a transfer to your beach hotel at Play Bejuco, you’ll enjoy a day hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park to spot White-faced capuchin monkeys and Iguanas. Your route then takes you south, along the coastal road and across the Rio Terraba, the longest river in Costa Rica.
Over the next couple of days, you’ll explore the Wilson Botanical Gardens, ride past pineapple plantations near San Gerardo de Rivas, and take a transfer over the Cerro de la Muerte pass, the highest point on the PanAm Highway in Central America, before enjoying a downhill descent on your bike into Orosi Valley. The cycling trip then takes a detour to the Caribbean Coast where you’ll enjoy a guided hike in Cahuita National Park and cycle through banana plantations. On day 12, you’ll embark on a memorable boat ride in Tortuguero, where three-toed sloths, Blue morpho butterflies and caimans are commonly spotted. That evening, you’ll enjoy an excursion to the Volcano Lodge hot springs to soothe those leg muscles, before finishing the adventure in the hamlet, Bajo Rodriguez. If you’re looking for an action-packed cycling trip that offers incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities, rest assured this adventure won’t disappoint.
4. Pedal towards dramatic geysers and curious Lemurs in Madagascar
Fascinating rock formations, towering waterfalls and vibrant geysers make cycling through Madagascar, feel somewhat other-worldly. Starting in Antananarivo, you’ll make a beeline to Lemurs Park, where you may be able to spot the endangered Black-and-white ruffed lemur, the Coquerel Sifakas, the Ringtail and the Eastern lesser bamboo Lemur. The following day, you’ll come face-to-face with arguably one of the continent’s most fascinating geysers – the peculiar “cold water” Geysers of Analavory. Next, you’ll cycle for 20km to Soavinandriana along varied terrain, before taking a 4×4 ride off the beaten track to Sambaina, where you’ll have the chance to see how the locals live.
On day 5, your group will ride to Ambositra – a city that’s famous for its wood carving industry, so much so, that their Zafimaniry woodcarving workshops made it onto the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. With rides through Ranomafana National Park, you’ll also get time off the saddle to unwind in the natural thermal baths and head for a nocturnal walk to spot Lemurs and Chameleons. Other notable highlights you’ll see along the cycling route include, Ihosy, (the capital of the Bara tribes), the mountain chain of Andringitra and the desert-like ‘Plateau de Horombe’, known for its deep red soil. The adventure comes to a close with a full day of trekking in Isalo National park and a ride through dry deciduous forests near the sapphire mining town of IIakaka.
5. See the contrasts between rural and modern Japan on two wheels
From the rugged shores and wild beaches along the Noto Peninsula to the neon lights of Tokyo, our action-packed Cycling in Japan trip takes you on a truly immersive journey in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. After admiring the skyscrapers, Buddhist temples and public parks in fast-paced Tokyo, you’ll transfer to Kanazawa the following day and ride through the picturesque Nagamachi Samurai District. From here, your route takes you towards the popular Chirihama Beach driveway – where you’ll be able to stop for hamayaki (grilled fish) and visit Myojoji Temple, a five-storied Edo Period pagoda dating back to the 17th Century. Passing traditional wooden households and rice fields on the Noto Peninsula, you’ll have the opportunity to stop and experience the Wajima Morning Market – that’s allegedly been running for over 1,000 years.
Leaving the coast, you’ll travel to Shirakawa-go, an area famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri houses. The next day, you’ll embark on the most challenging ride of the trip to Hida Takayama at the foothills of the Japanese Alps, where you’ll pass the beautiful Miboro Lake and the surrounding hillsides – that look particularly spectacular during spring and autumn. On days 10 and 11, you’ll ride along the Hida Seseragi Highway past shrines and paddy fields towards paths beside the Nagara River that take you to Gifu, where you can enjoy an optional visit to Gifu castle, atop Mount Kinka. This whirlwind cycling adventure comes to a close in Kyoto, where you’ll have a free day to visit Nijo Castle, Kiyomiduzera Temple and the enchanting Fushimi Inari Shine, that featured in the cinematic masterpiece – ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.
If these trips have inspired you to start planning your next cycling trip, take a look at our Wheels of Wonder collection here.