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From the Icelandic Backcountry to the California Coast, The Best Cycling Routes Around the World

Whatever your cycling ability, there's a ride for you.

Cycling on the mountains in Iceland Scott Markewitz

Travel on two wheels is a magical way to experience a locale, whatever your cycling ability. You say you’re hard core? There’s a climb up the Norikura volcano with your name on it. Are foie gras and an electric bike more your speed? There’s a trip for that, too.

Here are our picks for every type of summer spin—and the perfect bike to get you through it.

Cycling through Japan


THE RIDE: Eight days, from Tokyo to Kyoto, covering 495 miles of mostly deserted roads—and many a mountain.

DIFFICULTY: Consider it an Eastern odyssey—eight hours in the saddle daily and 44,000 feet of elevation gain.

THE HIGHLIGHT: Climbing the country’s third-highest volcano, Norikura, on a ribbon of road closed to traffic. Even better: the 30-mile descent on the other side.

THE APRÉS SCENE: Sitting in a hot-spring bath at your ryokan, waiting for a meal of foraged mushrooms and nettles.

THE DETAILS: Available in August through Raid Cycling; $5,900 per person.

THE PERFECT BIKE: A super-lightweight road racer like the Specialized Tarmac Disc Pro.

Cycling through Iceland

Scott Markewitz


THE RIDE: A seven-day exploration through Iceland’s way-out-there backcountry on beefy mountain bikes.

DIFFICULTY: Tough but worthwhile, with miles of snaking single-track trails winding past bubbling geysers and fording through ice-cold rivers.

THE HIGHLIGHT: The surreal Thórsmörk countryside, covered in emerald lichens, where bikers huck down lava fields on their way to a dip in a glacier-fed waterfall.

THE APRÉS SCENE: Relaxing around the campfire, aquavit in hand, as you gaze at the Northern Lights.

THE DETAILS: Available from July to August through Sacred Rides; $5,095 per person.

THE PERFECT BIKE: Iceland requires a monster of a mountain bike—Santa Cruz’s Hightower Reserve, upgraded with 29-inch wheels.

Cycling through California

Olivia Smartt


THE RIDE: A six-day family-friendly route down the California coast, from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

DIFFICULTY: This is chill Cali, and so are the rides, which average 15 miles per day and are broken up by other activities like kayaking and horseback riding.

THE HIGHLIGHT: The famous 17-mile drive along the Monterey Peninsula, which allows for frequent photo-op stops.

THE APRÉS SCENE: Wine tastings every night, from Carmel to the Santa Ynez Valley.

THE DETAILS: Available from June to September through Butterfield & Robinson; $7,795 per person, for a group of four riders.

THE PERFECT BIKE: Something ideal for beach cruising, such as the Cannondale Quick 3 Disc.

Dordogne bike tour in France



THE RIDE: A six-day sybaritic idyll through France’s Dordogne region, covering roughly 150 miles total.

DIFFICULTY: Meal after meal of Périgord truffles and rich cheese can be demanding. Rides are less so, averaging about 25 miles per day (and you can always ride in the support van if you drink too much at lunch).

THE HIGHLIGHT: Foie gras—Dordogne is famous for it— paired with exceptional regional wines.

THE APRÉS SCENE: Michelin-starred restaurants like Château de la Treyne, and a cozy chalet bed in which to sleep it all off.

THE DETAILS: Available in July and September through DuVine; $5,195 per person.

THE PERFECT BIKE: The Cannondale Quick Neo E-bike, because after all that food, a little electronic assistance may be needed.

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