Pedal to these Six Top Cycling Destinations
Whether pedaling along a serene river in the countryside or freewheeling down mountainous terrain, some of the most beautiful places on earth are best explored on two wheels. Cycling allows travelers to move at their own pace, stray far from the tourist trail and engage more deeply with a destination. With nearly one fifth (18%) of global travelers saying they would like to take an active trip in 2022* – and with the famed Tour de France race kicking off on July 1 – we have selected six top destinations to explore on a bike, as recommended by Booking.com travelers. While it may seem like hard work at first, cyclists are guaranteed to be rewarded for their efforts with the most incredible views and hidden gems. From the salt flats in Bolivia to the bustling capital city of Vietnam, here are six of the best places to go on a cycling vacation – whether travelers are seeking a challenge or to mosey along the flat.
For a truly unique experience, the Uyuni Salt Flats in southwest Bolivia are the largest in the world. Left behind by prehistoric lakes, they are an unbelievable natural phenomenon to behold. Stretching more than 6,200 miles (10,000 km), the reflective mirror effect of the salt flats creates an otherworldly beauty where it’s hard to tell where the land ends and the sky begins. The surreal landscape is a popular spot for cyclists to explore the flat terrain and experience the heavenly views that can feel like flying through the clouds. For an extra special visit to Uyuni, visitors can book a stay at the Hotel Palacio de Sal, the world’s first salt hotel where salt is incorporated into every area of the design, from the ceilings to the furniture. The ideal base to explore the salt flats, its remote setting boasts dramatic views through the floor-to-ceiling glass. Guests can warm up at night in the luxury heated swimming pool and hot tub and feast on Bolivian cuisine at the onsite restaurant. Top tip: wrap up warm and keep hydrated – with freezing temperatures, strong sun and surrounded by salt, the body can dehydrate faster in this environment.
This port city on the southeastern coast of Spain where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea, is manageable in size and boasts nearly 50 miles (80 km) of bicycle paths, explaining its appeal to those with a passion for cycling. Valencia also enjoys a pleasant climate all year round, making the sun-drenched city ideal to explore by bicycle during any season. For travelers who want to learn about the city’s bike path network, 48-hour Bike and E-Bike rental gives information and recommends the most picturesque routes; past contemporary buildings, a long stretch of beach and the characterful old quarter. Stay at the Flatsforyou Bed and Bike located in the heart of the city next to the stunning cathedral; these centrally located apartments feature modern amenities, a private sun terrace and urban hipster artwork – not to mention bicycle hire. With almost half (49%) of global travelers reporting that learning to navigate a new environment makes them feel rejuvenated,** cycling around a new city on vacation has the potential to both energize and uplift.
More experienced cyclists can pack their mountain bike and helmet and head to Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah to explore the many adventurous slick-rock trails, which come highly endorsed for mountain biking by Booking.com travelers. Considered southern Utah’s adventure base camp, Moab also offers an assortment of easy and scenic trails through beautiful canyons, red rock formations and flat-topped mountains. While kicking up dust on these world-class trails, visitors can discover dinosaur tracks and fossils and the ever-more modern Native American rock art. The Aarchway Inn, a unique stay located just a five minute drive from the Arches National Park entrance, offers spacious rooms, a hearty complimentary breakfast and barbecue facilities for guests to refuel. With regular shuttles to the National Park and an outdoor pool and hot tub, it’s an ideal spot to relax after an intense day on the road.
Experience the culture of Vietnam in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. The capital city of Hanoi is one of Asia’s most popular cycling destinations, known for its centuries-old architecture, lakes, parks and over 600 temples and pagodas, the city offers a network of fantastic cycling paths that allow travelers to explore amongst locals on bicycles and scooters. Visitors can park up in the city’s colorful Old Quarter and refuel on delicious Vietnamese street food such as beef noodle soup and shrimp cakes. For those who fancy a day trip out of the city, a Tour of Hoa Lu with Boat & Bike Ride explores the ancient city followed by a traditional sampan sail alongside rice fields, and a leisurely cycle around a local village. Sleep soundly for very little cost at the bright Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel for a sociable stay with the opportunity to meet fellow travelers.
A bustling Italian town located on the northern tip of Lake Garda, Riva del Garda sits on the shore with a backdrop of lake, valley and hills. With multiple trails for all abilities, breath-taking scenery and unparalleled natural beauty, the area is a mountain-biking lover’s dream. In April, Riva del Garda opens its doors to the mountain bike season with 40,000 visitors and 3,000 athletes tail whipping into the town for various bike fairs, marathons and exhibitions. Visitors can even bike along the ‘floating’ cliff edge cycle path, part of the 87 mile (140 km) trail which encircles the entire lake and is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. Bike rental is available at farm stay Agritur Fiore d'Ulivo, a short cycle away from the glorious Sabbioni Beach, and with an outdoor swimming pool and charming garden lined with bay and lemon trees. Visitors can head to the Thermal Park to soothe tired muscles in the warm geothermal water after a day’s activity around the lake.
Known as Chile’s Route 7, the Carretera Austral is a road that runs 750 miles (1,200 km) through southern Chile and rural Patagonia. Offering breathtaking views, this scenic Patagonian route is located in one of Chile’s least inhabited and ecologically diverse regions and cyclists travel from all over the world to experience this adventure. With glacial waterfalls, dolphins, marble caves and tropical plants, this destination is ideal for those looking to immerse themselves in the natural South American wilderness – particularly as 83% of global travelers report beautiful natural scenery is a key motivation for their next trip.* Visitors can unwind at Yelcho en la Patagonia, a picturesque alpine-style lodge with a charming garden and lakeside views just a stone’s throw away from the beach. The property is also a Travel Sustainable stay and invests a percentage of revenue back into community and sustainability projects – as well as providing bike rentals for cycling enthusiasts.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.
**Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories were polled (including 501 from Argentina, 1003 from Australia, 500 from Belgium, 1001 from Brazil, 500 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1007 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 508 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1000 from Germany, 1005 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 502 from Israel, 1003 from Italy, 1002 from Japan, 500 from Mexico, 501 from The Netherlands, 501 from New Zealand, 500 from Peru, 1000 from Russia, 1005 from Singapore, 1002 from South Korea, 1002 from Spain, 501 from Sweden, 501 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 500 from Thailand, 1000 from the UK, 1002 from the US and 501 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2021.