These EuroVelo routes are a true bucket list experience.
Ready for a free-as-air bike adventure with your hair blowing in the wind? Prepared to cycle thousands of kilometres across Europe, criss-crossing in every direction? Well then, you’re going to love the EuroVelo trails; seventeen behemoth cycle routes that invite the pedal-happy traveller to explore our continent on two wheels. Make no mistake: these are absolutely not for the faint of heart, but each route can offer unforgettable scenes, and some seriously hench legs by the end of them.
How ambitious are we talking here, I hear you ask warily? Well, the shortest route (EuroVelo 19) is 1050 kilometres, and follows the route of the River Meuse through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Still, that’s a wee baby compared to the truly taxing EuroVelo 1 – codenamed the ‘Atlantic Coast Route’ – which winds for 11,000 kilometres from the very north of Norway to the Portuguese Atlantic coast, with the small matter of the UK, Ireland, France, and Spain lying in between.
These incredible (although some exercise-averse types like myself might prefer the words ‘utterly deranged’) routes are the product of the European Cyclists’ Federation, who were apparently a little tired of being confined to cycling around just one country. The seventeen routes are currently at various stages of completion, but where they’re all finished, keen cyclists will have 90,000 kilometres of trails to follow – a lifetime of long-distance cycling, to my eyes.
Each EuroVelo route follows a theme; for instance, the 5000km EuroVelo 2 trail (the ‘Capitals Route’) winds from Galway to Moscow, via Dublin, London, Berlin, and Warsaw. Sunseekers might prefer the ‘Mediterranean Route’ (EuroVelo 8, 7500km) from Spain to Cyprus, with stops in holiday destinations like Italy, Croatia Greece, and Turkey, whilst history buffs can trace the route of the old Iron Curtain on EuroVelo 13 (at 9950km, the second-longest available trail).
The full 90,000km of trails isn’t yet completed (they’re over halfway there though!), but make use of a mix of public roads, cycle paths, and traffic-free tracks. Sections of each route include regional and national cycle trails, and there’s a fair bit of overlap between the trails if you change your mind: for example, should you tire of the circular ‘Baltic Sea Route’ (EuroVelo 10), just switch to the ‘Sun Route’ (EuroVelo 7) at Copenhagen, and you’ll be merrily on your way towards Italy and Malta. Still, if you’re cycling these epic distances, maybe it’s better for the legs to just pick one destination and stick to it, yeah?
Also published on Medium.