As October unfurls its colourful tapestry and the aroma of pumpkin spice wafts through the air, cycling enthusiasts are gearing up for spectacular autumn adventures. With its diverse landscapes and rich cultural history, Europe offers a wide variety of scenic cycling routes from which to take in the singular beauty of fall foliage. Today, we invite you to embark on a journey through some of the most picturesque autumn cycling options on the continent and perhaps inspire you to take your bike out to enjoy the best the season has to offer.
Burgundy, France: A winning combination of vines and history
Nestled in the heart of France, Burgundy, or La Bourgogne, beckons with its renowned wines and captivating landscapes. As the leaves transition to vibrant shades of red and gold, cyclists can pedal through rolling vineyards, quaint villages, and idyllic countryside. It’s an immersive experience where every turn reveals something of the region’s rich history and cultural heritage. And, of course, no visit to Burgundy is complete without indulging in its gastronomic delights, ensuring you have plenty to fuel your ride. Six major cycling routes we suggest checking out include the Burgundy Canal, the Canal du Nivernais, the Canal du Centre, The Burgundy Vineyard Way of Southern Burgundy and the Loire in Burgundy.
Lake Constance: Cycling bliss in central Europe
Tucked away in the heart of Europe, Lake Constance emerges as a cyclist’s paradise, ripe autumn exploration. The cycling infrastructure here is exemplary, and the towns and villages dotting the lake’s perimeter offer a warm welcome to cyclists, with bike rental shops, repair facilities, and cyclist-friendly accommodations aplenty. In autumn, the vineyards lining the banks transform into a beautiful sea of yellow, orange, and red, accompanied by end-of-harvest celebrations. Meanwhile, the distant mountains present a glimpse of the season’s first snowfall, creating a beautiful contrast.
A highlight of cycling around Lake Constance is the famed Circumference Route, a 270-kilometer (168-mile) journey that traverses Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Each country’s unique culture and landscapes unfold as you pedal along this well-marked route.
Italy’s Monferrato: Stunning fall colours amidst plateaus and hills
Monferrato, one of Italy’s more hidden gems, presents plateaus, gentle hills, and vine-clad paths, making it a truly delightful destination in autumn. Here, the forest canopy is thick, and the vineyards are abundant, creating an unforgettable array of colours. The deep red of the vines and the golden hues of deciduous woods are often shrouded in a fine mist that adds to the magic. On two wheels, you can explore the village of Frassinello Monferrato, where panoramic views and an ancient castle await. And, of course, don’t forget to indulge in the region’s famed flavours, with autumn being the perfect time to savour prized white truffles from nearby Alba and local wines.
Poland’s Bialowieza Forest: A UNESCO-protected autumn wonderland
If you want to immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of autumn leaves, look no further than Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. This pristine wilderness, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provides nearly untouched beauty. Luckily, this enchanting forest is also an ideal place to explore by bike, allowing you to get up close and personal with centuries-old oaks that have made this region famous. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the rare European Bison, which calls this vast expanse home. To navigate and get the most out of this wild terrain, be sure to equip yourself with a high-quality mountain bike and off-road tires with excellent grip.
The Wild Scottish Highlands: A paradise for nature enthusiasts
For those enamoured by the untamed beauty of Europe, the Scottish Highlands is a name that needs no introduction. These vast, sparsely populated landscapes are teeming with life, boasting a rich variety of flora and fauna. Explore the well-maintained off-road trails that crisscross the region, with the Hermitage Forest in Dunkeld being an excellent starting point. This very forest inspired J.R.R. Tolkien when he penned “The Lord of the Rings,” so it shouldn’t surprise you that the autumn foliage on offer is nothing short of spectacular. The many types of tree species transform the Highlands into a display of colours that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Finland’s Lapland: Ruska’s autumn magic
Lapland, often associated with icy landscapes and Santa Claus, holds a delightful secret in the fall. The Finns even have a term for the magical transformation of leaves: ruska. Lapland, just before the arrival of snow, becomes one of Europe’s prime destinations for cycle tourism. Cycling paths crisscross the cities and forests, providing a spectacular backdrop of crunchy, colourful leaves. If you visit Lapland in late autumn, you might even be treated to the first northern lights of the season. You also find well-maintained bike parks throughout the region, like the one in Ylläs. It is the biggest bike park in Finland, with eight downhill routes and a gondola lift.
Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Where landscapes turn into masterpieces
Eindhoven, a lesser-Source: known gem in the Netherlands, may not be as famous as Amsterdam, but that’s precisely what makes it such a special place to visit. This vibrant city combines a slower pace of life with a reputation as a design and nightlife hub, all while boasting the renowned Dutch cycling infrastructure. Surrounding Eindhoven are landscapes that once inspired the likes of Van Gogh to create their masterpieces. In autumn, these landscapes undergo a gorgeous transformation as the vibrant summer hues yield to the warm, earthy tones of fall. To get started, we recommend the Brabant Castle Route that connects the medieval castles of Helmond, Geldrop and Heeze. Here, you can cycle through beautiful nature reserves such as Het Goor, Molenheide and Strabrechtse Heide.