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July 19, 2018
Clare Dewey is the founder of Epic Road Rides, the travel website for road cyclists. She is an avid road cyclist and travel lover. When she isn’t out discovering the world’s best road rides, she’s photographing and writing about them.
Ever thought about taking your bike abroad but not been sure about the best place to go? Then this is for you! This post brings you three of my favourite places to ride, all within a direct flight of Edinburgh. And no, none of them is Mallorca!
I love Mallorca, but everyone goes there. Sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere a bit different - you know what I mean?
Read on and be inspired!
Flight time: 2 hour 40 minutes outbound, 1 hour 40 minutes return
Transfer time from airport: 10-30 minutes, depending on traffic.
If I was a multi-millionaire, Nice is where I’d live. I love it.
Nice is a beautiful, vibrant city full of ornate, pastel coloured buildings, restaurants, bars, art galleries and stunning parks. It’s on one of the world’s most glamorous stretches of coastline, and it oozes charm and sophistication.
But better than all of this, is the riding.
There’s a reason Team Sky have a base here and the Tour de France will start from Nice in 2020. The cycling around Nice is out of this world.
Throughout the year you can pick between world-class coast roads or stunning mountain ranges. I was blown away by the three corniche roads that run from Nice to Italy. World-class climbs like Col de Vence (part of the Nice Ironman route) and Col de la Madone (made famous by a certain Texan) don’t even shut for winter.
Come summer, the area’s highest mountains are a treat: the mighty Col de Turini and much photographed Col de Braus for example. Throw your bike in the car for a bit and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the monster climbs of the southern Alps.
I love our Col de Vence loop which starts with the Col de Vence and then heads into quiet valleys hidden away from the rest of the world. It finishes with the outstanding road from Saint-Jean-La-Rivière to Aspremont: a tiny ribbon of tarmac that twists along a vertiginous ledge, high up the side of a deep rocky ravine.
Where to stay?
I love staying near the port in central Nice. You’re close to the fantastic Café du Cycliste and lots of bars and restaurants. You’re also within a short walk of Nice’s atmospheric old town.
Check out our full (free) guide to cycling Nice.
Flight time: 3 hours 15 minutes outbound, 1 hour 50 minutes return
Transfer time from airport: around 15 minutes.
It’s estimated that around 80 pro cyclists live in Girona. So cycling around Girona is a bit like cycling in the backyard of the pro peloton.
Girona gives the opportunity to live in an authentic, lively Spanish town and yet have a world class training ground on your doorstep. And that is of course why all the pros are here.
What Girona doesn’t have in Grand Tour heritage and legendary mountains, it makes up for in variety. Head east and you’re at the spectacular and wonderfully undulating Costa Brava coastline. To the north are the foothills of the Pyrenees (like infamous Rocacorba and Mare de Déu del Mont). There are flatter options too.
Girona is a joy when you’re off the bike and it’s more large town than big city. Its medieval core is a maze of alleyways and winding cobbled streets. The shopping is boutiquey and high end. You’ve got at least three classy outfits to pick between for bike hire. The town also has one of the world’s best restaurants: El Celler de Can Roca.
The classic Els Àngels route from Girona is brilliant, but probably pipped to the post by the route along the Costa Brava coastline which is all undulating road, sea views, sweeping descents, quiet climbs and incredible panoramas.
Where to stay?
Girona’s old town. You can stroll out to fabulous bars and restaurants, yet on the bike you can quickly escape the urban areas.
Our full (free) guide to cycling Girona has everything you should need to plan a trip.
Flight time: around 5 hours each way
Transfer time from airport: depends where you’re staying: 20-90 minutes!
Tenerife’s main draw is that you can train on long, tough climbs in warm, spring-like weather year-around.
Mount Teide is by far the most famous cycling route, popularised by Wiggins and Froome who have been frequent visitors to its volcanic slopes.
With at least five major routes up Teide, the mountain itself offers plenty of options. In addition to that are the lesser known, but possibly more fabulous, rides in the north of the island.
I love the Masca and Punta Teno lighthouse loop in north-west Tenerife. The Masca mountains look like they’ve been imported from the Andes, while the Punto Teno lighthouse road is an unforgettably dramatic ride.
Where to stay?
That’s a tricky one. For pure cycling, I’d say Puerto de la Cruz, but you really need to read the entire blog post we’ve devoted to answering that (complex!) question.
Our comprehensive (free) guide to cycling Tenerife is for you.
Feeling inspired to ride?
You can find beautifully presented, free destination guides for Nice, Girona and Tenerife at www.epicroadrides.com
Looking for other options?
There are 12 other guides on the site, so you won’t be short of inspiration! The guides contain tried and tested route information, GPX downloads and tips on where to stay and when to go, from the Alps to Mallorca and LA's Santa Monica Mountains.