Bikepacking is a combination of backpacking and cycling, where riders pack their gear on their bikes and go on long-distance rides. Europe offers some of the best bikepacking routes and destinations for riders of all levels. From the stunning landscapes of the Alps to the picturesque villages along the Danube River, there are endless possibilities for bikepackers to explore. In this article, we will discuss some of the best bikepacking routes and destinations in Europe that are a must-visit for anyone looking for an unforgettable adventure on two wheels.
Explore Europe through Bikepacking
For adventure seekers, bikepacking is the ultimate way to explore Europe’s diverse landscapes. From the rugged mountains of the Alps to the lush forests of Scandinavia, there’s no shortage of breathtaking scenery to discover on two wheels. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a beginner, bikepacking is an excellent way to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and experience the thrill of a lifetime.
What is Bikepacking?
Bikepacking is a blend of backpacking and cycling. It involves packing all of your camping gear, food, and clothes onto your bike and setting off on a self-supported adventure. Unlike traditional bike touring, bikepacking takes you off the beaten track and onto dirt roads, singletracks, and remote trails. It’s a way to explore the great outdoors at your own pace, without the need for a support vehicle or pre-booked accommodation.
Why Bikepacking in Europe?
Europe is home to some of the best bikepacking routes in the world. There’s a vast network of well-established routes that cater to all levels of cyclists. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride through the countryside or a challenging mountainous route, Europe has it all. Additionally, Europe’s rich cultural heritage provides a unique backdrop to your adventure, with medieval towns, ancient ruins, and picturesque villages dotting the landscape.
Best Bikepacking Routes in Europe
1. The Transcontinental Race
The Transcontinental Race is one of the most demanding bikepacking races in the world, covering over 4000 km across Europe. Starting in Belgium, the route takes you through the Alps, across the Balkans, and finishes in Istanbul, Turkey. This route is not for the faint-hearted, with steep climbs, long stretches of gravel, and unpredictable weather. However, for those who are up for the challenge, the Transcontinental Race is an unforgettable experience.
2. The Iron Curtain Trail
The Iron Curtain Trail is a 10,000 km bikepacking route that follows the former Iron Curtain from the Barents Sea in Norway to the Black Sea in Turkey. This route takes you through 20 different countries, each with its unique culture, history, and landscapes. The Iron Curtain Trail is an excellent option for those who want to explore Europe’s diverse cultures and history while cycling through stunning countryside and charming towns.
3. The ViaRhona
The ViaRhona is a 815 km bikepacking route that follows the Rhone River from the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean Sea. This route takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in France, including the vineyards of the Rhone Valley and the stunning gorges of the Ardeche. The ViaRhona is an excellent option for those who want to experience the beauty of France’s countryside while enjoying some of its world-famous cuisine.
4. The North Sea Cycle Route
The North Sea Cycle Route is a 6000 km bikepacking route that follows the coastline of the North Sea through eight different countries. This route takes you through some of Europe’s most stunning coastal landscapes, including the fjords of Norway, the beaches of Denmark, and the dunes of the Netherlands. The North Sea Cycle Route is an excellent option for those who want to experience the beauty of Europe’s coastal regions.
Essential Gear for Bikepacking
The most important piece of gear for bikepacking is your bike. You’ll need a bike that’s sturdy enough to handle rough terrain, with wide tires for added traction. A gravel bike or a mountain bike is an excellent option for bikepacking, but any bike can be modified to suit your needs.
2. Camping Gear
When bikepacking, you’ll need to carry all of your camping gear with you. This includes a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment. You’ll also need to pack clothes that are suitable for the weather conditions you’ll encounter on your trip.
Navigating on a bikepacking trip can be challenging, especially if you’re traveling through remote areas. A GPS device or a smartphone with a mapping app is essential for navigating your route. You should also carry a paper map as a backup.
4. Bike Repair Tools
When bikepacking, you’re responsible for repairing any mechanical issues that arise. You’ll need to carry a basic bike repair kit, including a tire pump, spare tubes, and a multi-tool.
FAQs – Best Bikepacking Europe
What is bikepacking and why is it popular in Europe?
Bikepacking is a combination of cycling and backpacking. It involves loading up a bike with gear and taking off for a multi-day adventure ride. Bikepacking is popular in Europe due to the continent’s diverse landscapes, excellent network of cycling routes, and historic cities that provide fantastic sightseeing opportunities. Bikepacking routes in Europe also provide riders with a chance to experience local cultures, food, and traditions.
What are some of the best bikepacking routes in Europe?
Europe is home to numerous bikepacking routes that cater to different skill levels and preferences. Some of the most popular routes include the EuroVelo 6, which spans from the Atlantic to the Black Sea and takes riders through ten European countries; the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal route located in Ireland; the ViaRhôna, a route that travels from France to Lake Geneva in Switzerland; and the Transfagarasan Highway, which offers stunning vistas in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.
How long does it take to complete a bikepacking trip in Europe?
The time it takes to complete a bikepacking trip in Europe depends on the route, rider’s fitness level, and the number of stops the rider makes. Some routes can be completed in a week, while others may take several weeks or even months. Riders should plan their trip well in advance and take into account factors like bike maintenance, accommodations, and food stops.
What gear do I need for a bikepacking trip in Europe?
Essential gear for a bikepacking trip includes a reliable bicycle, a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and sufficient clothing. Riders also need to pack tools for basic bike repairs and first aid kits. It’s essential to research the route and the climate to determine specific gear needs.
Can I rent a bike for a bikepacking trip in Europe?
Yes, bike rentals are available in Europe, and some rental companies offer bikepacking gear. It’s best to research and book in advance to ensure availability during peak seasons. Riders should also consider bringing their bike and gear to avoid the hassle of arranging rentals and the risk of being stuck with a poorly-maintained bike.