From Hanoi to Havana, Delhi to Dakar, bicycles rule the roads. 

Environmentally friendly? Tick. Cost effective? Tick. And not only do
they keep you fit, but they also help you fit in. Across Asia, Africa
and beyond, it’s the way the locals get around. Whether you’re haggling
over the handlebars or racing children home from school, you’ll be
experiencing the real destination – at ground level. 

Nothing beats that feeling of freewheeling the last big downhill of the
day, thighs tingling, lungs bulging, wind in your hair (and flies up
your nose). But best of all, cycling means you can sample the region’s
delectable delicacies without a twinge of guilt.

While buses and trains hurtle from city to town and back again, bikes
open up the world in between. Travel at your own pace, pause for a
picnic or take an impromptu swim as you stumble upon hidden spots.
Biking offers hands-on, independent adventure. Whether your idea of
bike bliss is a gentle morning pootle followed by a bottle of burgundy,
or a bone-rattling marathon of mighty peaks, we’ve picked our favourite
trips to suit every fitness level, pocket and persuasion.

Aluka Digital Library,flickr


You might feel safer in a 4WD while you’re gazing at big game, but
getting to those wildlife wonderlands by bike is an exhilarating
alternative. From the base of Kilimanjaro, pedal across the
baobab-studded steppes of the Great Rift Valley, dipping into village
life and camping under the starry African sky. From Lake Manyara, climb
the rift escarpment to Lake Eyasi and the Ngorongoro Crater, packed
with Africa’s Big Five. You won’t be able to cycle here, so give your
legs a rest and let a good guide drive you past the lions and rhinos.

Hahei/Cathedral Cove, vtveen

New Zealand

The wide roads of New Zealand lure cyclists from around the planet,
and it’s easy to see why – the jaw-dropping scenery, top-notch pit
stops and absence of traffic make for some of the best cycling in the

As well as the glaciers, geysers, rainforests and wineries, New Zealand
has also mastered the art of service. Your bags can be transported
between comfy lodges and rustic farmstays, leaving you free to pedal on
and enjoy the scenery. For a great South Island overview, ride a
spectacular swoosh from Christchurch to the raw grandeur of Milford


Tackling Central America on two wheels offers a different
perspective on the jungle landscapes, Mayan ruins and bubbling
volcanoes. Antigua is the best launching point, with plenty of agencies
offering equipment, maps and a variety of tours. Freewheel through the
Guatemalan highlands, passing colourful market towns and coffee
plantations on the way to Lake Atitlán, a tranquil spot overlooked by
three towering volcanoes. From here you can head north to the remote
Cuchumatanes mountains to rub shoulders with the local Amerindians, or
strike out to Tikal National Park, where quetzals trill from the
undergrowth and a trek through this pre-Hispanic world of Mayan
temples, engulfed by rainforest, makes a magical departure from dirt

South Africa

Why take a car when you could tackle wine country on two wheels? Cycle
the scenic route from Cape Town to Stellenbosch to sample the region’s
finest drops, pottering lazily among vineyards, enjoying bibulous
picnics between neat rows of juicy grapes. Once you’ve drunk your fill,
head east on peaceful roads to explore the interior’s national parks
before hitting the coast, rounding Cape Agulhas – Africa’s southernmost
point – and spotting whales and penguins all the way back to Table

Karakoram Highway

The Karakoram Highway, dreamX

For serious scenery, the Himalaya takes some beating. The lonely
Karakoram Highway (KKH) links Pakistan with Kashgar in western China;
its 1,300km are entirely paved, with surprisingly gentle gradients –
ideal for adventurous cyclists, who can also explore remote lands
surrounding the highway. 

From Islamabad, bus or fly to Gilgit, an excellent base – head east to
scale the road to Skardu, west over the challenging Shandur Pass, south
to catch a glimpse of Nanga Parbat (8,125m) or north into the
breathtaking Hunza Valley. With views to take your breath away,
wonderful wild camps and remote shepherd villages, this is extreme
cycling at its best. Bring your own bike, cold-weather camping gear,
plenty of spare parts and a puncture repair kit.


Delve into the delights of old Japan, snaking around the coast of
little-visited Shikoku, with sea views and Shinto temples to adorn your
ride. This volcanic region makes for challenging ascents, but road
surfaces are good and the rewards fantastic – volcanic spring water is
tamed at onsens (communal baths) where you can scrub, soak
and steam your aching muscles. Cross to neighbouring Kyushu for the big
push up brooding Aso-san, the world’s largest active caldera, before
gliding down to the Pacific Coast, pausing for breath at tiny fishing
villages and sampling real Japanese living in a traditional ryokan (inn).

Sri Lanka

Bite-sized Sri Lanka is a satisfying stop for cyclists – a diverse
mix of ancient Buddhist culture, verdant tea plantations and
wheel-welcoming tarmac that is delightfully traffic-free. From the
cultural triangle of ancient cities, glide along quiet backroads, past
rock fortresses and fascinating cave temples, inhaling sweet
spice-infused air as you go. Dip south through the rolling estates of
tea country and park your bike at Yala National Park. Here you might
spot leopard, elephant, wild boar and abundant birdlife in the jungle
before treating your sore limbs to a chill-out on some of the planet’s
best beaches. Colombo’s National Mountain Biking Association  has
information on routes and can arrange guides and advise on purchase or
rental options. 


Wadi Rum,kevin

Give the camels a break and opt for a bicycle – not only are they
more comfortable, but bikes are easier to control and far less
flatulent! Ride south from Amman for a cross-section of Jordan. Bike to
Biblical Mount Nebo and the Byzantine mosaics of Madaba, explore the
rose-red city of Petra and conquer majestic desert landscapes at Wadi

There are plenty of places to escape the heat as you glide through
ancient olive groves and sleepy Bedouin villages. Finish your trip with
some water therapy – enjoy a relaxing float in the Dead Sea, or descend
into the fish-rich waters of the Red Sea. With smooth roads, most signs
in English and major places of interest less than a day’s ride apart,
cycling is firmly on the up – although infrastructure is still in its
infancy. Accommodation is readily available, so there’s no need for
tents or stoves, but bring your own bike and spares, or consider
travelling with a specialist UK operator.

North America

 If you’ve got the stamina, North America has certainly got the
scenery. Pedal a section of the Continental Divide Trail, which
stretches 5,000km along the Rocky Mountains from the top of Montana to
the bottom of New Mexico. Too rugged? Plump for sea views from
Vancouver, Canada, to Tijuana, Mexico on the Pacific Coast Highway.

But the best biking is around Moab, Utah – against a sandstone
backdrop, test your nerve on the Poison Spider, Porcupine Rim and
Slickrock, some of the region’s top off-road tracks. Biking is big here
and it’s easy to pick up advice.