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Caring about the planet comes in many forms. From building your home in a sustainable manner to growing your own plants, there are many ways to be eco-friendly. With that in mind, if you’re doing your best to lead a green lifestyle, you’re surely always on the lookout for interesting destinations that you can visit while still being mindful of the environment. Plus, as you care about your carbon footprint, you probably love cycling, which is why we’ve collected some of the best destinations you can explore by bike and stay sustainable. Read on for some inspiration.
The Lakes of Central Europe
With the continent’s relatively small area, you can easily cross several countries on your European journey. For instance, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany are neighboring countries that you can explore by bike. If you’re looking for stunning views, lakeside cycle paths are the way to go. In addition to the traffic-free environment, Lake Constance will also provide you with fairytale castles and gothic cathedrals as well as breathtaking mountain vistas. You can also stop in any of the towns and get to know the friendly residents.
The Baltic Countries
Something else you can do while on the Old Continent is cycling the Baltic countries. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are best visited between May and September if you want to enjoy everything they have to offer. For example, you will see a mix of untouched nature and quaint, fairytale-like towns that will keep your cycling adventure very interesting. Moreover, when you stop in Riga, you can visit its funky bars while the Latvian city of Jurmala offers 25 kilometers of white sand beaches that you will surely want to make the most of.
Almost as large as Europe, it’s only normal that you can’t explore all of China in a day or even a week. That also means that cycling opportunities abound. So, if you find yourself in this country, visiting the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, make sure you go on a bike ride as well. One area you don’t want to miss is Yangshuo. As you go from Guilin to Xingping, you will get to enjoy the picturesque landscape. What is more, you can also cycle the Yulong River Scenic Area for 35 kilometers if you want.
Yangon to Mandalay and Inle Lake, Myanmar
If you travel to China’s neighbor Myanmar, you are in for another treat. Also known as Burma, you can start by checking out its largest city Yangon and all of its attractions. Then, you can head north to Bagan—an ancient city full of ornate temples. The quiet roads and the idyllic rural countryside make this country an ideal place for cycling. Continue your trip up to Mandalay—the second-largest city—and even try your hand at fishing on Inle Lake.
New Zealand’s South Island
You’re surely aware of New Zealand’s natural beauty and welcoming people. With that in mind, why not add it to your bucket list and explore it by bike as soon as you can? When planning your trip, focus on the South Island and make sure you cover every last bit of it. For example, start in Queenstown and make your way to the Central Otago Rail Trail, which will take you through gold-mining towns such as Alexandra and Wedderburn. Pedaling through this stunning landscape with pristine rivers will be a memory of a lifetime.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
New Zealand’s western neighbor is also home to some amazing cycling opportunities. For example, you can take the Darren Smith Memorial Route and get to know the Gold Coast in its entirety. Then, in South Australia, you can easily tour the local vineyards by bike. However, something that you don’t want to skip if you’re up for an adventure is circling Uluru—the largest monolith in the world. Along the way, you will see some ancient rock art and hidden caves as well as finches and wallabies. You can bring your own bike or hire one inside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Helena, Montana, USA
The United States also abounds with cycling locations. However, while cities like Portland in Oregon are easily explored by road and leisure bikes, you can also opt for mountain biking. For example, after equipping yourself with reliable mountain bikes, you can explore states like Montana. With 1,788 miles of mountain bike trails, the Big Sky Country has plenty to offer. What is more, its capital, Helena, is home to 75 miles of trails that you can try. If you’re looking for a challenge, how about the infamous Continental Divide Trail, with an elevation of 2,500 feet?
Going further north can provide you with more great cycling trails. In addition to potentially seeing some polar bears, traveling to Canada means that you could try out the Route Verte in Quebec or the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. Besides these, you can also get on the Southeastern Waterfront Trail in Ontario, which comes with majestic views of the Great Lakes. The shortest version is 780 kilometers long, but you can also take it up a notch with the 1,000-kilometer or the 3,000-kilometer routes.
Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Africa isn’t lacking when it comes to cycling either. In Tanzania, you can go mountain biking in the Kilimanjaro National Park. However, you can also take on the Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater biking challenge. It will provide you with the opportunity to see all sorts of African terrain with the backdrop of the highest single free-standing mountain in the world. Additionally, you’ll also see some traditional settlements and get a chance to interact with the locals.
Bwindi National Park, Uganda
Uganda is another prime location in Africa that you can consider. One area you can explore with your trusty bike is the renowned Bwindi National Park. The 13-kilometer-long trail will take you from the park headquarters in Buhoma to the Ivi River and you might get to see endangered mountain gorillas, red-tailed monkeys, and the black and white colobus monkeys as well as a great diversity of birds. While in Uganda, you can also ride on the lower slopes of Mount Elgon.
Argentina’s Lake District
If you find yourself in Argentina, you don’t want to miss out on the gorgeous Lake District. The 105-kilometer-long Route of the Seven Lakes will take you through some of the country’s most stunning natural beauty. You will pass the shorelines of seven lakes—Correntoso, Espejo, Escondido, Villarino, Falkner, Machónico, and Lácar—and you might even visit the towns of St Martin de los Andes and Villa la Angostura. In case you can extend your stay, you can even explore other nearby lakes.
The Peru Divide
Finally, if you’re looking for a real challenge, why not consider the Peru Divide in the Andes? This mountain route will have you bouncing between 3,000 and 5,000 meters and driving on gravel backroads. Expect to cover about 50km a day, but the effort will definitely be worth it once you see the amazing vistas that await you.
If you’re doing your best to play your part in saving the planet, you’ve surely taken up cycling. In case that is your favorite way to discover new places, keep these 12 in mind when looking for your next travel destination.
Have any more cycling travel destinations to share? Let us know down in the comments.
This article was originally published in GREY Journal.