As we emerge from the pandemic for hopefully the final time, we’re itching to get back out on our bikes in warmer, more exotic climates, as well as seizing the chance to visit some iconic locations from the world of cycling.
Here we’ll be looking at some of the best places to visit for a post-Covid-19 cycling getaway, some near and some far. The world is once again our oyster, so let’s get exploring.
If it’s sun you’re after, then look no further than Girona. One of the modern-day heartlands of cycling, Girona acts as a hub for some of the world’s top riders as well as being home to some amazing cafés, bars and restaurants.
The city was once home to the now infamous Lance Armstrong, with the US Postal team having a base in the city in the late ’90s. This started a wave of cycling interest that is still growing today thanks to the region’s perfect balance of testing climbs, scenic coastal roads and historic city centre routes.
For those more interested in going off the beaten track, Girona has a plethora of trails that perfectly suit mountain biking. You don’t have to be a ‘roadie’ to enjoy a trip to Girona.
Girona is found in the Catalonia region of Spain, but make no mistake, the people of Girona value their Catalan heritage far more than their Spanish roots, so make sure to brush up on your history before visiting!
Current entry guidelines state that you must have either had two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine or have contracted the virus within the past six months.
For a more detailed look at what a trip to Girona looks like, read our ‘long weekend’ piece here.
At the start of the pandemic, Northern Italy was one of the hardest hit areas in the whole of Europe, which made it a strict no-go zone for anyone outside of its borders. This is thankfully a thing of the past now though, with the doors to one of Italy’s most beautiful regions back open.
Lombardy is home to some truly breath taking vistas, non more so than the roads of Il Lombardia, the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’, traditionally held every October. Starting at the picturesque Lake Como, a chance to ride the Gran Fondo and then watch the pros tear it up in the last Monument of the year should not be passed up.
If racing is not your thing, then a more relaxed ride would still give you the opportunity to take in all the views while experiencing some of the area’s cycling history. The most important location of all being the Madonna del Ghisallo, a climb used in Il Lombardia for over 100 years. The climb is also home to a chapel that until recently housed a museum dedicated to cycling (a new museum has opened next door). There are also statues of legends at the summit for good measure.
As any cyclist will testify, coffee is a crucial part of any long ride and Lombardy provides some of the best in Italy. A visit to some of the speciality coffee shops of Bergamo, Brescia and Milan are a must after a tough day in the saddle.
The thriving city of Milan is of course found in the region, and would provide an excellent base for a trip to Lombardy, especially if travelling as a family.
Travel into Italy is now much easier with one of the following acceptable methods: proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, proof of contracting the virus in the 6 months prior, or a lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entering the country.
For full information, visit the Italian government website and complete the questionnaire here.
For those of you less keen on air travel or just wanting to stay slightly closer to home, then there is one place that you simply must visit as a cycling fan: Flanders.
This cycling mad region of Belgium is perhaps the Mecca of all cycling locations, it being home to some of the most iconic climbs, cobbles, roads and just about everything cycling related that you can think of.
The big draw for a trip to Flanders is of course the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, which is more of a festival of cycling than a mere bike race – there is also the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen that is well worth a visit.
The centre is the best place to start a ride in Flanders. Here you’ll find a series of routes that allow you to take on the famous cobbled climbs and follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest legends of the sport.
For those who like a tipple, Flanders is also well known for producing some of the best beers in the world, perfectly paired with another local speciality, the humble frites and mayo. Just the tonic after a long day on the Belgian cobbles.
Getting to Flanders couldn’t be easier, with regular flights to Brussels available from across Britain, as well as the Eurostar operating on a daily basis from London St Pancras.
Current travel restrictions mean that you will have to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) to get into Belgium from the UK, even if you’re fully vaccinated. You must also provide proof of your vaccinated status.
For unvaccinated travellers, access is much more difficult with over 18s only being granted access for ‘essential reasons’ as specified by the Belgian Government.
For full details on Belgium’s rules and regs, click here.
The Peak District
Seeing the world doesn’t have to mean leaving the country; sometimes some of the best experiences can be found right outside your door. The Peak District is an often-forgotten part of the UK cycling scene, with many preferring the roads of the Yorkshire Dales and Northwest England to the wonders of the Peak District.
There are plenty of great places to base yourself for a ride around the area, such as Matlock Bath and Buxton. Both are home to a number of great campsites and small hotels, as well as some brilliant restaurants and pubs.
As for the actual cycling, the Peak District is home to many challenging climbs. The most famous of these being the ascent of Mam Tor and slow drag through Winnats pass which are found less than a mile from each other by bike.
Unlike some of the destinations mentioned here, the weather is much more unpredictable in the Peak District, so this is a place for the hardiest of souls to tackle, but the views are well worth it.
If you want a more detailed run down of what a trip to the peak district looks like, then give our Peak District ‘long weekend’ piece a read here.
Now that you are armed with all the crucial information about some of Europe’s top destinations, you can start planning your next great post-Covid-19 cycling trip. Before leaving, make sure you take out cycle travel insurance with Yellow Jersey. This will be especially important if you want to take on any sportives or gran fondos while on your trip, as other insurance companies do not provide this level of cover.