The world’s most famous cycle race is taking place this month as riders battle it out in the Tour de France. So here’s a timely reminder of holiday home destinations that also happen to offer some of the best cycling in Europe…

Mallorcan pad in Puerto Pollensa

Mallorca in the Balearics is arguably Europe’s most popular destination for both pro and amateur cyclists. Visit in spring and you’re sure to come across a peloton or two, including pro teams like Team Sky or Astana. It’s easy to see why. The island combines just about every type of terrain, all within close proximity, with balmy winter and spring climates and excellent roads, many of which are traffic free out of high season. Not forgetting it’s a very pleasant place to spend time, and easy to reach, with plenty of flights into its international airport in Palma.

Highlights in Mallorca include the Tramuntana mountains, which run parallel to the island’s north-west coast and offer exciting winding climbs. Meanwhile, the flatter roads that follow the northern and eastern stretches of coastline or cross the island’s interior are a gentler but equally enjoyable option. Popular bases for cyclists – and second homeowners – include Puerto Pollensa and Alcúdia. Sir Bradley Wiggins, who has trained regularly in Mallorca for years and once called the island a “Scalextric track for cyclists”, reportedly has a Mallorcan bolt-hole.

Other parts of Spain also favoured by cyclists for their blend of thrilling mountain terrain and flat natural landscape and low levels of traffic include the Girona province in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees, where Lance Armstrong once had a home. Dénia and Calpe in the northern Costa Blanca are popular too, as is Tenerife in the Canaries, home to Mount Teide and the longest uninterrupted climb in Europe!

Tuscan bolt-hole with tidy views

Tuscany, with its peaceful undulating landscape, has always been a favourite training destination for Italian cycling teams, but these days it’s also attracting an increasing number of amateur riders. The region is especially well-known for its sections of white gravel roads, or ‘strade bianchie’ as they are called locally, after which a famous professional race takes its name.

The Chianti area of Tuscany, revered for its wine, hosts its popular L’Eroica, an annual non-competitive race primarily for riders of vintage bikes. Throw into the mix, the lovely scenery, which includes sweeping vineyards and ancient hill-top villages, and fantastic gastronomy, and who wouldn’t want to spend time there, in a saddle or otherwise?

Elsewhere in Italy, outside of the winter sports season the Dolomites are popular with riders who enjoy the challenge of gruelling climbs. Part of the Southern Alps and with outstanding scenery that warrants world UNESCO status, it’s not surprising the Dolomites host part of the annual Giro d’Italia race.

Stylish apartment in Nice

The quality cosmopolitan lifestyle and balmy climate of the French Riviera continue to attract professional cyclists, most of whom head to the hot spots of Monaco – the low taxation there might also play a part – and Nice.

Being the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Nice’s appeal lies in its easy access to both beautiful coastal routes, which meander over the border into Italy, and fabulous mountain passes in the foothills of the Alps, in particular the Col d’Èze and Col de la Madone. The nearby L’Esterel National Park is also a popular training area, favoured for its flatter roads. Access to Nice is excellent, thanks to its well-connected international airport.

Magical villa in southern Crete

The French Alps offers limitless options for cycling, especially mountain-bikers, but the area around the neighbouring resorts of Morzine and Avoriaz is a top pick for road bikers. This is thanks to the roads there having a balanced mix of flat and undulating stretches, spiced up with a selection of hairpin-heavy climbs. Proximity to Geneva airport makes access relatively easy.

How about Crete?
Greece’s largest and most southern island is an undiscovered gem for cyclists. It is home to three unspoilt mountain ranges, rugged valleys and gorges carpeted in olive trees, and winding coastal roads. Much of the island, in particular the south coast, remains untouched, meaning traffic is minimal. The annual Tour of Crete cycle race is helping to put the island on the cycling map, while the area around Agia Galini already attracts riders who come to train in the spring.

Written by Overseas Guides Company.

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