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Culture vultures

7 of the best cycling tours worldwide

Clive Wedderburn July 21, 2017

If you prefer to stay active during your holidays, then a nice morning jog on the beach should keep you fit and healthy. But for those of you who want to experience the landscape and culture of exotic places from a unique perspective, there’s no better transportation system than a bicycle. Here are seven of the best cycling tours from around the world.

1. Rajasthan cycling tour, India 

India can never be underestimated, the sheer vibrancy and colour, its warm, spiritual and insightful people and the romantic architecture that is guaranteed to bring tears of joy to your eyes. Uncover all that Rajasthan has to offer on a 16 day private tour that allows you to cycle into the scenic foothills of the Aravalli Range, discover the elaborately carved Ranakpur Jain temples, where the colours change with each passing hour, embark on a breath-taking train journey through the Kambli Ghat Pass, stopping to feed the monkeys, or coasting through the beautiful lakeside city of Udaipur to marvel at temples and palaces. All the while you’ll be sampling stunning Indian cuisine and meeting local communities such as the colourful Garasia people, immersing yourself in cultures that remain unchanged for centuries.

2. Golden Gate Bridge independent cycling tour, San Francisco

The best way to experience the majesty of the engineering masterpiece that is the Golden Gate Bridge is to cross it by bicycle. Nearly 3 kilometres in length use this as a fantastic opportunity to discover perfect views back across the bay to San Francisco. Begin at Fisherman’s Wharf, observing the seals that gather on the pier and taking in the cable car turning point also situated here, before you head out on the car-free National Park Bike Path to Fort Point at the base of the bridge. From there ride your bike 220 feet above the water all the way to charming Sausalito to stop for a bite in a local cafés or continue your journey to Mt. Tamalpais to spot giant Redwood trees. Then return via the bridge or get the best of both worlds by taking the ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoying two different perspectives in one awe-inspiring day.

3. Kandy cycling tour, Sri Lanka

Kandy not only boasts a wealth of cultural places of interest, this ancient capital of kings is also surrounded by scenic tea plantations that offer a refreshing break from the humidity of the low country. Wander through the Temple of the Tooth, absorbing the atmosphere before continuing your cycle tour to discover romantic Bogambara Lake, plus markets containing exquisite handicrafts including batik, lacquer and brass ornaments that will make the perfect gift or keepsake of your travels in this enchanting country. You’ll cycle through enchanting forests stopping at the Tea Museum in Hanthana, venturing through an exciting mixture of terrains to reach the hill town of Kadugannawa, tasting the aromatic cuisine this country is famed for at cafes along the way.

4. Cycling and lantern tour of Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An whets the appetite of every traveller wishing to discover the cultural delights of Vietnam. Slowly wind your way along beautiful country lanes, past iconic paddy fields and grazing water buffalo, waving at smiling children and stopping at sleepy villages such as Thanh Ha, renowned for its unique pottery, until you arrive at the enchanting town of Hoi An. Here you’ll find ancient Chinese merchant houses, the beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge dating back to the 15th century. You’ll also see traditional music shows, sample tasty street food and visit silk stalls to buy lanterns created by local artists using traditional methods.

5. Mexico city sightseeing bike tour

Mexico City is a vibrant metropolis that features highly on the road-map of any discerning foodie and history buff, a place where Aztec ruins can be found next to gleaming state of the art sky scrapers. As you free-wheel through the city tuck into tasty tacos, fiery fajitas at local cantinas or dine out at Bellini, a rotating restaurant 45 storeys high for panoramic views. Relax in cafes while authentic mariachi bands play nearby. Then, visit the National Museum of Anthropology to study artefacts pre-dating the arrival of Columbus before your tour heads out to the village and historic canals of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. La Digue bicycle and boat tour, Seychelles

The beauty of the Seychelles is not confined to gorgeous crescent beaches alone. It is present in the tree covered lanes, the sleepy villages and the forest-clad hillsides overlooking many stunning Indian Ocean vistas; in short, the Seychelles is the cyclist’s sanctuary. So why confine yourself to your sun lounger when you can explore more of the island on a bicycle tour of the islands hot spots. Escape into L'Union Estate to discover giant turtles, or encounter Anse Source d'Argent, one of the world’s most idyllic stretches of coastline on an independent bike tour through dense greenery, free to stop and eat, and enjoy the tropical paradise at your own pace and leisure.

7. Soweto bicycle tour, South Africa

The Soweto Bike Tour is a fine example of getting under the skin of a culture. Learn about the everyday lives of this vibrant township in Johannesburg, see what makes the people tick, hear personal stories of apartheid and discover the true spirit of Rainbow Nation. Visit cultural landmarks and understand their importance such as the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial or the Walter Sisulu Square of Independence, where the ANC presented the Freedom Charter. Cycle along the street that was home to two Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela on an inspirational journey through one of South Africa’s most inspiring communities.

Feeling tempted by these fantastic tours. Cycling is just one of the many ways you can add new dimensions to your holidays abroad. Visit our cycling holidays for more inspiration.