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The most picturesque cycle routes around the world

We’ve analysed over 100 of the world’s prettiest cycle routes to discover which has the most Instagram photos per kilometre.
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We believe cycling tours are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a country, giving you the chance to experience the habitat and scenery in a truly special way. We’re always appreciative of anything that helps inspire people to ride, and Instagram is one of the best places for this, with over half a million posts tagged with #cycletouring. 

Whether it’s a dedicated race route or a national park that can be explored on either foot or bike, Instagram is a place for cyclists to share their experiences of the world’s prettiest pedal territory – and we were curious to find out which cycle routes and areas around the world are prompting people to share the most photos.

But to give our research a little twist, we’ve considered the length (KM) of well-known beautiful cycle routes, as well as how often they’ve been shared on Instagram. By cross-referencing the route’s distance with the number of hashtags associated with the route, we can reveal which cycle routes around the world have had the most photo uploads per kilometre. The routes with the highest ratio of Instagram uploads per kilometre have been crowned as our most picturesque cycle routes.

The routes include a strong mix of advanced and easy paths and trails, including well-pedalled tourist lanes and more challenging mountain tours – but all are undoubtedly beautiful and camera-worthy. 

The 30 most picturesque cycling routes around the world

According to Distance and Instagram Data 
 
Rank Cycle route name Location Instagram images per KM
1 Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina & Virginia, USA 832
2 Going To The Sun Road Montana, USA 734
3 Lake Ohrid Eastern Albania 691
4 The Shimanami Kaido Hiroshima & Ehime Prefecture, Japan 582
5 The South Downs Way Hampshire & Sussex, UK 488
6 Kinderdijk Cycle Route South Holland, The Netherlands 486
7 Simpsons Gap Bicycle Path Queensland, Australia 445
8 Carretera Austral (CH-7, Southern Way) Patagonia, Chile 372
9 Nova Scotia's Cabot Trail Cape Breton Highlands, Canada 337
10 Crater Lake Loop Oregon, USA 185
11 The Katy Trail Missouri, USA 173
12 Romantic Road Bavaria & Baden-Württemberg, Germany 99
13 The Camel Trail Cornwall, UK 82
14 Cape Point Nature Reserve Table Mountain National Park, South Africa 77
15 Cilento National Park Salerno Province, Italy 76
16 Parenzana Croatia, Slovenia & Italy 75
17 Chapel Loop Provence, France 66
18 The Hauraki Rail Trail Coromandel Peninsula & Hauraki Plains, New Zealand 64
19 Yungas Road La Paz & Yungas, Bolivia 54
20 Monsanto Forest Park Lisbon, Portugal 52
21 Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path Eindhoven, Netherlands 50
22 EV5 Via Romea Francigena (EuroVelo 5) UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy 46
23 Route of the Seven Lakes/Ruta de los Siete Lagos Patagonia, Argentina 43
24 Elbe Cycle Route Poland & Germany 37
25 Route des Grandes Alpes French Alps, France 26
26 Alps to Ocean Trail South Island, New Zealand 24
27 High Atlas Atlas Mountains, Morocco 24
28 Centenary Trail Canberra, Australia 21
29 Ho Chi Minh Trail North & South Vietnam 19
30 Otago Central Rail Trail Central Otago District, New Zealand 16


 

Top ten

1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia, USA

It’s not a flat easy-going ride along America’s longest linear park (some 469 miles long), but the constant ascents and descents provide hugely rewarding vistas of the exceptionally scenic Appalachian Mountains. The Parkway is nicknamed 'America’s Favourite Drive’, and those who’ve cycled it recommend a good base fitness level to handle the hills and suggest early morning and weekday riding when traffic is at its quietest. Taking the route by bike allows visitors to really absorb the beauty and wonder of the incredibly diverse vegetation, wildlife and geological features. With over 627,000 Instagram posts tagged with #BlueRidgeParkway, the road boasts nearly 830 photo shares per kilometre.

2. Going To The Sun Road, Montana, USA

In the spring months, the Going To The Sun Road is open exclusively to bikers and walkers, and the lack of motorists dramatically improves the experience of exploring Montana’s Glacier National Park. The full route is 50 miles long (if the snow has all been ploughed), and highlights include the highest point Logan Pass, the Weeping Wall (which is very popular for a dramatic photo), Wild Goose Island Viewpoint and McDonald Creek. In the spring biking season, a shuttle helps ease congestion, taking bikes and riders from Lake McDonald Lodge to Avalanche. With over 59,000 Instagram posts tagged with #goingtothesunroad, the route has nearly 733 photo shares per kilometre.

3. Lake Ohrid, Albania

A circular route around Lake Ohrid provides an excellent combination of both road and mountain biking paths. On the border of Albania and North Macedonia, the journey around the entire lake is roughly 92 kilometres and showcases some of the most stunning scenery in south-eastern Europe. The lakeside route takes in old fishing villages, the Albanian town of Pogradec, the Macedonian town of Struga, and the National Park Galicica. Clear waters, stone churches and distant mountains make this waterside cycle one of the world’s most picturesque. 

4. The Shinanami Kaido, Japan

This incredibly popular toll road connects the main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, via six smaller islands that lie in the Seto Inland Sea. The cycle path is about 70 kilometres (10 kilometres longer than the main toll road) but boasts bridge ramps with small inclines suitable for bikes. The individual islands have their own attractions including museums and temples, making it a lovely route for culture enthusiasts. The beautiful ocean views make this route hugely Instagrammable and there have been more than 580 photo shares for every kilometre of the route. 

5. The South Downs Way, England

One of the UK’s most famous trails, the 100 miles long South Downs Way is ideal for cyclists looking to see some of the best British coastal and woodland scenery. Taking between two and four days for most cyclists to complete, this route is suited to mountain bikes and will take you past chalk downs, traditional English towns, rivers and dramatic cliffs. The most popular route is to start at Winchester and finish at the Seven Sister cliffs overlooking the channel. With over 78,000 Instagram posts tagged with #southdownsway and #southdownswaycycle, the trail has 488 photo shares per kilometre. 

6. Kinderjijk Cycle Route, The Netherlands

This 43-kilometre cycle along the River Lek showcases some of Holland’s iconic polders and fortress towns and, whilst there are many working windmills to admire along the way, the main attraction is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Kinderdijk, home to 19 historical windmills. The quaint windmills are in working order and make up the biggest collection of functional windmills in The Netherlands. As long as the winds are calm, the famously flat Dutch landscape is kind to most cyclists and the dedicated paths make it a relatively safe route for all.

7. Simpsons Gap, Queensland, Australia

There is a 17-kilometre cross-country path linking Flynns Grave and Simpsons Gap which is ideal for riders looking to admire the panoramic views surrounding the remote town of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory. It’s a relaxed and accessible ride for cyclists of all ages and abilities and ends at the pretty Simpsons Gap – a landmark in the West MacDonnell Ranges which is home to a permanent waterhole. Lucky riders might chance a sight of local wildlife such as lizards, birds or the black-footed rock-wallaby. Ride in the early morning or later afternoon to capture the contours and colours in the best light. 

8. Carretera Austral, Patagonia, Chile

Taking you through the heart of Chilean Patagonia, the ‘Southern Way’ route (a.k.a. Carretera Austral) is one of the world’s most famous cycle routes. Crammed with glacier rivers, snowy mountain vistas and aquamarine lakes, the route is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful routes in South America, and in the summer season cyclists of all nationalities head here to experience the views for themselves. The route has some short inclines and has been described as challenging, however it can be conquered by all generations with the right attitude and base level of fitness. With over 460,000 Instagram posts tagged with #carreteraaustral, the route has over 370 photo shares per kilometre. 

9. Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail, Canada

Etched into the edge of the dramatic Cape Breton Highlands, the 300-kilometre-long Cabot Trail rewards cyclists intrepid enough to take it on with mesmerizing coastal views. September is a great time to cycle this route, with the spring months being a bit wet and the summer being the busiest time with motorists. The autumn weather still provides sunny clear days and also showcases the spectacular orange, yellow and red foliage displayed on the trail’s trees at this time of year. With over 100,000 Instagram posts tagged with #cabottrail and #cabottrailnovascotia, the route has over 337 photo shares per kilometre.

10. Crater Lake Loop, Oregon, USA

The third entry from the USA within the top ten most picturesque cycle routes is the Crater Lake Loop. Clocking it at roughly 52 kilometres, there are plenty of water and toilet stops enroute, as well as some top opportunities for photographs at Vidae Falls, Cloudcap Overlook and Phantom Ship Overlook. It’s a high-altitude adventure, and best suited to experienced road cyclists looking for a challenge in the summer months. With its crystal-clear waters and postcard worthy views, Crater Lake is hugely popular on Instagram, and the loop route has roughly 184 photo shares per kilometre.

 

Methodology & Special Mentions

Our cycling experts researched and compiled a list of over 100 cyclable routes and areas around the world that are popular with cycling enthusiasts, as well as being jaw-droppingly beautiful. The initial list ranged from well-worn bike routes and established mountain trails through to national parks and forest areas that provide a plethora of ways to explore on bike; some routes are short and take hours or minutes to ride, and some others can take days or weeks to cycle. The results take into consideration sensibilities around how easy it is to find details of an established and accessible bike path or trail, and how the general public hashtag their posts. 

For example, the island of Hvar has some excellent cycling routes, but choosing just one route to represent the region, especially against such a broad and popular #Hvar hashtag meant it was disqualified from the overall rankings. Other fantastic areas for keen cyclists to explore include Passo San Pellegrino in Italy, Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia and Doi Suthep in Thailand but again they were excluded due to difficulties surrounding finding a single representative route. 

On the other end, some very established cycle routes were excluded due to a lack of relevant hashtags, such as La Farola in Cuba and Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1). 

If you’re feeling inspired by this list and want to explore the world’s most beautiful vistas on bike for yourself, we can help you find your perfect cycling tour. Visit our cycling holidays section for more inspiration, including tours in Croatia, Cuba and Asia.

All data correct as of August 2022.
 

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