Awakening

Welcome to The Window Seat, the new Omio magazine. Our first issue, titled “Awakening,” features inspirational and practical stories to ease you back into a travel mindset.

Traveling by bike is environmentally friendly and affords many scenic vistas. Credit: EyeEm

Break the Cycle

Explore these five scenic long-distance bike rides in Europe

Traveling by bike is synonymous with adventure. Whether you do it with family or alone, it opens up opportunities to get to know a country and its culture from a unique perspective. You’re not only traveling in an environmentally friendly way, you’re also focusing on the essentials: serenity and wellness. And we could all use a bit of that in the current environment*.

Here’s a handy guide to five of the most scenic bike paths in Europe. Grab that off-road two-wheeler and go!

Alentejo Circular Route, Portugal

Explore Alentejo, Portugal, where mountains touch the sky. Credit: Shutterstock

The circular route through the Alentejo region in the south of Portugal traverses picturesque olive groves, knobbly cork oaks and idyllic vineyards. It starts and ends in the tranquil town of Évora, whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you wind your way through the long roads, you’ll spy different epochs and cultures. Tourists hoards are forgotten and time is definitely not of the essence as you soak in the nature. Small, mostly whitewashed villages mark suitable stops for a quick snack or rest. 

The route at a glance:
217 miles. Start in and end in Évora, with trips through Monsaraz, Serpa, Mertola, Castro Verde and Beja. 

C2C Cycle Path, United Kingdom

This popular long-distance route should be on everyone’s bucket list. The 143-mile coast-to-coast path connects the Irish Sea with the North Sea. It leads through the Pennines and the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most popular of the numerous routes leads from Whitehaven to Sunderland, past idyllic cottages and stone walled roads and across old mining towns. Cyclists often dip their rear wheels into the Irish Sea and North Sea as a matter of tradition. 

The route at a glance:
143 miles. From Whitehaven, the route leads through the Lake District National Park and the Pennines and ends in Sunderland. 

Elbe Cycle Route, Czech Republic and Germany

The long and meandering Elbe Cycle Path takes you from the source of the Elbe in the Krkonose Mountains through Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland to the estuary of the Elbe in nearby Cuxhaven. You’ll have the chance to discover some of the most idyllic landscapes in Germany, as well as Prague, Dresden and Hamburg. Plan at least 14 days for the entire path, but if you want to stop off for some overnight trips, you can cycle just part of the way. The section from Špindlerův Mlýn to Dresden is not for the faint of heart as it leads through the fantastic rock formations of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The section between Hamburg and Cuxhaven enchants with maritime charm and expansive beaches. 

The route at a glance:
790 miles. Starting in Špindlerův Mlýn in the north of the Czech Republic, the path goes through Mělník and Decin and then over Dresden, Meissen, Magdeburg, Hamburg and Cuxhaven, Germany.

Loire Cycle Route, France

Romantic vineyards, imposing chateaux and charming villages: the Loire Valley is the pleasure garden of France. The Loire cycle path runs from Cuffy to St-Brévin-les-Pins on the Atlantic coast with more than 2,000 secondary routes. The almost 62-mile-long, slightly hilly section between Blois and Tours is one of the most picturesque, with numerous castles to discover. The Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, the Château d’Amboise and the Clos-Lucé, where Leonardo Da Vinci once lived and worked, are among the most iconic chateaux. Your rendezvous with the Valley of the Royal Castles should embrace the French way of life: excellent cuisine and fabulous wine.

Chambord Castle is one of the most iconic in the Loire Valley. Credit: Dorian Mongel/Unsplash

The route at a glance:
559 miles. Starting from Blois, the path leads to Chaumont-sur-Loire, Amboise, Montlouis-sur-Loire and Tours. 

Vía Verde de Ojos Negros, Spain

In the east of Spain, the Vía Verde de Ojos Negros path runs along a disused railway line from Ojos Negros to the Mediterranean Sea and Sagunt. Even though the Vía Verde actually starts at Santa Eulalia station, it is worthwhile to start the tour at the disused mines of Ojos Negros. Today they resemble a ghost town and thus provide a melancholic but memorable start to your journey. There are numerous historical and remarkable places in the immediate vicinity of the Vía Verde, offering insights into the art, culture and history of Aragon and Valencia. Where once British steam locomotives puffed, you can now savor a landscape shaped by wind and weather, while tunnels carved in stone, bridges and aqueducts provide spectacular views. Thistles, rosehips and blackberry bushes line the path and “He who holds his bike dear will push it with no fear” certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. 

The route at a glance:
102 miles. The route leads from Santa Eulalia to Teruel, Barracas and Torres Torres to the port of Sagunt.

*This article was produced pre COVID-19. Since the pandemic, travel regulations are in constant flux. Borders and businesses may close temporarily or permanently. Please travel safely and check out the Open Travel Index for up-to-date information on restrictions and regulations.