Best time to go on a cycling vacation in Europe

Temperature & Rainfall

Part of Europe’s charm is the unpredictable nature of the weather and as long as you’re equipped with suitable lightweight layers, including waterproofs, you’ll be able to hit the ground pedalling in Andalucia, Sicily and the Algarve, pretty much all-year-round. The further north you travel, or the higher the altitude, the more chance of snow and ice, with the Alps, Scandinavia and the Baltics not renowned cycling locations over the winter. Best advice as to the best time to go cycling in Europe is to head south during the winter and north during the summer with spring and autumn often finding the most pleasant conditions across the board. Seasonal festivals, cycling competitions (the Tour de France is in July) and cultural events can also provide a best or worst time to cycle in Europe with July and August school hols bumping up prices and creating congestion, especially along the coast.

Cycling in Europe region by region

When to go cycling & when not to

Northern Europe

The warmer and lighter summer months of July and August make cycling vacations in Northern Europe a real pleasure with glistening glaciers in the north of Norway and island hopping in cycle-friendly Sweden adding to the overall enjoyment of days spent in and out of the saddle.

Eastern Europe

Either side of summer is generally considered to be the best time to go cycling in Eastern Europe with the route from Estonia to Latvia and onwards to the Curonian Spit and Trakai in Lithuania definitely advisable outside of the hotter and more crowded months of July and August.

Southern Europe

Even as early as February, March and April you’ll find good cycling conditions in Southern Europe with the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia often flourishing in fragrant orange blossom. Other Southern European regions, such as Catalonia in Spain, the Alentejo and Algarve in Portugal and Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Etruscan hillsides, are also best cycled either side of summer with September and into October also good times to cycle alongside the fiery foliage of autumn.

Central Europe

Spring and autumn are also the best times to go cycling in Central Europe with the roads and ferries along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast often empty whilst Montenegro and Albania both boast flower-filled valleys and vast lakes leading to traditional villages and hearty local fare. Capital cities such as Vienna, Prague and Budapest are also much more appealing to cyclists outside of summer with cultural cobbles, homemade cakes and alfresco cafes providing just reward for lengthy distances.

Western Europe

Finally, France falls into several best time to go brackets with the central regions and French Alps certainly very enjoyable from May through to September. The alpine cols of the Tour de France are ideal for tackling after the event finishes at the end of July with the 21 hairpins of the Alpe d’Huez helping to provide your own grandstand finish. The further south you go the warmer it gets with Provence in July the peak season for lavender lovers looking to cycle under hot summer sunshine.

Best time to go cycling in Europe

Responsible Travel recommends

Melanie McAnaw, from our cycling vacation supplier, Headwater, shares her advice on the best time to go on a cycling vacation in Europe:
“No matter what the time of year, pack lightweight waterproofs that can be pulled out if needed and go for wider cycling sunglasses as they offer complete protection from ‘fly in the eye’.”
Photo credits: [Best time intro: Tarasenko Nataliia] [Helpdesk: lassedesignen] [Northern Europe: ] [Eastern Europe: ] [Southern Europe: ] [Central Europe: ] [Western Europe: ] [Melanie McAnaw quote: Sasin Tipchai]
Written by Chris Owen
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