Luxembourg, GR5/E2 trail
Two years ago I wondered about bikepacking routes in Europe. After eight months of riding, researching, and blogging from Amsterdam to Sevastapol to Athens, this resource is the culmination of our efforts. Europe is a great place to explore by bike, off-pavement, and self-supported. Eat great food, visit fascinating cultural and historical places, and learn new languages, in between bike rides. In Europe, there are rides and routes for every interest and skill level. Use the search function or the archives on this page to learn more about our rides in Europe through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Greece. Read more about our adventures across Europe in the Bicycle Times article Bikepacking Europe: North Sea to the Black Sea.
This is an incomplete list of European bikepacking routes. These routes are either mapped, signed, and/or available as GPS tracks. Many routes originate as self-supported off-pavement endurance races, multi-day stage races, or challenging routes for solo ITT. Some are government tourism projects. Others are the creation of avid riders or cycling organizations to promote the riding in their home country. Lastly, some routes suggested here are repurposed walking routes, which may be done in sections or as a whole. One route is currently planned, but is incomplete. Additional rouetplanning resources include online retailers of maps and guides, or digital trail-finder resources. The basic concept of this project is to awaken the world to the breadth of bikepacking possibilities in Europe, despite the lack of a single superstar route such as the Great Divide Route, Colorado Trail, or the Arizona Trail. Bikepacking is a global phenomena, born of the passion to ride somewhere, off the beaten path, self-supported.
Use these links as a springboard to do your own research and riding. Some routes may be easy with significant paved sections, non-technical terrain, and uncomplicated logistics. Others are extremely challenging, with a large component of hike-a-bike.
Any assistance to improve the list is welcomed, including relevant comments about any of the listed routes and new route suggestions with links. When possible the routes are linked to the most informative or relevant webpage, which most often originates from the route organizer or creator. In a few cases, routes are listed without an official webpage or an official GPS route, such as The Red Trail in Poland, but the route is known to exist on the ground, is signed, and is indicated on Compass brand maps (and others). To keep this listing simple I have chosen not to indicate the distance, difficulty, or source of route guidance (map, GPS, signs). These features may come in the future, and if anyone wishes to host this list in further detail, contact me directly. Start dreaming and get riding!
Please use the comment form below and check back in the future as this page develops. Special assistance is needed to include routes from many countries, including: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary (The Countrywide Blue Tour?), Serbia, Kosovo, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belorus, Russia, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Israel is not in Europe, but is included due to a growing bikepacking scene. Surely, there are many more routes in the countries listed. Tell your friends. Share it online.
Spain: TransAndalus, Transpirinaica; Transiberia, Camino de Santiago, Camino del Norte, Transcantábrica, Via de la Plata, Camino del Cid; GR 48, Transnevada. Many Spanish route maps and guidebooks available from labiciteca.com.
Portugal: Rota Vicentina, Via Algarviana
France: Traversée du Massif Vosgien, Traversée du Jura (maps), Traversée du Massif Central, GR5/E2 trail; VTTrack.fr for interactive MTB trail map of France
Belgium: GR5/E2 walking trail (general info); also, some images and info about the section in the Ardennes Mountains
Germany: GST: Grenzsteintrophy
UK: Bearbones 200, England-Wales-England, Lakeland 200, Pennine Bridleway, Ridgeway Double, South Downs Double, Coast to Coast, Trans Cambrian, Welsh Coast to Coast; Devon Coast to Coast (Westcountry Way). All routes and links thanks to selfsupportedUK.net.
Scotland: Scotland Coast to Coast, Highland Trail 550, West Highland Way, Cairngorms Loop
Italy: Italy Coast to Coast, Tuscany Trail, San Remo-Monte Carlo, MyLand Non-Stop (Sardinia), Alto Adige-Südtirol Extreme Bike Trail, Dolomiti Trail, Italia Transmountains, The Fat River (fatbike route), Transardinia. Most routes courtesy of bikepacking.it.
Switzerland: Navad 1000; National Trails—Alpine Bike #1, Panorama Bike #2, Jura Bike #3; Alpencross; National website for Mountainbiking in Switzerland
Poland: The Red Trail (Sudecki and Beskidzka, basic info only). Compass brand maps show all hiking trails and cycling routes, including the long-distance red trails. Note, the red trail is not a single trail across Poland, but a series of trails with lesser trails marked with painted blazes of other colors. There is a route most of the way across the country E-W, mostly along red trails.
Czech/Slovakia: 1000 Miles Adventure
Croatia: Adriatic Crest
Montenegro: Top Biking Trail 3: Eastern Enchantment
Greece: Bike Odyssey
Israel: Holyland Bikepacking Challenge, Israel National Bike Trail (in progress), Israel National Trail (hiking)
Other resources: Footpaths provide the basis for many routes in Europe, most of which have developed over the past century. Generally, these routes allow bicycles, with local exclusions, but they do not exclusively travel singletrack trails across wild lands and will pass towns, farmland, and paved sections. The European Rambler’s Association (ERA) aims to complete a long-distance international trail system of footpaths throughout Europe, with numbered routes from E1-E12 currently in various phases of completion. Most routes are assembled from pre-existing local and national trails. Each country may provide more detailed resources in the native tongue via dedicated websites or guides about national trail systems, such as the GR5 listed in France and Belgium, above. Most often, printed regional trail maps can be found at local touristic centers, and commercial maps and guides may also be available. Detailed roadmaps are also suitable for broad-scale navigation, and often show more detail than typical road maps in the USA.
Also worth mentioning is the EuroVelo network of cycling routes, fashioned much like the ERA, with international cross-continental routes numbered 1-12 in various stages of completion. EuroVelo routes are generally ridable on a trekking bike, hybrid, or rigid mountain bike, and in some places are not recommended for a tire less than about 40mm. Check out the EuroVelo6for the popular route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.
If you wish to submit a route, please provide a link to the best source(s) of information and a brief description of your experience on that route, if any. To qualify a multi-day off-pavement route for this listing, consider that it must be documented in detail, like the routes listed on Pedaling Nowhere-Routes or Bikepacking.net.
Poland, The Red Trail
Czech, Sumava National Park
Ukraine, Polonina Borzhava
France, Traversée du Massif Vosgien, Château Bernstein
Slovakia, 1000 Miles Adventure
Greece, Bike Odyssey
Greece, Bike Odyssey
Luxembourg, GR5/E2 trail
Belgium, GR5/E2 trail
Guidebooks for routes in Spain.
Poland, The Red Trail: one of many PTTK resources for hikers and cyclists available in the mountains, often serving hot food and cold beer.
Maps in a Slovakian supermarket.
Belgium, GR5/E2 trailAlbania
Nice call to arms! I also documented the Transnevada and GR48 in Spain (even though we didn’t ride the whole of each, I spent some time cobbling the entire GPX). http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/routes/bikepacking-transnevada-southern-spain/
Also, I am working on a map-based interface for the routes section on Pedaling Nowhere… let’s get some of the great ones here on the map!
Thanks Logan, I’ll add these routes in the next few days with the first major edit.
GR48 and Transnevada have been added to the list.
Reblogged this on bicyclenomad and commented:
Here’s some food for thought :-). Nick and Lael have done a great job.
Thanks for sharing Tom. We’re taking the long way to AU, if you hadn’t noticed.
You have the English coast to coast, the Welsh Coast to Coast… but not the Scottish version, which is a gem…
There’s also a really nice Devon Coast to Coast (starting to see a pattern in the UK??), via Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, that seems to be covered by this guidebook:
Thanks Cass, I’ve added these two routes to the list.
Reblogged this on PERIPETIA 365.
Reblogged this on tanimolaart.
Great collection! I did one of the UK routes a few weeks ago, the BearBones 200. I rode the actual event with the group and it had a bit too much hike-a-bike for my taste. I think a lot of the other routes in UK have less hiking. The Bike Odyssey photos looked amazing. I love foraging and I love figs!
if you are in Switzerland, there is also a fantastic smartphone GPS app called “SwitzerlandMobility” which links a bunch of numbered routes, for hiking, road cycling, mountain biking, and …rollerblading?? worth a look. thanks for the inspiration!
oops – just realized that you already linked to the Schweiz Mobil website!
Nicholas, I haven’t looked to see if it is on the website, but they should have resources for canoe touring on there too. I recall it was listed alongside cycling and rollerblading on the signage along the Rhine.
A lot of these routes seem to be hikingtrails by origin…
Did you have any unpleasant reactions from hikers on some of these trails?
Is bikepacking gear a necessity? Or would two small panniers work as well?
Thanks for your input.
Some are hiking trails entirely, while others may be using hiking trails at times, mixed with dirt roads and pavement. Some do not use any hiking trails, such as the TMV in France or the Bike Odyssey route in Greece. Both of these routes would be just fine with a lightly loaded pair of panniers, but I’d be sure to use a tire in excess of 2″ (at least), and make sure to pack a low gear for climbing. I think the official Swiss routes are also like this, with a mix of dirt roads and pavement. And the route in the French Jura mountains. The EuroVelo website will also be helpful for non-technical off-pavement rides. The EV6 is largely dirt track along river grade east of Bratislava, all the way to the Black Sea.
There are many more miles of walking trails in Europe than in the US. In my experience, many trails are very quiet. I am sure that some routes in the Swiss Alps are busy mid-summer, as are popular trails in the UK, Poland, etc.
The disagreements between walkers and bicyclists are unique to the US and a few other places. In Europe, every country that I know allows bicycles on all trails, although local exclusions may exist for popular trails in national parks and preserves.
in Portugal you have two walking trails that are also MTB favourites. I haven’t cycled any of them yet but read in Portuguese forums a couple of reports on them. The first is in the SW, the second in the south.
Rota Vicentina: http://www.rotavicentina.com/?lang=en
Via Algarviana: http://www.viaalgarviana.org/?lang=en
Great, thanks Pedro!
I’ll look into these routes and consider adding them.
Pedro, I added these routes. Let me know of any more if they come to your attention.
Hi guys, great job, great pics… We hope you are fine. We often think about you. Virgile and Marion, from Argentina… Nearly there! Take care
Hey, thanks! We must have met in Moab just about a year ago. Good luck in Argentina and when you get down there, come meet us in Africa. We arrived in Cape Town several weeks ago, currently thirsty and sunburned in the karoo.
1. I’d recommend splitting the UK routes into two parts, one for Scotland and one for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Thanks to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/), wild camping is legal effectively everywhere. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the rest of the UK. There’s also a well-documented system of major walking trails (http://www.snh.gov.uk/enjoying-the-outdoors/where-to-go/routes-to-explore/scotlands-great-trails/) that are mostly suitable for bikepacking as well and some shorter local paths (http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/) that would be good for connecting other trails or exploring.
2. The Kungsleden in Sweden (http://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/en/Discover-Sweden/Facilities-and-activities/Lappland/kingstrail/) is a hiking trail, but many mountain bikers also ride it. There are also quite a few other walking trails throughout Sweden that are rideable in some sections – Sörmlandsleden is one that has been recommended to me.
By the way, I’m American and have not actually been on any of these trails (yet), but this is the information I’ve found while doing research for my own trip. Hopefully a helpful Swede can jump on here and expand the Swedish section.
Thanks David! This is exactly the kind of support I need. I’ll split the UK routes and give Scotland some recognition. I’m waiting on some input from Finnish and Swedish riders, I know they’ve got some routes to share.
I’ve spilt the Scottish routes from the UK list an added the Kungsleden. Thanks for the links to he Scottish trail sites. I’ll consider adding walking trail resources to the listing, although I’d like to keep it most reserved for known bikeable routes with some prior investment and information.
Almost every Scottish walking trail has official cyclist information for the trail as well, and they all are very well ridden and documented by cyclists. The West Highland Way, Great Glen Way and Rob Roy Way are the most popular, with dozens of ride reports as well as official cycling guides.
Thanks David, I’ll look into more Scottish routes.
Have a look at this one as well. I did it this summer in France and was great. http://www.grande-traversee-alpes.com/en/chemins-du-soleil
Ryan, Thanks for the link. Which route did you ride?
Hey Nicholas, Having ridden the Grand Traversee du Massif Central a couple of months ago, I’ve now made my way down to Andalucia and started riding the TransAndalus trail a few days ago. So far its lovely. The guide they produced on the site you linked to (both maps and route cards) is accurate, the route is all rideable (so far!), the scenery beautiful, and the people exceptionally friendly. I’ll write something and post some pictures soon. Cheers, Chris
Great to finally see some content from the Massif Central. Thanks! Would you mind providing a link here for others to follow.
Good luck on the TransAndalus. Thanks for the hard work and keep pedaling. If you have not yet considered it, these routes would be perfect for Logan “Routes” resource at Pedaling Nowhere. Your writing and photography would be an asset.
Thanks, much appreciated. I have spoken with Logan about featuring a couple of the trails I’ve ridden over the last couple of years. We’ve not got round to it yet – I think he’s had his hands full with lots of other glorious routes – but hopefully we will.
My blog posts related to the Massif Central route are here: http://uninspiredramblings.com/category/routes/grand-traversee-du-massif-central/
My blog posts related to the TransAndalus route WILL be here: http://uninspiredramblings.com/category/routes/transandalus/, although I haven’t written any yet 😉
Reblogged this on The Graceful Cyclists and commented:
People really have to stop finding ways to inspire me!
Thanks for sharing! Still looking to make it down to AU soon.
Any input on Norway? Did the divide last summer and looking to do Norway this summer… Would love to hear what you or anyone else has to say!
After reading your post on the “traversée du massif Vosgien” I decided to ride the route on my Pugsley. It was a great one, only wet, 4 days of rain and one dry one. This june I am teaming up with a friend to ride the Traversee du Massif Central. This time not on my pugsley but a 29er with rigid fork. And…thanks for the european bikepacking routes. A great inspiration.
Sweet! Glad to hear it. The TMV is a great route, and I’ve wanted to check out the Massif Central for several years, although Eastern Europe drew us away from France last time. Let me know how it goes.
How are you liking the 29Pugs?
Hi Nick ! For the french part, you can know connect the “Grande traversée du Jura” to “Les chemins du soleils” a 1000 kms montaine biking trail in the pre alps and provence all the way down to the mediterranean http://www.moveyouralps.com/fr/chemins-du-soleil/itineraire-vtt
a nice one !
thanks for this nice overview.
Unfortunately the Montenegro Link is down. Try this:
Click to access wilderness_biking_mapa_cg_0.pdf
thanks for the list – dont forget the “bikepacking trans germany” which is the longest bicketracking trail in Germany so far – goes from north to south.