The world of women’s cycling is changing: since 2013, more than 723,000 women have got on a bike and started pedalling – and there’s hope over a quarter of a million more will do so by 2020. British Cycling has made significant waves in getting more women out on their bikes, but at Explore we’ve noticed a new wave of cycling enthusiasts, too. We’re an office of cyclists, and not only have we noticed more and more female cyclists on our morning commute but we’ve also picked up on a trend of more women coming to us for cycling holidays. We’ve been planning cycling holidays for all abilities and interests since 1997, and over that time we’ve sent thousands of ladies around the world on exciting adventures on two wheels. Cycling heightens the senses and brings you so much closer to the destination, so if you’re looking to book your own trip we’ve selected our top destinations for female cyclists, whether you’re a fair-weather pedaller or a hard-core hill climber.
Going abroad alone poses its own challenges – but there’s no need to be worried about travelling on an Explore trip as we have researched the best cycle routes and include the bike hire. On all of our small group adventures you’ll be accompanied every turn of the way by an experienced Explore Leader, with a group of likeminded travellers to share your experiences with, and no compulsory single supplement (but with the option to pay for your own room if you prefer). You can even join the group as friends, bringing a number of you together for the girls’ trip of a lifetime.
Camels and kasbahs
Have you always wanted to visit Morocco’s opulent kasbahs, haggle over spices in a souk, or enjoy the warm winds of the desert as you look up at Jordan’s incredible ‘lost city’ of Petra? The Middle East might not be the first destination you’d visit as a solo female traveller, but on one of our group cycling holidays you’ll have no problems fitting in with local customs. Travelling as a group means you’ll be able to share the incredible sights and sounds with your fellow travellers, from riding through remote Berber heartlands in the High Atlas mountains on our Southern Oasis Cycling trip, to floating in the Dead Sea on our Cycle Jordan adventure. Both these trips are graded as Moderate, so if you’ve a reasonable level of fitness you’ll be able to cope with the heat and the gradients just fine.
Vineyards and velo
Close to home yet blessed with a wide diversity of landscapes (and arguably better weather), France is the perfect cycling destination for those looking to fuel their rides with delicious dishes. You can enjoy a bounty of locally produced vegetables, fruits and cheeses, with refreshment provided in the form of wine that hark from the surrounding vineyards. There’s no doubt about it, France is a haven for foodies, and with relatively easy cycling routes and plenty of sights to see along the way, the country offers the perfect introduction to cycling holidays. If you’ve never tried cycling holidays before you’ll find our small group journeys the perfect fit; try our Canal du Midi trip to visit fascinating medieval cities, impressive castles and fortress towns like Carcassonne. Alternatively, head to the Loire Valley for wine tastings, pretty villages and elegant abbeys; both trips are graded Easy so offer the ideal taster for cycling holidays. Alternatively, if you’d prefer an extra challenge (and more opportunity to burn off your supper), our Velo en Provence trip has some great hills to climb, vineyards to visit and traditional Provençal towns to explore.
Beaches and backwaters
India is an intoxicating destination wherever you choose to visit, but Kerala is one of the best for a cycling trip. The pace here is slightly slower – worlds away from the chaos of Delhi – and there are plenty of quiet backroads and cycling trails from which to enjoy the scenery, see local life up close and meet the welcoming Keralans. Visiting India as a solo woman has its challenges, but by travelling as part of a group you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll be looked after every step of the way. Our Backroads of Kerala route takes you through tea plantations and national parks, along the backwaters on a houseboat and then to the beaches of the Indian Ocean. Staying in homestays with families you’ll get to experience true Indian hospitality, spending your evenings relaxing with coconut curries and a cold beer.
Coasts and cakes
Not all of our trips head to far-off lands – some of them can be found right on your doorstep. Our Coast to Coast trip traverses the breadth of England from Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to Tynemouth on the North Sea, taking you through some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes on two wheels. Graded challenging, this trip is one for avid cyclists with a good level of fitness, as there are some great hill climbs and three full days of cycling. The trip falls over a long weekend, so if it’s minimal time off work you’re after then this is a great option, and with space for 16 cyclists you can join as an established group if you’re looking for a girls’ weekend away. This is exactly what Ali, Carmel and Hannah from our Product team did; they recently spent a wet July weekend on our Coast to Coast trip and loved the hills as well as the cake.
Pedals and paddy fields
If you want to get closer to the destination you’re travelling to, cycling is the ideal way to do so, and there’s no better place to get close to the action than in Vietnam. Travelling by bicycle means you’ll get to cycle along tiny roads and tracks that tour buses can’t reach, cycling through fascinating historic sights and tiny villages. Because of this you’ll get to interact with the local people; perhaps visit a backstreet tailor to have a made-to-measure dress created just for you, or eat the best noodles of your life in a tiny family-run restaurant. Vietnam is a very safe country and most of its roads are flat, particularly around the Mekong Delta, however if you’re looking for a challenge there are some great hills around Dalat, or the Hai Van Pass approaching Hué. While most of the cycling is done on quiet roads there are some built up areas to provide interest, and it’s a great contrast to the paddy fields. Choose one of our Easy grade trips like Cycle Vietnam, which offers a comprehensive tour of the country, and enjoy indulging on nourishing bowls of pho.