From cable car rides to epic hikes, there are a lot of ways to see a country. That said, if you really want to see a place up-close, yet still hope to cover a lot of ground and maximize your time, a bike tour is the way to do it — and you’ll even get some exercise. The following seven epic bike tours around the world offer the kind of scenic and unforgettable experience that you just can’t duplicate with any other method of transportation.
1. Travel photography and high-altitude wines in northwest Argentina
If you love drinking and biking just as much as getting that killer Instagram shot, check out the Argentina: Vision and Vine tour through northwest Argentina with celebrated travel photographer Ossian Lindholm. Lindholm provides hands-on field instruction and nightly Photoshop sessions as you pick up his secrets for capturing the perfect landscape photo — all on an itinerary designed by him. The agenda also includes sipping high-altitude wines as you tour the world’s highest vineyard, plus exploring the humid sub-Andean sierras, the Andes, and the high-plateau Altiplano.
2. Traditional experiences in Japanese villages
Enjoy a cultural experience complete with temples and tea leaves on a seven-day Japan bike tour through Nara, Kyoto, Mount Yoshino, and Koyasan. As you cycle through tiny Japanese villages, you’ll see tea fields, bamboo groves, landmarks like Mount Koya, UNESCO World Heritage site Tōdai-ji, and more. Along the way, you’ll stay in traditional ryokans (a type of Japanese inn), meditate with Buddhist monks, and participate in sake tastings.
3. Volcanoes and glow worms in New Zealand
Spend eight days biking New Zealand on the Volcanoes Tour from Rotorua south to Auckland. As if the lake, forest, and volcano scenery you’ll pass aren’t mind-blowing enough, the true highlight of the trip is a farm stay on a sheep farm before heading to the Waitomo Caves for a breathtaking natural glow-worm display. Also on the agenda: Huka Falls, the Waikato River, and an overnight stay on the shores of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, before climbing in Tongariro National Park among three active volcanoes, craters, and boiling mud pools.
4. South Africa with a celebrity chef
If you consider killer views and top-notch cooking right up your alley, book the Chef on Wheels bike tour in South Africa and ride along with celebrity chef Seamus Mullen to places like Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive, and Table Mountain National Park. For six days, you’ll bike across the Western Cape and Winelands as Chef Mullen’s spin on regional cuisine keeps you fueled every inch of the way. This bike tour is intended for intermediate-level riders who are comfortable biking an average of 15 to 40 miles per day.
5. Indian backroads from Udaipur to the Taj Mahal
Ride 225 miles from Udaipur to the Taj Mahal on a cycling tour of Rajasthan, India, and experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of India’s backroads. You’ll tour Delhi by bike on the first day, then take a sleeper train to Udaipur to begin your lengthy two-wheeled journey. The tour progresses along country roads to towns like Kumbhalgarh, Ghomti, and Jaipur, with a break for a game drive — basically a self-drive safari — in Sariska. Some rides even coincide with the Pushkar Camel Festival, a multi-day affair during which 30,000 camels converge in the tiny desert town.
6. Epic 42-day tour across continents from Estonia to Istanbul
For a bike tour of truly epic proportions, check out the cross-continental 42-day tour from Estonia to Istanbul. Not a trip for the faint of heart (or the untrained cyclist), the tour pedals over 2,300 miles through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria en route to the final destination: Turkey. Participants will learn history and take in unparalleled sights and experiences like the Transylvanian Alps, Carpathian Mountains, and many capitals of Baltic nations on this once-in-a-lifetime-level trip.
7. New Year’s Eve celebration in Santa Barbara and the wine regions beyond
Grab your besties and do something different this year: Ring in New Year’s Eve on wheels. On this four-day bike tour through southern California’s Santa Ynez Wine Country, you’ll begin in Santa Barbara with dinner and a rooftop party, then ride through California towns with views of horse ranches and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to sample the Santa Maria Valley’s wines in the town of Los Olivos; explore Solvang, a Danish-inspired settlement; and enjoy the burgeoning food scene of hidden Santa Ynez Valley.