Cycling holidays have become quite fashionable of late. I’m constantly seeing ads for cycling tours along the River Danube or through the hilltop villages of Provence. These tours sound quite idyllic – you get up at a respectable hour, enjoy a hearty breakfast, head out on your bike for a couple of hours meandering through little villages, have lunch, cycle to your hotel and you’re done for the day.

Honestly, I think this sounds brilliant. I love to cycle – it’s a great way to see the world. But there is part of me that wants more of a challenge. Now, while I’m young and fit I want to push my limits and see what my body can do.

My bike and I have been to incredible places around the globe, but I’m constantly lured by the mountains. There is something incredibly calming about spinning your way up a quiet mountain road, away from villages, the only company the odd cow blinking at you morosely as you pass on by.

One of my favourite places to ride is in the mountains of northern Italy. Bormio in the Italian Alps and Canazei in the Dolomites are two great villages to base yourself in. Both have access to excellent rides (or hikes), good food and fabulous scenery.

For those of you out there who are considering a European biking holiday, here are a few reasons I suggest ditching the busy roads of Provence and Tuscany, and heading for the Italian Alps.

Do you like cycling, mountains and travel? Then this story about a cycling holiday in the Italian Alps is for you!

No traffic ‘round here

Nervous about traffic? Fear not in the mountains, as you can generally find a road that has virtually no cars on it. A few of the more famous climbs like the Stelvio do get busy on weekends in summer with motorbikes, but you can easily avoid these climbs and head out instead on local farming roads that wind their way quietly up the mountain. You might get overtaken by the odd tractor, and have to avoid a chicken or two darting across the road, but generally you have the mountain to yourself. Bliss.

360 degree views? Ok, I’ll take it!

In my opinion, the Italian Alps and Dolomites have some of the best scenery in the world. There is nothing more exhilarating than peddling your way up a quiet road, turning a hairpin bend and seeing a 360 degree view of the mountains stretching out before you. If you get a clear day it is simply breathtaking. The air is fresh, the grass is impossibly green and the mountains are spotted with sparkling lakes that you can take a dip in if you get too hot.

Do you like cycling, mountains and travel? Then this story about a cycling holiday in the Italian Alps is for you! e

I’m so tired…but it’s awesome!

Now, you don’t go to this area in northern Italy thinking the cycling will be easy. These are big hills we are talking about. These are the roads that challenge the stamina of even professional cyclists. Names of climbs like the Stelvio, the Gavia, the Zoncolan, the Mortirolo, the Sella Ronda evoke excitement and a whole lot of nervousness when you contemplate riding them on a bike.

However, the feeling you get when you reach the top of one of these climbs is exhilarating. Endorphins are pumping, and you might be exhausted, but you also get an intense sense of achievement. You’ve done something that not many others would even contemplate attempting. I guarantee that you will relay the story of the time you climbed a mountain in Italy on your bike many more times than that time you sat in a piazza drinking wine.

Making new friends – ‘Hey, can you give me a tow?”

There is a real camaraderie in cycling, and I particularly noticed this in Italy. Italian cyclists pass you, calling out “Ciao, Go Go!” with a big smile. Even though you may be hurting, you can’t help but smile back at their enthusiasm. When you get to the top you all chat to each other about the climb, moan about the tough parts, gush about the views and buy each other a beer to celebrate.

Do you like cycling, mountains and travel? Then this story about a cycling holiday in the Italian Alps is for you!

Beer and pizza on top of a mountain? Yes please!

At the summit of most mountain passes in Italy you will find a Refugio offering you a warm space to relax in and enjoy a coffee, or beer and pizza if that takes your fancy. Sitting on top of the world, sipping on a hot chocolate, gazing out at the view and thinking about the achievement you have just completed must be the best feeling in the world.

Also, there is always a gelato shop within cycling distance if you need a post-ride sugar hit. And let’s face it – if you spend half your day climbing a mountain on a bike, you deserve a gelato at the end of it. 3 scoops please!

Do you like cycling, mountains and travel? Then this story about a cycling holiday in the Italian Alps is for you!

Aaaaaand relax!

One of the brilliant things about the mountains in Italy is that they offer “wellness centres” aka spas in many villages.  After you descend back to your village you can soak your tired body in the hot thermal waters of the Alps, have a massage, and a well-deserved sleep! The baths in Bormio are particularly worth a visit, as you can sit in a piping hot pool that overlooks the mountains you just climbed. Incredible!

So I challenge you to pull out your guidebooks and flick to the section on the Italian Alps. With a little bit of training and whole lot of enthusiasm, cycling in the mountains can be the most rewarding holiday you will ever have.

Do you like cycling, mountains and travel? Then this story about a cycling holiday in the Italian Alps is for you!

All images by Brandon Heng.


This is a guest post by Laura Rigby.

Laura is a food-loving cyclist who travels the world on two wheels. She’s a part-time digital marketer and part-time travel blogger from Sydney. She got into cycling in 2010 when she realised her dodgy knee injury would no longer let her play netball, run or do any of the sports she used to do for fitness. That year her husband who was already a cycling fanatic, gave her a choice for her birthday present – a surprise, or a road bike. She chose the bike and has never looked back. She writes about great places to travel by bike and even better places to eat along the way. Follow along on www.followmywheel.com, Facebook and Instagram @followmywheel.