Staycations are still proving popular, and we all need to get away every now and then, which is why cycling holidays in the UK are one of the best things you can do with friends or as a family. Through connecting with people and the outdoors, a cycling holiday can boost both your physical and mental wellbeing.
We have researched the best routes for the perfect cycling holiday here in the UK, even if two wheels is not your usual mode of transport. With locations across the UK, you’ll be sure to find your next cycling destination here.
We’ve gathered information on the best routes, based on average distance, access to safe cycling routes, how hilly they are and how loved they are by cyclists.
The best cycling route here in the UK is the Camel Trail in North Cornwall. Stretching 27.8km from Padstow to Wenfordbridge, this cycling route is not only a fairly flat cycle, but is also home to some breathtaking views of the coast and family-friendly camping spots.
With the highest number of excellent reviews on Tripdvisor and 96% of the route traffic free, we’re certain you’ll have a great time on this Cornish cycling holiday, no matter if you’re a novice cyclist or a whizz on two wheels. Perfect for families, the Camel Trail follows alongside sandy beaches and quaint villages along the way meaning there’s lots to discover, just check out the 33,000 Instagram posts!
Campsites along the route: The Foreshire, Trevitha Farm, The Laurels Holiday Park, Hoburne St Mabyn Holiday Park and Camp de Lank.
One hundred per-cent traffic free and popular amongst many, the Tissington Trail takes you from Ashbourne in the Derbyshire Dales, all the way up to Parsley Hay. One of the shortest journeys on this list, the Tissington Trail is 21.3km long making it a safe and simple trip for families.
Taking you through the south of the beautiful Peak District, the Tissington Trail follows an old railway line which still has the former station platforms. Filled with lots of history and nature, and only a 25 minute drive to Alton Towers for a bit of added fun, this holiday is jam packed with plenty to do for the whole family. There’s also over 300 excellent Tripadvisor reviews for the Tissington Trail, proving its popularity with UK tourists.
Campsites along the route: Callow Top Holiday Park, The Closes Caravan Park, Tissington Caravan and Motorhomes, Smithy Fields Camping, Banky Barn Caravan and Camping.
The Marriott’s Way is another long-distance cycle and footpath that starts in Norwich and finishes in Reepham. Perfect for cycling through Norfolk’s picturesque woodlands, Marriott’s Way also passes through picturesque small towns and villages including Attlebridge, Whitwell and Themelthorpe.
The Marriott’s Way cycling trail has the steepest ascent out of the five best cycling holidays, so may be best for those who are keen riders.
Campsites along the route: Peggy’s Pasture Campsite, The Little Norfolk Farm, Whitwell Hall Country Centre, Moat Island Glamping, Martintole Farm Camping and Caravanning Club.
Explore Northern Ireland’s natural beauty with the Lagan Towpath cycling and walking trail. Starting in Belfast and finishing in Lisburn, this cycling path takes you along the river and canal system. The Lagan Towpath is the second trail on this list that is 100% traffic free, so you’ll only ever bump into other cyclists and walkers, making it one of the safest routes to try.
Make the most of the holiday by spending a day or two in Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast, before departing on the 21.3km bike ride down Lagan Valley.
Campsites on the route: Though there are no campsites close by, you can stay in one of many hotels in Belfast city!
Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail
Derbyshire has many great cycling routes, with two of them featuring in our top five. The Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail stretches 21.4km from Derby to the market town of Loughborough. Taking you along the picturesque countryside, waterside sections and dismantled railway tracks, this cycling route has it all.
Local attractions to the route include Melbourne Hall and Gardens, Melbourne Animal Farm, Calke Abbey and Staunton Harold Church.
Campsites along the route: Springwood Fisheries Camping and Glamping, Hill Farm Camping and Caravan Park, Four Oaks Campsite.
Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your life through things such as a cycling holiday can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. Spending time outdoors has been found to help mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Ecotherapy, a formal treatment where you do activities outside in nature, has been shown to help mild to moderate depression as it combines physical exercise and social contact with the outdoors. If you choose to venture out on a cycling holiday this year, you’ll feel the benefit of spending time with family and friends while exploring some of the UK’s most scenic and enjoyable cycling routes.
Take your pick from our five best cycling holidays in the UK for your next staycation, whether you’re a novice rider or looking for a challenge.
- Routes on the National Cycle Network (NCN) were researched using the sustrans website and ordnance survey maps.
- Only named routes (rather than just known by a route number) with a length of at least 20km and at least 80% traffic-free were included in the analysis.
- Scores for each metric were normalised on a scale of 0-5, with the best for the category awarded 5 points. The traffic-free scores were determined by comparing to the NCN’s minimum for a path to be deemed as ‘mostly traffic free’, which is 80% traffic-free.
- Data collected on 19 April 2022.