Bicycles are not only for the summer months, and the colder seasons bring different aspects to enjoy. Of course, with a route that starts in the Artic Circle and ends in Portugal, the conditions at this time of year vary a lot. However, in this article we present 10 must-see locations and experiences when cycling destinations on EuroVelo 1 in Spain, France, Ireland and Norway.
Navarre, Spain - the queen of autumn
Any time is a good time to visit Navarre, a region in the North of Spain crossed by EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route, but autumn is undoubtedly one of the best, as the scenery at this time of year with its colourful forests, is simply spectacular!
This journey begins in the ‘Señorío de Bertiz’ Natural Park, a unique natural and historical location with an enormous forest of great beauty and scenic landscapes that is home to a specimen of cedar over 30m high that has been declared a natural monument.
Following the route of EuroVelo 1 leads to ‘Esteribar’ Valley to discover another magical forest, ‘Quinto Real’. The autumn light filters through the beech trees, giving a magical atmosphere to this magnificent forest that hides some charming surprises, such as an 18th century munitions factory, the ruins of which have been colonized by the forest itself, giving rise to fantastic images. This whole valley is criss-crossed with cycle routes for mountain biking and is also one of the most popular routes for road cycling enthusiasts.
We leave the forest to visit beautiful villages such as Lesaka, with its canals, cobbled streets and picturesque traditional farmhouses. And, as we head south along the EuroVelo 1, we will see that both the landscape and the villages change and it is the manor houses with their stone blazons that mark out the villages of ‘Tierra de Estella’ along the Pilgrims' Route to Santiago de Compostela.
The capital of Navarre, Pamplona, is world famous for its renowned San Fermín festivals; but it is also a small city full of cultural and social life, with its colourful old quarter and lively terraces and tapas bars. The city is surrounded by ramparts and gates, through which pilgrims and travelers have been arriving for centuries.
But we cannot leave Navarre without trying its delicious gastronomy, always linked to the land, both in its pinchos or tapas bars and in its wide variety of restaurants. Autumn is the ideal time to try the mushrooms found in its mountains, the delicious vegetables from its orchards, excellent meat from free-range cattle and, for dessert, its excellent cheeses and curds or a sweet treat.
Brittany, France – getting away from it all.
Riding along la Velodysée, you will get to cross Brittany, situated in North-West France, in between the English Channel and the Atlantic Sea. Brittany is a region full of natural, historical, and cultural heritage, that you will certainly enjoy at its best on top of two wheels.
Ile de Batz - Roscoff
The French section of EuroVelo 1 starts at the historical seaside town of Roscoff, in the most northern part of the Finistère department. The route departs from the old Port du Bloscon, you will enjoy riding your bike in the narrow cobblestoned streets. If you are spending a day in town, make sure to visit the wild and beautiful isle of Batz (l’ïle de Batz), reachable by a 15 min boat ride. When planning your trip to the island, bear in mind that, depending on the time of day, departure points will slightly differ. You can find more information in the following link.
Exploring the isle during autumn, early winter will allow riders to experience the raw authenticity of Brittany’s coastal wilderness. Head to the old lighthouse for fabulous photo opportunities. To fully experience the slow way of life on the island, staying overnight is a great idea and another benefit of autumn travel is that finding accommodation is easier and cheaper. Check some ideas 'here'. You will also find in the island all basic services and a small grocery shop. The isle counts with around 400 inhabitants living all year long, so travelling there outside of the touristic season is a chance for those who are looking for tranquility, beauty, and authenticity. You might not want to return to the mainland!
Abbaye de Bon Repos
Further to the south and situated at the heart of Brittany, in the Côtes d’Armor department, the Abbaye de Bon Repos will blow your mind ! Located along the Nantes-Brest Canal and surrounded by the largest lake in Brittany, the Guerlédan lake, you will fall in love with the spectacular landscapes. The Abbaye, founded in the 12th century, has been witness to numerous historical figures and events. Nowadays, the abbey is devoted to contemporary art, it holds exhibitions on a regular basis.
During Christmas time, from December 19th to January 2nd, the Abbaye offers an exhibition “Dans les pas d’Alice”, “Following Alice’s steps”, around the Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland. Children will have the chance to enjoy the different lighting installations and grilled marshmallows while there is mulled wine for adults. A great venue to have a great time during the Christmas season. Find more about Christmas at Bon Repos here.
Find more about Birttany’s many attractions here.
The Limerick Greenway in Ireland - embrace the unexpected.
Carving a 40km path through the local countryside, the Limerick Greenway offers an authentic experience of rural Ireland for cyclists, runners and walkers. Following the old Limerick to Kerry railway line, the Greenway seamlessly links West Limerick’s towns and villages with some of the country’s most fertile pastures and historic sites.
Perfect for day-trippers or short breaks, you can experience the Limerick Greenway in one visit or explore in shorter stages. Whichever you choose, there will be a genuine welcome from the towns along the way, offering delicious food, fun activities and quality accommodation.
Following the route, you can then travel from Rathkeale to Newcastle West. A day or night spent in Rathkeale will give you a great introduction to what West Limerick and the Greenway have to the offer. The busy town has plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and places to stay, and is steeped in local history and surrounded by natural beauty. Further on, you’ll pass through Barnagh Tunnel, another Victorian Era railway innovation. At 100-metres long, the tunnel once allowed trains to traverse the steep peak of Barnagh. Closed for decades, it has recently been restored by Limerick City and County Council and can now be seen up close by the public. At the top of Barnagh, you can rest at the picnic area and look out over the plains of Limerick and take stock of your journey so far.
Barnagh to Abbeyfeale
After Barnagh, the next stop is Templeglantine, a welcoming town with shops, cafes, pubs, and more quality places to stay. The village is home to Holy Trinity Church, built in 1829 and one of the oldest churches still in use in the region. Just outside Templeglantine is Tullig Wood, a tranquil forest rich in native flora and fauna. Take a rest underneath the oak and ash trees and watch out for the willow warblers and chiffchaffs that live in their branches. The natural surroundings of Tullig Wood soon give way to the bustling town of Abbeyfeale, one of the most culturally unique towns in the region. As part of the Sliabh Luachra tradition, Abbeyfeale is a hub for Irish music and dance, home to the Glórach Theatre and the annual Fleadh by the Feale festival. As the final town on the Limerick Greenway, it’s a great place to spend autumnal nights taking in a trad session by the fire at one of the many local pubs. The Limerick Greenway comes to an end at the Kerry border, where further adventure awaits. Find out more information here
Norway - the way to the North
As challenging as cycling during the cold seasons in Norway might seem, is not impossible, but you must make sure to have a proper bike for the weather conditions and be fully equipped before planning your autumn trip to this Nordic country. You can rent a fat-bike tour and have the amazing experience of cycling on the snow. This article at Visit Norway tells you about ‘10 reasons to love Norway in autumn’
"Pust" floating sauna - Tromso
After spending the day cycling under low temperatures, there is nothing better than spending an evening in a typical Norwegian sauna! Situated in the middle of Tromso’s harbour, the new floating sauna “Pust”, has been handcrafted from wood and is already proving to be popular. It is not only very relaxing but also provides an ideal spot from which to enjoy the northern lights. Taking a dip in the invigorating Arctic waters is recommended for a full Norwegian experience.
Cruise to the fjords - Bergen
In the southern part of the country, the famous city of Bergen and its surroundings offer a great diversity of landscapes, visits, and activities for young and old, in the autumn and winter seasons. When getting to Bergen, you will have many opportunities to visit the majestic landscapes of fjords and lakes. While many chose to hike, you might want to take a little bit of rest during your days off the bicycle and jump on a three-hour cruise to explore the Osterfjord, Mostraumen. A great opportunity to discover Norway’s breath-taking frozen landscapes, as it opens exclusively between October 1st and December 31st. The departure point is on the quay of Bergen fish market, on Zachariasbryggen.
Find more information at Visit Norway Website