This page is to help people with cycle touring / route creating. I really enjoy creating cycle routes – from short distance bicycle rides, to long distance tours. I want to share the websites that I use;
To find & Create Routes:
www.cycle.travel/map – A great route generator website (my current favorite). The website plots a route between two locations based on following as many country roads as possible, cycle routes where convenient and it avoids unnecessary hills. The site has enabled me to find many great routes for cycling in the country, and through London over the years. There are great visuals on the site and you can easily see what are the country roads (and the main A / B roads) as opposed to looking on google maps, or other map websites where most roads look the same. The website allows you to put maps onto your GPS and save maps. It is very easy to modify routes by creating additional waypoints. I love the website for more reasons, such as it shows you clearly where the campsites are, and youth hostels (you don’t have to use another website – although recommended as they don’t show all of them). Also, you can easily see what the route looks like – by using the “street view” feature by left clicking on the route along your intended journey. This website is only for certain European and North American nations however.
www.opencyclemap.org – This is an opensource map that is regularly updated with all the new European and World cycle routes. Sometimes there are routes on here that are not shown on the above cycle.travel website (and vice versa). Also, all the blue / purple routes on this website – i.e. the local European & UK routes you can visualise easier. On the website Cycle.Travel you have to zoom in far to see local routes and when planning long distance routes – I feel you can miss potential options on Cycle.Travel (unless your constantly zooming in and out). I have also noticed walking paths (that are often cycable) such as the Icknield Way and the Ridgeway, in the south of England – can be seen on this website (shown as: orange routes). Therefore I use this website from time to time, just for these differences.
https://www.komoot.com/plan – This is a free website to use, however if you want to download GPS tracks onto your GPS (recently they made you have to pay a one off payment of around £25 for worldwide coverage). This website allows you to plot routes anywhere in the world, rather than just in Europe and North America. A very nice website, that is vastly better at plotting off-road routes than cycle.travel. Sometimes on cycle.travel you can not drag routes across footpaths and bridleways. With this website you always can. And like cycle.travel it’s very easy to modify routes by creating waypoints, so they suit your needs. You can also change the map overlay (from google maps, to OpenCycleMap layer) while creating maps which is very helpful. Another advantage of Koomot is people post recommendations of interesting attractions – that are shown on the map as red dots, also enjoyable roads / paths can be recommended, these are useful in route planning.
https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map – Sustrans is the charity that creates all the NCN routes in the UK, amazing group of people. On their website they have a map of the network they have created. I believe it’s a great map to look at when it comes to bicycle tour planning; if you’re into cycling off road (as I am). The reason for this is it’s much easier to see where the off road routes are as they are all shown in GREEN. Unlike the other websites where you can’t easily tell what’s off-road. [If you zoom in far enough cycle.travel sometimes it indicates whats off-road – but I find not always and hard to visualise quickly].
http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos – I have found all the EuroVelo routes that I’ve cycled to be very high quality, and I know there is a high standard that makes a EuroVelo route applicable to be a route. I think a lot of work goes into creating decent routes across the European continent by this organisation. My belief is if you’re doing a bicycle tour, especially in Europe you want to look at this map first for a starting point to see where to go. I have also noticed some EuroVelo routes on this website, such as the coastal route in Portugal are not shown on other websites – so worth checking the website.
https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network – Generally speaking along navigable rivers and canals, there is either a towpath or some sort of public path (not always for rivers however). Therefore if you want to do some canal towpath riding, or off-road cycling while following a river route. This is a good website to view to see where you can potentially cycle too.
To find ferries;
http://www.ferrylines.com/home/ – This website is a great resource, as unlike other websites it actually shows you on a map where all the ferries go around the world. It’s nice having it in an interactive map format, as you can compare where cycle routes go and where ferry routes go etc… Once you load the map you have to zoom a few times. Then you can hover over any ports as you please, and you can see where the ferries arrive and depart from. A great website for seeing where to adventure to via land and sea (if you’re not into flying). Ferries normally always take bicycles except for a few exceptions (such as Liverpool – Dublin) and I view travelling by boat across a sea as part of the adventure.
To find accommodation:
http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/calcdist.asp?tents=on&clubs=99&bar=&shop=&restaurant=&md=20&l=51.5061781&lg=-0.1203919 – The UKcampsite website I believe is the best website to show you all the available campsites in the United Kingdom, more results come up on this map than with a google maps search. The link I have provided shows you all the campsites / caravan sites – that allow tents, up to a 20 mile radius. If you need to see a different area, then left clicking anywhere on said map of the UK will produce new results. There are lots of farms on this website that allow camping, which don’t advertise themselves elsewhere. Officially, for many of the campsites – you need to be part of the “Caravan And Motorhome Club”. However, if you’re a sole cyclist they won’t care. They never have for me and I read it’s not a problem online. The reason they want people to be part of this club, is so they can turn down noisy groups of dodgy people for ruining the camping experience for everyone else – by having over night parties etc. The rules of the club say be quiet after 10pm or something like that. If you’re with a large group of cyclists then it might become more problematic, but even then I can’t see them complaining too much – just convince them you will be quiet.
For finding campsites in other nations; I have previously relied on the website Cycle.Travel – the website shows campsites when zoomed in far enough. Also at times I have used Google Maps and google search to find campsites in nations where camping is not common (E.g. Ukraine).
https://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/England – Hostelworld is a great website for showing you where some of the hostels are in different countries around the world. Normally the most popular ones. You have to scroll down to the bottom of page to see all hostels on a visual map. Once you find a city you want to stay in, you can filter results – one useful one for bicycle touring, is “bicycle parking”. That can be found by clicking “Filter”, then “Facilities” then “+ Show more”. – I have found out by emailing / ringing up hostels that lots of hostels, which say they don’t offer “bicycle parking” on hostelworld, actually have been able to so don’t rule out a hostel because they don’t advertise that.
https://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/”Insert Country Name Here”; – For HostelWorld results in other European countries just change the end part of the URL on this link to the country name *(E.g. “Netherlands”, “Belgium”, “France” etc)
https://www.hihostels.com/destinations/fr/hostels – This website shows YOU all the hostels that are part of the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) in France, great resource. You can see a map in the top right corner – which you can full screen by clicking the icon. Lots of potential results that are not shown on other websites. I believe all the sites are suitable for bicycle touring – i.e. they have place to store bicycles – but don’t quote me on that. Definitely worth looking at.
CLICK HERE – For an interactive map by YHA for all UK Hostels;
Independent hostels UK:
https://independenthostels.co.uk/what-is-a-hostel/ – Another website to look out for is Independent Hostels. Especially if you want to stay in a hostel but can’t find anything on the above websites. I have found two amazing hostels from this website. First hostel was in Chepstow, Wales – before setting off a short tour around Brecon Beacons. Also Anglesey Outdoor Centre is shown and it’s great before the port of Holyhead, in North Wales. However, this website is a bit frustrating – as a lot of the “hostels” really aren’t hostels. They require you to hire a building for multiple people. Rather than booking individual dormitories. And sometimes they require you to stay more than one day. Admittedly not the best website, but if you want to research into potential options for hostels or bunkhouses – it can be worth looking at if you have the patience.
Hostels outside of UK;
https://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/usa/ – Also a decent website that has come back with new hostels is Hostel Bookers – especially when planning routes in other continents and countries. The reason I believe this website gets results that Hostel World doesn’t is due to Hostel World making individuals hostels pay to use their service / charging additional booking fees etc. I’m not 100% sure the exact reason, but whatever this website could be helpful to someone.
https://www.warmshowers.org/ – I can’t comment on how great this community is, as I’ve not used it yet. However, I’ve read there are many hosts all around the world that allow bicycle tourists to stay with them for free and I’ve seen it recommended many times. From what I’m told you have to message people in advance, and not everyone will reply to you – so try and ask more than one host if you can stay with them. This website is like CouchSurfing, however exclusively for bicycle tourists.
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/ – I have only used the Airbnb website once, for staying a night in Cambridge above a restaurant – whilst on a two day trip to Norwich. It was alright, good price and guy offered me a free sausage roll 🙂 I messaged all hosts beforehand if I was able to leave a bicycle there… and everyone replied with yes. I think it’s a good idea to ask this question beforehand if you’re planning on staying somewhere with Airbnb just in case they try and refuse a space for your bicycle, after you’ve paid. Good website for relatively cheap accommodation, if you want to stay indoors along your tour. Although worth noting the prices are normally more expensive than whats advertise on the website, as there is additional fee you have to pay at the end for Airbnb’s service (£10 + I believe).
To find maps for GPS device:
http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ If you have a GPS device, such as Garmin Etrex 30 – like me. Then this is an awesome free website to download maps onto it. I use to pay for maps from OpenCycleMap’s shop, however they stopped providing maps and started recommending people to use free websites like this. It’s worth clicking the “Routable Bicycle (Openfietsmap Lite)” option, and enabling “manual tile selection” – so that you can create maps that suit you. Alternatively, if you would rather spend £140 + on the Ordnance Survey maps, then that’s an option and they probably give you higher quality maps for terrain, paths and stuff. But if you’re into bicycle touring then these free maps are far better in my view as they overlay all the local, national and European cycle routes. And have lots of campsites, hotels, hostels, supermarkets, fast foods shops etc stored on the map. You can get directions to any of these locations.
To find interesting touristy stuff:
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions – TripAdvisor is probably my favorite for finding touristy stuff. On this link you can search the city name or large town and you get a list of all the most popular stuff to do in each location. However if you’re in the countryside – it’s worth looking at the below map to see where the attractions are.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g1878264-Activities-c47-Duclair_Seine_Maritime_Haute_Normandie_Normandy.html#MAPVIEW – As mentioned above this is a great resource for finding attractions along your planned route. It is an interactive map so you can just drag around your route and see if there’s anything cool nearby to where you are going. Lots of smaller “attractions” that would be hard to find elsewhere.
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/search?view=map This is an interactive map that shows you some sites in the UK by National Trust. Worth looking at these sorts of websites to see if you’re cycling in close proximity to something historic in my view. However they will generally be on TripAdvisor.
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/?nst=0&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlovqovmE2gIVrxbTCh2vEAFDEAAYASABEgLkkvD_BwE – You can click the “map view” option, and it’s similar to National Trust’s website however it is for historic places in England by – English Heritage.
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?msa=0&ved=0CBgQnAUwAA&sa=X&ei=yMbfSofdApSqvAOXxJ38CQ&sig2=0sL2ZbNu77n7Rpp_tNs6ww&mid=1toheh7l1Cfqoo6oK7Slsrn-bwCk&ll=39.45641772126998%2C-6.1401531249999834&z=3&fbclid=IwAR3QrUBoIsisT_jgJO7nf0aIFeuk5eQ7Jr84W67rzhEmj7EgKKQfSLEssRE This link to Google maps shows you all the UNESCO world heritage sites. Per nation there aren’t too many of these, therefore worth looking if your tour will go via one of these sites.
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMagazine/DestinationsUK/CastlesinEngland/ If you want to plot a route around visiting castles, then this a good resource for England.
Forums, Facebook groups, Reddit, etc;
These can be helpful in getting other peoples advice and suggestions on what to bring, your planned route etc.
Train Travel – To return home from Europe:
https://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?ld=3889&protocol=https:&seqnr=2&ident=6d.0596889.1554592518&rt=1&OK#focus – NOT every train service in Europe will allow you to take your assembled bicycle with you. This is where the German Website by DB (Deutsche Bahn) comes in handy, especially in Germany (and other European nations like; Austria, Netherlands, France). Providing you click the box at the bottom of the page “
https://www.seat61.com/Germany.htm Seat61 is a great website to show you how to travel quickly from different European countries to the UK by train. However unfortunately on most of their links, they don’t state if your able to take a bicycle on their proposed train routes. Therefore you might have to do some of your own research. Or maybe check out their “bikes on train page”; here for more information.
http://community.raileurope.com/raileurope/topics/bicycles-on-trains-in-spain-q7mblqnjbm3vy?rfm=1 If you’re not sure if you can get back from a town / city. Just ask on this great forum “RailEurope”. You get quick responses, here is an example of me asking if it’s possible to return home from Santiago De Compostela in Spain, to the Spanish port of Santander with a fully assembled bicycle.