Cycling the Alps: a gruelling and rewarding adventure

It goes without saying that mountain biking is a physically demanding sport. Although hiking has many techniques and there are right and wrong ways to hike and to carry heavy rucksacks from a bodily point of view, hiking is essentially just walking and is therefore something that most people do on a daily basis. Cycling however require different muscles and as with any sport it requires training and dedication to get good at it. Crossing the Alps is definitely not for beginners, but it most certainly is one of the most rewarding trips one can imagine. But again, before you undertake it, you’ll want to have proverbially logged many hours of mountain biking and make sure that you’re in shape for the demands of the ride.

The Alps, for those who don’t know are located in the middle of western Europe, starting in France and going through Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, where they bump into the Carpathian Mountains. (Although geologists know where the Alps and Carpathian begin and end, for the average person it would be easy to mistake the mountains as one range.)

There’s an almost infinite about of routes that one can chose to cycle and any of the countries listed above make for a beautiful holiday. While Switzerland is probably one of the most popular destinations and with beautiful regions like the Jungfrau Region or Interlaken it’s an obvious choice for mountain lovers and mountain bikers. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world however, prices in Switzerland are about as steep as the mountains for the average traveller and it’s not easy to spend time there without spending a lot of money.

For my money, one of the best regions for cycling is in the north of Slovenia. One of the former countries that made up Yugoslavia, Slovenia is a marvellous region for mountain biking. The food is amazing if one likes hearty mountain cuisine and located between Austria, Italy and Croatia one has plenty of options to see famous and old cities like Venice and Vienna in Italy and Austria, respectively, and Croatia’s world-famous beaches are not far away. Nor is the Croatian seaside town of Dubrovnik, made even more famous as the filming location of King’s Landing in the hugely popular Game of Thrones series.

Slovenia’s Alps offer both nature and culture and can be experienced in tandem in the beautiful Lake Bled region. The region is somewhat cheaper than neighbouring Austria and leagues more affordable than Switzerland, for those who need to keep a close eye on their finances.

The Alps are not an easy ride, by any means, but with so many history, so many different cultures and languages—to say nothing of the glorious and distinctive food in the various regions—the Alps are one of the best places for cyclists, but be prepared for a challenge.