If you’re pondering where to go to find the best cycling in September and October, this article will introduce you to some of the top spots for cycle travel in Europe (and beyond) this autumn.
Cycling holidays in October/September may take you across the channel to France, to mainland Spain or the islands. They might even transport you to part of Southern California that offers wonderful warm weather riding at this time of year...
Find out all that’s great about mainland Spain, Tenerife and Mallorca cycling holidays in autumn. Add the South of France and the Californian coast into the mix, and you’ll have some great options - whether you’re after a family, group, couples’ or singles’ cycling trip.
By Clare Dewey
1. Nice, France
Best for chic restaurants and post-ride beach vibes
When you want to go cycling in Europe, Nice is perhaps a less obvious choice than some, but we absolutely love it.
One of the key considerations is how easy it is to get to Nice from the UK and other parts of Northern Europe, involving a considerably shorter flight time than the Canary Islands, California and even other European destinations.
Once you arrive, you can cycle from the airport into town, which is under 10 kilometres away. There are bike stands at arrivals making this option even simpler if you need to build or tinker with your bike before you set off.
If you want more from your cycling holiday in Europe than just epic roads, then Nice also offers beautiful beaches, chic cafés, great shopping and a thriving cultural scene. It’s a great choice for a September or October cycling holiday in France because the weather should still be warm but the city will be less busy than it would have been during the peak summer months.
Cyclists’ highlights of the Nice and Côte d'Azur region include the mountains to the north with gems such as Col de Turini, Col de Braus and Col de Madone not far away. There’s also the Esterel National Park in the west. Or you could head east to experience one or more of the three Corniche roads.
Find out more about taking a holiday with your bike in this part of France with our complete Nice and Côte d'Azur cycling guide.
2. Girona, Spain
Best for boutique hotels and sophisticated post-ride beers
Girona gives Mallorca a serious run for its money when it comes to where to have the best European cycling holidays. Numerous triathletes and pro cyclists own homes and businesses here, and the vibrant, historic town is a joy to explore.
Simply spending time in Girona makes you feel like part of the professional cycling scene, and when it comes to routes, riders here on their October cycling holidays are spoiled for choice. There are rides from Girona like the breathtaking Mare de Déu del Mont climb, or the easier Els Àngels and Sant Grau loops that take in peaceful countryside or the coastline of the Costa Brava.
You could also head out of town to take in some of the stunning scenery found in this part of north eastern Spain. Even those in search of beginners’ cycling holidays or cycling holidays for children should be satisfied with the Park de la Devesa in the town centre or the family-friendly ‘Greenways’ routes created from redundant railway tracks.
With an abundance of accommodation options, affordable flights and a formidable reputation as a hub for cyclists, Girona offers some of the finest cycling holidays in Spain. If you hang out by the Pont de Pedra bridge during the morning, you may even spot a pro cyclist or two: at least that’s what local resident David Millar reckons!
All this makes Girona one of our top picks for where to go on a cycling holiday in September/October.
For more on Girona and its wider province in northeastern Spain, take a look at our guide to cycling in Girona.
3. Terres de l’Ebre, Spain
Best for low traffic riding
Head a little further south to Terres de l’Ebre in southern Catalonia and you can experience an entirely new side to a cycling holiday in Spain. This less touristy region is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and there are two distinct National Parks to discover.
The glorious landscape offers incredible diversity - in addition to roads that are often virtually traffic-free. Whether you want to conquer the mountains or take a more leisurely ride along the coast, there are routes here to suit all kinds of cyclists.
For those who relish a challenge, we suggest the Grand Tour Terres de l’Ebre, which stretches for over 200 kilometres and involves reaching an elevation of almost 4,500 metres. Those who want to explore the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve can tour Ebro Delta National Park with its rice fields, while historians will appreciate the smooth tarmac and vineyards of the Battle of the Ebro landscape.
To complete the picture, visitors can also take on the Challenge Cycling Terres de l’Ebre event comprising seven stages. This is held during September, October and November.
All these things make Terres de l’Ebre a firm choice on our pick of the best cycling holidays in October.
Discover all the highlights of the region in this detailed guide to Terres de l’Ebre.
Best for varied terrain and cycling services
An autumn cycling holiday in Mallorca is a classic choice, and this region is particularly appealing during the months of September and October. Of all Spanish cycling holidays this one’s up there: in fact some of the world’s best cycling routes can be found on this, the biggest of the Balearic islands.
If you’re picking between Spain cycling holidays and haven’t yet been, we reckon every keen cyclist needs to experience Mallorca at least once. Apart from slick tarmac, an interesting variety of terrain and a great cycling infrastructure, the island is ideal for cycling holidays with a family as there are so many other things to see and do too.
Many a winter cycling camp takes place in Mallorca, as well as major events like the Mallorca 312, the Ironman 70.3 Mallorca and the Tour of Mallorca (albeit not during these months of the year). However, by going in autumn, you can avoid the crowds, the peak school holiday season and the summer heat.
If you want easy cycling holidays or a challenge, Mallorca can supply, from routes such as those found around the resort of Alcúdia to the “Big Daddy” that takes in the entire north-west coast.
Whether you’ve been to Mallorca before or not, cycling in Mallorca in September is an excellent bet.
If you like the idea of taking on some of the best cycling places in Europe, check out our detailed article on cycling in Mallorca.
Best for mountain goats
Tenerife offers balmy weather, great cycling conditions and some of the best cycling holidays in Europe - not just in September/October but all year round, due to that fantastic climate!
Autumn is a great time to visit though, as the bucket-and-spade holiday brigade has largely dispersed and it’s a little early for the winter sun crowd. Wherever you stay, Mount Teide is ever-present, looming over the landscape while tempting cyclists to take on the challenge of ascending its slopes. As well as the reward of a thrilling descent.
It’s not all about Spain’s highest mountain, however. You could head north, following the road to Masca and continuing on towards the dramatic setting of the Teno lighthouse. Alternatively, take on the easier Anaga Loop, which is fringed by emerald forests and offers tantalising glimpses of the azure Atlantic waters at various turns.
As you might expect, Tenerife doesn’t really offer the sort of Spain cycling holidays that are the best for those seeking flat terrain. We’re confident that for many, the soaring peak of Mount Tiede would prove too much of a temptation in any case?!
Explore the best of cycling in Tenerife in this destination guide.
6. Santa Barbara County, USA
Best for warm weather riding
Lush rolling vineyards, scenic coastline and favourable weather all-year round are just a few of the factors placing Santa Barbara county up there among the best cycling destinations on the planet.
This part of southern California is home to the Santa Ynez Valley and the Santa Barbara hills, and the area offers challenging climbs, easy beachside cycle paths and charming rural scenery.
Whether you’re in search of cycling singles’ holidays or travel as a family this area is ideal, with great parks, fascinating museums, varied shopping and lots of coffee or wine tasting opportunities.
Santa Barbara county offers some fantastic wine country routes including the Jalama Beach and Santa Rosa roads by the Californian coast, the Mount Figueroa Loop and more. For those with kids in tow, there are also some accessible routes in and around town.
With typically hot, dry weather during autumn and plenty of places to stay in the Santa Ynez Valley as well as town, Santa Barbara offers adventure cycling holidays to suit every kind of rider. If you’re up for a cycling trip that takes you out of Europe, we think it’s worth the journey!
You can find the ultimate guide to cycling in Santa Barbara county here.
Where’s your favourite place to cycle in autumn?
From the best cycling holidays in Europe to taking on the best bike tours in the world for those who love visiting wineries, there are some fabulous autumn destinations for committed cyclists to choose from.
To help you make up your mind, you could also read our posts offering more information on the top regions of Spain for cyclists, the best French areas for road riders or the finest long distance routes on earth.
We’d love to hear about your favourite places to cycle in autumn. If you have anything to share with us about cycling in autumn, then please do add a note in the comments section beneath this post.
More About Clare
I founded epicroadrides.com in 2018 because I couldn't find the kind of information I wanted and needed to plan my trips.
There's nothing I love more than exploring the world on two wheels - except perhaps writing about it! I hope you enjoy this article!
(that every road cyclist should watch)
(+ 9 cycling hashtags)
to inspire wanderlust