Photo via Francois Schnell @ flickr
There's no better way to soak up a country than by bike: It's quicker than walking, greener than just about every other form of transportation, and you get to see towns, scenery, and people that you'd never encounter from the relative comfort of an air-conditioned tour bus. Whether you're a novice rider or a super-fit cyclist, whether you want a family vacation or a romantic getaway, and whether you're looking for trips in the U.S., Europe, Asia, or Latin America (If these aren't in your backyard, plan your flight to be the greenest possible), the companies on these pages have the tours and trails to give you the ride of a lifetime.
For 30 years, Backroads has been offering guided adventure tours for walkers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, but it's their lineup of international bike tours that will get your vacation-blood pumping. Whether your traveling taste runs toward the European (think Tuscany, Veneto, Bordeaux, Provence, Denmark, Ireland), Asian (Bali, China, New Zealand, Vietnam), Latin American (Argentina, Costa Rica), or North American (Maine, Colorado, Alaska, New Mexico, Prince Edward Island), there's a Backroads itinerary designed to take you wherever it is you’ve always wanted to go--and one that lines up with your fitness level, whether it's couch potato or gym junkie. Go alone, with a friend, or with the kids and choose from premiere or casual accommodations to match your budget.
Photo via EcoBike
The relatively flat terrain of Israel and the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean makes this region an ideal spot for traveling by bike (especially if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the more mountainous parts of Europe). EcoBike offers trips--ranging in length from a day or two to more than a week--that highlight some of the Middle East’s most awe-inspiring spots: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Dead Sea, Galilee, and Mount Carmel. And in addition to the inherent green benefits of helping visitors trade car pollution for cycling trips, EcoBike keeps its own carbon footprint small by minimizing waste and using 100 percent recycled paper in its office.
3. Escape Adventures
Photo via Escape Adventures
For a more intense bike trip, try one of the mountain biking excursions from Escape Adventures: Go international with a tour through the Argentinean Andes, Mexico’s Copper Canyon, or Canada’s British Columbia; or see the U.S. in a whole new light with trails through the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Idaho’s Hot Springs, Oregon’s High Lakes, Utah’s Bryce and Zion National Parks, the Grand Tetons, and Mount St. Helen's. These adrenaline-boosting downhill tracks may not give you as much leave to soak up some of the world’s flatter terrains: If you prefer road cycling, Escape offers options in Maui, Napa Valley, Washington’s San Juan Islands, and more. The company also prides itself on being carbon-neutral: Support vans run on biodiesel, provided meals are made from local and organic ingredients, the office runs on solar power, and more than 90% of the waste the company turns out is recycled.