Isle of Wight named top cycling spot in the world

Lonely Planet's top ten places to take a bike on holiday

by Sarah Barth   September 16, 2012  

Isle of Wight, pic credit Ronald Saunders, source Flickr Creative Commons

The Isle of Wight is the Lonely Planet's number one place in the world to cycle.

The ubiquitous travel guide has produced a top ten of places "that should be on every cyclist’s wishlist".

First up is the Isle of Wight, of which Lonely Planet says:

The Isle of Wight is a cycling paradise that is home to some of the UK’s most varied terrain: lush velvet hills rolling into the sea, narrow lanes through tidy hedgerows, deep and mysterious green gullies, and the island’s most striking feature, the ridge of white chalk cliffs stretching across its breadth.

Although cyclists have been enjoying its outdoor pleasures for decades now, it’s only been in recent years that Wight has started to attract young and trendy Londoners looking for a romantic weekend by the sea with a buzz – which gastropubs, slick hotels and a calendar full of festivals now provide.

Other locations that come highly recommended include the west coast of Tasmania in Australia, Mont Ventoux in France, Cuba and Vietnam.

Closer to home, County Clare in Ireland comes in at number 5, along with north-east Italy.

11 user comments

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Hmmm, the Isle of Wight is perfectly pleasant, but top place in the world to cycle? Ridiculous. You get a lot of locals driving like maniacs along the Military Road on the Southern side of the Island which spoils it somewhat.

posted by pjay [242 posts]
16th September 2012 - 15:36


I've only seen the Isle of Wight from the water, but for starters would suggest a place without cars.
Such as this Wikipedia listing:

Shut up legs, you don't get a vote.

ridein's picture

posted by ridein [71 posts]
16th September 2012 - 15:55


I really like the Isle of Wight, in fact I live here. And I cycle around the place almost every day. But the best cycling holiday in the world? Surely not.

Whoever wrote that review didn't mention the truly shocking state of the roads, recently rated by the GMB union as the country's worst. There are some roads so appalling that I will not take my best bike onto them for fear of ruining the wheels. Potholes are not a winter phenomenon here, they seem to open up without regard to the season or weather.
There are currently at least two stretches of road deemed so dangerous that traffic lights are used to confine traffic to the better side of the carriageway. The lane near my house has a fifty-yard stretch which has been patched over sixty times; I'm not sure of the total as I'm tired of counting.

I have ridden in some developing countries where the roads are infinitely superior to Island highways and when I watch the Tour or the Vuelta or the Giro and compare their country lanes to ours I could weep in frustration.

Come and visit please, and bring your bike, but for goodness sake don't take your eyes off the road for a second.


mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [397 posts]
16th September 2012 - 16:18


We head down for our annual Fleet-Freshwater-Fleet ride every midsummer - get there for 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning and the roads are gloriously quiet and the blast along the Military Road to see who can get the cafe at Freshwater first is an absolute blast!

Not sure I'd put it up there with a ride in the mountains or Tuscany though.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [433 posts]
16th September 2012 - 19:09


Tenerife is the best place in the world for cycling for sure.

big mick

posted by big mick [209 posts]
16th September 2012 - 19:42


Isle of Wight = chavs and wind. I will never trust The Lonely Planet ever again.

posted by belgravedave [254 posts]
16th September 2012 - 20:05


There seems to be a bit of a boy racer scene especially around Newport but with some lovely countryside, steep hills and a great road along the south coast it's certainly worth visit. For non-roadies there are good off-road cycle routes as well. (I'm not from the IOW tourist board - just realised this was starting to sound like an advert.)

posted by Jon [35 posts]
16th September 2012 - 22:07


Mountain bikers go to Wales, roadies to French Alps and
"young and trendy Londoners" to Isle of Wight Wink

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [250 posts]
16th September 2012 - 22:10


Elephant & Castle roundabout Wink

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [369 posts]
16th September 2012 - 23:08


Big Mick - Tenerife the best place to cycle? Its the 'best' place, not the most 'brutal' place! My wife and I cycled there a few years ago - brutal. A few wrong turnings up Teide and your climbing a 2 mile 10-15% gradient. Still the weather was great

I prefer Mallorca or Lanza

posted by fiftyacorn [91 posts]
17th September 2012 - 8:43


I love cycling round Isle of Wight. However, the real reason it just cannot be the best is the awful state of the roads. I would never take my best bike carbon wheels because you could actually lose a wheel down some holes. Good on an MTB!

For geology-ically minded - they have a problem with some sort of slippy clay movement but the council should have a larger budget than the £20 a year they seem to spend!

posted by veseunr [290 posts]
18th September 2012 - 11:23