World Tour – The Route
World Tour – The RouteFebruary
I spent more than 2 years working on a 24,000 mile (36,000kms), turn by turn bicycle route around the entire planet.
This task has been a challenge to say the least. Many countries have poor road markings on google earth and no street view. I’ve relied heavily on satellite maps and open street maps to construct this cycle touring route around the world. I had no choice but to manually map all 3,128 miles (5034kms) across China as the mapping provided by Google maps is horribly inaccurate, this country alone took more than 3 months to map!
It’s inevitable that our route will change many times throughout the journey, but fingers crossed, the work I’ve put in will prove useful!
You can download a copy of the full, original route below or read on to find out how we adapted the route as we cycled around the world.
This is a kml file containing the full route around the world in 1 single file.
England & France
Our official start point was Paris, France, but we decided to cycle from our home in Shropshire, England. This gave us a chance to break-in our new, loaded touring bikes in our home country. It gave us an opportunity to get used to bicycle touring in a familiar setting.
As you can see from the homepage banner, in England and France we stayed on the route. It was fairly logical to do so; in England we were eager to get to Dover (maybe a little too eager) and France, being a great place to cycle, had cycle paths to follow.
We deviated from the route within the day to hit up places recommended to us, like Briare Canal, but we always came back to the route.
French roads are such a treat to cycle at times the roads were so quiet, we couldn’t believe it. We were not used to the luxury. A lot of France is completely flat, the canals in particular, of course!
Highlights of England & France:
- Chipping Campden, England
- Surry Hills – there’s an epic downhill to Dorking!
- And of course, the ferry to Dover. It is afterall why we’re doing what we’re doing…
- French cycle paths – we hopped on and off Eurovelo 3, 6, 17 & 8
- Exploring Arras, Lyon & Paris – we saw so much of Paris on a budget!
- The French canals, which you can follow on the Euro Velo 6
- Briare Canel
- Cycling along the River Rhone
This is the only part of the trip that we would re-route and we would recommend you don’t follow our route through Italy if possible. This route is direct and due to the time of year it gave us the best possible chance of good weather.
We’ve spoken to other cyclists who took this same route and they reported similar feelings to us – there weren’t many friendly faces, the roads were boring and we ended up on the main roads because the cycle paths were useless or “in development”.
Basically our route through Italy was South of Milan and North of anything else. The Alps weren’t an option for us due to the time of year.
In hindsight we would consider the following options:
- The Alps (weather permitting)
- Including Lake Garda (we thought about re-routing to this, but honestly we were so demoralised we just wanted Italy done.)
Highlights of Italy along our route:
- Views of the Italian coastline, although the cycling wasn’t great
- Some parts of the River Po (when we found a cycle path)
Eastern Europe: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria
Okay, so this is where everything changed and we threw our route out of the window.
We met Marko, a great warmshowers host in Slovenia and he questioned what we were doing and why! The next day we set off on a new route, fully inspired by Marko. We reached many of the points he recommended, but not all – there would be more to see in this beautiful part of the world. The one missed opportunity that still pains us to this day was Lake Ohrid. It looked so beautiful, but we just didn’t have the time.
The map below was our rough plan. We winged it day-to-day, so it’s not exactly what we did, but it’s pretty close! You can take a look Zoe’s Strava for exact routes.
Highlights of Eastern Europe:
- The tour of Slovenia, you can see we did a loop from Sezana, returning to Sezana after about 200 miles (320kms). This included:
- Skocjan Caves – you can go with your bikes and any luggage. It’s very safe and everything will be locked away
- Lake Bled
- The downhill from Podbrdo
- Skofja Loka
- The coastline of Croatia
- Croatian Islands – especially Cres
- Mostar, Bosnia – there’s an epic downhill into Mostar
- The Ferry from Koman, Albania
- The village Has, Albania (not included in the original map above)
- Skopje, Macedonia (wish we stayed more than 1 night)
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria – we really enjoyed the 40miles/64kms of flat/downhill roads to Plovdiv!
Back in Bulgaria we joined our original route and we followed it (mostly) in Turkey. There were two noticeable deviations. The first between Edirne and Istanbul – we just needed to get to Istanbul quicker so we took a more direct route and the second was the way out of Istanbul, rather than cycling the busy city we took a ferry from Istanbul to Yalova.
Cycling Turkey is fantastic – what really made it for us were the people, the hospitality and the food! I’m fairly confident that whatever you decided to do in Turkey you’ll have a great time.
Highlights along our route:
- Basically from Karasu the route was great
- Safranbolu is a beautiful historic town – a good place to spend more than 1 night
- Kastamonu – a great town and Behic, our warmshowers host was amazing
- Cycling inland from Ergli – we loved this part of Turkey! The alternative is the coast which I hear is also very beautiful and hilly. We decided to go inland because we joined the coast again at Samsun, so we felt we got the best if both worlds. We’re still happy with this decision.
- From Gerze you join the Black Sea again- and the roads are flllaaaat! This route does get a little tiresome towards the end as you will cycle along a dual carriageway for a lot of the way. On the other hand, you can enjoy big mile days! Our record was 107miles/172kms
This was another country that we totally re-routed through. The route can be found on Strava (see below).
We woke up to a message on Instagram suggesting that our chosen route missed a real highlight – Goderdzi Pass. We were promised a difficult road (gravel), a huge challenge, some sizeable climbs, but beautiful views and no regrets. Our new route delivered just that.
- Goderdzi Pass
- The route passing Paravani Lake – very beautiful – we wish we’d camped here
In Azerbaijan you have 2 logical routes from Balaken – the north hillier route or the south flatter route. We opted, as per our original route to take the north hillier route and we have no regrets.
This route goes via Balaken, Sheki, Gabele, Ismayilli, Sabir & Baku.
- Beautiful mountains
- A nice mix of uphill climbs and smooth, sweeping downhills
- A challenging 3 mile climb that you will not forget
- Mountainous views turning to dry desert land – you’ll get a fantastic mix of all
- Waiting days for the ferry then holding it up for 4 hours due to our (self inflicted) migration problem! Read this blog and don’t make the mistake as us – we can’t go back without paying £200 each.
Cycling Central Asia is fantastic! The moment we stepped off the ferry from Alat to Aktau we were blown away – quite literally, by the wind and mentally by the changing landscapes.
We were daunted by the mass of flat land and long straight roads – one of the first roads we took was 8 miles long.
Once you get to Central Asia you’ll find road options drop off, so cycling has never been easier! You cycle a flat road for miles and miles, peaceful miles all day long. You set up a camp anywhere you like, whenever you like and then do the same the next day! We loved that part of Central Asia.
- The first sighting of a camel!
- The initial surprise of stepping off the ferry
- Almaty is a fabulous city – and there’s an AMAZING warmshowers host there, Matt
- Charyn Canyon