North Wales Coaster

Distance: 160km / 100 miles

Climb: 1,800m / 5,900ft

North Wales Coaster route map

The National Cycle Network Route 5 runs right through the middle of Anglesey, crosses the iconic Menai Bridge and gives a close-up view of Conwy Castle and the coastline before reaching the Wales-England border at Connah’s Quay. Ride it from east to west to enjoy the prevailing wind at your back – but save some gas for the big climbs towards the end of the ride.

Couple cycling on the Cob at Malltraeth Lon Las Cefni Wales Coast Path Anglesey
Cyclist on a rural cycling route with fields in the background
The Cob at Malltraeth, Lon Las Cefni, Wales Coast Path, Anglesey, and cycling in the Clywydian Range, Denbighshire

Lôn Las Cymru

Distance: 400km / 250 miles

Climb: 5,600m / 18,400ft

Lôn Las route map

This is the big one: a complete top-to-bottom tour of Wales, passing through its loveliest scenery. The actual route is infinitely adaptable (Chepstow or Cardiff are alterative end-points). A set of knobbly tyres will open up miles of traffic-free single-track, while roadies can explore some gloriously untravelled tarmac in the high mountain passes. The National Cycle Network is a good place to start route-planning.

Clywedog reservoir from above on a sunny day.
Clywedog reservoir - one of the sights along Lon Las Cymru, route 8

Tywi Tour

Distance: 120km / 75 miles

Climb: 1,500m / 5,000ft

Tywi Tour route map

The Tywi Valley is a truly lovely place to cycle, with endless quiet lanes on either side of a broad river valley that’s guarded by ancient castles. This ride has a bit of everything: a stiff mountain climb to start, a gentle pedal along the valley floor at the end, and miles of pretty country byways in between. This is probably a two-cake ride, so stop once in the market town of Llandovery and again at Wright's Food Emporium.

Lôn Cambria

Distance: 145km / 90 miles

Climb: 2,000m / 6,500ft

Lôn Cambria route map

This route takes in the entire width of Wales at its narrowest point. Most cycle routes are planned west-east to get a bit of wind-assistance, but we’ve mapped this from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth because the mountain views are even better this way, and it’s always good to end a long journey with a blissful 25-mile (40km) descent to the seaside. The traditional route includes a loop around the lakes near Rhayader, but we think they deserve their own entry...

 

Six Dams

Distance: 44km / 27 miles

Climb: 775m / 2,500ft

Six Dams route map

The lakes and dams on the rivers Elan and Claerwen were built high in the Cambrian Mountains to supply water to Birmingham. The 72 square mile (186sq km) estate is a wonderful blend of hefty Victorian engineering and the wildest Welsh uplands, easily rideable in a couple of hours. Road cyclists can extend the trek on the mountain road to Devil’s Bridge, while off-roaders can enjoy the splendid isolation of a rough track that runs alongside the Claerwen Reservoir, past the Teifi Pools, all the way to Strata Florida Abbey.

Forest and river in the Elan Valley
Two people taking two dogs for a walk, walking over a bridge with autumnal trees in the background
Elan Valley Dams

Preseli Mountain and Coast

Distance: 75km / 46 miles

Climb: 1,500m / 5,000ft

Preseli Mountain and Coast route map

This is the perfect way to get acquainted with wilder, Welsher parts of North Pembrokeshire. The outbound coastal route (hillier than it sounds…) runs through Ceibwr and past St Dogmaels Abbey before heading inland to the highest pass in the Preseli Mountains. Drop into the stunning Gwaun Valley and have a pint at the legendary Bessie's to galvanise you for a fearsome climb up the hairpins behind the pub, which lead back to Newport.

Gospel and Tumble

Distance: 95km / 60 miles

Climb: 1,600m / 5,250ft

Gospel and Tumble route map

Tick off two iconic climbs on one circular ride from the pretty borders town of Hay-on-Wye. First up is Gospel Pass, the highest tarmac road in Wales, cutting between Hay Bluff and Twmpa. The descent past Llanthony Priory is a useful breather before you hit Abergavenny and the slog up the Tumble. From here it’s largely downhill home, giving you a chance to enjoy Mid Wales scenery at its best.

Ride the Dragon

Distance: 298km / 185 miles

Climb: 4,500m / 14,750ft

Ride the Dragon route map

The Dragon Ride is one of the UK’s toughest sportives. Even the ultra-fit will struggle to finish its flagship route, the Devil Dragon (note: shorter and slightly less monstrous routes are also available, mercifully). And yet we’ve listed it because it contains several of the best climbs in Britain: Bwlch and Rhigos at the top of Rhondda, moorland treks across the central Brecon Beacons and through the lonely Abergwesyn Pass, fearsome slogs up the Devil’s Elbow AND Devil’s Staircase (both aptly named), the lovely climb up the Black Mountain from Llangadog… they’re all included. Taken individually, they’re all wonderful. Taken back-to-back … well, that’s just a beast.

Moutain bike wheels in view with biker looking over cliff ledge
Mountain bikers enjoying the view in Caerphilly
Brecon Beacons and Caerphilly

Bwlch y Groes

Distance: 55km / 34 miles

Climb: 900m / 2,950ft

Bwlch y Groes route map

Bwlch y Groes is often said to be Wales’ highest tarmac road - Gospel Pass just pips it, actually - but it’s still a grand climb up from Llyn Tegid through the mountains to the Bwlch. Ride around Lake Vyrnwy, and return via the heather-clad hills of the Hirnant Pass.

The Brailsford Way

Distance: 120km / 75 miles

Climb: 1,900m / 6,200ft

The Brailsford Way route map

The guru of British cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford, grew up in Snowdonia and learnt his trade on these spectacular mountain roads. This is the longer of two routes – the shorter one ducks out at pretty Beddgelert - but either will give you wonderful views of Snowdon itself. A good start/end point is Caernarfon, whose thumping great castle dominates the skyline.

Stone houses and bridge in Beddgelert by the river
Beddgelert

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