The vision of 15 international bicycle routes, crossing and linking all the countries of the European continent, was first developed in the early 1990s, inspired by the success of national cycle routes in Denmark and the Netherlands. Sustrans was proud to be involved from the early stages of the project, and helped to plan and design the network, launch the project and get work underway. The European Union has supported development of important sections of EuroVelo, most notably through the EuroVelo 6 project ‘Euroveloroute des Fleuves', where 18 partner authorities in France, Switzerland and Germany worked together to carry out more than €12 million of route and tourism development and marketing.
The whole of the European continent are connected by the routes. More than one-third of the total network - which when complete will be over 70,000km long - is in place, and work is under way on sections of the network in many countries. EuroVelo signposting can now be found in 42 countries including Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK.
There are currently four routes across the UK, EuroVelo Routes 1, 2, 5 and 12.
This route enters England at Plymouth, following the Devon Coast to Coast route (National Route 27). Largely tracing the course of former railway lines, the route takes you through tunnels and across the breathtaking viaducts and bridges. It continues through Exmoor National Park to Bristol and on to Wales, where it joins the Celtic Trail along the Welsh coast to Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. The route visits Ireland and then continues across Northern Ireland (Lough Neagh) where a ferry from Belfast takes you to the Scottish coasts. Following the Lochs and Glens Route you will pass through Loch Lomond National Park and Cairngorms National Park to Inverness, along the north Scottish coast to Aberdeen.
Starting at Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey, this route travels through the heart of Wales along the Lôn Las Cymru (National Route 8), taking in Snowdonia National Park and Brecon Beacons National Park. Passing the Welsh capital Cardiff, it then crosses the Severn, where it visits the grand cities of Bristol and Bath – connected by the hugely popular Bristol to Bath Railway path. After that it joins the scenic Kennet and Avon Cycle Route (National Route 4) along the historic canal which links the Thames and the Bristol Channel, weaving through spectacular scenery on its way from Bath to Reading. At Reading, the route joins the Thames Valley Route on its way to London. Finally it leaves London through the docklands, travelling north to the ferry port at Harwich.
This route is the start of the 3,300km ride that follows the 1,000 year-old route the pilgrims used to travel from Canterbury to Rome. Starting at the historic City of Canterbury the route bends its way along pleasant Kentish Lanes to the coast at Dover, home to Britain’s busiest port, biggest castle and most iconic landmark, the legendary White Cliffs of Dover.
The route enters the UK at the port of Harwich and joins National Route 1 – a route exploring the UK’s east coast. Entering Lincolnshire, the route joins the mostly traffic-free Boston to Lincoln route which features a fabulous art trail, and then travels north to cross the Humber bridge into Hull. Continuing along the fantastic Yorkshire and Northumberland coast the route travels to Edinburgh and from there as far north as the Shetland islands. The route is fully signed in both directions and open except between Whitby and Staithes (in Yorkshire).
Another route into mainland Europe is the London to Paris route called Avenue Verte which starts at the London Eye and ends at Notre Dame. For information and detailed mapping of the 250-mile route, order the official Avenue Verte - London to Paris by Bike guidebook.