It may not be the most obvious choice, but Poland is an idyllic location for a cycling holiday.
That's especially true when the itinerary is put together with Explore, who have been pioneering adventure getaways for decades.
Cycle the 'Pieniny Way', through the Dunajec Gorge
Krakow - gem of a city with medieval square
Traditional villages - cycle where time has stood still
Zakopane, the charming wood-built mountain town
Stary Sacz & Nowy Sacz - two historic villages
Lopuszna, the historic centre of Gorale people
DAY 1: Arrive in Krakow Airport and go straight to Zakopane. It's an area with a very distinctive cultural character. The folk culture of the people who live in the region is preserved in their music, songs and costumes. The characteristic 'Zakopane Style' of timber architecture, which developed around the turn of the last century, is found nowhere else in Europe and has an unforgettable charm.
DAY 2: Cable car and cycle Chocholow to Lopuszna.
Start your day by visiting Zakopane's sites, such as the atmospheric Old Graveyard. Then take the cable car to the top of Gubalowka Mountain and ride down through the long village of Dzianisz as far as Chocholow, a village which is now a living open-air museum. Take lunch in the village inn then cross the Slovak-Polish border heading to the little village of Sucha Hora. A newly built cycle path goes through wild forests and marshy landscapes towards Ludzmierz (with its famous Marian pilgrimage shrine), and on to Nowy Targ, the centre of the Gorale region. The route runs part of the way along a riverside path, to the historic villages of Waksmund and Lopuszna, where you will spend the night in a pension at the forest's edge. Cycling distance today is 48km (mostly downhill).
DAY 3: Countryside cycling to Niedzica.
Head south and follow the course of the Bialka, a mountain river flowing into the Dunajec. On the way, visit one of the oldest wooden churches in the country, at Debno. Built around the year 1500, it has an impressive painted interior. Afterwards (and weather permitting) stop for a picnic by the reservoir, and perhaps a swim. Following the bank of the reservoir, head for the castles at Niedzica and spend the night nearby. The total cycling distance today is around 47km.
DAY 4: Cycle the Dunajec gorge to the spa town of Szczawnica.
Ride to the Spisz village of Kacwin, whose unusual architecture is reminiscent of some Hungarian villages. At about midday, cross into Slovakia. The first stop is Cerveny Klastor (Red Monastery), above which rise the three peaks of Trzy Korony (Three Crowns), the highest point in the Pieniny range. Take lunch here and visit the local museum.
Next is a real highlight of the tour, cycling the 'Pieniny Way', a cycle path carved out of the cliff running the whole length of the Dunajec Gorge. Only walkers and cyclists are allowed to use this path. The limestone cliffs and luxuriant greenery are breathtaking and you'll stop many times to take photographs. The sleepy village of Lesnica gives you an opportunity to shop before we head back into Poland and the small spa town of Szczawnica. Cycling distance today is around 40km.
DAY 5: Pedal though old villages and fruit gardens to Rytro.
Today, follow the 'green Dunajec Gorge', passing between two ranges of the beech-lined Beskid Mountains. Moving through the farms of Tylmanowa, we ride toward Lacko, and have lunch. Then move uphill to Rytro, an old feudal village at the foot of castle ruins. The night is spent in a small hotel on the shady banks of the Poprad, where you will be served grilled trout fresh from the water. Today's cycling distance is approximately 55km.
DAY 6: Explore historic Stary Sacz by bike; drive to Krakow.
After a ride around the Rytro area, we cycle 10 km through the Poprad Valley to Stary Sacz. This historic little town is one of the most beautiful in Southern Poland, so take time to breathe in the atmosphere and discover the maze of narrow streets by bike. Board the bus to the neighbouring town of Nowy Sacz, which still has something of the Habsburg Empire about it. The neo-Baroque town hall in the beautiful market square dates from that period, and the streets are lined with well-restored art nouveau houses. From Nowy Sacz we return to Krakow. Your cycling distance today is 25km.
DAY 7: Cycling tour of Krakow Old Town and locality.
Poland's former capital has a very distinctive character and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its historic architecture came through the Second World War unscathed and the city has preserved its rich culture. It was the residence of Polish kings, and has nearly a hundred churches, as well as Poland's oldest university, the medieval Jagiellonian University, and Wawel Castle.
On two wheels, visit Europe's biggest medieval town square, Kazimierz (the former Jewish quarter) and the promenade along the River Vistula. An optional evening of 'Klezmer' music is a fitting way to bring your tour to a close. The total cycling distance is roughly 20km.
DAY 8: The tour ends in Krakow this morning, after breakfast.
Prices start from £989 per adult, for departures between June and September 2017.