Country Comparison Part Two

In country comparison part two we focus on roads, cycle routes, people and which country was the most budget friendly.

Cycle Routes

Cycle routes in Denmark and Germany

Regular readers no doubt know which country we found the best for cycle lanes. Germany. For most of our time there, we could use cycle paths where we didn’t need to worry about cars. It was bliss.

Even in cities like Hamburg and Frankfurt, there were cycle lanes everywhere. It was so easy to get in, out and around the cities on the cycle lanes.

Denmark was the second best. For most of our two days, there was a cycle lane adjacent to the main road. Finland and Sweden had great cycling networks around cities. Outside the cities, not so much.

France and Spain were a bit of a hit and miss. Even when we followed the Eurovelo routes. One moment you are riding on a beautiful quiet towpath, the next you are on a busy main road.


Long and winding roads in Spain

Germany might have had the most complete cycling network, at least in the parts we cycled in, but how about road cycling? There were plenty of times when we couldn’t ride on dedicated cycle lanes and had to get on the road.

Some roads were lovely and quiet, others, you couldn’t relax for a moment.

The worst roads we cycled on were in France and Spain. In France it was narrow roads with cars zooming past us, sometimes almost skimming you as they squeezed past, without slowing down on bends or when other cars were coming towards us.

In Spain, it was the slip roads, even on single lane roads. They were not so bad to navigate when the roads were quiet, but when they got busy, you better hope you timed getting across a slip road right.

Finland, Sweden and Denmark were mostly quiet roads. There were times, especially in Lapland, when we cycled kilometre after kilometre without seeing a single car. So really, there was no need for cycle lanes there.

What about the condition of the roads? Despite the harsher climate, the roads in Finland and Sweden were in great condition. Thinking back, most roads in Denmark, Germany, France and Spain were fine, too. We didn’t encounter any roads with major potholes or other issues. UK take note!


Anne was our host in Lyon and Justin cycling with one of the Dutch guys we met in Denmark

What can we say? We met some wonderful people in every country. Helpful and welcoming, always ready to advice and give directions.

One shining example was the older man on his electric bike. He went several kilometres out of his way to get us on the right route again when we had lost GPS.

Then there were all the wonderful people we met through Warmshowers.

There is only one time we had an unpleasant experience. And it wasn’t with the gardeners at the graveyard.

It was a driver in Sweden and we didn’t even meet him (or could have been her) in person.

We were cycling somewhere near Lake Vättern where they hold the cycling race when a car stopped a little in front of us. Then he burnt some serious rubber before speeding away with his tyres screeching. For a moment, we couldn’t see anything at all and the smell and the smoke burnt our eyes and filled our nose and mouth.

What a wanker!

But he was the only lowlight we met.

The rest of the people, so much love! Those are the people we will remember.

Most Budget Friendly

Check out the size of that can and campsite dinner time

If you are ranking Finland, Sweden and Denmark as the most expensive countries, then you are right. It is no surprise that the Nordic Countries are more expensive than their friends on the continent.

Denmark was a little cheaper than Finland and Sweden which were similar in price. And to those who think that Finland and Sweden are more expensive than the UK, think again. The prices, at least in London are very close to those in Finland and Sweden. In fact, some things are even more expensive in London.

The cheapest country was Germany, closely followed by Spain and France. We could easily get by and eat well with less than five euros per day – between us.

The food in those countries was cheaper and so was the alcohol. That was hugely different. It was nice to be able to have a few beers or share a bottle of wine at the end of the day’s ride without it busting the budget.

And, by the way, UK’s alcohol prices are definitely on bar with Finland and Sweden. Finland and Sweden might even be cheaper than London in places.

Bring cheap booze for all!

Most cycle friendly

A perfect example of a cycle route in Germany and we loved these bus stops for lunch breaks in Finland

We found Germany to be a cyclist’s wet dream with its wonderful cycle routes, but when considering cycle friendliness we have to think about more than just cycle routes.

And overall, for us at least, it is impossible to choose a winner.

The whole journey was such an enjoyable experience, and every country so different. It lit the fire in us to do more bicycle touring as it is such a great way to see places and meet people.

And while we might not be ranking the countries we cycled through, the European Cyclists’ Federation has done just that. You can find their ranking here. I’m pleased to see Finland in the top five and from our experience, I’m definitely not surprised to see which countries topped the list.

Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.


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