From Grense Jakobselv in Norway to Cabo St Vincent in Portugal, this is the longest predominantly off-road bikepacking route in the world, put together by Andy Cox, aka Doubletrackfanatic.
The route passes through the seemingly endless forests, alongside lakes, rivers and on the dirt roads of Scandinavia, through the patchwork of farmland, woodland, heathlands and grasslands of Central Europe, then into the south and eventually the Iberian Peninsula where the diversity of landscapes will surprise you, and the trails are often loose and rocky.
The inspiration for this route came from a need for a dirt road touring route exploring an alternative side of Europe, mostly away from the popular tourist destinations. While more challenging bikepacking routes can be great fun, following them for months on end is perhaps less sustainable. Here, easier tracks and trails have been linked together into a route that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The challenges will come from the logistics of finding water, food and accommodation, the weather throughout the multiple seasons it’ll doubtless take to ride it, and the act of riding a heavy bike, off-road, more than 7,500 km (4,660 mi) across Europe.
While this route is called the European Divide Trail (EDT), it’s unlike the Great Divide Mountain Bike route in North America, as this route doesn’t follow the Continental Divide, rather it crosses many different divides on its journey through Europe. These divides are economic and social, geographic and geologic, historical and cultural, with numerous languages and customs, laws and regulations, but all within the European Union. Some of these divisions are obvious as you’ll cross ten international borders, but often less obvious on the ground, as the reality of crossing international borders on a bike is that the landscape rarely changes, and even the language can be somewhat the same cross-border as well.
This is an epic crossing of the European continent, from (almost) the most northeast to the furthest southwest tip of the continent, predominantly off-road or traffic free. So with that in mind, although there are plenty of paved sections, there’s often no easy alternative, or there’s issues with private land or access to off-road alternatives. That’s not to say that there aren’t alternatives, so if you’re feeling adventurous then by all means go exploring!
Bike recommendations are more down to comfort and tyre size than anything specific; so most off-road capable bikes would be fine, with a minimum of 40mm wide tyres, and 50mm or larger being a safer and more comfortable option. You could ride most of it on a touring bike with panniers, but it’s best tackled on something more focused towards gravel and mountain biking with bikepacking style luggage so you can enjoy the trails more. There’s no need to carry more than 3-4 litres of water at any point, and while the longest stretch without grocery stores is 255 km (158 mi), which is in Finland, there’s also several sections in Sweden that are around 200 km (124 mi) without any services, and also some surprisingly empty areas of Spain and Portugal.
You could start riding from the north from late May or early June, or from the south in late March or early April. Bear in mind that the highest points are both in Eastern Spain, at around 2,000 m (6,562 ft), and could still have snow or sub-zero temperatures even into May, and there’s often still snow close to sea level in the far north throughout the year. Expect to take between two to six months to ride the whole thing.
Kirkenes airport is the closest to the northern start point (60 km or 37 mi away), and Faro airport in Portugal to the southern point (100 km or 62 mi away). Although 99% of this entire route has been recced at least once, access rights and local laws can change, so if you encounter any issues or private signs etc, then please let us know through the contact form. Please be courteous to local people you meet on the trails and obey local laws and regulations. If you’re local to a part of this route and you know of an alternative or better route then again please let us know in the comments. If you come across sections that don’t seem to make sense, there’s usually a good reason behind the route choices.
But most of all, enjoy the journey!