Oscar Wilde once described Connemara's misty shores, rugged mountains and jagged, rocky cliffs as a land of "savage beauty." But there's also a certain charm to the region's Gaellic road signs, thatched roof cottages and rolling green fields, many of which are dotted with stone walls and grazing lambs. Instead of touring vineyards, you'll stop at village pubs to drink pints of Guinness and listen to the craic—or local gossip.
On Bike Riders Tours' trip through Mendoza, Argentina, wine connoisseurs can look forward to riding through historical 17th-century vineyards called fincas, sampling the famous Malbec wines of Maipu and indulging in vinotherapy treatments at Relais & Châteaux's Cavas Wine lodge. Non-alcoholic delights include horseback riding with the traditional Argentine cowboys called gauchos and riding through the Cachueta Valley, where the thermal baths and mineral springs have long been considered therapeutic.
Torn between a bike trip and a safari? Do both. On Bike Riders Tours' South African journey, cyclists start by winding along the rocky cliffs of the Cape Peninsula and through wineland towns Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The last three days are for Big Five viewing at the Shamwari Game Reserve. Accommodations include the Rodwell House, a boutique property located along South Africa's "Millionaire Mile"; Le Quartier Francais, a Relais & Châteaux property whose restaurant is considered one of South Africa's finest; and the Summerwood Guest House, a quiet, family-run mansion near Stellenbosch.
Sure, there's a visit to the medieval village of St. Emilion, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but vineyard-hopping is the main focus on Trek Travel's Bordeaux tour. There's even a day of oenology instruction at "Wine School," also in St. Emilion. Good thing, too, as you'll be hopping among some of the world's finest wine estates, including the legendary Château Lafite Rothschild. Should you decide to take part in a more challenging ride along the Dordogne River, Les Source des Caudalie, a pioneer in vinotherapy and your hotel for two nights, offers a variety of merlot baths and massages.
On Butterfield & Robinson's 11-day "Grand Journey" to New Zealand, biking may actually take a back seat. The activities include rainforest hikes, helicopter rides over the Rimutaka Mountains, quad-riding through a sheep farm and reverse bungee jumping in Queenstown. Bikers can enjoy equally variegated backdrops, from volcanoes, geysers and pounding surf on the North Island to vineyards and quaint dairy farms on the South Island. The hotels, some of which will be reserved exclusively for your group, are all members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and the restaurants, like Martin Bosley's Yacht Club, are some of the country's best.
Vietnam with VeloAsia (on the Tet Lunar New Year Tour)
Rice paddies and Buddhist pagodas replace Europe's vineyards and castles on this ten-day tour through Vietnam, led by Vietnam native and Lonely Planet writer Le Van Singh. Destinations range from lost-in-time agrarian villages to urban centers like Nha Trang (where you'll stay in the renowned Anandara Hotel), Hoi An, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City. The cuisine varies at each. Hanoi is the center of French-Vietnamese cooking, while Hoi An is the place to go for cao lau soup. Singhe makes sampling a big priority, and arranges meals at both top-notch restaurants and hole-in-the-wall soup bars. TourVelo Asia also leads tours through Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.
With its stunning castles and excellent vineyards and restaurants, Loire Valley is a natural choice for DuVine Adventures. The bike company specializes in "good eating, drinking, sleeping and biking," and this itinerary includes a stop at Château de Villandry, known for its mazelike gardens, and Monmousseaux's 7.5-mile troglodyte cellar tunnels where you can observe the art of making crémant, or sparkling wine. The accommodations like Château Chissay, a former residence for kings and queens, are suitably regal.
Home of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and the birthplace of the slow food movement, Piedmonte is a great place for foodie cyclists. You'll enjoy rides through Moscato country (famous for its sweet spumante wine) as well as Santo Stefano Belbo and the wine towns of Asti, Barbaresco and Barolo. Highlights include wine tastings, a picnic on the grounds of a 17th-century castle and the opportunity to sample fresh cheeses, hazelnuts and the famous truffles of Langle. Lodging is at Antico Podere Propano, a traditional Piedmontese farmhouse, the Villa Beccaris, an 18th-century wine estate, and the luxury Relais San Maurizio, a former Franciscan monastery.
Tuscany's cypress-lined roads and sprawling vineyards and hills make it ideal biking and wine-touring country. You can do both on a trip with DuVine Adventures, whose founder Andy Levine arranges private tastings and meals with expert sommeliers and gourmands. For the more challenging bike moments, such as a six-mile downhill ride on the shoulder of Monte Amiata, the highest peak in Tuscany, he also provides a van. Accommodations are small, intimate properties with interesting histories and amazing cellars; one was the retreat of a former noble, another is a converted 15th-century monastery.
Napa and Sonoma have more vineyards, but for bikers, Santa Barbara's wine country stands out. Mount Figueroa, after all, is where Lance Armstrong trained. On Butterfield & Robinson's trip, hardcore riders will get a chance to follow in the bike legend's tire tracks; those looking for gentler experience will find plenty of flatter trails along the region's coastal roads as well as a number of great restaurants and boutique wineries. Lodging is at the Alisal Guest Ranch, a chic working cattle ranch in Solvang—otherwise known as the "Little Denmark of California"—and the classic Four Seasons Biltmore in Montecito.