Books and Maps - General

One of the things that surprised us in developing this website was how hard it is to find good quality bike maps and travel guides. The latter are usually full of pictures but contain little practical information or quality background on the region for the independent traveller.

This page makes it easy to get hold of the maps and books you need to plan and enjoy cycle routes.  Click the links on the right at the bottom of the page to flip between the Bikeline, Cicerone and Rough Guides. For more specific, country by country information, follow the links for each country in the panel on the left.

Map companies are trying to develop new and exciting maps at the same time as the use of GPS develops. The number of websites providing routes grows daily, but in most cases these are created and uploaded by individuals. Even if the routes are easily accessible - not always the case - they tend to be the tracks of fit young mountain biking or road cycling enthusiasts and are seldom much use for a cycling tourist. A paper map still has many advantages for route planning, but supplement it with more modern technology by all means, if that's what suits you. There's nothing to beat laying a map out on the table for getting an overview of the terrain, topography and settlements in a region, all vital information for choosing a route that is both enjoyable and sufficiently challenging to be interesting.

Once you have a route in mind, there's something to be said for uploading it to a smartphone or dedicated GPS device. Then you can easily follow the route without having to keep getting the map out (inadvisable in wet or windy weather), and can be directed back to it if you manage to get lost or deliberately divert from it. We've had good experiences with the free Here app. Download the digital maps you'll need to your device before leaving home to avoid substantial roaming charges. Otherwise, we suggest taking plentiful photocopies of a hard copy map and marking the route on them.

Bike repair manuals come out every few years and, let's face it, there are only certain things that can go wrong with a bicycle. Even so, good pictures and sequential guidance are the keys to regular servicing. Our recommended books will either get you out of trouble or stop you getting into it.

We recommend books from Rough Guide, Cycline's Bikeline, Michelin, IGN, BVA, Lonely Planet and Cicerone. If you see better ones please let us know.


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