The Seto Inland Sea, aka the Mediterranean of Japan, is populated by scenic islands chock full of culture, from beaches, through temples to mind-boggling art displays
How to get there
British Airways will fly direct into Osaka’s Kansai International Airport from Spring 2019, providing new ways to access Western Japan. To access the Shimanami Kaido, you will need to start either in the small fishing village of Onomichi, next to Hiroshima on the Japanese mainland, or the castle town of Imabari in Ehime prefecture. Both are accessible using the Japan Rail Pass.
Where to stay
Onomochi is chock-full of quirky accommodation options (fitting for a town known for its temples, retro shopping and denim). The Hotel Cycle in Onomichi U2 is an edgy bike-themed dream whilst the Bella Vista Hotel & Spa provides sleek, chic luxury. For budget travellers, the characterful cycle hostels are a must but watch out for peak times, especially during the annual Aquatic Bike Race that takes place around the castle moat.
What to do
Instagram-worthy cycle rides are the order of the day along this 70km bike highway that winds its way across 6 of the Seto Inland Sea islands. But don’t let that put you off! There are routes and trails designed for people of all abilities, and bike drop-off points mean that you can always jump on a bus or a ferry to where you need to go, if you get tired of cycling.
Renting a bike will vary depending on whether you would like an ordinary one, or a motorised one, but will generally set you back around 2000yen (approx £15) per day, including deposit.
A quick whizz around the castle and moat at Imabari, a day dropping in on museums and cafés along the lush islands of the cycle highway, and a night time view over the Inland Sea from the Temple Walk at Onomichi – a perfect day on the Shimanami Kaido.