The best cycling holidays in Europe

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5 Steps to the Perfect Cycle Holiday

Posted on November 13, 2013 by

So you like the idea of a cycling holiday and now it’s just a simple matter of finding the one that appeals the most right? Well yes but because of the bewildering choice of cycle tours available it will help to have a clear idea of what constitutes your ideal cycling holiday first. By defining the must-haves as well as the must-not-haves of your ideal cycling holiday, you will be armed and ready to start your search and the five questions below will help you to do just that.

Guided or Self Guided?

Umbria - cyclist

Self guided cycling

All cycling holidays are categorised as either guided or self guided and which appeals more will very much depend on the individual. On a self guided tour you are the master of your own destiny, navigating your way along the route at your own pace using the maps and route notes provided. On a guided tour you cycle in a group with a cycle guide who besides knowing the route like the back of his or her hand, is also likely to be a brilliant bike mechanic and an expert on local culture and traditions to boot. Self guided tours tend to attract independent cyclists while guided holidays will appeal to those who like social cycling.


Cycle touring or cycle cruising?

Princeza Diana - swimming off the stern

Cycle cruising in Croatia

While the vast majority of cycle holidays are cycle touring holidays, the new cycle cruising genre is fast gaining in popularity. On a cycle touring holiday you wil stay on dry land in hotels, inns or charming B&Bs. You move on each day, staying in a different town or village each night with your luggage miraculously reappearing at each property courtesy of the mysterious and lesser-spotted luggage delivery van. On a cycle cruising holiday your floating hotel moves with so you can unpack and settle into your cabin, knowing you won’t have to pack again until the end of the holiday. A variety of vessels are used for these holidays ranging from traditional Dutch barges plying the waterways of Holland to luxury motor yachts cruising the Dalmatian archipelago. Each day these vesels move on providing passengers with a brand new landscapes to explore by bike.

What level of ability?

Cyclists - Castet en Dorthe

Canal de Garonne

A key question this and one where honesty is the best policy. Most companies will provide a clear grading system for their cycling holidays where they define the level of fitness required to enjoy each of the various grades available. Be aware however that there is no common standard for these grades and so ‘medium’ can mean very different things depending on which website you are looking at. Always read the grading descriptons carefully




 What do I want to see?

cycling in holland

cycling in holland

This is important as cycling holidays have different themes. You might like the idea of coastal cycling where the sea is your constant companion and a refreshing dip is always a possibility. Or you might wish to cycle alongside one of Europe’s major rivers or lakes. Other tours take in historical sites and/or well-known cities and towns while others focus on a region’s wine producing or gastronomic skills.




 Who else is coming?

Family cycling

Family cycling

A very important question, unless you are travelling alone of course. You will have to find common ground on the above questions with any fellow travellers to ensure you can all enjoy the holiday together. If you are travelling with young children then you will probably want a holiday with short and fun daily itineraries and child friendly hotels. Most tour operators will label certain holidays as ‘family friendly’ but we woud also recommend discussing your particular needs in person as factors such as child ages and fitness can make a lot of difference to which holiday will be most suitable.


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Our easy cycling holidays offer short daily rides on mostly level terrain. A typical day’s ride will take 2 – 3 hours at a leisurely pace and the remainder of the day will be free for you to explore further or simply relax. These rides are particularly recommended for newcomers to cycling holidays and for families.

Our leisurely cycle holidays will suit those who are reasonably fit through regular exercise of one kind or another – not necessarily cycling. On the whole, the terrain will be level but there may also be a few small hills to contend with along the way too. Daily rides will typically take around 3 – 4 hours to complete.

Our moderate cycle holidays are for regular cyclists, who are used to longer rides with regular climbs. A good level of fitness is needed and you can expect to be in the saddle for between 4 and 5 hours each day.

These holidays are for seasoned cyclists who cycle long distances regularly and who enjoy the thrill of long days in the saddle. There will undoubtedly be some challenging climbs along the way and you can expect to cover between 55 and 75 miles each day.

Simple 2 star hotels, pensions inns and B&Bs. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

Typically a mix of good quality 2 & 3 star hotels and in some cases all 3 star hotels. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.
Tours that have a mix of 2, 3 and 4 star hotels are also included here. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

A mix of 3 and 4 star hotels & or in some cases excellent 3 star hotels.

High standard properties offering well-appointed guest rooms and good facilities. All rooms feature en-suite facilities.

Basic: Cabins with bunk beds and shared facilities.

Simple: Cabins with bunk beds and en-suite facilities

Comfort: Twin bedded cabins and en-suite facilities.

Superior: Well appointed en-suite, twin cabins.

Deluxe: Very high levels of comfort & service. All cabins are en-suite.

theme-icon-familyFamily: Cycling holidays that are suitable for families.

theme-icon-riversRivers & Lakes: Cycling holidays alongside rivers and/or lakes.

theme-icon-coastalCoastal: Cycling holidays that follow a coastline.

theme-icon-wineWine Lovers: Cycling holidays through well known wine regions.

theme-icon-gastroGastronomic: Cycling holidays through regions renowned for their cuisine.

theme-icon-ebikeE-bikes: Cycling holidays where e-bikes are available as well as regular bikes.