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Guided or self-guided cycle tours?

Posted on March 23, 2014 by

Guided or self-guided cycle tours: which route to take?

One of the main considerations when choosing a cycling holiday is whether to book a guided cycling tour or to opt for a self-guided option instead.

There are benefits to both styles of trip and it’s not always the case that self-guided suits certain types of people and guided suits others. It’s often down to your circumstances and what you want from that particular holiday – so here’s the lowdown on what to consider.

Local knowledge

You can’t beat the local knowledge a bike guide invariably possesses. They can take you to places you just might not otherwise find and will know all the best restaurants and cultural spots along the way.

Bike guide

Bike guides know the region well

However, some people like discovering things at their own pace and don’t like the idea of having their holiday dished up to them so easily. In this case, you might like the freedom of a self-guided trip. After all, there’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve ‘discovered’ that perfect little family-run Italian trattoria on your own, is there?

Perhaps if you’re heading off on a family holiday, having an expert guide on hand may take the stress out of the trip whereas if you’re planning a trip for just you and your partner then discovering the route yourselves may appeal more.

Finding your way

One of the big advantages of a guided ride is having the navigation all taken care of. Just turn up, start pedalling and take a left or right when instructed. Perfect if you just fancy concentrating on the scenery and relaxation or if you’re not exactly known for your map reading skills.

cyclist and captain looking at route map

left or right?

If you’re on a self-guided cycle tour the route finding is naturally all up to you. You will be provided with detailed route notes and maps as well as a helpline in case you get stuck. Some might relish the challenge, while others may baulk at the idea – it’s all a case of what you’re comfortable with.

Matters of pace

When you’re riding in a group with a guide, you can only go as fast as the slowest rider. So if you’re the sort of person who like to cover ground fast you’ll have to make sure you choose a route matching your skill level. Otherwise you might find yourself waiting at the top of any incline while the rest of the group catches up.

If you’re more relaxed about the pace of things then there’s less to worry about and the pace of a guided tour won’t bother you. You might even like the idea of more regular stops for the party to re-group.

Travelling solo?

If you’re travelling alone, then guided tours are a popular option. You’ll have a ready-made group of travelling companions and, of course, there’s also the security of riding in a group.

Cyclists in Italy

Guided cycling in Italy

Group guided rides are sociable by their very nature and a great way of meeting like-minded people. And you don’t have to be travelling solo to appreciate this. This is a real advantage of guided tours – there will always be something to talk about at the end of a day’s ride with stories and experiences to share, often over a glass or two or a group meal.

The choice is yours

Ultimately, the choice is yours, and whichever route you go down, you’ll be in for a great holiday. If you’re thinking of a guided tour you’ll have to be happy sharing the pace with other travellers. Self-guided means you need to be happy with the route finding and need maybe a little more sense of adventure. Whatever you choose, enjoy the ride!

Check out Flexitreks self-guided and guided options now to see what suits you.


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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.