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Bike Tours in Europe

We're in the early stages of exploring the possibility of a bike tour in Europe. Would anyone like to share their bike tour experiences? Where you went, pros and cons, etc.

Posted by
1883 posts

OH boy...bike tours...it's the only way we see Europe.
We only do self guided tours now...but I'd recommend that if you've never taken a bike trip in Europe, that the first one be guided.

We've been to Italy and France on tours, and enjoyed them both. It almost doesn't matter where you go...just the fact that you are traveling slow it's the best part.

I can recommend several companies if you are interested in Italy, and give you suggestions on the riding - we've been there 5x on bike trips.

Make sure you know the size of the group...the bigger ones are NOT fun. too much catching up, etc. Big group dinners take for ever too. If you enjoy sharing your experiences, then guided tours are fun. You do forge new friendships with the other travelers on the journey.

There is nothing negative that I can say about bike tours!

Posted by
23370 posts

Ellen, sounds great --- do you have pedal or do they do that for you :-)

Posted by
4132 posts

Unlike Ellen, I've never been on an organized tour. But two years ago a a friend and I spent a week cycling in Burgundy--some day trips and about four days "on the road" when we slept in different locations each night.

Cycling is just a great way to get a sense of the land while still covering new ground each day.

We only rented bikes (and got really good advice about routes from the folks who rented them to us). However, we learned about the "self tour" option that Ellen mentioned.

Both of the bike shops we rented from offered to plan our itinerary, book hotels and restaurants, even cart our bags from place to place for us. Basically, a guided tour without the actual guide, and with customization.

So self-tour lies between guided tour and do-it-yourself! Just something to know and think about.

Good luck!

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for your replies. Already, they are very helpful.

Ellen, what are the names of the bicycle tour companies you alluded to...thanks.

Fritz

Posted by
1449 posts

I did a bike tour 4 years ago with a group of friends. A few of them had been on bike tours before and knew the ropes, this trip was just us. It's a lot of fun!

Three pieces of advice. First, if nobody in your group has done a bike tour in Europe before consider booking one with a group. You'll learn the ropes and can always go back other years on your own.

Second, consider trying to plan an itinerary where you stay in a town 2-3 days. We did this biking in the French Alps. We'd ride to a town, do local loops for a day or two (sometimes we took a sightseeing day, no biking), then move on.

Third, consider renting a van. We had a group of 8 people and got a van for the 2-week trip. We took turns driving so when we moved between towns (which was only every 2nd or 3rd day) one person drove with all the bags and the rest rode. This is personal preference, but it was nice to be on bikes all day but still have the same 1 bag as any other Rick Steves traveler when we got to town.

Posted by
4 posts

Been on 4 DuVine Adventures bicycle vacations. They are fun. Small groups and wine is included with the dinners - I love that.
check them out
www.duvine.com

Posted by
220 posts

I have been to Europe 33 times and my favorite trips have been self-guided bike tours. We have cycled in Scotland, the Netherlands, Burgandy, Loire Valley, Dordongne, Italy and Portugal. We have enjoyed them all, especially the trips in France where people are so helpful and considerate of cyclists. Portugal was the most difficult because of the heavy traffic in the Algarve and their relative inexperience with sharing the roads with cylclists. The Netherlands was the easiest because of the extensive network of cycle paths. Our favorite tour, to date, was a Randonee (Canadian company) tour of Burgandy. They have great Trek bikes, excellent maps and tour information, wonderful accomodations and they customized the trip for us adding 4 extra days. We think cycling is the best way to experience France because after riding up and down hills all day, we don't worry about how much pate and cheese we eat.

Posted by
2779 posts

There is a well-marked bike path around Lake of Constance (Germany, Switzerland and Austria). www.bodensee-radweg.com. They focus on bicycles but of course it can only be done by motor bike.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello Euro Cyclists,
I am planning a solo cycling tour (June/July '09) from Portsmouth, UK, Normande, Fr and into Belgium. I will be retracing my father's tour during WWII. I will also supplement my travel via rail.

Several years ago I cycled in Germany and Czech Rep. the only difficulty I encountered was certain trains in Germany, the fast express would not allow a bike as baggage, and the slower trains would not get me to where I needed to go. In the Czech Republic the station master made me remove my panniers and handle bar bag and check them as luggage for about $1.32 each.
Any similar experiences in France or Belgium? Any suggestions would be considered.

Thank you, Val