Pedalling along quiet backroads through beautiful landscapes, stopping off in picturesque villages – or anywhere else that takes your fancy: this is the essence of a cycle touring holiday. Tom Le Bas, timeoutdoors’ Travel Editor, outlines the various options.
You'll be travelling at a speed which is slow enough to appreciate the subtleties of the scenery, the changing light and the rhythms of rural life, but sufficiently rapid to cover significant distances.
A WIDE CHOICE
Cycle touring is very popular, so there's an enormous choice of holidays on offer. You can take a short break of one to five days’ duration, or more challenging trips lasting one to two weeks and occasionally longer.
In addition to the duration of the itinerary, tour companies grade their routes according to the terrain and the distance covered: an ‘easy’ itinerary may involve around three or four hours in the saddle each day, with no serious hills; a ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’ package might average more like six or seven hours cycling each day, and take in some significant climbs. Our listings will help you find the holiday that is perfect for your needs.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Most tours, particularly at the easier end of the scale, involve self-guided cycling between hotels, with your luggage transported for you: kitted out with a good-quality touring bike, plus detailed maps and route notes explaining all points of interest en route, you’ll set out each morning and make your own way to the next night’s accommodation. A packed lunch will often be provided, and one of the joys of this type of holiday is finding the perfect place – a scenic viewpoint or a flower-filled meadow, perhaps – from which to enjoy it.
Some of the most challenging itineraries, which will involve some big climbs in hilly or mountainous areas, will be guided and you’ll ride within a group of perhaps 10 cyclists.
Accommodation will typically be of a 2- or 3-star standard, sometimes higher. There tends to be an emphasis on the local, with many holidays based around attractive, character accommodation, with local food and wine provided at the hotel.
WHERE TO GO
In terms of destinations, the majority of organised cycle touring holidays are focused on Europe – anywhere from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal are market leaders, but elsewhere destinations such as Iceland, Montenegro, Romania and Turkey are developing for cyclists. The UK and Ireland offer plenty of opportunities, too.
There is a growing interest in cycling tours in parts of the Far East – notably Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and China, with Burma an exciting new possibility. Other well established cycling holiday destinations include New Zealand, Cuba and Argentina and there are various packages on offer in the USA, Canada and Australia.
To refine your search, click + on the blue filters.
Sublime scenery with views across the sparkling sea, an abundance of sunshine and excellent facilities make the Algarve a favourite with cyclists.
The Valley of Kings is perfect for leisurely two-wheeled exploration, with gentle gradients through verdant landscapes dotted with picturesque châteaux
This out-of-the-way southern stretch of Portugal makes ideal touring country, with attractive scenery, empty roads and lovely old towns.
If you would like to do a trip as a group and there are more than 15 of you, we can help you find a reputable travel company to sort everything out. Simply complete the form below and we'll be in touch shortly.
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