Cycling is one of the best ways to explore Europe. Quiet roads lead through beautiful landscapes, reaching a forgotten hamlet where a great family-run restaurant awaits you for lunch. Then there are the wineries, art galleries, castles and historic homes, hospitable people, pretty villages and towns, farms and forests, river valleys and beaches.
And with a set of excellent maps in hand, using the brilliant infrastructure in Europe, self-guided cycling brings a whole new level of joy to your holiday.
Here is our list of 12 of our favourite self-guided cycling adventure holidays in Europe.
1) Ireland - Along the Wild Atlantic Way
This active trip shows you some of the most beautiful parts of Ireland on foot and by bicycle. Explore Killarney National Park as you hike the old Kenmare road and cycle the glaciated valleys of the stunning Gap of Dunloe. Next, transfer to Dingle, the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula where breathtaking views and splendid seascapes await as you bike to Slea Head, explore Great Blasket Island on two wheels, or hike a spectacular old farmer's track across the peninsula.
2) France - Self-guided Culinary Cycling in the Loire Valley
Ride through pretty countryside, stop at a vineyard and indulge in terrific dinners. If you enjoy food and wine, culture and relaxed cycling, this trip is for you. Cycling days are short and there is plenty of time for lazy lunches and visits to the chateaux France's Loire Valley is so famous for.
3) France - Burgundy Self-guided cycling for Foodies In some countries in Europe "Living like a god in France" means living the good life. And this is your chance to do just that. This is one of France's finest wine regions and you get to enjoy some easy-going cycling along rural tracks, quiet backroads and old tow paths. Each day you get to sample fresh produce at local vineyards and farms or stop for lunch in one of the beautiful villages you will encounter. We include four gastronomic evening meals, allowing you to get taste the best of the region.
Cycle through pretty L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, famed for its waterwheels and antique market. From here you ride via the mediaeval village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse with its beautiful springs to Les Imberts, situated just below the gorgeous hilltop town of Gordes. Ride on to pretty Roussillon where you can walk the Ochre Trail, wander up to the top of town for a marvellous view, or indulge in ice cream or coffee.
Along quiet lanes and past vineyards you reach Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt, set on a hill, before riding into the bustling town of Apt. Crossing Roman Pont Julien you next cycle along quiet country lanes to the delightful villages of Bonnieux and Lacoste.
A free day in Maubec allows you to explore further afield: the pretty villages of Lagnes, Taillades and Robion, historical Saint-Remy-de-Provence, Roman Glanum or the monastery of Saint Paul de Mausole are all options.
5) Portugal - Self-guided cycling along the coast of Portugal
This is an ideal trip for people who have not cycled much - flat terrain through a lovely unspoilt area. This part of Portugal is a well-kept secret where you will find beautiful beaches, lagoons filled with pink flamingos and colourful moliceiro boats cruising along the canals of Aveiro, known as the Venice of Portugal.
Starting in vibrant Porto you ride along a waterfront cycle path to the estuary of the Douro. From here you have a choice of routes along beaches and bays to reach your beachfront hotel near Furadouro.
Continue along the Aveiro lagoon with its myriad bird species to the heart of Aveiro and your luxury mansion canal-side hotel. A free day in Aveiro may have you check out the fish market or visit nearby Costa Nova with its colourful wooden houses.
You then continue south along the coast, through an area famous for porcelain production and riding past pear orchards, lemon groves and strawberry fields, to your beachfront hotel at Praia de Mira. This town is the setting for another day of local exploration: lagoons, acacia forest and covered bridges await to be explored. Don't forget to bring a picnic as our route will take you to some delightful picnic spots!
Cycle the beautiful Danube river as it wends its way through a pretty valley, deep woods and past historic towns, castles and abbeys to Vienna, the capital of Austria and once the seat of an imperial dynasty.
7) Austria & Hungary Self-guided cycling along the Danube - Vienna to Budapest
Connect three great capitals of Central Europe, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest on this bicycle ride along the storied river Danube. Discover historic sites, small villages and towns, stunning architecture and lovely landscapes at your own leisure.
Deep in southern Italy, in the "heel of the boot", lie the unique regions of Puglia and Basilicata. It is an area of limestone ridges, fertile valleys, vineyards, ancient olive groves and pretty towns. We explore the rock-cut dwellings in UNESCO-protected Matera, the dry-stone houses of Alberobello and the dramatic coastline, while enjoying the great regional cuisine and wines.
9) Spain - Self-guided cycling in Catalonia This gentle self-guided cycling trip in Spain's Catalonia region will have you discover a beautiful coastline lined with pretty fishing ports, while inland, olive groves, peach orchards and lovely villages abound. Each cycling day has two rides to choose from and every other day you have a day to relax or choose an optional ride. The accommodations have been specially selected for their location and atmosphere, allowing you enjoy a spot of luxury at the end of your cycling days. Imagine waking up in a restored 14th Century castle!
10) Holland & Belgium
Amsterdam to Bruges Bike & Barge Cycling along dikes, bike paths and small roads through the pretty countryside of the Netherlands and Belgium, encounter rivers, farms, small villages and hamlets, windmills and cafés. Take time to stop in some of the cities Holland and Flanders are famous for - relaxed Amsterdam, old Ghent (Gent) and pretty Bruges (Brugge) - and meet the locals who are always ready for a story and a chat.
11) Germany - Bike and Boat - Moselle, Germany's wine country
The picturesque Moselle valley is at the heart of a famous wine-producing area in Germany. The region is home to the country's oldest town and a rick Roman and medieval history. An abundance of castles stand guard over pretty towns in a valley that offers relaxed cycling and an array of activities, historical sites and cultural traditions.
The stunning Rhine and Neckar Valleys in Germany are famous for their impressive castles, quaint medieval towns and a rich wine making tradition. Explore picturesque Heidelberg, historic Mainz and cobblestoned wine villages as you enjoy a relaxed cycling trip through Germany's history.
Can't find the trip you love? Contact us for more ideas!