Fancy exploring Europe by pedal power? Here are the cycle tour companies you need to know.

Cycling holidays don’t have to be reserved for the lycra brigade. Two-wheeled trips can make brilliant holidays for families with bored teens, couples who like to explore a country under their own steam, or solo travellers looking to travel as part of a team. Pedal power inevitably takes you off the beaten track to discover areas of a region, or country that zipping down a motorway will never compete with. Planning and logistics are often cited as barriers for many to taking the plunge when it comes to cycling breaks in Europe, but that’s where expert cycling holiday agents come in – organising everything from routes to hotels, and even the bikes themselves, so all you have to do is turn up and pedal off (or zip off if you want to go for an e-bike option). We’ve curated seven of our favourites, catering for everyone from serious velophiles to those who want to experience their first two-wheeled adventure in Europe.

Freewheel Holidays




Manchester-based Freewheel holidays is run by an experienced trio who have walked the walk (or cycled the cycle in this case), road-testing many of their 100 European cycling holidays. Offering as much sightseeing as cycling on their tours – whether you’re into history and culture, lakes and mountains, or wine tours – they have a pre-planned route and itinerary to fit the bill with holidays across 21 European countries.

Skedaddle




With ’25 years of pedallin’ passion’ under its belt, Skedaddle offers the full gamut of cycling holidays – from gentle family tours to off-road adventures. Up mountains, around lake shores and along canals, the expert tried-and-tested routes are a brilliant way of seeing, experiencing and discovering new countries. Once you’ve had your fill of their European tours you may be ready for one of their further-flung destinations, from Rajasthan to Costa Rica.

Bike Adventures




As the name suggests, Bike Adventures tours are for those looking to up the ante in the adrenalin stakes when it comes to cycling exploits. Whether it’s a leg-shredding mountain challenge or a 750m tour down the Rhine – crossing through Switzerland, France, Germany and The Netherlands – they have an itinerary and expert guidance to get you there. If you’re looking for a side-order of culture with your trip they have plenty of city breaks too, including Paris, Venice and Barcelona. Explore more here.

Exodus




Exodus has a really easy-to-browse age guide for their tours, giving you info upfront on the difficulty and suitability of each trip for a range of riders. There are both self-guided and guided tours available for those looking for more support, or expert advice en route. The Exodus Edits collection of tours are targeted at ‘busy professionals in their 30s and 40s’ looking for a group holiday with like-minded adventure seekers – with multi-activity itineraries including cycling, canoeing, sailing and hiking.

Wheel 2 Wheel Holidays




A ‘bike and barge’ holiday is a popular option for those who hate the packing and unpacking element of a traditional staged cycle tour. Cruise down the river and stop off regularly to explore different regions by bike, leaving all your kit on board for the duration of your holiday. A great mix of exercise and relaxation with tours along the Danube, through the canal systems of Holland and down the Rhine. Explore here.

Cycle Europe




With 40 years’ experience planning guided and self-guided cycling tours in France, Italy, Croatia and Portgual, Cycle Europe has both the logistical insight and passion for the regions it covers to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch. Cycle through ‘chateaux country’ in the Loire, or the slightly hillier terrain of Provence; or why not try an art and culture tour from Venice to Florence? If you can’t find the holiday to suit yours or your group’s needs, the team can build an entirely bespoke trip to your exacting brief, budget and location.

Cycling for Softies




Not just for those ‘saddle shy’ cyclists, Cycling for Softies is a great site for families looking to introduce youngsters to the idea of a cycling holiday, gently. The focus is less on daily mileage and more about the sights, scenery and foodie stop-offs en route. Plan your itinerary around gastronomic destinations and vineyards – as well as iconic cultural highlights, to feed the soul, as well as your gluttony. Discover the Amalfi Coast with vertiginous cliff-hugging routes (with fortifying limoncello to revive you), or immerse yourself in World War II history in Normandy, with fresh seafood and apple tart to look forward to after a long day in the saddle.

By Lydia Mansi
August 2020

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.

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