Our cycling holidays are quite easily reached by train
One of the first instincts that people have when booking a holiday is that going by plane is the first option. For those looking to go on a package holiday to Spain or Greece, for example, then this is often the main mode of transport to get to the hotel, resort, or complex.
However, one of the interesting aspects of leisure cycling holidays is that we provide bikes on all holidays, so travelling by train to Europe from the UK is entirely possible and recommended.
Many European countries have an excellent array of rail services as well as a high-speed network to get you from place to place quickly and efficiently. Costs vary across different countries, however, booking tickets in advance or considering a rail pass will ensure that you can make all or most of the journey by train.
Can I take my bike on the Eurostar from London St. Pancras?
Taking a bike on Eurostar is a complicated process, and fully assembled bikes cannot be taken on Paris services. You’ll need to book in advance, and once you are in Brussels, you’ll potentially need to dismantle the bike to go on onward high-speed services or choose not to take one at all.
Therefore, if you are planning on going on a cycling holiday, then going on the Eurostar with your bike isn’t a practical option. However, going on the Eurostar for a cycling holiday is a viable option if you are using the service to connect to rail services throughout Europe.
From Brussels, you have several options for onward travel into Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Luxembourg. Night train services, such as those on European Sleeper and NightJet, also open destinations further afield, including the Czech Republic, Austria, and eastern Germany.
Which destinations are best connected by train?
Most of the cycle tours on Active on Holiday have been selected for this very reason to make travelling by train a viable option for our customers.
Within one or two changes on a train from Brussels, you can access pretty much any main European station using either a high-speed service or an overnight train. Websites such as Seat61 and the Deutsche Bahn online timetable are excellent online resources for planning your journey by train.
The time taken to reach your destination will be longer than flying in many cases, however, the journey by train can feel as much a part of the cycling holiday when compared to the increasingly stressful airport experience.
Is going by train more expensive than flying?
A difficult question to answer as the answer is sadly yes. If you live outside of London and the South East, then getting to London St. Pancras will involve a journey down to the capital and possibly an overnight hotel stay in Central London to catch an early service to either Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam.
This is still possible to do, however, it is best to buy a ticket that protects your Eurostar journey. Just ask for a CIV ticket when booking a ticket to London.
Many airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet often run promotions to the destinations served by the European rail network so you can reach places like Berlin, Barcelona, or Stockholm for often less than £30 each way excluding luggage costs.
However, there are ways around the higher cost of European rail travel. You can book tickets in advance using apps like thetrainline for most European train company services which offer bigger savings than buying tickets on the day.
Sometimes booking a ticket from Vienna to Salzburg is easier than Manchester to London, for example!
Which key rail hubs are great for a cycling holiday?
We recommend using the destination city as a base to start the cycle tour and then choosing a cycling holiday that heads out into the wider region.
Munich in southern Germany is a great choice to do this, as many rail services are available to the city from all corners of Europe and an impressive array of regional and cross-border connections make the city a great starting point.
Copenhagen is a great choice for Scandinavia, with new connections opening from Germany and increased night train services from Vienna, making Austria one of the best-connected locations in the whole of Europe for train travel.
We recommend European Sleeper for night train services throughout northern Europe, as their service from Brussels to Berlin has now been extended to include Prague and Dresden in 2024. They offer excellent arrival times and connect to our tours that originate in many key cycling regions, such as Dresden and Berlin.
What are the alternatives to the train or flying?
Other cycling holiday options that do not involve a Eurostar journey are available, but you will be more limited in terms of where you can go. There are ferries from various UK ports to Holland, France, and Ireland, which connect to several cycling holiday options. You can also bring your car along. We can organise car parking at hotels or suitable locations for the duration of your stay.
It is also possible to travel by coach using Flixbus to a variety of European destinations. These green buses are now ubiquitous throughout Europe and connect thousands of destinations across the continent.
The costs are low, but with daily departures from London, including overnight routes via Dover, they are a good alternative to the train if no cheap Eurostar tickets are available. However, the journey can be a bit of an endurance test!