Active on Holiday Blog How do I plan for a cycling holiday?

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How do I plan a cycling holiday?

Our team has a wealth of experience in cycling holidays and has been handling cycling holiday enquiries for many years. We always aim to answer your most pressing questions in an honest and open manner to find the right holiday for you.

This guide on how to plan a cycling holiday covers bike types, fitness levels, and what you can expect as part of a full-service, self-guided cycling holiday booking.

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How do I plan for a cycling holiday?

Cycling holidays offer an unparalleled way to explore a European country or a specific region. You'll benefit from the freedom of self-guided rides, yet many prospective cyclists often wonder: how should I plan for such a holiday?

Contrary to expectation, planning for a self-guided cycle tour doesn't require as much effort as assumed. Traditionally, cycling holidays attracted individuals who enjoyed camping or staying in hostels, lugging ample gear in panniers while traversing remote corners of Europe.

Planning a tour entailed extensive planning, researching, and covering substantial distances daily to reach the next campsite. While this remains an enchanting way to embark on a cycling holiday, it might not suit everyone. What distinguishes our cycling holidays is the reduced planning burden on your end. We take charge of much of the preparation. Our pre-booked hotels, strategically located near cycle routes or local attractions, offer convenience.

Moreover, we provide various bike hire options, including electric bikes, sportier touring bikes, and a wide array of high-quality standard hybrid bikes across Europe. As part of Europe's largest active holiday company, Active on Holiday, our network of national offices, local specialists, and route planners guarantees a top-tier cycling experience.

Booking a cycling holiday is simple—just fill out a booking form on our tour page, share your details, and await our prompt response, typically within a few days.

Once confirmed, you can proceed to book flights, and train tickets, or arrange long-term car parking at the starting hotel.

Upon arrival at your first hotel, the adventure begins the following day after a welcome briefing, where you'll receive detailed digital or paper maps to guide your ride.

What is the most popular cycling holiday destination?

Europe boasts a wealth of cycling holiday routes and destinations to explore. With over 45,000 kilometres of developed routes on the EuroVelo network alone and multiple long-distance cycle routes spanning countries, the options are extensive.

Active on Holiday's logistical support ensures many of our cycling holidays follow meticulously planned routes by our team. Look for our markers on lampposts and posts, guiding you along the way, and rely on our detailed digital maps and GPX files.

In terms of destinations, the choices are abundant! The Danube Cycle Path from Passau to Vienna stands out, offering a popular route with its flat terrain, riverside cycling, and charming stays in famous towns. The Alpe Adria Cycle Path, linking Salzburg to the Italian coast, is gaining popularity.

Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium boast excellent cycle networks with clear signage, dedicated paths, and well-supported regional routes.

For those seeking something different, consider off-the-beaten-path countries like Portugal, Sweden, or Denmark. Italy, with its rich history, cycling culture, and iconic cities, remains a favourite, while France stands out for its diverse geography and entrenched cycling legacy.

Choosing among the 80-plus European cycle tours can be challenging, but our team has cycled many of the popular routes, offering firsthand advice. Before you book, we provide hotel lists and comprehensive maps to assist in your decision-making.

What is a cycling holiday?

Your past travels, whether on a river cruise along the Rhine or a package holiday to Spain where you might have explored the local area on a bike, mark the initial steps toward a cycling holiday. While not a full cycling holiday, navigating foreign roads, different signage, and adapting to European cycling styles are significant moments in gaining confidence for such an adventure.

A cycling holiday, as the name implies, revolves around biking during your holiday, with cycling activities scheduled daily, flanked by arrival and departure days. Opting for a self-guided cycle tour entails exploring places en route, pausing to visit local attractions, and using your bike for travel between hotels.

Embracing the open air and picturesque landscapes characterises this holiday style, highly favoured by Germans, the Dutch, and Austrians who have easy access to some of the world's premier cycling trails and routes.

For individuals from the UK, USA, and Australia, tapping into the extensive cycling holiday infrastructure established over decades to accommodate European cycle tourists during the summer months becomes instantly accessible and beneficial.

All our cycling holidays adhere to the same structure, and the convenience of luggage transfers emerges as a primary advantage of this type of comprehensive cycling holiday service.

Which bike is best for a cycling holiday?

The bike you choose significantly influences the success of your cycling holiday. While you might be accustomed to riding a road bike for longer distances back home, it's not the recommended choice for cycle touring in Europe.

Opting for a high-quality hybrid bike equipped with excellent components proves to be the better option. These bikes feature wider, puncture-resistant tires, offering a more comfortable riding position. Additionally, features like sturdy racks, powerful dynamo lights, and handlebar bags significantly enhance the touring experience.

In the UK, the culture of cycle touring isn't as pronounced as in countries like the Netherlands and Germany. Therefore, a well-equipped hybrid bike with superior gearing systems and efficient brakes often serves as the go-to bike choice for individuals exploring different European regions.

However, there's a growing trend unifying cycling cultures—the emergence of e-bikes. Electric bikes have surged in popularity, accounting for nearly one booking per cycling holiday. The advantages they offer are evident: extended riding distances, keeping pace with faster companions, and conquering challenging terrains like hills or longer daily routes.

At Active on Holiday, all cycling holidays provide the option to upgrade to an electric bike. These can be booked in advance. While they might be heavier than standard bikes, their powerful motors enable speeds of up to 25 km/h.

Most importantly, they provide an enjoyable riding experience and have broadened the appeal of cycling holidays to new audiences.

How do I get fit for a cycling holiday?

Preparing for a cycling holiday doesn't demand months of intense training akin to preparing for a cycle sportive or running marathon challenge. Instead, it requires a basic level of fitness and a reasonable amount of stamina to sustain cycling for six or seven consecutive days.

It's crucial to clarify that these cycling holidays aren't endurance rides and shouldn't be approached as such. Tours that are sportier or cover distances exceeding 60 kilometres per day tend to be more demanding and are clearly identified as such.

Primarily, a leisure cycling holiday prioritizes enjoyment over strenuous exertion. You're encouraged to pause and take breaks at local shops, restaurants, and cafes along the way to rest and rejuvenate without the pressure of pushing your physical limits.

If you are looking for an easier cycling holiday then the Danube Cycle Path, the Lake Constance Cycle Path and our other family-friendly routes are ideal. However, hills, longer distances and more challenging terrain such as the tours in Tuscany are suitable for cyclists with a strong riding background.

Choosing where you decide to go on a cycling holiday shouldn't be based on fitness alone, however, we do recommend heading out on your bike prior to arrival and getting used to riding for several hours to improve your baseline fitness level.