What are the best cycling holidays in Europe?
This is a tough question as it is subjective and relies on several different factors. Starting with difficulty, no one enjoys tackling a tough route when cycling over easier terrain would be the better starting point. The same goes for more experienced cyclists. Riding an easier route will cause frustration and a genuine lack of enjoyment, even if the surrounding scenery is spectacular.
That's why all the European cycling holidays on Active on Holiday have been created to cater to different abilities and cycling preferences, offering variations in distance, hotel categories, and bike rental options.
Anyone who rides a bike in the UK knows that cycling in the UK isn’t the best experience, with cyclists having to battle against traffic, poor cycling infrastructure, political struggles, and a lack of cycling culture within society. In mainland Europe, things are generally different.
There is a real investment in cycling infrastructure, so cycle paths and networks are well-maintained with decent signage and riding surfaces. Additionally, bikes are used in countries like Holland, Germany, or Denmark as more of a day-to-day mode of transport, so you’ll see people cycling to work, school, or the shops.
All this means that a culture of going on a cycling holiday is ingrained in society, as people are used to regularly riding bikes on day trips or in their local areas. Did you know that in 2022, 4.6 million Germans took a cycling holiday according to the ADFC (German National Cyclists’ Association)? Cycle tourism is a huge industry in Germany, and many routes such as the Elbe Cycle Path or Weser Cycle Path have been designed to cater to the needs of cyclists. More and more people are also choosing to ride electric bikes too.
To answer the question, the best cycling holidays always involve high-quality standard bikes, luggage transfers to carry less, and pre-booked hotels so you can enjoy decent accommodation as you cycle from place to place.
Where in Europe is good for cycling?
Europe boasts thousands of kilometres of cycle routes and various locations to choose from regional routes to the pan-European EuroVelo network. Unless you plan to take a year off work or embark on a grand point-to-point expedition, you'll need to be selective about your destination.
Countries often regarded as excellent for cycling include the Netherlands, renowned for its flat terrain and well-developed cycling infrastructure. Denmark is also a proponent of integrating cycling into daily life, boasting a national network of dedicated cycle lanes that separate cars from bicycle traffic.
Belgium, particularly Flanders, features an exceptional cycle network with a unique signage system based on nodes and numbers, making navigation straightforward. France is a popular choice, attributed to the Tour de France coverage that showcases numerous outstanding rural roads and mountain passes.
For a genuine leisure cycling holiday experience, Germany is perhaps the prime destination. It offers numerous long-distance routes such as the Romantic Road or the Baltic Sea coast route and is actively promoted by local tourist offices.
Organisations take pride in maintaining these routes due to the substantial volume of cyclists traversing different German regions like Bavaria.
Other countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy serve as ideal cycling destinations, featuring charming villages, serene rural roads, and mostly excellent weather throughout the year. The terrain can be more challenging in regions like Tuscany or Andalusia due to longer climbs.
However, in places like Majorca, where cycling gains extreme popularity in the spring months, there are easier routes tailored for leisure cyclists. An e-bike will also smooth out any challenging inclines.
Where is the best place to go cycle touring?
The ideal destination for cycle touring differs from where the best place to go cycling is. For instance, countries like Hungary and Slovakia might not boast the same level of cycling infrastructure as their neighbouring nations. However, on renowned routes like the Danube Cycle Path, these differences create a diverse and thrilling cycle tour spanning from Germany to the Black Sea.
Riverside paths such as the Danube, Elbe, or Loire Valley afford opportunities to explore nearby towns and villages steeped in history once you're off the bike. Vineyards, monuments, and castles further enrich these experiences.
While our cycle tour selection encompasses many popular cycle touring destinations, emerging locations like the Kattegat Cycle Route in Sweden—stretching along Sweden’s West Coast from Helsingborg to Gothenburg—are gaining popularity.
For travellers aiming to explore multiple countries in a week, the Vennbahn offers a unique route passing through four countries: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Similarly, the Lake Constance region in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland provides a comparable experience.
Irrespective of the destination, all our cycle tours maintain the same standard of service, offering excellent quality bikes and meticulously planned route notes. These notes even include directional stickers on lampposts in addition to local signage and GPX files.