Guided bike tours
If you enjoy traveling with a group, meeting new people, and having a guide and structured daily schedule, then a guided group bike tour is probably the best fit for you. These bicycle tours provide the convenience of having everything planned out for you: hotels, rental bikes, routes, meals, luggage transfers, sightseeing tours and so on. The guides point out places of interest, organize excursions and activities and are there in case of breakdowns (mechanical or human).
Support and personnel vary by tour and tour company, but one guide typically rides with the group, while a second guide drives a support van with your luggage. The van also makes it possible to bridge less attractive or more challenging sections of a route.
You usually bike in a group of 8 to 20 people, typically from several different countries, which makes for new acquaintances and international friendships. Most tour operators provide you with a comprehensive information package with tips on sights, cultural highlights, and scenic stops (although the extent of materials in English varies by tour operator).
The short answer is "almost everything." See individual tour pages for what's included on specific tours, but here's a general list of what you get on a guided bike tour:
- Breakfast buffet
- Evening dinners
- Rental bikes
- Support van or bus (not on all guided tours)
- Informed travel guide riding with group
- Luggage transport from hotel to hotel
- Admissions and tours according to the program
- Tour description, travel materials
- Detailed route planning
- Riding with group
On guided tours, riders tend to stick together as a group with the guide. Riders sometimes can go ahead to the next turn or next town, but the norm is sticking together. If you're a more independent cyclist who prefers to ride at your own pace, a self-guided bike tour may be a better option.
Rental bikes are generally quite good, but many do not come with water cages or odometers. However, at the other extreme, some tour companies now offer handlebar-mounted GPS. Please see the information related to each tour to learn about available bikes and equipment. Most companies do not rent helmets due to hygiene and safety/fit reasons. Please bring your own!
Lodging is generally in 3- and 4-star hotels as well as 2-star hotels that are especially appealing—or the only ones in town. The hotels and inns are chosen for their more intimate atmosphere and reflection of the history and culture of the area (rather than larger chain hotels). All rooms have private facilities with the exception of certain ships and barges, as noted.
Criteria for hotel categories are standardized in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Get information on criteria in other European destinations here.
Breakfast is included on almost all tours (exceptions are noted), and group dinners are either in the hotel or a nearby restaurant. For the most part, dinner is pre-ordered, although some choices are often available. On many guided bike tours, the group chips in for snacks and picnics for mid-day meals that are prepared by the guides. No one goes hungry on these tours! If you have dietary restrictions, please contact us before booking so we can find out your options from the tour company.
Most tours start in the afternoon or evening with arrival at your first hotel. The actual cycling begins the next morning. Start cities usually have easy air or rail access.
Depending on when your overseas flight arrives, you may want to arrive in the departure city a day earlier. You'll be more relaxed, and you'll have the chance to explore the city on your own. Likewise, at the end of the tour, there's usually a final night's lodging included. You arrive by bike the day before, enjoy a relaxed evening, and depart the next morning after breakfast.
You can always extend your trip by adding extra nights in the start or end city to explore an area for longer than the included tour dates.