What does a typical day of bicycle touring look like?


Great question, and one we hear often. Let's first note that this typical day we're describing is for commercial guided or self-guided tours (not self-supported or self-contained).

Of course, every tour is different, but this will help you visualize your big adventure on the bike. The tour you book might differ in the details, but this will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Self-guided tours: A typical day

Wake up. Most clients try to get to breakfast by 8, so they can enjoy and fuel themselves without an eye on the clock – either while dining or along the day’s ride. It’s almost always included in your tour price and offered at your hotel.

Bring your luggage to the lobby. Your tour materials will specify what time to leave your luggage in the hotel lobby for pick-up. It’s typically by 9:30 or 10:00 but may be earlier. A tour company representative will pick it up and drop it at your next hotel, often before you even get there!

Ride! Hop on the bike and start exploring. Most leisure tours range from 25 to 35 miles per day. On self-guided tours, you won’t have a guide riding with you. Instead, you’ll follow maps and detailed route information provided by the operator and often a service hotline to call if you get lost or have any breakdowns (mechanical or human). Your tour materials include tips on places and sights to see and stop along the route. You can take pictures, stop for gelato, and see the sights at your own pace. Stop often or never. It’s your choice!

Stop for lunch. See a nice looking café or restaurant? Stop, take a break, and refuel. Many clients will pack a picnic lunch before setting out for the day, and some wait until they pass a farmer’s market along the way to pack the perfect combination of fresh cheese, bread, meat, veggies, fruit—and dessert, of course.

Arrive at the next hotel. Your luggage should be waiting for you. Take a shower, rest, or head out on bike or foot and explore your new town. The rest of the day and evening is all yours.

Eat dinner. Some tours offer dinner packages where you can pay in advance and usually eat dinner at the hotel where you will be staying. In most cases, we recommend to skip the dinner package and find your own place to eat. You won’t be as limited in options, and you’ll have more fun exploring the local town. (The ever-helpful tour materials should include suggestions, or ask the hotel receptionist for best local faves).

Rest, relax and enjoy your evening! See some sights or turn in early. Get ready to repeat this schedule tomorrow!

Guided tours: A typical day

Wake up. Your guide will tell you when to meet to start riding, and you can plan your waking/packing/breakfast schedule accordingly. Breakfast is almost always included and enjoyed at your start hotel.

Bring your luggage down. Before you meet to ride (and usually after breakfast), bring your luggage to the hotel lobby for pick-up.

Ride! The guide will lead the way, and usually you’ll all ride together as a group. This means you usually go one pace. If it’s a big group, you might have more than one guide, one to ride fast with the more advanced riders and one to ride slow with the slower riders. The guide will show you sights along the way, help in case of any mechanical issues, and answer any questions you have.

You typically stay together as a group, although in some cases the guide may give you the “all clear” to go at your own pace to the next turn or landmark. Stops for sightseeing, tours and snacks tend to be done by the full group.

For many guided tours (but not all), you’ll have a support vehicle that is nearby along the day’s route. This is great if you think you might want a break from cycling during the day: just jump in the support vehicle. The vehicle also often has food and drink to replenish your supply.

Have lunch. You’ll have lunch along the route, sometimes prepaid and part of the package, sometimes a la carte with your group, and sometimes on your own at a place the guide recommends. On some tours, the guides prepare packed lunches. Our favorite lunch scenario: As you ride around a bend, you see the support van parked roadside with blankets laid out nearby. While you’ve been pedaling, the guide has been shopping at local farmers markets and putting together a dream picnic!

Arrive at the hotel. You’ll usually arrive mid-afternoon at the next hotel, where you can shower and rest and enjoy some free time. You may find an organized sightseeing tour has been set up for before or after dinner.

Have dinner. Dinner will be with your group. This is a great way to meet and get to know your fellow cyclists. These dinners are usually included in the tour price.

Rest, relax and enjoy your evening! See some sights or turn in early. Get ready to repeat this schedule tomorrow!

More on the differences between guided and self-guided tours >