I always get frustrated by the hidden charges which magically appear when you’re booking a holiday. What started out as a good deal quickly escalates into a nightmare, due to the addition of airport taxes and surcharges – not to mention the astronomical cost of excursions and trips when you reach your destination.
If you’re tired of paying for someone else to show you the sights, why not consider a cycling holiday for your next trip away? You can create the schedule and set the pace, giving you the power to see what you want and enjoy the scenery along the way.
So if this sounds just the ticket, take a look at these top five cycling routes in Europe to give yourself some inspiration!
There’s a reason why the Dutch love cycling so much. As well as an enviably flat landscape, there’s lots of beautiful scenery to explore by bike, including the world famous tulip fields in provinces such as Noord-Holland and the iconic Keukenhof Gardens in the city of Amsterdam.
Cycling in Holland is extremely popular, so there are a plethora of tour operators offering cycle holidays in the various regions. “Bike and the Like” is a husband and wife team offering cycle tours throughout the world; all of the tours are led by Americans Roger and Suzie Knable, so you can expect a personal experience, although prices are surprisingly low. One of their most popular Dutch routes is the Bike and Barge route, which takes in winding rivers and classic Dutch sites like the famous windmills and tulip growing fields.
Yorkshire Dales, UK
You’ll need to up the effort if you intend to tackle the Yorkshire Dales, where it’s fair to say the landscape is little more demanding than Holland!
On the other hand, the roads are beautifully quiet and something of a haven for cyclists sick of doing a daily battle with cars. This is the place to head if you’re the sort of cyclist who doesn’t mind intense uphill cycling and who gets a thrill from steep descents and scream-inducing hairpin bends!
Follow in the footsteps (or rather tyre marks) of those plucky fellows who attempt the world-famous Tour de France and base your holiday on an exploration of the glorious French Alps.
Again, this is something of a gruelling route, although the panoramic views of the mountains will more than make up for those aching calves. Locations like the Alpe d’Huez, with its thrilling bends and curves in the road, are an absolute highlight for anyone paying homage to cycling heroes like Bradley Wiggins and makes for the perfect spot to take in your other favourite active pursuit – skiing!
The Lotofen Islands, Norway
This gentle 165-mile route is perfect for less experienced cyclists, although it doesn’t skimp when it comes to fabulous views and interesting things to do along the way in Norway.
Follow the coastline with majestic Norwegian mountains as a backdrop, before making your way by ferry across the clear, still waters of Vestfjorden. End your trip in a rustic fisherman’s cottage on the shore of the beautiful fjord. This gem is one to discover in the summer months, as winter temperatures in Norway can plummet to as low as -15 degrees Celsius!
You can find a selection of cycling holidays, including routes through the Lotofen Island, at Saddle Skedaddle – they’re specialists in family cycling holidays, so makes for a great place to source a holiday if you’re planning on taking little ones along.
More intrigued by the prospect of warmer temperatures and sunnier climes? Then head for the glorious Croatian coastline and island hop your way across the sparkling blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Visit sleepy fishing villages and bustling towns with a cosmopolitan vibe that rival anything that likes of Paris and Milan have to offer.
It’s also an option to venture inland on your bike and explore the country’s famous lakes. These lakes are known for their unusual colours – ranging from turquoise to mint green – making for some fabulous scenery and perfect photo opportunities.