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The best bike tours in Europe

Discover spectacular cycle routes to suit your vacation—no matter where in Europe you want to go.

10 min read

If you love a vacation that combines active exercise with a cultural deep-dive, then bike tours might just be the thing for you. There’s a perfect bicycling trip out there for everybody, whether you’re a beginner or a bicycling pro. 

Traveling Europe on two wheels lets you discover new landscapes and experience local history and culinary specialties in a whole new way. Here are our top recommendations for bike tours in Europe, plus preparation tips for your trip.

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The best destinations for bike tours in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

The beauty of starting a bike tour in your home country is that you don’t have to take a flight and you can decide how far you want to ride. Along the Elbe bicycle route, for instance, you can ride specific sections of the route, such as Magdeburg to Hamburg or Dresden to Prague. This makes planning easier and is perfect for those with less experience or a smaller budget for their summer vacation. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite bike tours in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

  • Germany: Berlin to Copenhagen
  • Germany: Munich to Lake Garda
  • Austria: Vienna to Budapest
  • Austria: Graz to Maribor
  • Switzerland: Andermatt to Konstanz   

Germany: Berlin to Copenhagen

  • Duration: 9 days
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: The Berlin Wall Trail and the ferry crossing to Denmark 

Fun fact: Copenhagen is just 650 kilometers from Berlin. Although this route is long, it’s also easy thanks to the flat geography of northern Germany. The ferry from Rostock to Gedser also lets you knock a few kilometers off the total trip. The Mecklenburg Lake District offers pure relaxation, while Denmark’s impressive bridges will get your heart going – the wind is strong when you’re high above the waves. If you'd like to extend your trip a little, the Swedish city of Malmö is just 40 minutes away from Copenhagen by train. 

Germany: Munich to Lake Garda

  • Duration: 8 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Highlights: Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano and Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento

From the Isar River across ice-age glaciers to the crystal-clear Lake Garda, this tour is themed around water — in all its forms. Not only that, it takes you through three countries. On this 375-kilometer route, you’ll traverse the Alps, biking through the Tyrolean Inn valley toward Brixen and Bolzano through to Riva del Garda, a picturesque town on Lake Garda. Some of the more challenging sections, such as the Brenner Pass climb, can be tackled by bus or by train.

Austria: Vienna to Budapest

  • Duration: 7–8 days
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Highlights: Žitný ostrov, the Roman fort Celamantia and Esztergom Basilica 

The Danube bicycle route is approximately 275 kilometers long and leads you along the blue Danube from Vienna to Budapest, via Bratislava. The route will take you through riparian woodlands and to UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites and idyllic villages such as Szentendre, Hungary. For fans of nature and history, it’s the perfect bicycling vacation. You can plan your bicycling trip yourself or book it as a complete package including hotel and luggage service for less than €600, depending on what kind of offers you find. 

Austria: Graz to Maribor

  • Duration: 3–5 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Steirisches Vulkanland and Ptuj, the oldest city in Slovenia

On this 234-kilometer circular bicycling route, you’ll ride through some of the most beautiful wine regions that Austria and Slovenia have to offer. Plus, enjoy wonderful sights, from Graz’s Old Town to the banks of the Drava River. Be ready for some steep climbs around Jeruzalem! If your legs are a little too sore when you reach Maribor, you can take the train back to Graz in about an hour and for less than €10.

Switzerland: Andermatt to Konstanz

  • Duration: 5–6 days
  • Difficulty: Very challenging
  • Highlights: Chur Old Town and the Rhine Delta 

The entire Rhine Cycle Route stretches from the Swiss village of Andermatt to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It’s no surprise, then, that the 1,500-kilometer route is split into stages. The first stage, from Andermatt to Konstanz, goes through the Swiss Alps and reaches heights of 2,044 meters, so bicycling expertise and plenty of stamina are a must! The effort is certainly worth it though: Once you complete the tour, you can enjoy a boat trip on Lake Constance or take it easy on the beach.  

The best destinations for bike tours in Europe

There are few things to plan before getting onto your bike. Choosing a destination can actually be one of the biggest challenges. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our recommendations for the best countries and routes for your bicycling vacation.

  • Croatia: Split to Dubrovnik
  • France: Champagne 
  • Belgium: Bruges to Amsterdam
  • Italy: Pisa to Rome
  • Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese 

Croatia: Split to Dubrovnik

  • Duration: 7–8 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: The islands of Hvar and Korčula

With its varied architecture, olive groves, and historical cities, Croatia is a relaxing and picturesque destination for your bicycling trip. The Adriatic Sea is perfect for swimming, and rugged cliffs offer awe-inspiring views. On the Dalmatian Coast, wineries, fishing villages, and medieval sites are waiting to be explored. 

France: Champagne 

  • Duration: 6 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Routes along the Marne River and the Moët & Chandon wine cellars

It should come as no surprise that France is one of the most popular travel destinations for gourmands and wine connoisseurs. Here, you can ride from one winery to the next, passing lavender fields and stopping off in one of many picturesque cafés. 

Fans of extreme bike tours will love the L’Étape du Tour, a one-day event where amateur cyclists attempt one of the Tour de France’s mountain stages. 

Belgium: Bruges to Amsterdam

  • Duration: 5–6 days
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Kinderdijk with its 19 majestic windmills

Bike tours in Belgium are particularly well suited to beginners or families with children – and for good reason. The landscape is almost entirely flat, and the country’s infrastructure is extremely bike-friendly. 

Take a detour to the Netherlands to check another destination off your bucket list. The country’s bicycling network features a junction number system and is more than 32,000 kilometers long. Discover historical towns, old churches, breweries, and the beauty of the Dutch coast.

Italy: Pisa to Rome

  • Duration: 7–9 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Highlights: The Via Francigena and the medieval city of Montalcino

If you’re looking for a European destination for your bike tour, then you should definitely consider Italy. The country’s diverse geography means that you can choose between beaches, lakes, mountains, and ancient cities — or some of each.

You can also discover part of the Via Francigena, a long pilgrimage route leading from the English city of Canterbury over the Swiss border and toward Rome.

Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese 

  • Duration: 7–8 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Poros and the Aegean Sea

Don’t be put off by the summer heat — Greece is worth exploring by bike. This bike tour will take you to sites of the ancient world and wondrous sandy beaches that are perfect for cooling off in the sea. 

Take a few days to explore the capital city of Athens before continuing on to the Peloponnese, where bicycle routes snake past the historical sites of Mycenae and Sparta.

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How to plan a bike tour in Europe

When it comes to planning a successful bike tour, planning and preparation are crucial. The questions below should help you get ready for your trip:

Do I want to do a guided bike tour or an individual one?

The first thing you should think about is whether you prefer to go on a guided tour or go solo. 

Individual tours let you set your own pace and take your time to do some sightseeing. It will just be you, and you should be comfortable discovering new places on your own. 

Guided tours, on the other hand, are better if you want to be in a group and have a local tour guide. You’ll have a little less flexibility, but you’ll be able to socialize more easily. 

Will I be taking my own bike or will I rent one?

The choice of renting a bike or bringing your own depends on various factors such as logistics, costs, and personal preferences. Many guided tours include bike rental in the package.

If you want to take your bike with you on a flight, you need a specially sized box or bag. There are also certain providers, such as Pamyra, who can organize transportation for you for a fee. 

If you prefer to save yourself the transportation expense and rent a bike, do some research on local providers to compare prices and availability. 

What should I bring on a bike tour?

The next step is to organize the basic equipment for your bike tour. This checklist will see you safely on your way:

  • Bicycle luggage rack
  • Handlebar bag
  • Rain protection
  • Front and rear lights
  • Reflective vest
  • Bicycle lock
  • Bicycle repair kit
  • Bicycle bags, including refillable water bottles 

It’s common for a transporter service to be provided on guided tours. This means that there’s always someone to call on in case you get a flat tire. 

Before booking a tour, you should always check what is and isn’t included. You can find a comprehensive bike tour checklist on the ADFC website.

How to plan a bicycling vacation with the family

It’s time to swap the screens for fresh air and nature! A bicycling vacation is a great way to get your kids outside and to spend time together as a family. Vacations abroad also give even young kids a taste of foreign languages, cuisine, and cultures.

If you’re planning your first family bicycling vacation, make sure to choose easy terrain and shorter routes. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time for breaks and a variety of different stops. If you want a challenge but other members of your family don’t, you can organize e-bikes for those who are less enthusiastic about cycling. That way, you can all tackle those trickier routes together.

And don’t forget about travel insurance. Having the right travel health insurance will take a lot of the potential stress out of a family vacation.

How to plan a bicycling vacation in a group

Group bicycling vacations are great for getting together with your friends or meeting new people who share your interests. There’s something for everyone, too: Tours are offered all over Europe, so you can get to know your companions better over regional delicacies and a glass of wine after a day’s ride.

There are various websites that let you enter specific information and destinations to find the right trip options for you. We recommend the route planner Komoot, which also has an app for when you’re out on the road.

Do I need insurance for a bicycling vacation?

It’s always worth having bike insurance in Europe if you’re using your own bike. It’s frustrating enough if your bike gets stolen, damaged, or lost. But if you’re left covering the costs, then it can really ruin your perfect bicycling vacation. 

Not sure where to get bike insurance? N26 Insurance lets you protect what’s important to you. Simply open the N26 app, go to the Explore tab, and choose the insurance that’s right for you.

References:

(1) https://www.dutch-biketours.com/cycling-holiday-bruges-amsterdam

(2) https://www.cycle-sos.co.uk/10-most-beautiful-cycle-routes-in-europe/

(3) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/italy/articles/italy-cycling-the-via-francigena/

(4) https://www.thegonegoat.com/inspiration-and-tips/travel-bicycle-start-bike-touring

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How do I plan a bike tour overseas?

Choosing your destination is one of the most important parts of organizing a bike tour. Be sure to pick a trip that will match your/your group’s abilities. It’s also a good idea to choose somewhere that you’re keen to explore. Next, try and get in some cycling prep before you leave so you build up your stamina for the real deal. Finally, set a budget and savings goal, so you can pay for the trip you want without any stress.

How do I plan a day bike trip?

A day trip is a great way to squeeze in some cycling time, or to introduce the hobby to friends or members of your family. Try googling “cycle routes near me” for inspiration—and make sure the length and terrain of the route is suitable for everyone joining you. Don’t forget to plan stops for snacks, toilet breaks, and lookout spots to take in any views. Circular routes are convenient to minimize taxis or public transport. Finally, check the weather, as you’ll want to make sure you have suitable clothing.

How far should I cycle daily on a bike tour?

The right daily distance for your bike tour will depend on your fitness and how often you cycle. While you might want to take on a challenge, you don’t want to injure yourself and not be able to enjoy the vacation. It’s a smart idea to do several shorter days during your bike tour, rather than just a few longer days. The average cyclist should be able to take on about 60km a day. If you’re more experienced, you could try a bit further and build up from there.

How should I train for a cycling holiday?

To make sure you’re ready for the physical challenges of a bike tour, it’s best to start training early. Regular, manageable cycling sessions are best. If you can get into the great outdoors, that will help prepare you for the real thing. If that’s not an option, a stationary bike at home or at the gym is still helpful. Don’t forget to stretch and add rest days to give you time to recover. Make a note of the distances you cover and try to add a little more each week, until you reach your target.

How can N26 help me prepare for my bike tour?

N26 is the perfect bike tour companion. From top discounts on sports equipment and athletic gear to on-demand insurance, to saving features like Spaces sub-accounts—we’ve got you covered with everything you need for your next cycling tour. N26 You is our go-to recommendation for anyone who wants banking and coverage both every day and travel, while our N26 Metal account includes smartphone and pandemic insurance. Interested? Try our online comparison page to find the best account for you.

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