Enjoy the highlights of a region by seeing it from the saddle. There is no other mode of transport that will get you more close up to your holiday destination than a bicycle. The growth in cycling holidays in recent times means more destinations have invested heavily in good infrastructure and quality equipment.
A leisurely cycle means time to enjoy a destination, sit back taste the food, smell the flowers and feel in touch with local communities. Improvements in cycle quality and the introduction of good value electric bicycles have made this holiday more accessible. Multi-generational families are beginning to enjoy the fun of doing something that everyone can enjoy.
The best food for cycling
Emilia Romagna is the main food province of Italy and where better to explore by bicycle than the fields, hills and coastal routes of this lovely place. This holiday from Ireland is for all levels of cyclists, with the group accompanied by local guides. The mountain climbers can race ahead doing 90-120km a day while the dolce vita lovers can pootle along doing 35km.
These trips to Riccione in April or October costs from €899pps, plus bike hire of €109 or €129, depending on style of bicycle. This includes flights from Dublin to Bologna, transfers, five days guided cycling, and half board accommodation. Book on gti-ireland.com, or 01-8434834.
Mallorca with Stephen Roche
The mountainous Balearic island of Mallorca has positioned itself as one of the premier cycling destinations in Europe. The island is the often chosen destination of pro cyclists for pre-race training, and is beloved of cycling clubs, and others who just like to cycle gently along kilometres of flat promenades.
Ireland’s Stephen Roche has a training base in Mallorca and offers cycling holidays and training from February to October, excluding high season in July and August. Three days cycling with bikes, meals, and accommodation costs from €467pps, with a week from €872pps, flights extra. See stephenrochecycling.com.
Beer and bikes
What could be more refreshing than a cold beer after a day in the saddle, and do beer and bikes go well together? You could find out on a brewery tour of Austria and Germany. Freedom Treks offers four- or six-night brewery tours from April to October along the Salzach and Saalach rivers, visiting breweries in Austria and Germany. The price, from £292 (€373) includes accommodation, luggage transfer and four days gentle cycling between historic towns. See freedomtreks.co.uk. Flights and bikes extra.
Discover the Highlands
Visit Scotland devoted March to promoting the joys of seeing the country from two wheels and H+I Adventure, based in Inverness, can show you some serious mountain biking for all levels of riders. Departures from May to September will allow you to discover heather covered hillsides, big skies and great food and drink.
Advanced riders will love the week-long coast to coast tour of Scotland, costing from £1,095 (€1,400). See mountainbikeadventures.com. H+I also has cycle tours to remote places such as the Yukon, Ecuador and Chile.
Swiss biking Mecca – Verbier
This is the year of the electric bike in Switzerland and it is a wonderful invention for exploring the hilly terrain. The area around Verbier, Val de Bagnes and La Tzoumaz, covers more than 800km and is ideal for multi-generational family holidays. E-bikes have levelled the playing field and made it easy for everyone to enjoy an active holiday. Take your pick of routes from 10-33km. See verbier.ch.
The quietest region of Italy is the perfect place to explore by bike. Puglia is dotted with farms, vineyards, olive groves, lush valleys, ancient towns, frescoed churches and conical stone residences. The Giro de Puglia will see you doing a seven-day loop around the province with a GPS to guide you to your stop each evening. The tour stages are from 40-65km per day and it is almost all flat cycling. It costs from €495pps and includes accommodation and breakfast each day; bike hire is €90. See pugliacycletours.com.
The Poitou Charente region of France has more than 1,000km of marked cycle trails, from Atlantic coastal routes to the Marais Poitevin and the beautiful islands of Île de Ré and Île d'Oléron. Short, easy circuits and long, challenging routes are guaranteed in this beautiful countryside. Base yourself in La Rochelle, and plan your trip with the help of lacharente.com.
Catalonia for all the family
With access via the historic city of Girona, the Catalonia region is easily explored by bicycle. The Girona Greenways, El Carrilets, are divided into short rides that are ideal for children. Staying in small hotels and farmhouses, the route has plenty to see and do. Wind down each day with a dip in the pool, or spend the final day in the sea. A six-day trip costs from €560pps for adults and from €305 for children. See adventure-holidays.ie.
The ultimate cycling holiday
Join professional David Millar, the only British cyclist to have won all Tour de France jerseys, in Port Soller, Mallorca for a four-day ultimate cycling weekend. Riders will be treated like pros, at the base in the five-star Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel. Maserati support cars and on-site mechanics will provide technical assistance throughout the trip. Cycling days will range from 70km-125km with barely a metre of flat. The first weekend is from April 7-11th and costs £3,500 (€4,450, places limited). For bookings, email email@example.com or call +34-971-637 888.