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Cycling holidays in Europe
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What to expect on your first cycling holiday

Posted 13 Oct 2017

A cycling holiday is the perfect way to explore some of Europe’s most charming scenery at your leisure. Whether you choose to wind your way past fairy-tale castles and sun-dappled vineyards in France’s Loire Valley or venture alongside the vibrant tulip fields and tranquil canals of Holland, you’ll be able to see the sights in a truly exhilarating style. Here are a few top tips for first-timers.

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Choosing a destination

Cycling tours allow you to explore a region’s true nature at your own pace whether you choose to venture to the sparkling Adriatic coast, Italian lakes and mountains, or culture-soaked city centres. With user-friendly bikes, you can meander along scenic pathways to uncover hidden countryside gems and rustic farms. Get off the beaten path by stopping at the postcard-perfect small villages that tour buses can’t access, such as Cacela Velha, an unspoilt village dotted with whitewashed buildings in the Algarve.

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Cycling distances

Do you prefer a shorter route with plenty of stops for farm-to-table dining experiences, or a longer route that allows you to cover more ground? Choose from a range of short breaks if you're looking for a refreshing mini-break. Perhaps you fancy cycling next to the glittering seas of the Algarve or through the perfumed lavender fields of Provence. If you prefer a longer trip, opt for a varied route, such as the The Golden Pass Line tour, where you'll explore some of Switzerland's most attractive cities - with wonderfully tranquil cycling in between. Wending your way through blissful Alpine pastures, via picturesque villages and serene lakes.

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Fitness levels

You don’t have to be up to Tour de France standards to embark on your first cycling holiday. However, it’s helpful to have a reasonable level of fitness and take at least a few longer rides before your trip to make sure you’re comfortable on your bike. It’s natural to be nervous about covering longer distances if you’ve never done this before, but remember that you’ll be stopping for breathers along the way, whether it's to take a quick snap for your photo album, or getting to know the intricate pathways of a town on foot, such as the cobbled streets of traditional Tavira in the Algarve. You'll also have more sedentary breaks where you'll get the chance to indulge in the local cuisine.

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Timing your holiday

If you have some flexibility in your schedule, we recommend planning your holiday in May, June, September or October. By travelling just outside of the peak holiday months of July and August, you’ll benefit from more competitive pricing and cooler temperatures. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to experience Europe without the summer crowds.

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What to bring

There’s no need to stock up on expensive kit for your first cycling holiday, but it’s always a good idea to bring comfortable, breathable clothing and multi-activity shoes. Lycra-padded cycling shorts can make your ride more comfortable, while fingerless gloves protect your hands. A light windcheater jacket takes up little space, making it a handy option to keep wind-chill at bay on those action-packed dawn-to-dusk rides.

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