Have you ever thought about a cycling holiday?
One thing is for certain cycling is becoming more popular across Europe. As domestic budgets are being squeezed people are taking to the humble bicycle for the daily commute for travelling to appointments and to make the most of their holidays. Cycling is not just about saving money it’s about freedom and enjoyment too. As many of us strived to become fitter exercise bikes became popular but many were soon relegated to being clothes horses abandoned in the corners of bedrooms. Exercise bikes are pretty boring so many people decided to try the real thing instead and they enjoyed the experience.
As cycling took-off cities around the world started to make it safer and more practical for pedal-power to succeed. Cycle lanes have sprung up everywhere and many cities now have short term bicycle hire schemes where you can easily select a bike from a docking station and leave it at another docking station close to your destination. These bikes are clocking-up thousands of miles of use and similar schemes being developed for many more cities.
Another outcome of this enthusiasm for cycling is that cycling holidays are more widely available. They have been embraced by many people and offer everything from serious cycle treks to family adventure routes through the countryside. A 200 mile six day trek along Britain’s Cornish Coast and designed to accommodate various levels of fitness will last about five nights and cost close to £500. Challenging road cycling holidays are also available for the fitter more experienced cyclist and these can cost anything from £400 to over £800 (with accommodation stops included). You can even undertake the famous pilgrimage route from St Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain – the whole pilgrimage route is 480 miles but you can arrange to stay cheaply at various travellers’ refuges along the way.
If this all sounds a little serious and specialist to you there is another way to take a cycling holiday that might suit your family more. Many big European cities have companies that run guided bike tours. Most of these tours can be completed within a day or part of a day and they are a great way to see the sights. For example you could stay in a Berlin holiday apartment and arrange a series of different bike tours for as many days of you holiday as you want. These tours are themed relatively cheap and last typically between 4 and 6 hours. Some companies like Berlin’s ‘Fat Tire Bike Tours’ can even create private family and friends tours that can make the experience totally unique to your holiday.
The Netherlands is one of the most bike friendly countries in Europe and reportedly has more bicycles than it does residents. Cycling here is a way of life helped in some part by the country’s relatively flat terrain. If you’ve never tried a cycling holiday before then this may be the best country for you to get your first taste. Book a holiday apartment in Amsterdam and try some of the many urban tours available in this incredibly cycle-safe city. See the historic buildings and wonderful waterways that give Amsterdam its character explore neighbourhoods that you might never even notice by car and enjoy perfectly manageable cycle-trips into the nearby Dutch countryside.
Cycling can make family holidays with teenagers into a family adventure. There are city bike tours that are suitable with younger children as well and some companies can provide electrically assisted bikes if you are afraid that your fitness levels might not be quite up to it. But whatever way you choose to do it the advantages of exercise freedom from public transport and traffic jams and being out in the fresh air make cycling holidays an increasingly popular family option.