How to choose a bike tour or holiday

Want to ride your bike abroad? Looking for a bike tour because you want someone else to help you make it happen?

Good news: there are lots of excellent cycling holiday companies that want to help you have an awesome time. The big two questions for you are:​

1. What type of cycling holiday do you want?

2. Where do you want to go?

Part 1: What type of cycling holiday do you want?

​We’ve set out below the main types of road bike holidays for road cyclists.

​Cycling training camps​

Group of cyclists ascending a climbBefore choosing a bike holiday, consider what type of experience you want and who you want to share it with 

The idea is to spend anything from a weekend to two weeks training like a pro and focusing on improving your cycling – from your fitness to your cycling technique.

They are generally held in warm destinations over winter and spring and can be used to ensure you’re in great shape for the upcoming season.

When you attend an organised camp, the company sorts out all the logistics. Depending on the price point of the camp, that may just be meals and ride guides. Or it could include everything from mechanical support to energy bars on the road and evening seminars.

Want to know more? Read our Ultimate guide to cycle training camps.

Organised cycling holidays

These are a good option if you want cycling to be the main theme of your time away.

The company will sort out your accommodation. The level of guiding and mechanical and vehicular support will depend on which type of trip you select.

  • Guided cycling tour – led by a guide, often with a small support crew who move your kit on from place to place. Trip lengths and distances vary.
  • Self-guided cycling tour – the tour company provide maps, accommodation and luggage transfer. You don’t have a guide but someone is available for emergencies or mechanical help.
  • Fixed base cycling holiday – cycling holidays that use one (or possibly two) bases from which you ride. They can be guided or self-guided. Sometimes you may be provided with additional transport so you can start further afield. It’s a flexible option as you can alter your routes without impacting on the next day’s riding.
  • In each case, you may sign up to a particular itinerary or work with the company to prepare a bespoke itinerary.

In this article we share 12 things you should always check before you book an organised bike tour.

This article focuses on women-only bike tours.

Guided rides

Paying a local guide is a great option if all you want is a day or two of supported cycling and you’re happy to plan the rest yourself.

  • A guide can show you their favourite routes while you still retain the flexibility of an independent holiday, cycling at your speed and doing the riding you want.
  • You won’t get the mechanical and vehicular back up you’d get with a full cycling holiday, but you’ll ride great routes that match your objectives.
  • Many bike-friendly hotels and bike hire shops can help you find a guide and also offer some sort of emergency back up if you get stuck.
Local bike guide with group on road bike holidayHiring a bike guide can offer a flexible alternative to an organised bike holiday

Bike friendly hotel

  • If you stay at a bike-friendly hotel you’re likely to be able to get really good local information from the people looking after you. They can tell you the most popular routes and are often a good source of knowledge on things like the best coffee stops and restaurants.
  • They should also be able to tell you about bike hire and bike repair shops.
  • If you go down this route, don’t miss our accommodation hub page and destination and ride guides that are packed full of cycling-friendly accommodation suggestions and useful ride information on many amazing cycling destinations around the world.

DIY

  • Finally, you may want to go it alone. Perhaps you’re visiting somewhere to do a particular cycling event and want to add in some riding before or after. Perhaps you’re planning a standalone trip from scratch.  
  • This article focuses on organising a group cycling holiday and we also hope our sportive and cycling event guides and destination and ride guides will make it easier for you to go it alone!
  • You might also want to consider hiring a bike can and having a camper van holiday with your bikes. More on how that can work, here.
  • Our free destination guides include route information and GPX downloads which make planning unforgettable rides easy. We also include details of our favourite coffee stops, restaurants and things to do off the bike to make sure you visit the special places in each location.
Independent cyclist riding in the sun

Independent bike holidays offer freedom and flexibility

 

Part 2: Where do you want to go?

Lots of factors come into play when answering this. Our destination and ride guides are a great place to start both for inspiration and practical details. Our article on the best destinations in Europe and best romantic weekends away may also help. Other questions to ask yourself are:

  • What time of year do I want to travel – where’s good for cycling then?
  • What sort of terrain am I looking for?
  • How long do I have? Am I looking at long-haul or short-haul?
  • Am I planning to use air miles? This might restrict your destination choices
  • Am I happy taking my bike with me or am I planning to hire?
  • Is there anywhere I’ve been meaning to go/go back to?
  • Do my travelling companions have any requirements?!
  • Is there a sportive or cycling event I particularly want to do? (More inspiration on those, here).

Once you’ve decided the type of holiday and where to go, it’s time to get booking. And you know where our guides are for more information on wherever you end up going!

Over to you!

What’s your favourite kind of road bike holiday? What have been your highs and lows?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Looking for an organised cycling trip?

If you want someone to help you plan and book your cycling holiday, fill out this form. We aren’t a tour operator/agent but we work with lots of people who are and will do our best to put you in touch with someone that can help (within 24 hours wherever possible)!

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

Last Reviewed: 09 January 2024

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