Travel advice for cycling in Europe



David Sear and Andy Ross, experts from one of our leading European cycling vacation companies, Exodus, share their advice below:

Favourite routes

David Sear: “One of my favourite European cycling routes has to be in Romania on our Transylvania and Saxon history cycling tour; it’s like going back in time as our route goes through ancient fortified villages where locals still wear traditional dress and a horse and cart is still the preferred means of transport.”
Andy Ross: “One of my favourite cycling routes is in Bosnia & Herzegovina. You would be pressed to find a more remote corner of Europe and the mountainous areas still have a ‘frontier feel’. The scenery is breath-taking, the locals are incredibly welcoming and the recent history of the region also adds a fascinating angle to cycling here.”

What to pack

David Sear: “Take a small camera that will fit in a jersey pocket or saddle bag. You never know what you will see on a cycling trip, whether it’s an animal running alongside you or a view from a path only accessible by bike, it’s well worth having a camera to hand.”


David Sear: “Group cycling vacations allow you to travel solo and meet like-minded people who all enjoy cycling and have a sense of adventure. I think it really adds to the experience when you share the trip with other people; on our challenging trips the physical effort really brings the group together, whereas on our leisurely trips the group provides a great atmosphere, conversation and fun. You are guaranteed to make friends on a group tour and having a local guide to give you all the information means you don’t miss a thing.”
Andy Ross: “I love the atmosphere and camaraderie of a cycling group, but every once in a while you cannot beat heading off on your own and losing yourself in the experience of riding in a foreign land. After years of exploring on two wheels it is very apparent that there are always many different ways of getting from A to B and the actual planning of a daily route is also something that I find very rewarding. For these reasons I do love the self guided concept.”


David Sear: “Enjoy it, it’s not a race, and stop when you feel tired; remember that you are on a multi-day trip so don’t overdo it on day one.”
Andy Ross: “Best advice is to ride at your own pace, particularly on the climbs!”

Health & safety



Always inform a cycling group leader if you have any specific ailments or health care requirements.

Comprehensive travel insurance should be taken out that covers you for cycling as well as other activities that you might undertake during the vacation.

For European citizens, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is also important for health cover when cycling in Europe. If you’re British, it is free to apply for or renew by visiting the NHS website.

Keep yourself and family members hydrated and covered up, even when it’s not a blue sky day. Backpacks with in-built water bags and straws are great for kids on the go.

Avoid chafing by applying Vaseline or Sudocrem to problem areas i.e. the groin, nipples and any other bits that are likely to rub, catch or become sore with heat and friction. Padded shorts (with no underwear) and gel seats are great preventatives when it comes to the horrors of chaffing.

Make sure your bike suits your height and body weight. This is really important to help prevent injuries in knees and backs as well as enabling you to get a good night’s rest so you can cycle longer and in comfort the following day.

Avoid drinking from natural springs, glacial lakes and other wilderness areas unless the water has been boiled or had legal purification tablets added as per packet instructions. Tap water is safe to drink in most European countries though – so the best bet is to fill up before you leave, and cut down on plastic bottles as well.

Wild dogs can be found in more remote areas of Europe so think about rabies shots, just in case, and don’t be tempted to pet wild animals or approach them on or off your bike.

Always wear sun tan lotion and full on sun block on cheeks, nose, hands, wrists and forehead. Keep the back of your neck covered and make sure kids are fully covered up, even when the sun isn’t shining.


Check the rules of the road in the European countries where you’ll be cycling.

Save iPods and mobile phones for when you’re not cycling. Although taking an (unlocked) mobile phone is a must, especially when venturing out on a self guided tour – and even more so if you’re on your own.

Bring your own helmet, just to be completely sure of comfort and protection. Lights and hi-vis gear are essential and don’t take up too much space.

Try to cycle single file where possible, especially outside of daylight hours. Also, keep a respectful distance from the person or vehicle that you’re following.

Be careful if consuming alcohol over lunch and then intending to continue your cycle journey. Maybe save a larger glass as a reward for when you return back to base.

Self guided cyclists should travel with their own emergency first-aid kit as well as detailed trip notes, emergency contact details, map, whistle, fire lighting equipment and fully-charged phone with GPS, if possible. As some companies do provide a pre-programmed GPS for phones it’s important to ensure your phone will work on the continent or whether you’ll need to buy a cheap handset and SIM that will.

Always tell someone where you’re going and make sure you know the local contact details for emergency services. 112 is the Emergency call number in Europe.

Check local weather forecasts, especially when cycling at altitude and where there may be a chance of flash-flooding or electrical storms. If you do encounter lightning then get off your bike, get as low as you can and seek shelter wherever possible.

Avoid midday cycling during the hot summer months by setting off early or starting short trips in the middle of the afternoon. Cover up, drink lots of fluids and apply sun tan cream when cycling in hot countries, particularly during July and August.



At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful European cycling travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Take some padded shorts and a camera – you’ll need both. Some of the climbs can be tough but the support vehicle is always close by. We went in May which was a lovely time to go as it was quiet and not too warm.” - Alice Jewell, cycling on the Dalmatian Coast

“If you aren't fit for cycling, especially some steep and long hill climbs, then take the e-bike option. All who did the trip were thrilled with the vistas but if you aren't in shape you won't be able to tackle those hills!” – Linda Roe, on a Greek Islands cycling and sailing vacation

“The bicycles we used were high quality mountain bikes and therefore heavy and strong. The heat during the day (early September) was such that we would have been better to start each day much earlier and avoid the heat of the day for the climbing.” – Jane Cowan, cycling in Montenegro

“We went in June and there was good breeze and the combination of cycling and visiting ancient sites and places of interest worked well for us with enough flexibility to have an easier beach day if we wanted it.” – Helen Wells on a Greece cycling and archaeology tour

“The cycle paths are paved, well marked and not crowded, and well away from the highway so you are traveling through vineyards, small forests, along rivers and lovely quiet countryside.” – Karen Balter in the Loire Valley

“Take rain gear – booties and helmet cover as they don't take up much space and will keep you comfortable if it showers. We also took our own bike seats.” – Beth from Canada, on a cycling vacation in Catalonia, Spain
Photo credits: [David sears - favourite routes: Turisti Non A Caso (] [David Sears - what to pack: MollySVH] [Andy Ross - types of tour: Antonio S] [Helpdesk: lassedesignen] [Review 1 - Debbie: Filipe Saraiva] [Review 2 - Patricia Houston: eric milet]

Written by: Chris Owen
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