There’s much to be said for point to point cycling especially when the point you’re heading for is a pub. However, expand your horizons a little further and you’ll be cycling to local producers of organic olive oil, fresh or full bodied wines, fruity liquors, truffles, jams, honeys, cheeses, chutneys and pickled crunchy things that just taste out of this world.
Regions like Catalonia in Spain, Abruzzo in Italy and the lavender painted pictures of Provence are all ripe for combining gastronomy and gears, with chances to pick, produce and, of course, sample delicious dishes, in between cycling from one town, village or vineyard to the next, helping to create tasty two-wheeled tours to truly savour. Self guided cycling tours for foodies let you explore safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to miss out on a hidden gem of a cafe or local farmers’ market that only opens for two hours every Monday. Cycling vacations for food lovers also give you the opportunity to meet the local producers, the proud restaurateurs and those with the keys to the wine cellars where tasting sessions offer sumptuous rewards for a couple of hours spent in the saddle.

Cultural complements

Cycling from Prague to Budapest, Tallinn to Vilnius, or Pisa to Florence or Cinque Terre, is going to place your pedals in some seriously cultural capitals with free time for sightseeing helping to turn your cycle tour into a fascinating journey through time. From the ancient UNESCO sites of Syracuse and Noto in southern Sicily to an archaeology tour of the Peloponnese, featuring Epidaurus, Mycenae and Tripoli, culture and history tours on two wheels are perfect for anyone vaguely interested in lubricating the little grey cogs. Aside from city sights, bicycles are capable of reaching landmarks without the need for coaches or expensive taxis with the chateaux to be found along the Canal du Midi, and the monasteries and Gothic cathedrals aligning the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, certain to get brains pulsing just as readily as pedals.

Push your pedals

Cyclists looking to emulate the stars can tackle either the classic loops of the Italian Dolomites or the cols and hairpins of the French Alps over the course of week undertaking distances of 65 to 120kms per day with a support vehicle on hand so you can focus on the roads and the views ahead. Andy Ross, Cycling Manager at our supplier Exodus, advises: “Do as much training as possible beforehand. The fitter you are the more you can relax during the trip and properly appreciate the experience and where you are cycling.”

Cycle combinations

Pedal on the Peloponnese in search of archaeological sites; enjoy endless idylls sailing and cycling around the Greek islands; cycle from one historic chateau to the next in the Loire Valley; allow the art of Dali and Gaudi to guide you whilst cycling in Catalonia; whatever you do, don’t think that a cycling vacation in Europe has to be just about the cycling.
Photo credits: [Foodie-focused: Marcin Krzyzak] [Cultural complements: Richard Barrett-Small] [Helpdesk: lassedesignen] [Push your pedals: Robbie Shade] [Cycle combinations: Oliver Clarke]
Written by Chris Owen
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