Family cycling vacations guide


For an active break, a family cycling vacation is actually pretty chilled. No peloton to keep up with, no Lycra – it’s simply about exploring on two wheels, on safe routes and over child friendly distances. Family cycling is typically self guided, so you can pedal at your own pace. Just pop a picnic in your pannier and go, stopping to swim, eat or play whenever you like. Some cycling vacations include other activities – watersports or horse riding, for instance – some go point to point, delivering a saddlebag-full of satisfaction with each completed section. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can join a guided group and see somewhere exotic, like Kenya, from your saddle. Wherever you choose, two wheels will help you reach the parts cars miss, discovering unspoiled scenery and meeting local people, too. No driving, fresh air, exercise and a bit of an adventure – family cycling vacations tick boxes for kids and adults.

Find out more in our family cycling vacations travel guide.

What do family cycling vacations entail?

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Small group or self guided

Self guided cycling suits families brilliantly, providing the perfect blend of independence and support, flexibility and structure. There’s no need to catch up or wait for other members of a group, and you have the freedom to stop when you want or tailor the ride to suit tired legs and lazy days. Routes carefully planned to suit children, maps and 24/7 support are provided, so you can pedal off with confidence, knowing where you’re going but free to explore at your own speed, too.

What’s the cycling like?

Family cycling vacations follow routes selected for safety, so that’s typically cycle paths, tracks and quiet roads, usually with little or no traffic. Distances vary, and there’s often the opportunity to cut rides short or extend them for more of a challenge, but generally you won’t be pedalling for more than 30km each day. Routes tend to stick to easy, level terrain, too, so no long ascents or steep descents. On a small group vacation, a support vehicle will be following along, so anyone can take a break by catching a ride in it.

Who’s best suited to a family cycling vacation?

Obviously, the entire family needs to be happy cycling for at least two hours, so be honest about fitness levels, ability and cycling commitment. It’s one thing pedalling around the park on a Sunday, and quite another following a 30km route to your next accommodation each day. If in doubt, choose a trip that includes the option to hire a bike for a day or two and see how you get on before committing to a dedicated cycling vacation.

In addition, most family cycling vacations have a minimum age. In somewhere like Sweden, where the cycling is level and easy, that might be eight years old; in somewhere more unusual, such as Tanzania, it could be 10. Do check with the vacation company, though, as some will accept younger children, so that a sports mad nine year old, for instance, doesn’t miss out on an epic cycling vacation with a minimum age requirement of 10 years.

Centre based or point to point?

Some family cycling vacations follow a single route, from location to location, with your bags moved to each night’s accommodation for you. This is a great way to see a decent chunk of a country, with lots of variety built in and a real sense of achievement at the end when you tot up how far you’ve pedalled. Centre based cycling is a slightly more flexible choice. There’s always the option to ditch the bikes – you’re not following a long route or trying to pedal to your next guesthouse – but even some point to point cycling vacations build in rest days or a few nights in a single place, so you can take shorter circular rides or spend a day out of the saddle.

Best time to go on a family cycling vacation


Locations: Kenya | Tanzania | Catalonia | Sweden
If you’re tied to the school vacations, the summer break is the best time to go cycling in Sweden, with pleasant temperatures and long days. Spain can hit the 40°Cs in summer, but you can still cycle in Catalonia, where breezes off the Med and Pyrenees lower temperatures. Winter breaks can be mild and marvellous here, too. Cycling in France is doable but dreary over winter – the best time to go is Easter, May or summer for warm, fine weather. Avoid Kenya and Tanzania at Easter, since this is the rainy season, and be prepared for chilly nights but warm days in Jul and Aug.
Photo credits: [Topbox: European Cyclists' Federation] [SG or SG: Bike week] [Like?: Aspen Snowmass] [Centre point or point to point: malouette] [Temp chart: Léonard Cotte]
Written by Joanna Simmons
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