A bike tour is becoming an increasingly popular choice for travelers. They are eco-friendly, immerse you in the culture and country you are traveling through and keep you fit! There is nothing better than arriving in an amazing historic hotel for a beautiful dinner having truly earnt it!
My brother, Sam Wood, is the founder of Bike Odyssey, a boutique bicycle touring company. With a small team of guides, Sam takes guests on a range of tours around the world.
For the serious riders, Bike Odyssey offers challenging routes in the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites, but you don’t have to be a bicycling enthusiast to take a bike tour. In fact, people who have never ridden before go on Bike Odyssey tours and so do non-riders. With our 1:6 guide to guest ratio, everything is possible! These cycling tours cater to all levels of biking abilities and experience. However, challenging riding is a focus on these bicycle tours. Some of the more breathtaking pedaling includes, for example, trails through the Andes mountains, over the Alps and Tour de France hill climbs.
A bike tour is eco-friendly, immerses you in the culture and keeps you fit! You’ll also find amazing historic hotels and great cuisine at every stop!
The scenery, culture, food, and wine is what sets Sam’s tours apart in his attention to detail. Each tour takes about two years to plan and test ride. Bike Odyssey also brings along guides who are route experts, including historians and authors, so the culture of the trip really comes to life.
52 Reasons You Should Take A Bicycle Tour (Including 4 Great Bicycle Trips)
I know I’m partisan – Sam is my brother after all – but as a result of his passion for bicycle tours, I don’t find it difficult to come up with 52 reasons you should take a bike tour! The list starts with four of our most exciting bicycle tours and is followed by a list of more reasons we think everyone should take a bike tour in 2020!
4 Amazing Bicycle Tours & Trips for 2020
Are you searching for a cycling experience of a lifetime? There’s really no better way to connect with the sights, sounds, and culture of a region than on two wheels. Bike tours are eco-friendly, immerse you in the culture and country you are traveling through and keep you fit!
Bike Odyssey craft their tours around the adventures of great historical figures. Guides with specialist knowledge, including authors and television personalities, will explain the history as you follow it on your bicycle.
The Hannibal Tour – Barcelona to Rome
On the Hannibal tour, you’ll be tracing the route of the warrior regarded as ancient Rome’s worst enemy. The Carthaginian’s pathway takes you from Spain, over the Pyrenees into France, over the massive Alps into Italy and then south to Rome. Bike Odyssey craft their tours around the adventures of great historical figures. Guides with specialist knowledge, including authors and television personalities, will explain the history as you follow it on your bicycle.
On the Hannibal tour, you’ll be tracing the route of the warrior regarded as ancient Rome’s worst enemy. During this trip with specialized touring bikes, you’ll experience the following:
1. Ride the Ramblas on a Bicycle
This Bike Odyssey tour kicks off in Barcelona, one of the world’s most charismatic cities. You’ll be able to ride along Las Ramblas, the city’s famous promenade and enjoy the Catalan capital’s delightful architecture, food and fun.
2. Cycle the Invasion Route a Great Commander
The Hannibal tour follows the Carthaginian’s pathway takes you from Spain, over the Pyrenees into France, over the massive Alps into Italy and then south to Rome. This cycle tour is inspired by Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps in 218 BC.
3. Experience Cathar Country
This really is the essence of the road less traveled. You’ll enjoy tremendously scenic cycling including castles like Chateau Queribus, Peyrepertuse, and Montségur.
4. Enjoy the Most Beautiful Villages in France
High in the French Alps, Bike Odyssey guests explore idyllic cobblestone villages that are so taken by their own beauty they’ve formed an association called “The Most Beautiful Villages In France” (“Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”).
5. Dine Under the Devil’s Bridge
In the well preserved medieval village of Olargues, in southern France, guests sleep and dine in the family hotel, Fleurs D’Olargues. The village was occupied by Romans, Vandals and Visigoths and the restaurant terrace is underneath the medieval Devil’s Bridge (Pont du Diable). It’s a devil of a menu too – the degustation option is impressive – especially the desserts.
6. Iconic Climbs in the Alps
Not for the faint-hearted, Bike Odyssey’s guest ride some of the Tour de France’s most famous and grueling hill climbs including Mont Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez and Col d’Izoard
7. Enjoy an Aperitif in a Castle Overlooking a Famous Battlefield
Rivalta Castle near the Italian town of Piacenza overlooks the River Trebbia, site of Hannibal’s first major battle (and victory of course) over the Romans. It’s also a classic 15th Century castle with an impressive tower thought to designed by the architect of Moscow’s Kremlin (Pietro Solari). Bike Odyssey guests enjoy an aperitif overlooking the river and then fantastic local Emilia-Romagna cuisine in the castle’s restaurant.
8. View Vineyards from the Seat of Your Bicycle
And not just any vineyards. Bike Odyssey takes you along the stunning ridge lines of the Langhe hills through some of Italy’s most prestigious winegrowing areas, like Barolo and Barbaresco.
9. Cycle Through a Holiday Dream: Tuscan and Umbrian Hill Towns
This Bike Odyssey route takes you through inspired Italian landscapes in Tuscany and Italy. You’ll visit beautiful towns that scream Italian culture and history including Siena, Cortona, Pienza and Todi.
10. Rest in Villa Sparina, a Spectacular Tuscan Mansion
After a hard day’s cycle, you’ll need a great place to recuperate. Bike Odyssey guests spend a couple of days in the Tuscan estate of Villa Sparina, formerly owned by the notorious Medici Family.
11. Lake Trasimene: Ride Around an Ancient Battlefield
Explore this lake in the beautiful province of Perugia with the help of archaeologists and historians and learn how Hannibal’s superior tactics destroyed a complete Roman army.
The Lionheart Tour – Venice to Paris
Follow in Richard the Lionheart’s footsteps, on a journey of escapades, imprisonments, ransoms, and battles, to his final resting spot at the Fontevraud l’Abbaye. Thirty-one nights/thirty-two days, riding on average 59mile/95km per day, Lionheart has some incredible challenges traversing through the Dolomites and the Austrian Alps, as well as rolling through some of the most pristine cycling regions of Italy, Austria, Germany and France.
We explore this medieval history through the Veneto, Prosecco, Rax, Danube, Tyrol, Bavaria, Lake Constance, Black Forest, Burgundy, and the Loire. Fueled by one’s own legs (kept in working order by our own tour soigneur), we stay in exceptional accommodations, including ten castles en route, ready for another day’s adventure. During this trip with specialized touring bikes, you’ll experience the following:
12. In the Heart of Venice, Fuel Up at a Classic Italian Restaurant
You can’t expect to cycle for days on end without great food right? Bike Odyssey understands that and as the Lionheart tour kicks off you’ll eat at Trattoria Favorita, one of Venice’s most loved restaurants (check out TripAdvisor reviews). The trattoria pays tribute to local cuisine, serving traditional Venetian seafood including dishes like crab gnocchi, fish risotto and turbot with cherry tomatoes and olives.
13. Bicycle from Castle to Castle
Could there be anything more exciting than spotting your night’s accommodation in the distance – a huge castle – and then cycling right up to its ancient entranceway? That’s what happens on the Lionheart tour where you’ll stay in 10 castles including the medieval warrior Richard the Lionheart’s final resting place: the Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud, near the French town of Chinon, in the Loire Valley. The former monastery is now a spectacular hotel with a superb restaurant.
14. Experience Austria’s Rax National Park
Few Bike Odyssey guests ride out of this alpine park a few hours from Vienna not wondering if they have ever ridden anywhere better.
15. Ride into Prosecco Wine Country
You’ll cycle through vine-clad hills, pass beautiful Italian villas, enjoy excellent food and, of course, plenty of Italy’s answer to French champagne.
16. Explore Neuschwanstein, Europe’s Number 1 Castle
Arguably the most famous castle of them all, Bike Odyssey guests get plenty of time to enjoy this 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace built by Bavaria’s King Ludwig II.
17. Ride the Banks of the Danube, Europe’s Longest River
As they coast along the banks of this mighty river through Austria and into Germany, Bike Odyssey guests enjoy arguably the best bike paths in Europe.
18. Ride Along Stunning Lake Constance and the Allgäu
As you pedal through an area of southern Germany that helped birth the Romantic movement, you’ll understand why so many painters, poets and writers were inspired by these amazingly scenic landscapes.
19. See Vineyards that Produce the Most Expensive Wines in the World
Burgundy wines can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. You’ll cruise through Burgundy along the Grands Crus Wine Route and enjoy the region that makes the most acclaimed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the world.
20. Anyone for a Dazzling Cycle Then a Night in a 15th Century Luxury Castle?
Schloss Prielau, now owned by the Porsche family, is a luxurious castle-mansion set in idyllic grounds. On a Bike Odyssey tour this will be your bed for the night after your ride, arguably, the most spectacular route in Austria: the Grossglockner Road, a 50-km route that ascends 2500 meters above sea level with incredible views of mountains and glaciers.
The Che Tour – Santiago to Bariloche
The Che tour starts in Bariloche, Argentina, we follow in his footsteps, crisscrossing over the Andes into the breathtaking lake districts and volcanoes of Patagonia, then north along the exceptional Pacific Coast and wine regions of Chile—the Casablanca, Maipu, and Colchagua valleys—before finishing just south of Santiago, Chile.
While tracing the trail of this pop culture icon with his signature cap. Twenty-eight nights/twenty-nine days, riding on average 47mile/75km per day, this Odyssey will envelop you in a unique and spiritual mystery, found only in the unspoiled, enchanted hinterlands of South America.
As always, exceptional cuisine and unique accommodation is a treat you can’t imagine. Think a five-star treehouse or a glass lodge with the view out your window (and optional walk the next day) of a smoking volcano! Because the quality of the coffee on the route can be inconsistent we take our custom-made coffee van along as an essential support vehicle, to stop and deliver in each guest’s own eco-friendly coffee cup whenever needed.
During this cycling tour with specialized touring bikes, you’ll experience the following:
21. Relive Che Guevara’s ‘Bicycle Diaries’ on a Bicycle
This South American tour follows in the dusty motorcycle tracks of this iconic revolutionary figure. Bike Odyssey was inspired by the same things Che was: adventure, cultural curiosity, and gastronomic hedonism.
22. Ride and Taste Through Chile’s Vino Heartland
Chile has a reputation for quality wines at moderate prices. You’ll cycle and taste your way through the country’s winegrowing heartland: the Casablanca, Maipu and Colchagua Valleys.
23. Mouth-watering Oceanic Food Culture
Bike Odyssey’s trail through the Maule region of Chile is more like a gourmet seafood expedition.
24. Cross the Massive Andes Mountain Chain
Bike enthusiasts will love this cycle up glacial mountains and over icy streams. Bike Odyssey likes to savor this moment: you’ll make the Andes mountain crossing three times!
25. Gaze Up At Volcanoes
About 750 km south of Santiago, Bike Odyssey’s route takes you to the perfect viewing spot for one of Chile’s most active volcanoes: Volcan Villarrica. The volcano rises above a lake and is known locally as “devil’s house.”
26. Argentina’s 7 Lakes Road
Bike Odyssey rates this section of their Che cycling adventure as one of the best bicycling roads in the world.
27. Who Cares About the Cycling – What about the Steak?
Argentinians are very, very, very, muy proud of their beef. To them, it tastes the best in the world and they also like to tell you this. You may end up agreeing with them after you experience some top class parilla del asado, bife angosto and bife de costilla. It will taste all the better after a few hours of bicycling has worked up a big appetite.
28. Dinner by Appointment Only in the Colchagua Valley
Pilar Rodriguez’s Food and Wine Studio in Chile’s Colchagua Valley near Santa Cruz is renowned for exceptional wine and food pairing. Bike Odyssey guests enjoy this first class, by appointment only dinner experience.
29. Espresso on Demand
Some Bike Odyssey guests call this the extra team member! Chile is not yet a cafe culture and many modern travelers love (need!) regular coffees. Bike Odyssey’s support van is fitted out with a commercial grade coffee machine so you can enjoy the perfect espresso anytime.
Tasmania – UnderDownUnder
Australia’s island state of Tasmania is full of contrasts. There is the dramatic beauty of its deserted white-sand beaches, rugged mountains, rainforests, and wild rivers—more than 42 percent of the state is designated a national park and much of that is UNESCO World Heritage-listed. On this tour, you’ll explore the history of “Van Diemen’s Land”- the penal colony for overflowing British criminals, who first populated Australia as convicts.
Tassie has an intriguing and brutal recent European history of 200 years, including the annihilation of the Aboriginal people who had occupied the land for over 10,000 years. Twenty nights/twenty-one days, on average riding 50mile/80km per day, this Odyssey takes you through terrain which is constantly changing, devastatingly beautiful and undeniably the best cycling in Australia. Also leading Australia in its gastronomy from Bruny Island Dairy to the vineyards of the Tamar Valley, the Tasmania bike trip is an adventure at every turn.
During this bike trip with specialized touring bikes, you’ll experience the following:
30. Cycle the State that’s Half Parkland
More than 42% of Tasmania is National Park and much of that is World Heritage-listed. Bike Odyssey guests cycle through many of these national parks, exploring Tasmania’s unique flora and fauna and breathtaking natural beauty.
31. Visit the Art Gallery That Tops Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
Park your bicycle at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Lonely Planet ranked the museum number 20 out of 500 ultimate travel destinations beating London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
32. Explore World Heritage Listed Port Arthur
Bike Odyssey guests visit Australia’s largest and best-preserved penal colony and take its ghost tour!
33. Enjoy Bicycle Breaks Feasting on Oysters, Cheese, and Beer
Delight in the cycling on Bruny Island, home to Get Shucked Oysters, the Bruny Island Cheese and Beer Company and gorgeous riding terrain spinning along the water’s edge.
34. Visit Cradle Mountain, Tasmania’s Best-Loved Peak
Bike Odyssey guests dismount and hike through this World Heritage site’s ancient rainforests and alpine heaths. Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park presents the opportunity to get up close to unique Aussie wildlife including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus and echidna.
35. Bicycle Through Orchards and Visit Cideries
In the bucolic Huon Valley ride past apple and cherry orchards and three boutique cideries.
36. Lodge in Hobart’s Trend Setting MACq 01 Hotel
Once a bustling wharf market, later a giant shipping shed and now a world-class hotel. Each of the rooms at MACq 01 Hotel is inspired by a Tasmanian character whose story is told through individual room design.
37. Enjoy the Delights of Tasmania’s Cool Climate Wines
Bike Odyssey guests cruise through the cool-climate wineries of the Derwent, Huon and Coal River Valleys. Pinots, Chardonnays, Sauvignon blancs and Rieslings are the classic varieties of the region.
15 More Reasons You Should Take A Bicycle Tour
38. A Bicycle Tour Really Immerses You in the Environment
Unlike other forms of vacation transport, bicycling is a visceral, up-close and personal experience. From the saddle of your bike, everything happens at a slow enough pace to allow you to really appreciate your surrounds. You feel your holiday environment, from the smell of the trees and flowers to the view of the village in the distance.
39. Taking the Path Least Trodden
Quality bicycle tours make efforts to take you on peaceful, scenic back roads rather than busy freeways or main transport. The pleasures on your holiday experience include getting from A to B – everything is so much more pleasant!
40. A View Like No Other
The seat of a bicycle is the only form of transport that allows you to see in every direction. There’s no roof over your head, no floor beneath. So there’s no better way to feel a complete, 360 degrees of connection to your holiday location.
41. The Greenest Way to Travel
In this time of desperate environmental problems, why add to them unnecessarily? Pedal power is the greenest form of holiday travel and a way to feel you’re really earning your holiday. You’re getting you from one place to another!
42. That Sweet Downhill Run
There’s nothing like a long, downhill ride on a bicycle. This sort of freewheeling adds a sense of innocent fun to your vacation.
43. Bicycle Tours Get You Fit
Many bicycle tours – including Bike Odyssey – allow you to ride as much or little as you want to. Even if you pedal for just an hour or two each day, you’re going to get much fitter and healthier than you were when you started. While boat cruise-goers and bus tourists pile on the pounds from spending much of the time either stationary or eating, you’ll be enjoying all the gourmet delights but becoming leaner and fitter. What a great holiday reward!
44. You’ll Develop a Close Relationship With Your Steed
Now that traveling by horse is largely a thing of the past, arguably, the only way to feel connected to your transport is to go on a bicycle tour. You’ll be spending a lot of time together in very close proximity. You’ll likely come to respect and admire the mechanics of your transport and by the holiday’s end your bicycle will feel like an old friend.
45. The Convenience of Touring a City by Bicycle
So many European cities are geared up for accommodating bicycles. National Geographic rates Amsterdam, Tokyo, Berlin and Ljubljana, amongst others, as great places to visit on a bike. There aren’t always bicycle paths, but motorists are becoming more aware and accommodating of cyclists. On a bicycle tour you can reach the important city sites without wasting time negotiating bus routes or spending hard-earned cash on taxis.
46. Bicycle Tour Guides: The Balance Between Freedom and the Personal Touch
On a bus tour a bad guide is bad news: you’re trapped! When you go it alone on a holiday you can make some deeply frustrating mistakes that you try and put down to experience.
Bike touring with a well-run company offers a nice balance. The routes are well tested and the guides are there to offer as much attention as you need. You can cycle alone or with the group but at the end of the day your bicycle guide will be there to help you settle in to your accommodation – and choose the local wine you might like! Bike Odyssey tours have guides that are also sommeliers.
47. Bicycle Tours Now Offer Luxury Accommodation
Bicycle Touring has changed in recent years. It’s no longer a budget holiday alternative that takes you from one campsite to the next. Companies like Bike Odyssey offer high end, exotic accommodation so you can really rest after your cycling and enjoy the other pleasures of bedding down in a French chateaux, an Italian villa or just an exclusive hotel in a wonderful location.
48. The Gourmet Food Will Never Taste So Good
On a conventional holiday, traveling by car, bus, train or plane can make it difficult to appreciate the foodie extravaganza before you. The lack of physical exertion and the challenges of a different diet can red light your appetite, and, let’s face it, give you constipation! Bicycling helps your digestive system adapt and ensures that every meal stop is memorable: you really appreciate the food because you’re actually hungry!
49. Bicycling is a Bonding Experience
You may not go on vacation to make friends but riding a bicycle with a group of strangers can become a special bonding experience. You share so much together. Bike Odyssey tours are small – usually 24 people – so if you want to, you can really get to know your fellow riders.
50. Your Guides Aren’t Just Cyclists
Boutique bicycle tours employ guides that are more than bicycling experts who know the cycle routes. Bike Odyssey brings along celebrities with a special connection to the tour route. Author Ben Kane who writes popular novels based on Hannibal’s conflict with Rome rides the Hannibal tour and is one of several historical guides who add that something extra to the adventure.
51. Don’t Worry About Sore Muscles
If you enjoy a good cycle but are worried about how your body will stand up to it, don’t be too concerned. Apart from luxury accommodation, Bike Odyssey has guides that are also massage therapists!
52. Non-Riders Are Welcome
These days, bike tour companies encourage non-riding partners to come along too. Bike Odyssey crafts special itineraries and provides separate guides for the partners of cyclists who don’t want to mount a bicycle.
Q: What type of touring bike do you suggest guests choose for the trip or practice with pre-trip?
A: The bike of choice for most of our cyclists is a road bike with drop handlebars and a big range of gears to help with hills. However, many guests prefer more traditional straight handlebar touring bikes and all types of electric bikes are welcome. When riders sign up to one of our trips we take the time to discuss their objectives for their trip with us and we are very happy to advise regarding training and preparation for our trips.
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A journalist cyclist and wine enthusiast.