Spring is an ideal time of year for a cycling holiday, especially in Europe. Travellers can expect warmer but comfortable temperatures, longer, lighter days and quieter bike paths, accompanied by spectacular sights and the delicious perfume of flower blossoms.
Freedom Treks recommends booking early – especially for an Easter escape – to guarantee the best availability for accommodation, plus flight prices tend to be cheaper too.
Here are five tours to put a spring in your step (or wheels!) …
NEW: Trieste to Pula – Italy, Slovenia, Croatia
Travel through three countries along the Istrian Peninsula, past lush vineyards, sandy beaches and historic towns. Starting in Muggia, a coastal settlement just outside Trieste, ride south across the Slovenian border, alongside the impressive coastline and through medieval settlements, before reaching Croatia. Pause at the shimmering salt flats in Sečovlje en route, sample local oysters and mussels in Poreč (plus visit its UNESCO-listed Euphrasian Basilica) and make the most of Pula on Istria’s southwest tip. The magnificent Pula Arena is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and with all three Roman architectural orders entirely preserved.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The seven-night Trieste to Pula tour costs from £650 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation, luggage transportation, maps and route information and welcome meeting. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. Save £50 pp if booked in January 2017.
Family Lake Garda – Italy
Treat the family to a multi-activity trip next to sparkling Lake Garda this Easter. Spend the week in Peschiera del Garda, which features original Venetian architecture, sweeping beaches, a wide range of restaurants and many gelaterie selling fresh, indulgent ice cream. As well as the short cycling excursions, which are all planned around bike paths and quiet roads, parents and children can also visit the zoo, check out one of Europe’s top theme parks, marvel at the sea creatures in the aquarium, cool off in the aqua park, help out on a farm and navigate their way around a maze. Alternatively, enjoy relaxing at the family-friendly hotel.
The six-night Family Lake Garda trip costs from £318 pp (based on two adults and two children aged 3-7 years) and includes B&B accommodation, luggage transportation, maps and route information and a ferry from Peschiera to Garda. Return flights, transfers, excursions, bike and helmet hire extra. Save £50 pp if booked in January 2017.
Tulip Tour – Holland
Boat and bike through Holland’s main bulb growing region on the Tulip Tour, marvelling at the multi-coloured tulips, pink hyacinths and yellow daffodils. Beginning and ending in Amsterdam, sail to the historic village of Spaarndam, made famous by the 1865 American novel, ‘Hans Brinker’, before pedalling to the famous flower garden of Keukenhof and continuing on to Leiden. Holland’s oldest town, Leiden is the birthplace of Rembrandt, considered to be one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art. Do not leave without sampling the delicious cheese at Kudelstaart and visiting Aalsmeer, the largest flower auction in the world. Here, flowers from as far as Ecuador and Ethiopia are traded and more than 20 million blooms are sold each day.
The three-night Tulip Tour costs from £427pp (two sharing) and includes full board accommodation on a barge, English-speaking guide, entrance to Keukenhof flower park, visit to the Aalsmeer flower auction, excursion to the Kudelstaart, several city walks and bike hire. Return flights, transfers and helmet hire extra.
Puglia – Italy
The mild temperatures in April and May make this a perfect time to explore Puglia by bike. The region is rich in culture, with Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Bourbon and most importantly Greek values having merged together. Cycle through the undulating countryside, past ancient olive trees before reaching the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, where you can admire the glistening grottos, sparkling waters, sandy beaches and limestone cliffs. Spend a night in Alberobello, which dates back to the 16th century, and is famous for its cluster of UNESCO listed ‘trulli’ huts, and admire the glorious Baroque buildings and churches in Lecce, the capital of Salento.
Level: Easy to Moderate
The seven-night Puglia tour costs from £525 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation in three and four star hotels and a ‘trullo’ hotel in Alberobello, luggage transportation, maps and route information, welcome meeting and the train from Ostuni to Lecce. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. Save £50 pp if booked in January 2017.
Camino de Santiago – Spain
Join modern-day pilgrims on the last 167 miles of the Camino de Santiago, riding from the Gothic architecture of Astorga to the golden spires of Santiago de la Compostela, where tradition has it the remains of St James the Great – one of the twelve apostles – are buried. Throughout the route, cyclists can enjoy a mixture of easy paths to slightly harder trails. Highlights include reaching the iron cross of Monte de la Cruz that sits 1,510 metres above sea level, tasting the fine gastronomy in Galicia, trying the famous pulpo (octopus) in Melide, and exploring the characterful towns and villages, before reaching the spectacular city of Santiago de Compostela. Those wanting to explore the region further can head to Finisterre, the most westerly point of the Spanish mainland, or extend their stay in Santiago.
The seven-night Camino de Santiago tour costs from £638 pp (two sharing) and includes B&B accommodation in two or three star hotels (two with swimming pools) and family run properties, luggage transportation, maps and route information. Return flights, transfers, bike and helmet hire extra. Save £50 pp if booked in January 2017.