Biking Through Europe

written by | Posted on February 6th, 2013

Island in Bled with DuVine’s Slovenia Bike Tour.

For active travelers, cycling tours provide a different way to explore Europe while taking in the surrounding scenery up-close.

Switzerland
Travelers can take part in the Tour de Suisse events while cycling through Switzerland with Pure Adventures’ Tour de Swiss, departing June 9. They’ll have VIP access to the event with Pure Adventures’ partnership with Bike Switzerland, the only VIP operator for the Tour de Suisse for 2013.

The journey starts in Interlaken heading to Meringen to the VIP tent to watch the riders cross the finish line. En-route, travelers will stay at Seehotel Bonigen, just outside of Interlaken; Hotel des Alpes in Lucerne; and Hotel Jakob in Rapperswil. With VIP access, guests may bump into local celebrities like Beat Zberg, the Swiss National Champion and have access to the team buses to meet former Swiss pros.

The cost is $3,480 pp dbl and includes 6-night of accommodations, daily breakfast and lunch, five dinners, cell phones, GPS, maps, professional Swiss guides, luggage transfers, van support, train transfers and bicycle transfers (during TdS program), a VIP pass, and a new BMC racing bike for rent.

Another tour offered is an 8-day self-guided tour from Geneva to Interlaken, which costs $1,948 pp. The Cycling Switzerland tour is offered May through September, and travelers will visit Lausanne, Montreux and wine country, Bulle, Gruyeres, and Gstaad. For more information, call (800) 960-2221 or visit pure-adventures.com.

Ireland
With “The Gathering” taking place in Ireland, ExperiencePlus! has created two tours, so travelers can take part in the festivities before or after the bicycle tours, such as the International Quilt Festival of Ireland (June 7-9), the Ennis Street Festival 2013 (July 5-7) and National Heritage Week (Aug. 17-25).

The 11-day Bicycling Ireland’s West Coast Plus! County Mayo departs June 16, July 14 and Aug. 12 at $4,595 pp dbl. On the tour, travelers will ride through villages and along the coast with stops in Connemara and the Aran Islands. Included in the rate is the use of a late-model, high-performance aluminum road or hybrid bike with compact gearing; 10-night accommodations; seven dinners with wine or beer; 10 breakfasts; island ferries and a guided walk in Dun Aenghus on the Aran Islands.

“Our tour sticks purposely to the west, largely to Connemara and the Aran Islands, the ‘gaeltacht’ so-called, as it defines one of four geographic areas where the Irish language is still spoken,” says Rick Price, founder of the company. “Here we hear genuine Irish music, visit a traditional Irish drum maker, and see the ponies and peat cutters of the west. Our evenings are in cozy lodgings with traditional Irish fare supplemented by exquisite, modern European cuisine.”

Lodging includes stays at Clew Bay Hotel in Westport; Lisloughrey Lodge in Cong; Park House Hotel in Galway; Leenane Hotel in Leenane; Templegate Hotel in Ennis; Cullinans in Doolin; Kilmurvey House in Inishmore; and Roundstone House Hotel in Connemara.

Travelers can also choose an 8-day option for $3,495 pp dbl. For more information, call (800) 685-4565 or visit experienceplus.com.

Slovenia
DuVine has created a Slovenia bike tour, new this year, showcasing the landscape, food and wine of the country. “We’re always looking for something that is the next interesting destination, and at the same time wanting to explore other regions, so it was added because it was the compete picture,” says Justin Wuycheck, a senior guide and pro series manager at DuVine. “This is a tour where you can experience the countryside riding a bike and where you can get in and experience a culture that’s not France, or Italy, and has been hidden for decades.”

The food and wine are what Wuycheck says are the highlights of the trip, as the group visits the wine country of Goriska Brda to sample wines and enjoy a meal prepared by the chefs at Vila Bled (also a hotel where travelers will be staying). “When people think Central Europe or Eastern Europe, they just think potatoes and a salty goulash, and where we’re eating in Slovenia, they can supply most of their own food for themselves, so you have a country where eating locally is just practiced,” he adds.

The itinerary includes a day of rafting on the Soca River followed by a hike in the mountains up to the cheese makers of Drezniske Ravne. “We get people off the bike in the middle of it just to stretch their legs and explore the nature of Slovenia,” Wuycheck says.

While the tour does require some level of fitness and experience riding a bike, it’s also designed for a traveler who enjoys bike riding and wants to see the passing scenery.

“The cycling is incredibly varied so we go from being able to do mountain passes to going down gently rolling hills, all within a short space,” Wuycheck says. “I think the scenery is just spectacular—it’s called the Slovenia Tuscany for good reason.”

Rates start at $4,495 pp and include accommodations; a carbon road bike or aluminum hybrid bicycle; all breakfasts, lunches, and four gourmet dinners, as well as cocktails and nutritious snacks; local wines with every meal; expert guides; van support; entrance fees to sites; transfers; gratuities; pre- and post-travel planning; and a DuVine cycling jersey, T-shirt, luggage tag and water bottle.

For more information, call (888) 396-5383 or visit duvine.com.