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Bikes on bridge in Amsterdam
Jeff Whyte | Adobe Stock

The 9 Best European Cycle Tours for Beginners

SmarterTravel

Cycle touring isn’t just for Lycra-clad enthusiasts. Europe alone offers hundreds of accessible cycle tours aimed at the casual rider, from Mediterranean coastal roads to river-hugging bike paths.

Exploring Europe on two wheels is the best way to avoid crowds while experiencing its iconic landscapes from a new perspective. And by booking through a trusted tour company, beginners avoid the common pitfalls of planning a cycling trip abroad. Typical benefits start with bikes and equipment included, as well as pre-planned routes, luggage transfers, pre-booked hotels, and professional guides to help with all aspects of the trip.

We’ve narrowed down the very best European cycle tours for beginners, with a mix of self-guided and tour-led packages.

Editor’s Note: Although some of Europe is starting to open to (vaccinated) American tourists, other destinations on this list have travel restrictions, and should be saved for future travel. If you do go, be sure to follow all local rules and guidelines both at your destination and upon returning home.

Self-Guided Cycle Tours for Beginners

Danube Bike Path (Classic): BikeTours.com

Sheep in a large field surrounded by an old rock wall
BikeTours.com

The majestic Danube River is a virtual playground for beginner cyclists, with hundreds of miles of flat, paved cycle paths to explore. BikeTours.com’s self-guided Danube Bike Path Tour offers six days of moderate cycling along the German and Austrian stretch of the river, starting in Passau and finishing up in Vienna. Along the way you’ll explore medieval castles, drink brandy at a Trappist monastery, and take several detours through lush Bavarian forest.

Loch Ness and the Highlands: Exodus Travels

Scenic view along the Exodus Travels bike tour
Exodus Travels

Summer and early autumn is the prime cycling season in the Scottish Highlands. Exodus offers a leisurely five-day tour along the stunning Great Glen Way, taking in the entire length of Loch Ness and its lesser-known neighbor, Loch Lochy. With only a few gentle climbs involved, the route offers plenty of spectacular views without the lung-busting ascents of other Highland tours. Keen on Scots history? Make a final day stop at Cawdor Castle (home to Shakespeare’s Macbeth), and the battlefield at Culloden.

Freewheeling in Catalonia: Inntravel

People biking along a country path
Inntravel

From the snow-capped Pyrenes to the glistening Costa Brava, there’s no shortage of scenery in northern Catalonia. Inntravel’s scenic eight-day tour showcases this overlooked corner of Spain, sticking mainly to dedicated cycling paths ideal for beginners. Like many a great European cycle tour, you’ll pedal through hidden valleys dotted with small villages and enjoy excellent local food and wine. There’s also a free day in Girona, a historical city replete with ancient walls and Roman fortresses.

Lakes & Cities of Slovenia: Helia Travel

People on bikes examining a crumbling stone house
TourRadar

Slovenia packs a lot of beauty into its small borders. This five-day cycle tour by Helia Travel takes in two of the country’s must-sees—the iconic Lake Bled (with its fairytale island castle), and the cobblestoned capital, Ljubljana. With the Slovenian Alps never far away, the panoramas are breathtaking. If you’re feeling bold, there’s a 750m climb to the Jelovica high plateau—or catch a lift for 20 euros per rider.

Cycling in the Algarve: Responsible Travel

Bikers taking a break beneath a porch awning
Responsible Travel

A fresh Algarve breeze eases you along this east-to-west tour of southern Portugal. The seven-day route offers flexibility—choose from shorter or longer distances each day, from 30km to 50km. The Algarve is known as the Portuguese Riviera, so expect reliably good weather and outstanding local seafood. Tour organizers Responsible Travel suggest skipping August, as peak summer temperatures can be too hot for comfortable cycling.

Fully-Guided Group Cycle Tours for Beginners

Normandy Cycle Tour: Trek Travel

Trek Travel

World War II buffs will enjoy this six-day cycling trip by Trek Travel, featuring three of Normandy’s most important D-Day sites. The flat, picturesque landscapes of northern France are ideal for beginners and casual cyclists—and you’ll be led by two experienced guides with a support van in tow. Tour highlights include a picnic and apple cider tasting at a traditional cider estate (Normandy is famous for the stuff), and a private guided tour of Omaha Beach by a local historian.

Puglia’s Undiscovered Coast: VBT

VBT Bicycling Vacations

The “heel” of Italy’s boot, Puglia offers exceptional riding for beginner cyclists. VTB’s easygoing seven-day guided tour sticks to quiet country roads, where you’ll pedal past olive groves, beaches, and stone-sculpted seaside towns. Out of the saddle, there’s an afternoon of olive oil tasting, plus several farm-fresh meals prepared by local hosts. Although very little climbing is involved, e-Bikes are available on request.

Champagne Cycle Tour: Duvine

Duvine

Into indulgence? Duvine’s four-day tour of France’s Champagne country serves up calories galore as you pedal from one illustrious Champagne house to the next. The riding is easy (provided you haven’t eaten too much), and Duvine’s tour guides are bilingual in French and English. Starting at the UNESCO-listed town of Reims, you’ll finish up at the village of Hautvillers, where Dom Perignon first discovered how to make champagne. Michelin-starred food options include wild game, waffles, and boeuf carbonnade.

Baltic Sea Ocean Cruise Bike Tour: Backroads

Backroads

This scenic tour of the Baltic Sea squeezes five countries into eight days (Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden). If that sounds daunting, think again—most of the distance is spent sailing on a small luxury ship. Back on the saddle, there’s time to explore two of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, Copenhagen and Helsinki. You’ll also cover dozens of miles along the flat Baltic coastline, plus an afternoon detour to St. Petersburg’s Pushkin Palace, home to Catherine the Great. Backroads offers several bicycle models, including a tandem bike for couples who just can’t be separated. 

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