Not everyone wants to spend their cycling holidays head down, chasing QOMs up mountains. For many riders a leisurely jaunt on the bike, exploring the local culture – including its food and wine – is just what the doctor ordered and thankfully there are plenty of holiday companies ready to offer just that.
We’ve teamed up with Freewheel Holidays, who provide relaxed family friendly holidays across Europe, to bring you some of their top locations to get you planning your summer breaks.
All of the Freewheel Holidays include luggage transfers, bike hire with panniers and equipment, route maps, accommodation and a tour host or local representative to guide your rides. There are e-bikes available for some rides - and in one case, you can even hire a scooter!
1: Austrian Lakes and Mountains (Salzkammergut, Austria)
In a nutshell, Steven Rittey, who works with Freewheel Holidays told us: "This is a chance to ride quiet lakeside paths and take in the fresh mountain air as you explore Austria’s legendary lake district."
This tour through Austria’s Salzkammergut resort promises views of the mountains as you travel along lakeside cycle paths. You don’t have to climb up inclines to enjoy mountain views – and most of the ride is flat. The 7 day long route takes in the charm of St. Gilgen, the beauty of Bad Ischl, before going on to Lake Hallstatt in the Traun Valley. You can also ride out to the lakes of Altausee and Grundlsee, or use the time to try something else: swimming, boat trips and cable car rides are all options.
Rides vary from 10 to 26 miles, though the longest can be cut down to 16, and this break is categorised as 'easy' in terms of cycling difficulty. Most riding takes place on cycle routes and side roads - and there is even the option to hire a scooter instead of a bike if you fancy a change...
This 7 night break is available to book from June until September and costs from £819 per person including bike hire, with the option to boost to 9 nights from £959. See more here.
2: Into the Valley of the Alps
Describing this one, Rittey told us: "This is an Austrian alpine adventure that takes in pine forests, picturesque villages and flower-strewn meadows, as well as a visit to Europe’s highest waterfall at Hohe Tauern National Park."
This week of valley cycle paths begins in the village of Krimml, high in the Hohe Tauern National Park, close to Europe’s highest waterfall which plunges 1,250 feet in three remarkable cascades. Riders will follow the Salzach Valley on cycle paths through pine forests, picturesque villages and flower-strewn meadows. On approaching the Kaprun, Australia’s tallest snow capped mountains will begin to come into view – including the imposing and breathtaking 12,400 foot Grossglockner at 12,400. From here, the route continues along the lakeside through stylish Zell am See to Maria Alm.
All of the riding along the route is kept comfortably away from the traffic, and there are activities along the way to break up the cycling. Not that you'll ever get bored with so many sights to drink in.
Rides vary from 16 to 18 miles, and this route is classed as 'easy' so should be accessible to all.
The tour runs from July until September, and 7 nights will set you back in the region of £769 with bike hire – though there is a child discount which knocks off £125 if you’re taking little ones. You can see more here - and there's a short video to give you a taste of what to expect, too.
3: Venice Lands Tour (Veneto, Italy)
Rittey's take on this one made it sound like bliss - he said: "This is an unforgettable trip through the stunning countryside, historic towns and breathtaking cities that make up Italy’s Veneto region; culminating in Venice - the world’s most beautiful city."
Everybody knows Venice for its romantic waterways and ornate architecture, but this tour will show you so much more as riders complete a circuit of the historic towns and cities of the Veneto region.
Most of the ride is flat, and will take the group along two islands in the Venice Lagoon - Lido and Pellestrina – before reaching Chioggia, affectionately known as ‘Little Venice’ with its more modest waterways. Trains with bike transport will connect riders to the main cities, so there’s no need to worry if you fancy a day off.
The tour takes in Venice itself, as well as Vicenza and Padua which offer historic sights including Bassano del Grappa with its lovely wooden bridge - and the famous grappa association makes for a fun evening!
Rides on this route vary from 20 to 40 miles, it's mostly flat save one 1km hill, and uses minor roads and paved cycle tracks.
This tour runs from April to September, and costs from £499 for 7 nights with bike hire. See more here.
4: Dolomites and Lake Garda (South Tyrol Region of Italy)
"On this trip, you'll take in beautiful Lake Garda, the majestic river Adige and visit romantic Verona, all on this leisurely trip though Italy’s stunning South Tyrol region," Rittey of Freewheel Holidays told us.
Though the Dolomites are known for their intense climbs, it is possible to see the region and stay on the flat – which is what this ride promises. Much of the tour stays around the Austrian border, travelling down to the romantic city of Verona.
There is also a chance to take a boat trip across Lake Garda, from Riva del Garda to Peschiera. Back on dry land, most of the riding takes place on the tracks of the Val Venosta, travelling through pretty towns such as Malles and Glorenza. After a descent into the River Adige, the riders will reach the capital of the region: Bolzano, before heading to Verona.
Rides vary from 22 to 43 miles and this holiday is described as 'moderate' in terms of cycling intensity.
This one runs from May to September and 7 nights will cost around £659 per person. Read more here.
5: Swiss Lakes and Mountains (Interlaken, Switzerland)
Describing this trip, Rittey told us: "This is a unique combination of easy cycling and inspiring rail journeys though some of Europe’s most stunning landscapes."
Based in Stwitzerland’s Interlaken, this route promises to provide some of the most breathtaking scenery the world has to offer.
It's also not just about the bike: riders will see the Swiss Alps from the saddle, and by train over some longer transfers that promise to be inspiring rail journeys on steam trains, cog wheel railways and cable cars.
Starting from Interlaken, riders will cycle close to the Lakes Thun and Brienz, where both the expanses of water and the mountains will feed the senses. Climbing can’t be avoided here – which is where the trains and Postbus come in – and you’ll be delivered to an altitude where you can really take in the surroundings, before rolling back down on well-marked cycle routes.
Rides are between 22 and 37 miles long, and ranked as 'moderate'. Most riding takes place on cycle routes, and e-bikes are available for a little extra cost.
This ride operates from April to October and costs start from £589 for 7 nights. See it here.