Authored by Daniel Atlas
Europe is a cyclists dream. There are historic castles and cities to explore, pastoral countryside dotted with small towns, and snow-capped mountains for hiking.
While most people navigate Europe by car or train, the continent is ideally suited for bike touring. You can get just about anywhere in Europe by bike with ease, and it can lead to a much more immersive travel experience.
If you need some motivation to trade out the traditional European trip for a bike tour, we’ve got five reasons why two wheels is the way to go.
5 Reasons to Travel Europe by Bike
#1 Europe has a Rich Cycling Culture
Europe is the perfect destination for cycling in part because of the continent’s own fascination with bikes. Many of the roads that crisscross the countryside and mountain ranges have been built with cyclists in mind.
You don’t have to be uncomfortable riding on the side of a highway in order to get around. Rather, you can follow the path of races like the Tour de France or tackle some of the most spectacular road climbs in the world.
In most European cities, having a bike can also make getting around easier. Amsterdam, for example, is famous for its cycling culture and bike paths.
Many cities feature riverside bike trails that take you through the heart of the old cities. And in doing so, you can bypass infamous European traffic when you’re riding instead of driving!
#2 Get Off the Beaten Path
Having a bike also allows you to get away from the areas that foreign tourists tend to congregate around in Europe. You can escape the city centers and make your way out to countryside towns that are famous for wine, cheese, and picturesque views.
Having a bike also doesn’t necessarily restrict the geographic area you can cover in a short trip. Many of Europe’s trains allow you to carry a bike on with you, and this is a common thing for locals to do.
So, if you want to spend part of your trip in the UK and part in the Swiss Alps, you can catch trains between the two and cycle wherever the road takes you in both destinations.
#3 Slow the Scenery
Europe is stunningly beautiful. But when you’re zipping by at 60 miles per hour in a car or train, it’s hard to take it all in. On a bike, landscapes move by more slowly so you can soak in the experience more fully.
On top of that, it’s much easier to stop whenever you want to take pictures or savor a moment. You’ll especially appreciate this if you ride some of the mountain passes in the Alps.
There aren’t many places to pull out and stop in a car in most places, but you can however stop as frequently as you like when you’re traveling by bike, especially as Europe has so many dedicated bike lanes.
#4 Meet the People
Meeting the locals is a major part of the travel experience. Just like biking slows down the scenery, so too does it slow down your interactions with people on the road.
When you stop during the day for food or to ask directions, having your bike with you is an instant spark for conversation. Locals may also be more willing to tell cyclists about hidden gems than they would be to people passing through town in a car.
Given Europe’s cycling culture, it’s also likely that you’ll meet other bike tourists along your path. It’s easy to strike up new friendships and learn about new places to explore when you have the shared camaraderie of biking.
You’re especially like to run into other cyclists when you stay at small-town inns, which are nearly devoid of traditional tourists but are immensely popular among countryside bikers.
#5 Save Money
Last but not least, biking will save you money. Sure, you’ll still have to pay for plane tickets and lodging. But, you can avoid the cost of a car rental, gas, and train tickets when you’re cycling.
Plus, you’ve got a built-in activity every day – riding to your next destination – so there’s not as much pressure to pay for tours during your trip, and you’ll be seeing the countryside – your way!
Getting a Bike in Europe
The best way to get a bike to Europe is to bring your own. That way, you know your ride will be comfortable over the long miles you’re going to put in the saddle.
Folding bikes are a great option since they stow away in checked luggage for the trans-Atlantic flight and are easy to transport on trains. Just don’t forget to invest in a quality set of panniers before your trip to help carry your clothes and gears.
You can also rent a bike after you get to Europe. This can be a good option for shorter trips since it reduces the hassle of transporting your bike by plane. However, rental bikes can be very uncomfortable if you have a lot of mileage planned.
So, if you’ve been thinking about exploring Europe’s rich landscape and history, there’s no better way to do it than by bike!