How exciting! You’ve finally decided this is the year for your first cycling tour in Europe, and you’re ready to hire a tour company to guide you there. So… now what? There are endless tour companies offering hundreds of destinations and itineraries. How do you choose the right company for your European dream vacation?
This “How To Choose a Cycling Tour” series will explore some of these options. Above all it will help you to ask the right questions during your research, to help you narrow your choices, to find the company that best fits your individual needs.
Questions and topics covered in the series will include
- Understanding the type of tour you desire
- Itinerary length and difficulty
- Tour group sizes and skill level
- Tour guides
- What is included in the trip price, an overview of extra fees and costs
- Getting to and from the tour start and finish location
- Off-the-bike cultural activities
- Self-guided and private custom tour options
Do you want to cruise through the lavender fields of Provence, vineyards of Tuscany, or challenge yourself in the high mountain passes of the French Alps or Italian Dolomites?
Tour company websites will usually give you good hints about the type of cyclists they cater to, and what they focus on as a company if you pay close attention.
For example, you get the flavor of Ride Strong Bike Tours immediately from their home page. They list tough tours in the high mountains of France and Italy, along with great images of riders celebrating the summits. You can see that these are very fit cyclists taking on the famous mountain passes of Europe.
DuVine Cycling takes a little bit more digging to find their focus. They show both pros and folks riding hybrid bikes on their home page, with many images of wonderful scenery. Looking at various itineraries, you find a wide range from very leisurely to more difficult, but always placing the highest premium on exceptional regional food, wine, and luxury hotels.
After understanding the type of cycling you enjoy and the type vacation you desire, the tour company websites become a great research tool instead of just being overwhelming. Learn what to look for. Some sites will make their company focus easily identifiable, you might have to dig deeper to find some others.
Stay tuned for the second article in the “How To” series, Itinerary Length and Difficulty, coming next month.