10 reasons why you should cycle Europe in 2017
Are you one of those people who have been dreaming about cycling through Europe but still harbour some doubts? Do you keep finding excuses to delay it? Well, here are 10 reasons why you should stop procrastinating and, as they say in Latin, carpe diem – just do it. After all, we know that when we get old and are no longer able to embark on such amazing adventures, we will most often regret the things we never did.
1. Compact Continent, Many Countries.
Europe may be the smallest of all the continents but it still contains 50 countries, second only to Africa. This allows you to cycle through many different countries, each with their own distinct culture and cuisine. And guess what? While cycling through most of Europe, the vast majority of riders don’t even need a visa. The only reason you will have to stop at a border is if you want to take a picture.
2. A Lifetime of Memories
A few weeks cycling through Europe, exploring big cities and remote villages will provide memories that will last a lifetime. You can ask anyone who has ever cycled through the continent’s rolling vineyards, past riverside castles and along some of the world’s most fabled rivers .
3. The Bicycle: Past & Present
The bicycle may have been first imagined by a student of Leonardo Da Vinci but there is no doubt that the progenitor of the bicycle as we know it now, the Dandy Horse, was invented in a town called Mannheim Germany by Baron Karl Dreis. There are also hidden bike museums like the one pictured above in Saulkrasti, Latvia. Europe, of course, is home to most venerable bike races, including sport’s triple crown: the Tour de France, Vuelta España and Giro d’Italia. You can pay homage to those events by visiting the places they run through – and imagining you actually are participating in the race.
4. Great Cycling Infrastructure
Europeans simply love to get on a bike and ride. Europe has some of the best bike infrastructure in the world. Extensive bike paths in cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna. Long distance cycling paths like the Danube bike trail, that snakes through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary or the 1,200 km Tour de Manche along the English channel in France and England. Endless small bike paths that connect villages, towns and cities to each other. Europe is certainly the undisputed world leader in cycling infrastructure.
5. Eurovelo: A Guide For Your Ride
If you really like cycling, especially long distance cycling, then you will love EuroVelo – “the website for people interested in cycling in Europe”. EuroVelo is a network of 15 long distance cycle routes connecting and uniting the whole European continent. The routes can be used by cycle tourists as well as by local people making daily journeys. EuroVelo currently comprises of 15 routes. A veritable cornucopia of cycling options.
6. Delicious Food & Drink
If you like cycling then it is given that you like food. After all, long distance cyclists are possibly the only group of people who can eat and drink as much as they want and not worry about gaining weight or losing their health. And does Europe ever provide you with options – amazing tapas in Spain, French cheeses, Viennese coffees and pastries, Hungarian goulash, Belgian chocolates, Czech Absinthe, Tiramisu in Italy, homemade Slivovitz in Slovakia and on and on and on…did we mention beer in Germany? (further reading – 10 Foods for Long Distance Cycling).
7. Endless Festivals
With great food comes a great party. When you cycle through Europe it might almost appear that there isn’t a city or a town that doesn’t have its own festival. Name your interest and there is likely a festival or two celebrating that very topic. If you like film, there is Cannes Film Festival. Into carnival? There is Venice. If your interest runs to fringe theatre then make sure you don’t miss Edinburgh. If music is your thing, just decide what genre and there is a European festival for it. If you like tomatoes so much that you would swim in them, head for La Tomatina in Spain. Since just about all cyclists love beer, than you should not miss Oktoberfest in Germany.
8. Unrivalled Architecture
Is there another continent on this planet blessed with such an amazing and varied collection of architecture? From Gothic cathedrals in England and Central Europe, to spectacular renaissance villas in Italy, to the Moorish influence in Spain; from Gaudi’s masterpieces in Barcelona to Hundertwasser in Vienna; from old castles in Germany to spectacular modern museums in Bilbao. Masterpieces abound and the best way to see all of them is from the seat of your bicycle.
9. Bike Culture Rules
Cycling in Europe is extremely popular. Bike shops can be found everywhere. Hotels and restaurants market themselves to two-wheeled travellers. Bike paths provide self-serve kiosks to help serve your cycling needs. Cities and the countryside are criss-crossed with well-marked bike paths/lanes. Trains feature baggage and passenger cars geared to the cycle tourist. Local riders are always ready to help with instructions, hints, tips and recommendations. Cycling in Europe is an absolutely wonderful experience.
10. Artistic & Natural Beauty
From devastatingly beautiful coastlines to the snow- capped Alps; from the finest theatre and concerts to modern art museums; from folklore to modernity; from the Roman Coliseum to the canals in Venice; from watching Messi play in Barcelona to visiting the birthplace of Kafka; there is no end to how much you can experience on your cycling holiday in Europe. Whether you have never taken a bike holiday or you are an old veteran cycle tourist, pick a route or an operator, and just do it. You will not be disappointed!
TDA Global Cycling runs three long distances cycling adventures across Europe taking in over 20 different countries. Scheduled for the summer of 2017, the Orient Express Cycling Expedition will take cyclists from Paris to Istanbul by bike over the course of 6 weeks and 3,500 km. Registration is now open