The World's 10 Best Bike Tours

Go Sojourn Bike Tours has multiple leaf-peeping routes through Vermont. Courtesy Go Sojourn Bike Tours Photo by Go Sojourn Bike Tours
By Carrie Havranek

Bicycle tours can transform the way you see your destination. Rather than rushing through, bike trips give you the time to notice small details: the way the road bends, how the sun glints off the water, the scent of an olive grove.

Once you reach your destination and join the group, you'll find that many bike tours cover just about everything (lodging, meals, equipment). No matter your skill level, the tour provider will trail you with a vehicle for "support."

In other words, if you want to stop and linger, you can leave the group for a bit and not have to worry about the logistics, like "Who's got my bike?" or "Where's the awesome cheese I bought?"

Photo Caption: Go Sojourn Bike Tours has multiple leaf-peeping routes through Vermont. Courtesy Go Sojourn Bike Tours
Connemara in County Galway, Ireland. Courtesy Irish Cycling Safaris Photo by Irish Cycling Safaris
Trip: Connemara, Mayo and Galway Safari
Provider: Cycling Safaris (tel. 353/1 2600749)
Highlights: On this eight-day tour round-trip from Galway, the routes in this rugged area of west Ireland are away from the main tourist areas, so you can really enjoy the landscape at your own pace.
What's Included: Seven nights accommodation with full Irish breakfast; one evening meal; a bike rental; a guide in a support van; luggage transfers; all route details and maps; and a ferry ticket to the Aran Islands.
When: May-Sep
Cost: €790-€830 per person based on double occupancy, €235 for single occupancy 
Pace/Terrain: Between 22-38 miles per day over rolling terrain

Photo Caption: Connemara in County Galway, Ireland. Courtesy Irish Cycling Safaris
The Tasmania East Coast Classic Cycle Tour offers breathtaking coastal views and a ride Photo by Island Cycle Tours
Trip: Tasmania East Coast Tour 
Provider: Green Island Tours (tel. (+61)03/6376 3080)
Highlights: Departing from St. Helens, you'll wind through coastal roads towards Bichero, where just before arrive you can feed--and maybe touch--Tasmanian devils. Other destinations and distractions include winneries, coastal fishing towns, white sandy beaches, and the rugged granite mountains of Freycinet National Park.
What's Included: Six nights' accommodation; some breakfasts; picnic style lunch, snacks, and drinks; park fees; tour leader; luggage and bicycle transfers; and a support minibus and purpose-built trailer.
Cost: From A$1,090 per person; add A$100 for bike rental.
When: Nov.
Pace/Terrain: An average of 23-38 miles per day over rolling terrain for moderate to advanced cyclists.

Photo Caption: The East Coast Tour offers breathtaking coastal views. Courtesy Green Island Tours
Go Sojourn Bike Tours has multiple routes that are perfect for viewing Vermont's fall foliage. Photo by Go Sojourn Bike Tours
Trip: Vermont Lake Champlain
Provider: Sojourn Bike Tours (tel. 800/730-4771)
Highlights: Located between the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Champlain is one of the largest lakes in the U.S. (after the Great Lakes). These bike tours include various routes that are ablaze in fall colors.
What's Included: Transfers from/to Burlington; five nights' lodging (historic inns and a lakeside resort); all meals except three lunches and one dinner; van support; a cruise across Lake Champlain; bike rental; and a tour of a local chocolatier to sample its gourmet chocolate. 
Cost: From $1,995 per person
When: June 26 - Jul. 1, Jul. 24 - Jul. 29, Aug. 14 - Aug. 19, Sep. 18 - Sep. 23, Sep. 25 - Sep. 30, Oct. 02 - Oct. 07, Oct. 9 - Oct. 14
Pace/Terrain: An average of 22-55 miles per day over rolling terrain for intermediate cyclists. However, a variety of routes are offered for recreational and more advanced cyclists.

Photo Caption: Go Sojourn Bike Tours offers multiple routes that are perfect for viewing Vermont's fall foliage. Courtesy Go Sojourn Bike Tours
You may encounter some natural delays while on the Backroads bike tour from Barcelona to the Pyrénées and the Costa Brava. Courtesy Jane Royer Photo by Jane Royer
Trip: Pyrénées to Costa Brava
Provider: Backroads (tel. 800/462-2848)
Highlights: Dine on freshly caught seafood, experience Catalan cuisine, and enjoy the Mediterranean views while cycling from Barcelona, through the foothills of the Pyrénées, and to Salvador Dali's castle.
What's Included: Five nights accommodation; bike rentals; all breakfasts, four lunches, and four dinners; snacks and beverages in between meals; special events including wine tastings; a support van; and baggage transfers and handling.
When: May-Oct.
Cost: $4,298-$4,698 per person (depending on departure date) based on double occupancy
Pace/Terrain: Backroads designs tours for all abilities, so you can bike 18-55 miles per day, depending on what route you choose.

Photo Caption: You may encounter some natural delays while on the Backroads bike tour from Barcelona to the Pyrénées and the Costa Brava. Courtesy Jane Royer
On the Cross Country USA Bike Tour with Trek Travel, you'll look forward to resting at pit stops, such as this Colorado restaurant. Courtesy Zack Jones Photo by Kyle Wagner/The Denver Post
Trip: Cross Country USA: Portland to Portland 
Provider: Trek Travel (tel. 866/464-8735)
Highlights: How about 3,750 miles of highlights over 45 days? The trip, which is brought to you by the same company that makes the well-regarded Trek bicycles, spans the U.S. from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Beaches, shopping, and historical site visits are also part of the trip.
What's Included: 44 nights' accommodation; daily breakfast, 39 lunches, and 36 dinners; all snacks and drinks for each day; six social hours; daily route support; Trek bicycle rentals, helmets, and other gear; luggage transfers; all transportaion; maps; all gratuities for special events, local guides, transfers, hotels and restaurants.
When: Aug.
Cost: $17,299 per person based on double occupancy 
Pace/Terrain: Varied, but intense (20-134 miles per day; Trek Travel will interview you prior to booking to ensure you're prepared for such a strenuous journey).

Photo Caption: On the Cross Country USA Bike Tour with Trek Travel, you'll look forward to resting at pit stops, such as this Colorado restaurant. Courtesy Zack Jones
The South Dakota Black Hills Biking Adventure with Austin-Lehman Adventures. Courtesy Dennis Coello Photo by Dennis Coello
Trip: South Dakota Black Hills Biking Adventure
Provider: Austin Adventures (tel. 800/575-1540)
Highlights: The backdrop includes pine forests, the Old West town of Deadwood, and abandoned railroads along Mickelson Trail. Ride through the Black Hills, hike the base of Mount Rushmore, and visit the monument dedicated to Crazy Horse.
What's Included: Five nights accommodation; all meals except one dinner; bikes, helmets and other equipment rentals; tour support; and luggage transfers.
When: June, Aug., Sep.
Cost: $2,498 per person based on double occupancy
Pace/Terrain: About 15-32 per day miles per day over rolling terrain.

Photo Caption: The South Dakota Black Hills Biking Adventure with Austin-Lehman Adventures. Courtesy Dennis Coello
Amazing scenery is included on Alaska Bike tours. Courtesy Alaska Bike Photo by Alaska Bike
Trip: Alaskan Adventure
Provider: Alaska Bike (tel. 866/683-2453)
Highlights: Mount McKinley towers above you at 20,000-plus feet, the largest mountain in North America. You'll also ride along Denali Highway, while hiking, canoeing, and sea kayaking provide alternate views of Alaska's glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. Get close to the source with a glacier cruise across Prince William Sound.
What's Included: Anchorage-hotel transfers; seven nights' lodging in cabins, inns, and hotels with all meals, snacks and beverages (except alcoholic ones); a Cannondale bicycle rental; support van; a glacier cruise; and the use of canoes and kayaks.
When: Jun-Aug
Cost: $3,395 per person
Pace/Terrain: About of 15-39 miles per day at an easy to moderate pace.

Photo Caption: Amazing scenery is included on the Alaskan Adventure bike tour. Courtesy Alaska Bike
Get to know Riga and its striking architecture on Djoser USA's Baltics Bike Tour. Photo by Avid Holt/Wikimedia
Trip: Baltics States Tour
Provider:
Djoser USA (tel. 877/356-7376)
Highlights: Cycle through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia with this tour of the Baltic States. Stops and sights include churches and monestaries, castles, national parks and forests, beaches and snd dunes, medieval towns, and the summer palace of Peter the Great. It'll be an international crowd, so the tour is conducted in both Dutch and English.
What's Included: Eight nights in comfortable hotels with private showers; a bike rental, breakfast daily; city-to-city transport, and a tour leader who speaks Dutch and English.
When: Aug, May 
Cost: From $1,335 
Pace/Terrain: Between 12-34 miles per day on good terrain, mostly easy biking

Photo Caption: Get to know Riga and its striking architecture on Djoser USA's Baltics Bike Tour.
The Cycling Kerala's Backroads trip includes an overnight stay on a houseboat. Photo by Spice Roads Cycling
Trip: Cycling Kerala's Backroads
Provider: Spice Roads (tel. (+66)0/2381 2490)
Highlights: This Kerala vacation puts you among tropical greenery, with routes along tea and spice plantations and stops at four wildlife reserves. One of your nights is on a houseboat.
What's Included: Thirteen nights' lodging (eco-lodges and historic hotels); all meals, snacks, water, and cold towels along the way; van support; local guides; and a cycling leader.
When: Aug., Nov., Dec.
Cost: $2,650-$3,150; add $280 for bike rental
Pace/Terrain: Between 9-49 mi miles per day for 10 days, geared toward intermediate riders

Photo Caption: The Cycling Kerala's Backroads trip includes an overnight stay on a houseboat. Courtesy Spice Roads Cycling
The Jewels of Southern Italy Tour. Courtesy Cyclomundo  Photo by Cyclomundo
Trip: Jewels of Southern Italy: Matera to Lecce
Provider: Cyclomundo (tel. 646/233-1354 for US and Canada)
Highlights: Travel through virtually traffic-free roads of Italy's southeastern peninsula of Apulia, Puglia in Italian, to experience a land of caves, white villages, and olive groves. Other destinations and features include two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Roman ruins, and Adriatic beaches.
What's Included: Seven nights accomodation with daily breakfast; luggage transfers; marked maps and/cue sheets and route notes; pre-loaded GPS unit.
When: Any day, year-round
Cost: From €725 per person sharing a double room; add €115 for bike rental
Pace/Terrain: Between 22-43 miles per day for eight days on easy terrain 

Photo Caption: The Jewels of Southern Italy Tour. Courtesy Cyclomundo  
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