Top 10 most luxurious cycling holidays
For an offbeat holiday this season, sign up for an organised cycling tour and experience a destination in an entirely new and healthier way. We round up 10 of the best cycling packages in the world.
If lying on a sun lounger by the sea or spending hours touring a city by foot isn’t what you’re hankering for this holiday, why not visit somewhere on two wheels? Cycling holidays are not only a great way to see a place up close in the fresh air, but they’re also a relaxed and fun option to help stave off unwanted pounds typically packed on while travelling. We’ve rounded up 10 of the most luxurious cycling holidays around the world, all of which combine some serious pedal power with the joy of knowing there will be good food and a comfortable bed at the end of each day. From an eight-day exploration of the rugged landscapes of New Zealand, to taking in the sea breeze and trying the local New England cuisine in a four-day tour of Cape Cod, there’s plenty to see from the saddle.
1. New Zealand
In a country where no person is more than 128 kilometres from the sea and where there are 19 animals for every human inhabitant, New Zealand’s famous landscapes present an enticing package for those feeling fit enough. Averaging between 43km and 83km per day, Cycling Tours’ NZ Coast to Coast tour offers travellers the opportunity to experience the country from ground level. The eight day, eight night itinerary spans the east and west coast of the South Island and begins in Christchurch. From there, the tour stops at Kaikoura, Lyford Village, Hanmer Springs, Maruia Springs, Murchison, Westport, Punakaiki and Greymouth. Guests will venture into the heart of the Southern Alps, explore the parklands of the Lewis Pass and relax in geothermal pools. The package, rated as Moderate+ and based on a twin-share, includes five-star luxury accommodation, breakfasts, four dinners, two packed lunches and the tour itinerary. It also includes an all-important map and GPS navigation, as well as a bike and helmet, daily luggage transfers, on-call vehicle support and train tickets. Airfare, travel insurance, personal expenses, pre-tour accommodation at Christchurch and taxi from pre-tour accommodation to the train station on day one are not included.
Prices start from $2,795AUD (Dh8,055) per person, including taxes (cyclingtours.com.au)
2. Costa Verde, Spain
A far cry from the subtropical Mediterranean climate of southern Spain, Costa Verde – literally translated as Green Coast – in the Asturias region of northern Spain, offers travellers more temperate weather and a drastically different landscape. With (unsurprisingly) green-hued views and deserted beaches backed by limestone cliffs, cycling in this part of the country is a very different Spanish experience compared to the more visited parts of Spain. With Headwater’s new nine-night Cycle Spain’s Costa Verde package, guests will receive a first-hand experience of this rugged landscape, while not giving up the creature comforts of home. Starting in Villanueva, guests will spend nine days cycling along the coast, stopping at Pechon, Llanes, Nueva Llanes, Colunga, Agüero and finishing in Gijón. During the ride, they will explore a number of sites – including seaside towns, traditional fishing ports, farming hamlets and the historical architecture of Indiano villages. Guests will stay in a variety of hotels ranging from two to four stars. Tours depart daily from May 1 to September 26 and include buffet breakfast, three evening meals, bikes, route notes and maps, and luggage transfers between hotels. International flights and bike helmets are not included.
Prices start from £919 (Dh5,197) per person, including taxes (headwater.com)
3. Croatia and Dalmatian Coast
While perhaps most immediately associated with the popular spotted dog breed, the Dalmatian region of Croatia should be known for its beautiful sunsets. Alfred Hitchcock – a director with an eye for a good shot – was even once quoted saying that “the sunset of Zadar is the world’s most beautiful and incomparably better than in Key West, Florida”. For those looking to follow Hitchcock’s lead, Trek Travel is offering a six-day, five-night Croatia & Dalmatian Coast travel package. Kicking off on May 10, the itinerary starts in Dubrovnik, Croatia’s capital, and visits a number of locations including Ston, Korcula Island, Vela Luka, Jelsa and Hvar Town. During the tour, guests will explore various historical towns and cities, vineyards and olive groves, and a number of scenic coastal routes. This mostly hilly terrain tour covers an average of 55km per day. The package includes accommodation, daily breakfast, three lunches, three social hours, three dinners, all snacks and drinks, some gratuities, private tours, entrance fees, luggage transfers, transportation throughout the trip, guides, daily route support, GPS cycling computer, bike, helmets and other gear. International airfare, lodging before and after the trip, personal purchases and gratuities for guides are not included.
Prices start from $4,399 (Dh16,157) per person, with a $750 (Dh 2,754) single person supplement, including taxes (trektravel.com)
4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Site of the Kennedy Compound, once home to a number of famous individuals such as Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut and former American President Grover Cleveland, Cape Cod is the quintessential upmarket New England holiday destination. With DuVine’s Cape Cod Bike Tour, guests will experience the cranberry bogs, marshlands, historic lighthouses and rolling sand dunes found in one of the most iconic areas of north-eastern America. Starting in Boston, this four-day, three-night itinerary will stop at Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Chatham and Edgartown. When not cycling, guests will explore the artist community of Wellfleet, sample some of Massachusetts’ renowned oysters and clam chowder and learn the history of the local whaling industry. DuVine has rated this tour as Weekend Rider, which means guests should be comfortable on a bike and happy to ride anywhere between 32 to 64km during the day. The package includes accommodation, bike hire, breakfasts, lunches, drinks and snacks, local guides, transportation, cooking classes, entrance fees to historic sites, museums and national parks, pick-up and drop-off before and after the tour, gratuities for baggage, porters and hotel services, pre-and post-travel planning assistance and DuVine gear. International airfare is not included.
Prices start from $3,295 (Dh12,102), per person, with a $650 (Dh2,387) single supplement, including taxes (duvine.com)
According to The Copenhagenize Index of 2013, Montreal was the 11th most bicycle-friendly city in the world. With its relatively flat terrain and generally patient motorists, the city makes for a somewhat easy riding experience. For those looking to experience exactly why Montreal, and the rest of Quebec, has such a good cycling reputation, Butterfield & Robinson are offering a six- day Montreal to Quebec City private bike tour. Ideal for those who have a moderate level of fitness and don’t mind sweating, the itinerary starts in Montreal and stops at Bromont, Compton, and Petit Champlain. When not in the saddle, guests will also spend time wandering through historical villages, exploring rural antique shops and taking in the natural scenery. The tour will cover around 24 to 64km per day, though there are options for shorter and longer rides depending on individual preferences. Hillier sections between the cities also offer further challenges for those feeling enthusiastic. The package includes all accommodation, van support, a local guide for five days, tours of Montreal and Quebec City, all breakfasts, two picnic lunches and two dinners, the use of a bicycle and helmet, detailed maps and route suggestions and private tours and tastings. International flights are not included.
Prices start from $5,695 (Dh20,917) per person, including taxes (butterfield.com)
Despite appearing to consist mainly of barren plains and uninhabitable sand dunes, Namibia’s landscape is thoroughly deceptive when it comes to wildlife. At present, there are approximately 4,000 species of plants, 650 species of birds and 80 large mammal species inhabiting this South African country. During Bike Tours’ 13-night Namibia Classic package, guests can see some of these species up close, in an alternative to the standard safari. The next departure leaves on April 4 from Windhoek; this moderately challenging itinerary stops at Namibgrens Guest Farm, Sesriem, Swakopmund, Brandberg and Twyfelfontein. During the tour, guests will explore a number of natural sights including Gaub and Kuiseb Canyons, Brandberg Massif (Namibia’s highest mountain) and the fauna of Gai-ais Spring. The tour, averaging around 40 to 60km per day, includes all meals, all transportation and transfers in a tour vehicle, bike trailer for bike transport, accommodation, all entrance fees and permits to parks, a tour guide/bike guide, and camp assistant/driver. International flights are not included and bikes can be rented for 4,200ZAR (Dh1,326).
Prices start from 41,250ZAR (Dh13,031), per person, based on double occupancy, including taxes. A single person supplement can be purchased for 3,000ZAR (Dh947) extra (biketours.com)
Vietnam offers a variety of landscapes, from rice paddies to mountains. With World Expeditions’ Vietnam by Bike package, guests will travel under the Leave No Trace regulations. The international organisation sets the standard for ethical outdoor recreation; practices include disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, minimising campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and travelling and camping on durable surfaces. Starting in Hanoi, this 15-day itinerary stops at Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Quang Ngai, Kon Tum, and Buon Ma Thuot. Guests will explore a number of historical and natural sites, including the Old Quarter in Hanoi, the paddies, rivers and karst outcrops of the Red River Delta region of Ninh Binh, ancient architecture in Hoi An, and wartime history at the Cu Chi tunnels. The tour, covering anywhere from 30 to 90km per day and rated moderate, includes 14 breakfasts, 10 lunches and eight dinners, accommodation on a twin-share basis, an English-speaking guide, airport transfers, all transportation throughout the trip, internal flight from Nha Trang/Ho Chi Minh City, 21-gear bike hire, a support vehicle and bike mechanic and entry fees. International flights, visa fees, travel insurance (compulsory), bike helmet (compulsory), and tips and gratuities are not included.
Prices start from £1,450 (Dh8,200) per person, including taxes. Single-person supplement available for £240 (Dh1,357), including taxes (worldexpeditions.com)
The famous ancient structures of Petra are suffering from constant erosion – a result of the salt being blown in from the Dead Sea and sticking to the structures. While nobody should need an excuse to visit this historical site, it is definitely somewhere that should be visited before it is too late. With Exodus’s Petra & Wadi Rum by Bike package, guests can tour Petra by bicycle, along with several other well-known landmarks and areas. This nine-day tour starts in Amman and visits Jerash, Madaba, Petra and Wadi Rum. Guests will explore the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, the King’s Highway and the Red Sea coast. Exodus has labelled the tour as moderate in activity level, riding entirely on tarmac at a low altitude, with guests riding 20 to 50km per day. The package, based on a twin-sharing basis, includes all breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner, accommodation in an exclusive private camp and hotels, all transport, a guide and arrival/departure transfers. Airfare, travel insurance, local bike hire (£70 [Dh395] paid upon booking), visas and vaccinations not included.
Prices start from £839 (Dh4,744) per person, including taxes (exodus.co.uk)
Much like Dubai, Borneo has a fair few world records under its belt. The world’s third-largest island is home to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia and a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s also home to the world’s largest flower – Rafflesia arnoldii – which has the added distinction of emitting an odour many liken to rotting flesh. Those looking to experience these record-breaking sights, while avoiding the stinky flower, can now book into the Untamed Borneo package, from SpiceRoads Cycle Tours. Rated four out of five in difficulty level, guests should be able to handle long cycling days, tough terrain, have some off-road riding skills and be confident in their physical condition and bike handling skills. This 11-day tour spends eight full days of cycling (plus one half day) and will visit Kota Kinabalu (where the tour commences), Lahad Datu, Tabin, Bilit, Ranau and Kota Belud. Guests will explore a number of natural and historical sites, including the Gomantong Caves, the orangutans of the Sepilok rehabilitation centre, tea plantations, views of Mount Kinabalu and a POW jungle prison camp. The tour includes accommodation in luxurious lodges and homestays, most meals, water and soft drinks, an English-speaking guide, basic spares and tools for repairs and air-conditioned vehicles. International airfare, visas, tips, bike (rentals available for $225 [Dh826]) and helmets are not included.
Prices start from $2,650 (Dh9,733) per person, including taxes (spiceroads.com)
While Istanbul and Cappadocia may be more popular with the tourists who visit Turkey, the country’s lengthy coastline is also well worth exploring. Great Explorations’ 11-day cycling package to Turkey offers the opportunity to explore part of the coast by land and sea, combining sections of cycling and yachting. Departing April 16 and May 14, the itinerary starts in the resort town of Bodrum and visits a number of destinations including Datca Peninsula, Daylan, Kas, Olympos and Antalya. Guests will visit coastal vistas and historical monuments from the Ottoman Empire and also sample the local cuisine. On the yacht, the group will cruise the Saint Nicholas Island, pass Patara Beach (rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) and explore the port of Kalkan. The cycling part of the tour has been rated moderate to intermediate, riding mainly on paved roads with moderate to steep hills. Guests will travel between 32 to 64km per day, cycling five full days and one half day, and will have access to a shuttle if it should all become too much. This package includes accommodation, all meals (except two lunches and one dinner), entrance fees for selected historical sites and museums, detailed map and route instructions, baggage transportation, and arrival/departure transportation. Airfare, bike hire ($220 [Dh808]) and single supplement ($800 [Dh2,938]) are not included.
Prices start from $3,250 (Dh11,937) per person, including taxes (great-explorations.com)
Updated: March 18, 2015 04:00 AM