Top 10 Most Budget-Friendly Cities in the Cycle Cities Network

photoWe all love a good city break – don’t deny it. Escaping the confines of routine for a few days and taking off to another country to explore the sights and sounds of a different language and culture, and to walk, dine, drink (and most importantly, cycle) in a completely different environment to your own.

However, it can be expensive. Airport transfers, taxis, beers, flights, trains and accommodation can all take their toll on a travellers’ budget. Here at Cycle Cities, we right a lot about the nexus where travel, cycling, and cities come together, and we love figuring out new ways to see the sights you want to see and go the places you want to go for less of a strain on the wallet.

Hence, today I’ve been doing a little research and have come up with a little list of some of the most budget-friendly city break destinations, where you can travel to for less. The bonus: when you’re there you can do a bike tour with one of our selection of over 50 of the best bike tour operators from around the world!

So, read on for the Top 10 most budget-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network, perfect for an autumnal or winter city break, and most importantly very easy on the wallet. Unfortunately, London is not included….


This Turkish powerhouse, nestled near where Europe meets Asia, is a city full of wonder, life, and history, particularly when considering its status as the former seat of power of the hugely influential Ottoman Empire. When there, you can visit incredible showcases of the city’s magnificent architecture, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, as well as the Topkapi Palace. Bike tours are available there from Istanbul on Bike.


The Austrian capital is a regular feature on these lists, having been a part of compilations featuring the Cleanest Cities as well as the most Bicycle-Friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network, and here it pops up again due to the value for which it’s main sites can be seen and for the inexpensiveness of public travel and accommodation. For a bike tour with our partner there, Pedal Power, call their office or send them an email for dates and times that tours are departing.


This sunny coastal city in the south of France is a mesmerising beach and city break destination, with a coastline that stretches for miles and a beautiful promenade that has undoubtedly captured the hearts and minds of many over the years. While there, make sure to have a drink at one of the many traditional street-side cafes and bars, and head uphill to the top of the city’s lofty viewpoint, from which you can enjoy panoramic vistas over the city, sea, and beyond. If you don’t feel like walking, Nice Cycle Tours will take you up there and delve with you into the history of this incredible French city.


Germany’s uber cool capital has gained a lot of hipster points in recent years for it’s great bar and club scene, as well as its street art and underground culture. This alone is reason enough to visit the city and immerse yourself in Berlin’s history-steeped urban topography, as well as its impressive horde of classic touristic sites – the Berlin Wall, Reichstag Building, and Brandenburg Gate are to name but a few. Berlin on Bike will get you on the seat of a bicycle to take it all in.


Tallinn’s cultural mix of people from all over Eastern Europe and Russia makes for a very interesting and diverse pot of people, and the city’s urban landscape is just as wonderful; with a medieval Old Town, cobbled streets, and old-fashioned squares where you can enjoy a coffee during the day or a beer in the evening with live entertainment lighting up the streets and the tricolour Estonian flag adorning the buildings, Tallinn is a must for any and every traveller. For a tour of the city’s Old Town and beyond, CityBike Tallinn has you covered.


Prague, bisected by the Danube and home to the famous Charles Bridge, is a budget-friendly city conveniently nestled in Central Europe and therefore a great place to plan a journey around. The city is known for its Jewish Quarter (including the famous Jewish Cemetery, reverent and sufficiently creepy yet more than worthy of having a peek at), the Old Town Square, the Lennon Wall (a must-see, especially for the hearty Instagrammers among us), and for being the birthplace of the legendary surrealist writer Franz Kafka. For all this and more, get in touch with Ave Travel Bike Tours.


Athens has something for everyone – a wealth of history for fans of the Roman Empire (don’t even try to pretend that you’re not), sunshine, a low cost of living, and an array of impressive monuments and architecture typical of Ancient Greece. The Parthenon and Acropolis are not to be missed; get in touch with Athens by Bike for a tour of this Greek cornerstone and to connect with one of the oldest cities in the modern world.


Home of Yellow Zebra Bikes and the capital of Hungary, Budapest is a city to be appreciated by people of all ages and interests. From the downtown ruin bars to the majesty of Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle, Budapest is a city that you can get lost in – and you’ll be so glad you did.


Portugal’s seaside capital has a wonderfully classic, yet urban feel to it’s inner landscape. Trams will get you around (when you’re not cycling) and the hilly topography is a nice departure from the traditionally flat landscape of the conventional city. Visiting the Belem Tower and Sao Jorge Castle are imperatives to get a feel for the way in which the city’s colonial architecture intersect with it’s modern feel and character; doing a bike tour with Lisbon Bike Tour is also a great way to get your feet (and your wheels!) on the ground when there.


Our Eastern European partners have shined here, as Latvia’s capital tops the list of our most budget-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network. Like many of its counterparts in this list, Riga is a city steeped in history, in this case having achieved their independence in 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union. Since then, it has built up a unique and distinct national identity while still retaining a tantalising flavour of the fervour and spirit that saw it through decades of oppression. It’s also really cheap, and there’s loads to do! Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog about our partners and plans in Eastern Europe, and the exciting stuff we have planned there.

What do you think of the selections here? Will they factor into your next budget-conscious trip around Europe or beyond? Were there any glaring omissions, or have your personal travel experiences contradicted (or perhaps confirmed) what I’ve written about the cities listed here?

Send your thoughts and feedback to Kiwi at and let me know what needs to be featured in my next blog!

Until then, on yer bike!


Cycle Cities

Blogger, traveller, writer, pacifist

The Rainiest Cities in the Cycle Cities Network

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. While rain is one of nature’s necessities, bringing water, refreshment, and rejuvenation to land and people, it’s also something that can cause huge disruption in cities. Heavy rain can wreak havoc on the world of the cyclist, causing wet clothes before work for those that commute and don’t dress properly. And, let’s face it, a grim fact is that some cities are less fortunate than others when it comes to the amount of rainfall they receive in a given year. Another fact of life is that people in these cities generally love to have a light-hearted laugh and complain about this whenever they can!

This blog came from such musings, when, at our most recent Symposium, Peter (from Cologne) and myself (living in London) found ourselves grumbling to each other about how grey, cold, and wet our cities can be. After a bit of debate, the idea of a blog about the rainiest cities in the Cycle Cities network came about.

Because, while these cities all experience their fair share of rain, they are all beautiful places to explore – fascinating Old Towns, centuries of rich history, and social and cultural tapestries woven from the finest and most beautiful fabric. And, for friends and followers of Cycle Cities, they also offer another key point of appeal for the traveller they are all host to one of our bicycle tour operator partners. The following list was compiled by myself after some light research – it is not intended to be exhaustive, only a rough guide for a bit of fun!

Here it is, then – the Five Rainiest Cities in the Cycle Cities Network!


The first rainy city on our list is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. I took a Tallinn Panoramatrip there last year and remember it being quite a turbulent flight in because of the weather conditions! Despite this, though, Tallinn is a beautiful city and a wonderful place to cycle in. With influences from Russia and the West, it is a culturally interesting place to immerse yourself in, and the medieval aspects of the Old Town make it an amazing place to observe. CityBike Tallinn will take you on a bicycle tour there, and also offer bike rental for you to explore the city at your own pace.


Cologne, one of Germany’s wettest cities and home to Peter and Tobi’s Colonia Aktiv, is maybe not as high up on this list as Peter thought it would be when we were discussing this blog, but it still chips in at fourth place on our list. Despite the occasional grey skies and downpours, though, Cologne is a city that deserves your time. With plenty of bike lanes and paths to traverse, a range of museums, and some stunning Gothic architecture, Cologne is a fantastic city to explore by bicycle.

3) REYKJAVIK, ICELANDReykjavikBikeTours_1_cycle_cities

One of the colder, as well as wetter, cities on our list, Reykjavik is set apart by its stunning natural landscapes, which include volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls and glaciers. Home to our partners Reykjavik Bike Tour, Iceland’s capital boasts plenty of unique examples of Nordic architecture, as well as buildings that throw back to the time of the Vikings. Get in touch with Stefan and organise a bike tour to experience the city from the point of view of a local.

2) MUNICH, GERMANYMunich resize

The second German city to feature on this list, this Bavarian beauty is known for its beers and inclusive, welcoming culture. It is a bike haven too, with plenty of cycle paths and green inner-city spaces to explore. The English Garden is a must-see, as is the picture-postcard Nymphenburg Palace. Get in touch with Daniel and the team at Radius Tours for a bicycle tour of the city, or rent a bike and make your own way through Munich to explore everything it has to offer.

  1. LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA1471850_936677129708716_5578062312912120775_n

Slovenia’s capital clocks in at number one on our list of the top five rainiest cities in the Cycle Cities network. But don’t let that deter you! It’s also one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, up there with Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and is full of cycle paths, with a large number of commuting and recreational cyclists. Visit the Dragon Bridge and Ljubljana Castle when there, or simply just rent a bike and pedal gently through this relaxing city. Tevz and the chaps at Watermelon Bike offer guided bicycle tours of the city, and are our Cycle Cities partners there. Get in touch!

That’s all from me! Thanks for reading, and never stop riding – see you soon!

By Kiwi (Rob Binns)

1st March 2018


Subscribe and get access to exclusive deals!

Hi everyone! Kiwi from Cycle Cities here, fresh off the back of recent blogs with advice about travelling in the UK, using Interrail and Eurail passes to traverse Europe cheaply and easily, and with original research about the cleanest, hottest, and friendliest cities in our network.

Now, me and the team at Cycle Cities are looking to bring to you the most exclusive deals and discounts to inspire and kick off your holiday plans and give you some great ideas for what to do on your next city break adventure.

Bike tours are a brilliant way to see a city – for the newcomer, a two to three hour tour of the city centre and it’s main attractions and most iconic sights can be the perfect way to get orientated and dive immediately into the city’s exciting heart!

For veteran travellers who may have seen a city several times, there are longer, four – five or full day tours, that get outside of the concrete jungle of a city’s interior and explore the marvels of the lush green fields, countryside, and quiet, flat, and relaxed roads that lead away from the city’s core.

Bike tours are also a great way to see a city from a different angle – they beat sitting on a bus in traffic or getting sore legs walking a long route through crowded streets, and Night Tours give you access to the city after the tumult of the day is over, as it’s evening lights begin to wink cheekily into life.

Here at Cycle Cities we are committed to bringing you not only the best experiences the world has to offer by bike, but also helping you to do it for less money than anywhere else.

The best way to find discounts for Cycle Cities tours that the general public won’t find is to subscribe to our newsletter.

We vary our deals from city to city, and we have access to the best deals not only midweek and in the winter, but all year round. Every Cycle Cities partner has given us great retail discounts to work with… and the deals – when published – are usually valid for 12 months, so you don’t have to organise your trip based on when those deals are available – be flexible and choose your time!

To subscribe to our newsletter, click here (we don’t spam or share your details with any company).

So what are you waiting for? Head to today to register with us and prepare to receive great discounts on your next bike tour in over fifty cities around the world!

That’s all from me, I’ll see you next time! Keep living, loving, and riding!


Cyclist and blogger from the North Island

Use Your Brain, Take the Train Part One: 16 Reasons to Take the Train

Here at Cycle Cities, our two-man team are travellers. We’ve been travelling for years, whether it’s an extended backpacking trip that can last months or over a year and traverses a whole continent, or a short city break for two or three days to get a glimpse of a city’s culture and personality (and to do a bike tour of course!).

But while exploring new places and cities takes much of the acclaim and appeal, for many of us there is just as much excitement to be had in the travel, in the ‘getting there’ – in short, the journey rather than the destination. It’s no lie that whole trips can be made or broken by the methods we use to travel, and for many of us it can pose a big issue to get from A to B – overinflated fares, delayed arrivals, check-in times, diversions, you name it – we’ve experienced it. So we thought we’d put our heads together and write a couple of articles about our favourite way or travelling – taking the train!

Arguably, the best way to travel between European cities is by rail. I can say that because I’ve done it many different ways, all over the continent. The European rail network is extensive, frequent, easy to navigate, and reliable.

Here are some of our reasons why it beats flying or taking a coach.

  • Train stations are generally always in the centre of a town or city; there’s no need to transfer out to airports or suffer the long and arduous journey to get into the city after already having been on a flight for several hours.
  • Train stations are always easier to find relative to bus or coach stations
  • Train stations themselves are often beautiful buildings that reflect the culture and history of a city through incredible architecture, and serve as tourist attractions in themselves! (see Antwerps’ Central Station).
  • It’s more environmentally friendly travelling by train, and you get a better view out of the window!
  • There’s a huge selection of sleeper trains if you want to travel overnight, with comfortable options for sleeping.
  • More legroom and better food (unless you can afford business class flights)
  • Usually cheaper than an economy flight – nuff’ said!
  • High speed networks all through Germany, France, Spain and Italy that are arguably some of the best in the world (see the below image, a map of the high speed rail network for trains throughout Europe)
  • No annoying motorway tolls to pay
  • You can sleep, eat and drink when you want (as opposed to when you are driving) and don’t have to worry about keeping your eyes open and on the road!
  • No excess baggage fees on trains, or worrying about the size and weight of your bags
  • It’s safer than driving, and there’s no need to worry about differing road rules from country to country (did you know that in winter in Croatia you have to drive with your headlights on during the day, regardless of weather?- neither did I!)
  • Most European trains don’t require reservations, providing the flexibility to change your plans as flights generally always have to be pre-booked further in advance.
  • Less security checks/the hassles of airports (some bigger stations particularly in Spain have security checks but they are much quicker and simpler than airport security checks) – although prepare to see the odd imposing-looking guard jump on to check your passports if travelling by train through the centre of Europe!
  • Ticketing is easy with English speakers at all international ticketing desks, as well as English speaking ticket inspectors on most trains
  • Eurail or Interrail passes are also great for extended backpacking journeys through multiple European countries and, depending on the type of pass you use, can be valid for unlimited train journeys – meaning there’s no need to worry about buying tickets.

Hope you enjoyed our top reasons for taking the train for your next European journey! In Part Two of this train-themed series of blogs we’ll be looking at the Eurail and Interrail passes – what they are, how they work, and why you should think about them for your upcoming excursion into Europe’s heartland. Look out for it on!

See you then – we’ll be here, ‘train or shine!’

Kiwi & Steve

Use Your Brain, Take the Train Part Three: Night & Sleeper Services

Welcome back, friends and followers of Cycle Cities! Steve here, co-founder and Director. Since I share Kiwi’s love of travelling and taking the train I thought I’d step in to finish up this trilogy of train-themed blogs. Night Trains are a fantastic way to travel across Europe and the world, and I’ve always loved being able to rest my head and go to sleep on an overnight train, knowing that when I wake up I’ll be in a completely new city, refreshed and ready to explore.

It’s a great way to travel, but can take a bit of planning and patience, especially if you’re new to this way of getting across borders. So I thought I’d share some of my personal experiences on sleeper trains and recommendations on where to get them and where they’ll take you!

Here are some of the ‘sleepers’ I’ve been on in Europe:

Budapest, Hungary to Brasov, Romania

EuroNight Ister Route

This route runs between the respective capitals of Hungary and Romania, respectively (Budapest to Bucharest) with a stop in the middle at Brasov, where I got off. The route, that is largely through Romania and traverses the country from the West to the Southeast, takes around 17 hours. For horror and history aficionados, Brasov (in the Transylvania region) is a great place to stop off and do some sightseeing, with Bran Castle (a.k.a. Dracula’s Castle) providing a popular place to relax… if you dare!

Bucharest, Romania to Sofia, Bulgaria

This train, connecting the capitals of Bulgaria and Romania, respectively, takes just over eleven hours, a perfect distance for a sleeper train. Prices weigh in at around 68 euros, which is fairly standard for long-distance trains across Europe, and reservations are required. The train leaves daily from Bucharest at five minutes to midnight – so pull your travel pillow out and hunker down for the night!

Lisbon, Portugal to Madrid, Spain

Trenhotel international night train

Lasting eleven hours, this train route offers more luxury than some of its counterparts on this list, running daily between Madrid and Lisbon with stops at Salamanca in Spain and Coimbra in Portugal along the way.

Cologne, Germany to Warsaw, Poland

This central European journey also weighs in at just over the eleven hour mark in terms of length, with the last train leaving Cologne at just past eleven in the evening. Germany is commonly known as a very efficient country, and their trains are no exception; so make sure to turn up at the station with plenty of time in advance, and always try to book your ticket ahead of time!

All of these journeys were comfortable. Sometimes I was in a six berth cabin with strangers (everyone was quiet and polite, and it can even be a great way to meet new people if you’re in the mood to chat!) and sometimes I was in a private cabin with my girlfriend.

Night Sleeper services should be booked in advance, and you can head to Eurail to book and for more information about the various sleeper trains operating around Europe. There are a number of routes, such as the Berlin Express (Germany to Sweden), the Hellas Express (Serbia to Greece), and the SJ (Norway to Sweden), that all provide comfort for your overnight journey.

Eurail or Interrail passes can also be used to book sleepers at an extra fee. See Kiwi’s blog on Eurail and Interrail here for more information.

That’s all from me for now! Let us know what you think about my recommendations here by visiting our Facebook page and we’d of course love to hear about any of your own experiences, good and bad, on sleeper trains around Europe and the world.




Use Your Brain, Take the Train Part Two: Eurailing & Interailing Around Europe

Welcome back travel enthusiasts and train lovers to the second part of our trilogy of train-themed blogs by myself and Steve here at Cycle Cities. In the first part in this series at cyclecities/tours/blog we gave you 16 reasons to take the train over other modes of transport like flying, driving, or taking a coach. This week, as promised, we’re going to be looking at one of the European-loving travellers most valuable assets – the Interrail (or Eurail) pass.

Firstly, the difference between the two similar-sounding passes is this: Interrail passes are for residents of Europe, Eurail passes are for those with residency anywhere else in the world: make sure to choose the right one!

Eurail and Interrail passes will take you on the train network across europe in any direction, on just one ticket. They are not point to point tickets, they are like subway/metro/underground tickets. Use them anywhere on the network within zones.


  1. Global Pass – this is valid all across Europe, with no restrictions on which countries it can be used in.
  2. One, Two, Three or Four Country Pass – Valid in the amount of countries you select when booking your pass. The countries must be bordering on the two, three, or four country pass options. For example, your four countries could be Spain, France, Italy and Croatia (as they are all connected geographically with a land border). Or you could have Germany, Switzerland, France and Benelux (Benelux stands for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) – these all count as one country when it comes to Interrail and Eurail passes.

They also offer great options where you can travel on a certain amount of days within a certain time period (for instance, travel on five days within a period of 15 days) for a cheaper option, depending on your plans and itinerary, and tickets can be bought in either first or second class, with a number of options depending on age and whether you are travelling with a young family.

Passes can last from just a couple of days to 30 days. It’s much more cost effective to buy an Interrail or Eurail pass than single point to point tickets. In the autumn of 2015, I myself utilised the Interrail Pass (despite hailing from New Zealand, due to the nationality of my parents I have a British passport) and found it an extremely useful and cost-effective way of traversing the continent. I selected an option whereby I could make six journeys during a period of 15 days and, starting in Munich in late September for the Oktoberfest, trained on to Prague, Slovakia, and Hungary before ending up in Vienna and then flying back home to London from the amazing Venice.

You can reserve seats on a particular train at the station before your journey, or by using the app ahead of time to view train times and reserve. Some seat reservations attract a nominal fee. Sleeper reservations are required and attract an extra fee, although this is small and is much less than the cost of a sleeper without a Eurail or Interrail ticket). Some high speed and sleeper routes can become booked out in the summer but if you can’t get something same day you’ll usually be able to go the next day, or find an alternative, non-high speed, route on the same day.

All in all it’s a very flexible way to travel. In most cases you can just turn up at a station, look at the departure board, decide what train you want to get on, and just go! Sort your hostel or hotel when you arrive at your destination, and sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Easy!

That’s all for us for now, let us know what you think about our train-themed posts so far in the comments section, and we will see you soon for the third and final part of the series – Night & Sleeper train services!

Kiwi & Steve

Cycle in Utopia: The Top Five Sunniest Places for a Bike Tour in Winter

In many places in the Northern Hemisphere – particularly Europe – things tend to shut down in winter. Christmas and New Year holidays come around and people go away or just seem to hibernate. When January swings around and patterns of work and routine begin to drift back into everyday lives, it’s easy to get bogged down in malaise, compounded by the cold weather, grey skies, and (if you live in London like me) lots of rain.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are still places – even if you live in the Northern Hemisphere during the January months – that are sunny, more or less, all year round. These pockets of light, Vitamin D-rich goodness are oases where you can get out to to blow off the cobwebs of a slow start to the new year and rejuvenate your mind and body on a sandy beach.

The other good news is that the fantastic partners of the Cycle Cities network offer the best bicycle tours that money can buy. Through a bike tour, you can get a great overview of the city with a passionate local guide and cover ground you could – and would – never have done by your own, or on your own two feet.

I’ve compiled a small list here with my Top Five destinations for a cycling holiday this winter. It features some of the sunniest places on the map, all where quality bike tours are available. So what are you waiting for? Get out from under that blanket, and your bum off the seat of that couch and onto the seat of a bike! Enjoy.


This culturally-rich Aussie powerhouse is a bohemian paradise, full of coffee houses, museums, and uber-cool watering holes. And, with a whopping 2,362 hours of sun a year, it’s also a fantastic – if not particularly convenient for those of us in Europe – place to top up your tan in winter. For a bike tour, you can head to Bike Tours Melbourne and discover this urbane gem on two wheels.melbz






4) ROME, ITALYRome 3

Unlock the secrets of one of the most powerful, successful, and influential empires of the world – and feel the sun on your face as you do so! With 2,473 hours of sunshine a year, Rome is one of the sunshine capitals in the world – but its rich and intriguing history means it’s far from a one-dimensional experience. Get in touch with the team at Roma Rent Bike to explore from the seat of a bike!

3) BARCELONA, SPAINbarcelonanew1

Brush up on your Catalan and take to the streets of the regions shining capital, home to some of the most recognisable, unique, and fascinating architecture in the Western world. Bike Tours Barcelona offer the best guided bike tour experiences in the city and will lead you through the most famous neighbourhoods and explain the history behind this incredible city.


While boasting almost 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and being an incredibly popular tourist destination, Athens isn’t just for the heliophiles – it’s the heart of one of the oldest and most influential civilizations ever to have graced the planet. The city is still full of remnants and tributes to a way of life that has captured hearts and ignited imaginations for centuries, with the Acropolis and the Parthenon still standing in reverence for the benefit of the excited traveller. Sound interesting? Take a tour with our partners Athens By Bike and soak up the history!



At the top of our list here is Malaga, located on Spain’s famed Costa del Sol and a city that claims it’s fair share of rays, with 2,815 hours of sun a year. And, with incredible attractions like Alcazaba – a Medieval Moorish palace with sea views and surrounded by countryside, and the Malaga Cathedral – you’ll want to stay all winter! For the best quality bike tour in Malaga, head to Malaga Bike Tours to discover the range of two-wheeled experiences they have to offer. Kay, Fenne, and the rest of the team will make sure Malaga will be a place you won’t forget!

Symposium: The Best Part of the Job

Here at Cycle Cities, Steve and I often get asked what our favourite part of the job is. While managing a worldwide, international network of bike tour operators from completely different backgrounds, languages and cultures can be stressful, there’s so many perks of doing it. Getting to travel and write and make videos about cycling in different countries around the world is one, as is getting to know the owners of the different bicycle companies in the network. It’s also a pleasure having been able to see the network grow and develop over the year I’ve been working with Steve, and help get more companies from exciting new cities involved with Cycle Cities.

But the best thing about being with Cycle Cities is a simple one, and something that every one of our partners and their staff can enjoy – the Symposium.

In Ancient Greece, the word ‘symposium’ denoted a drinking party or ‘“convivial discussion” and was commonly held after a banquet. A more contemporary definition defines it as “a conference or meeting to discuss a particular subject”

Our symposium lies somewhere between the two!steve

Every year in February Steve and I organise the Cycle Cities Symposium (or ‘powwow’ as it used to be called), which is an annual conference for all those involved with Cycle Cities. Between one and four representatives from each company constituting the network gather in a European city and are hosted by the operator based there. After meeting up and enjoying informal dinner and drinks on the first night, the following day is comprised of a series of presentations made by Steve, myself, and several of the operators gathered.

The topics discussed address every aspect of running a bike tour business, and are delivered by those who have been doing just that successfully for years! In the most recent Symposium – held in Nice, France in February 2017 – presentations dealt with guide recruitment, the future of Cycle Cities, and stylistic techniques for social media in business. A large lunch is eaten (think of the aforementioned Ancient Greek style banquet), heads are put together, and then the evening is spent socialising over a few drinks.

It wouldn’t be a Cycle Cities show without some bicycle-related action, so following the day of the conference, everyone goes on a bike tour together for more socialising, networking, and a spot of fresh air and exercise too!

We’ve also had Symposiums in Berlin and London, and are headed to the majestic central European gem of Budapest in February 2018 to do it all again. The Symposiums are really important for us here at Cycle Cities, and have become increasingly integral to what we’re all about and why over fifty bike tour businesses big and small have chosen to stick with us – and keep coming back every year! It sets us apart from other companies and helps us to define who we are and what our goals are. We’re not resellers looking for a buck – we bring people together for the best quality bike tours in the world, and we bring those who run them together to help us all improve the quality of our services to you guys. That’s why it’s my favourite part of the job.

Cycle City Showdown #2 – Lisbon vs. San Francisco

The wait is over, each city has taken its place in their respective corners of the ring, and this month’s edition of Cycle City Showdown is ready to begin!

Each month we’re going to be pitting two cities that we have a Cycle Cities partner operating in against each other, putting them eye to eye and looking at their similarities and differences in a closer light to examine why they are both amazing places to take your next bike tour!

So pack your beach towel (or your American flag), and get ready to welcome this week’s participants!


Population: Approximately 550,000

Founded: c. 8th century

Language(s) spoken: Portuguese – although English is spoken fairly widely in Lisbon, Porto, and most of Algarve.

Capital? Yes.

Cycle Cities partner: Lisbon Bike Tour


Population: Approximately 870,000

Founded: 1776

Language(s) spoken: English (American)

Capital? Nope.

Cycle Cities partner: Currently looking!


Aside from the wine, the coffee shop culture, the colourful and politically motivated street art, and the climate (sort of), these two cities have a lot more in common than you’d at first think – let’s have a look!

The Hills and the Bays

There is a strong correlation between hilly cities and beautiful cities; especially if you love getting out of the city centre and taking a bike up to the highest points a city’s outer geography can provide for the coolest air and best views.

A hilly city has more viewpoints, more lookouts, more panoramas (and more fodder for a brag on Facebook or Instagram). Take the Portuguese coastal capital, Lisbon; it’s built on the side of a hill, with many beautiful viewpoints overlooking the bay, as is San Francisco, which overlooks a large natural harbour.

The Bridges

We all know the national cultural icon that is San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge – the giant orange structure has featured in many classic movie moments, such as the climax of the James Bond adventure A View to a Kill. But the lesser known fact is that Lisbon too has its very own ‘Golden Gate Bridge’!

Real name ‘25 de Abril Bridge’, it’s orange complexion and highly similar structure commonly draws comparisons to San Francisco’s own – although it’s fair to say it gets far fewer of the plaudits.

Can you spot the difference?

The Bike Tours

Whereas commonly, bicycle tours in hilly cities start in the city centre (or at the bottom of the hill) and gradually work their way up to the top to conclude with a panoramic view of the city, Filipe and the team at Lisbon Bike Tour do things a little differently. Their tour starts at the top of of Parque Eduardo VII near El Corte Inglês and finishes by the river Tagus in Torre de Belém, the spot where the ancient mariners sailed off to discover the New World. By designing a route that descends through the city rather than being (literally) an uphill struggle, Lisbon Bike Tour have designed an experience that negates the impact of cycling in a very hilly city, and created a relaxed and enjoyable ride through Lisbon’s history and present.

The Cable Cars/Trams

The yellow cable cars of San Francisco, like the Golden Gate Bridge, are an icon within the city and will certainly resonate with anyone who has grown up or travelled there. Lisbon also has these cable cars, as well as street cars, which cover both the level and hilly terrain of each city – and they are also yellow!


Lisbon is built on the North side of the bay; San Francisco the South. What else do these two cities have to separate them?

The Size

With an area of approximately 121km2, San Francisco edges out its Portuguese counterpart here, despite the latter being a capital city. The American giant also beats Lisbon in the population measures, with a total number of inhabitants that dwarfs Lisbon’s by around 300,000 people.

The Skyscrapers

Lisbon, built around an historic Old Town, contrasts sharply with the modern, metropolitan look and feel of San Francisco’s city centre and skyline. Portugal’s older, Mediterranean vibes – in terms of street layout, architecture, and Southern European culture as a whole – render it firmly opposite the more secular, corporate look of San Francisco’s downtown central area.

The History

With around one thousand years on San Francisco, Lisbon stands as a relative ancient in contrast to the American city, which, like its fellow American cities, was not founded until the 1700s. While the technologically advanced influences of the ‘Silicon Valley’ mentality have defined San Francisco, Lisbon’s foundations are based on the legacy of the Portuguese Empire and are rooted in the old, rich history of Southern Europe.

There it is! Two cities, on opposite sides of the globe, duked it out and found an incredible amount of things in common, despite their obvious and inherent differences. Have you been to Lisbon and/or to San Francisco? What do you think of the comparisons and similarities we’ve drawn here between these two cities? We think it’s too tight to call a winner but… if you disagree, let us know in the comments section or email to share your views and we will publish them on our website if we like them. That’s it for now – see you next month! Thanks for reading, and never stop riding!


Cycle Cities

Cycle City Showdown #1 – Melbourne vs. London

Ding Ding Ding! Grab your popcorn, get a ringside seat, and step right up for the first bout in our new Cycle Cities original series – Cycle City Showdown!

Each month we’re going to be pitting two cities that we have a Cycle Cities partner operating in against each other, putting them eye to eye and looking at their similarities and differences in a closer light to examine why they are both amazing places to take your next bike tour!

So, without further ado, let’s meet our two contestants!


Population: Approximately 8.8 million.

Founded: 50AD (originally Londinium)

Language(s) spoken: English (although over 250 languages are spoken across the city)

Capital? Yes.

Cycle Cities partner: London Bicycle Tour Company


Population: Approximately 4.5 million

Founded: 1835

Language(s) spoken: Like London, English is the main language, although over 250 are spoken throughout the city

Capital? No, although many in the Northern hemisphere seem to think so (it’s actually Canberra)

Cycle Cities partner: Bike Tours Melbourne


There are, interestingly, many things in common between Melbourne and London. Melbourne is Australia’s arts and culture capital, and shares a lot in common with Europe’s largest city. Let’s look at some of the most salient similarities:

  • Both are flat, making them great places to cycle and even better places to tour from the seat of a bike!
  • The cities have a similar area, although the English capital, as evidenced by it having roughly double Melbourne’s inhabitants, is more densely populated.
  • In both cities, the Central Business District sits north of the respective rivers that run through each city.
  • Both have their airports located to the west of the centre of the city.
  • While Melbourne doesn’t tend to reach the cold temperatures Londoners have come to tolerate, it does have weather highly susceptible to change – something that London knows all too well!
  • Both have prestigious tennis tournaments, with the excitement and thrills of the Australian Open rivalling the prestige and pride of London’s strawberries and cream fare.
  • Both cities have an established Docklands area, and both zones in each city are undergoing ongoing urban redevelopment and renewal.
  • The small laneways in Melbourne’s CBD mirror the narrow streets that anyone who was lived or worked in or near London’s city centre will be familiar with.
  • The Circle (Yellow) line on London’s Underground? Melbourne has one too!
  • Both have an orbital motorway, and Greater London’s Dartford Crossing can draw a fair comparison to Melbourne’s Gateway Bridge.
  • Both have beaches towards the south, for those city slickers that want to get away for a little while. Bells Beach in Victoria, like Brighton in the South of England, provides a handy, sandy spot for a relaxing retreat away from the frenzy of city life.


These two heavyweights of opposite hemispheres can’t be separated so far. So what, apart from the vastly contrasting accents of their respective populations, do these two cities have to separate them? Let’s find out!

  • The Thames flows from the West to the East, while Melbourne’s Yarra River flows from it’s source in the Yarra Ranges through the city, ultimately emptying into Hobsons Bay in Port Phillip.
  • With a head start of almost 1,800 years, London is far older and therefore has a longer and richer history, including invasions, battles, revolutions, and beheadings! Though Australia, as they say, was founded by convicts…
  • Whereas Melbourne is more like a city defined by the moniker “Build it and they will come”, having been built around the lower, fertile stretches of the river Yarra, London could be perhaps better defined by a motto along the lines of “Everyone’s here – we’d better build stuff!”. It was first established at the height of the Roman Empire, and a growing population caused new infrastructure projects to come into existence and the city to begin to expand.

That’s it! Have you been to London and/or to Melbourne? What do you think of the comparisons and similarities we’ve drawn here between these two cities? We think it’s too tight to call a winner but… if you disagree, let us know in the comments section or email to share your views and we will publish them on our website if we like them. That’s it for now – see you next month, where we’ll be pitting a Portuguese cornerstone against a Western city known traditionally for its bath houses….

Thanks for reading, and never stop riding!

Steve & Kiwi

Cycle Cities