The Five Best Private Bike Tour Experiences

Here at Cycle Cities, we pride ourselves in offering only the best, hand-picked city experiences by bicycle the world has to offer. We live and work to provide only the best for the cycling tourist and adventurer – hence, we’ve been going through the network and choosing our five best bike tours in a number of categories and are presenting them to our friends and readers.

This week, we’ve selected and are counting down to our five favourite Private Bicycle Tour Experiences. Enjoy!

5) BOGOTA BIKE TOURS: PRIVATE TOUR

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Bogota Bike Tours offer tours with a range of different routes and for people with varying interests. Whether you’re looking for a tour based around, food, architecture or alternatively a jaunt through the Colombian capital’s lesser-known streets and alleyways to spy the intricate, colourful graffiti there, Bogota Bike Tours have you covered. Book your Private Tour at a time of the day convenient to you, or even opt for a Night Tour to explore the city from a different angle. Contact the team at Bogota Bike Tours today for a quote.

4) CAMBRIDGE BIKE TOURS: PRIVATE CITY BIKE AND PUNTING TOUR PACKAGE

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Explore one of England’s most beautiful and historic cities with a Private Bike and Punting Tour of Cambridge. In the morning you’ll ride for around two and a half hours, taking a route that covers the majority of the sights and follows a squiggly line taking in Midsummer Common, College Boat Houses, Jesus Green, The Wren Library and plenty more! In the afternoon, you’ll take to the water with a punting tour of The Backs and get a real feel for English culture while sitting back and letting the cool river breeze tousle your hair.

3) TASTE & GO: PRIVATE TOUR ON E-BIKE WITH LUNCH IN ITRIA VALLEY

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Journey by bike through the stony heart of Puglia on a Private Electric Bike Tour with Taste & Go Alberobello, and let time stand still as you explore the natural and architectural beauty of the landscape. Number three on our list, this breathtaking and romantic bicycle tour winds its way through a picturesque valley of trulli, olive trees, oaks, dry-stone walls, and vineyards, before reaching a typical ‘masseria’ to taste traditional Apulian dishes such as focaccia, cold cuts, and seasonal vegetables. An enchanting foray through the heart of one of Italy’s most visually mesmerising landscapes, this Private E-bike experience is not to be missed.

2) BERLIN ON BIKE: CUSTOMISED, BESPOKE PRIVATE TOUR AT LATE NOTICE

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Booking private tours is no problem for Berlin on Bike. With more than 80 freelance guides in their dedicated team, they’ll always find someone to lead your tour – even on short notice, special topics, and in a particular language, they’ve got you covered! No matter what is requested – food tours, street art workshops, science tours, eyewitness tours, and walks to name a few – Berlin on Bike have the expertise and the manpower to make it happen.

1) BIKE TOURS BARCELONA: BIKE TOUR FOR PRIVATE GROUP

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Surprise your clients, employees or friends with an extraordinary experience by bicycle with the extremely talented and experienced team at Bike Tours Barcelona. Exercise your flexibility with a tour during the day or at night, and even combine the tour with other activities like tapas & wine tasting, sports, team building and more! Bike Tours Barcelona will also design the most suitable route and stops for your group depending on the size and type of the party and the expectations, tailoring the tour to your requirements and tastes. It doesn’t matter if its an event, incentive trip, convention, conference or a student group; you’ll live and breathe Barcelona in an entertaining, funny and different way. Bike Tours Barcelona can also offer bicycle transport so that you can start your tour from your accommodation or the place you prefer, and you can book bike tours in a range of different languages (English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Italian and others). Start planning your trip today!

What do you make of our selections? Feel free to drop us a line at kiwi@cyclecities.tours to discuss the next cracking private bike tour experience we should be writing about!

Bye for now cycling fiends x

Rob Binns (Kiwi)

The Five Best Family Friendly Bike Tours

THE FIVE BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY BIKE TOURS

Here at Cycle Cities, we pride ourselves in offering only the best, hand-picked city experiences by bicycle the world has to offer. We live and work to provide only the best for the cycling tourist and adventurer – hence, we’ve been going through the network and choosing our five best bike tours in a number of categories and are presenting them to our friends and readers.

This week, we’ve selected our five favourite family-friendly bike tours – experiences on two wheels suitable for cyclists of all ages. Enjoy!

TASTE & GO: NATURE, TRULLI AND MOZZARELLA: A WINNING RECIPE

Number one on our list is Taste & Go’s culinary experience, cycling through Alberobello and the surrounding countryside. On this three hour, 20km tour, riders will discover the heart of Puglia, a land of remarkable architecture and dry-stone walls. Starting from Alberobello (a UNESCO World Heritage site), the tour proceeds through beautiful country roads to a local cheese factory nestled in one of the beautiful hamlets of the Itria Valley. Here, riders can see the mozzarella making process and taste typical Apulian cheeses and products, before later returning to Alberobello by bike. This tour is suitable for the whole family, allowing both adults and kids to learn how to make (and then taste!) the famous and iconic cheeses of the local area. The tour is relaxed, easy, and takes place along natural cycle paths and roads mostly free from vehicular traffic, and is not so long so the kids won’t get tired!

2) FRAULEIN MARIA’S: THE SOUND OF MUSIC IN SALZBURG

The beloved childhood film The Sound of Music has been bringing people together for decades, and has always been a favourite of children and adults alike. Number Two on our last of our best family-friendly bike tours, then, goes to Salzburg’s bicycle tour, led by Rupert and the team at Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tours. The tour, that heads through the heart of Salzburg city into Austria’s mesmerising countryside, focusses on the locations used in the iconic film. It lasts about three and a half hours and goes at a relaxing pace suitable for all, with a trailer, tag along and baby seat all also available for the younger members of the family.
3) THE LONDON BICYCLE TOUR COMPANY: THE FAMILY TOUR

The Family Tour, released only a few months ago, is a Private Tour tailored specifically for families with young children. The ride begins with a stop to pick up food from a local delicatessen, before taking a route completely free from vehicular traffic along some of London’s greenest and most beautiful areas and stopping for a picnic. The tour then follows a path exclusively along the city’s cycle paths and superhighways, taking in Buckingham Palace before threading it’s way back along pleasant and child-friendly roads at a pace of the group’s choosing.

4) BERLIN ON BIKE: THE BERLIN’S BEST BIKE TOUR

The Berlin’s Best Bike Tour is the perfect way to get to know Germany’s capital. With an interesting mix of entertainment and information, they’ll give you greater insight into the darkness and light of the history of this inspirational and ever-changing city. It’s also one of the most family-friendly tours in the Cycle Cities network; Berlin on Bike offer plenty of child bikes from 20” to 26”, also providing tag along bikes, child seats and child carriers. They also have a host of guides who have kids and know how to handle them on tour! Furthermore, the safe route (designed to maximise use of bike lanes and parks and minimise riding amongst traffic) makes this tour an absolute must for any family!

5) ISTANBUL ON BIKE: LET’S PEDAL!

Istanbul’s “Let’s Pedal” Tour is a ride through the back streets of Istanbul, where the city’s past and future intermingle and two continents come together. Perfect for travellers staying for only a short while, the “Lets Pedal” Tour differs from all of Istanbul on Bike’s other offerings in that it is a completely spontaneous tour, starting from Balat and dependent only on the guests’ strength and stamina. As their website puts it, “We will ride to wherever the wind blows us to, get lost in off the beaten paths and live in the moment for a while.” What’s not to like?

For more lists of our handpicked gems from the world of bike tourism, stay tuned to our blog and keep your eyes peeled for future captivating stories and experiences from the finest folks the cycling world has to offer. Until next time!

By Rob Binns (Kiwi)
31st August 2018

Avalanche – the Musical Mind Behind the Man

Steve Kopandy, the co-founder and current Managing Director of Cycle Cities, is a man of many hobbies and passions. With an organisational mind and a degree in Systems Management, he likes to have his thumb on the pulse and fingers in the many proverbial pies of business. Always on the lookout for niches and opportunities, Steve has also always had a love for travel and been drawn to the bright lights and glittering dreams of the city. His passion for travel and love of meeting new people met and fused with his business-minded brain, leading to the formation of Cycle Cities in 2011.

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However, there’s more to Steve than the man who has lead Cycle Cities towards the large, international network of successful bike tour operators it is today, with its fifth annual conference only half a year away and increasing numbers and influence. Steve’s central passion lies in music. For years, he has been performing in “The Take That Experience,” a tribute band to the hugely influential Britpop five-piece where global superstar Robbie Williams made his breakthrough. As ‘Howard Donald’ Steve, with the rest of his band, performs all over Britain and internationally, as well as on luxury cruise ships. But while that pays the bills and provides some thrills, it’s in his solo work that Steve has found a true expression of his voice and unique lyrical style. Combining heartfelt lyrics from his own experience of life and love with classic guitar and synth-driven, empowering and uptempo melodies, Steve has been releasing EPs and music videos for years.

His most recent work consists of a quartet of four-song EPs collectively entitled “The Personality Project.” The first entry – “Polar” was released last year, and followed up in 2018 with “Open.” For “Avalanche,” the lead single from this latest EP, Steve spent several days staying in Reykjavik on a gruelling shoot in the Icelandic wilderness which involved running through freezing cold rivers and navigating the country’s barren tundras. It wasn’t just music business when he was there though – Steve found time to kick it with Stefan of Reykjavik Bike Tours, the Cycle Cities partner in the Icelandic capital.

To check out the fruits of his labour, view the video for Avalanche here.

The Land of Fire and Ice

At the time of writing, our furthest northern ‘Cycle City’ is Reykjavik, Iceland’s cool and colourful capital.

I’ll start by saying I’ve not been there.. but it is high on my list.

While Iceland gained fame and ‘notoriety’ a couple of years ago within the island we live on after knocking out England in the Euro 2016 Football Championships, it has long been a tourist destination held in high regard by the international population, with it’s stunning natural landscapes, friendly population, and of course the famous Northern Lights.

As the island’s largest city, Reykjavik is the start and finish point for all Icelandic journeys. From there you can head northeast beyond the city’s limits to Þingvellir National Park (the best place to observe the northern lights) or east to the spectacular aquamarine displays of the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón.

First, though, I’d suggest a bike tour on your first day of Reykjavik, so you can see all that the city has to offer and decide what to do in your remaining time in the city – or indeed across Iceland if you haven’t planned too much! Stefan at Reykjavik Bike Tours will give you excellent recommendations for onward travel and ideas to ignite your excursion.

Many people that take to Iceland travel the main ring road that circumnavigates the island, and take several days to trace it. Arguably the world’s most spectacular scenery will be found en route, which is perfect for cycling (if you can stand the cold!). This route also showcases some of Iceland’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery.

Iceland’s natural geography is like perhaps no other, with lava fields, hot springs, geysers, and volcanoes making up a terrain that creates the effect of a raw, untarnished beauty unspoilt by large-scale development.

A trip to Reykjavik is recommended in the summer as the days are long, and there is a bit less snow to contend with – although if a snowball fight is your idea of fun then it’s the perfect destination all year round!
Speaking of fun, Iceland is known as one of the happiest places to live in the world, with the UN World Happiness Report 2017 recently ranking the nation as third best in the planet in this respect. Do your best to connect with some locals, such as Stefan at Reykjavik Bike Tours to find out why.

And finally…finish each day with a dip in a thermal spa!

I’m preaching to myself here; it’s somewhere I will have to go soon. If you have been to Reykjavik/Iceland, let us know and share your thoughts!

Kiwi
Cycle Cities
cyclecities.tours

Trip Advisor – What’s the Story?

Related imageWe all know Tripadvisor and what the website is about. As an online review aggregator, it is not unique or alone in what it does, although it has become especially and remarkably powerful in the tourism and travel industry, and has a distinct ability to influence travellers.

Founded at the turn of the century in February 2000, Tripadvisor was one of the first internet companies to adopt user-generated content, building their business as a neutral, impartial and unbiased source of information about hotels, restaurants, attractions and experiences around the world, provided by the public. Tripadvisor earned a reputation extolling the value of the opinion of the layman, and posited themselves as a benevolent conduit for information sharing between those who wanted to experience, and those who have already done so.

Users of the website could read other traveller reviews of places and experiences, ranked on a scale of one to five stars, and peruse the rankings of ‘Things to Do’ based on popular opinion in any given city. Not surprisingly, Tripadvisor rose rapidly to popularity and, with their recognisable owl logo, green-and-white company colours, easy-to-remember name and clear corporate goal and purpose, became an indispensable cog in the machinery of the online travel community.

And as Tripadvisor’s reputation continued to grow, so did their profits. Tripadvisor made their money through a business model supported by advertising revenue, as well as an online hotel booking system. The review side, however, has always remained its most popular and recognisable feature. This is where it was trusted as an impartial aggregator of customer reviews, and a key aspect of this was that Tripadvisor included links to the websites of the companies available to review. This meant that users of the website, upon reading the reviews and making a decision to book, could do so directly with the operators of any given experience.

In 2014, Tripadvisor acquired Viator, an online platform for booking tours and other tourist experiences across the world. This was the beginning of the end for Tripadvisor’s neutrality as a review aggregator, and underlines that they are, at the end of the day, a for-profit organisation (and a successful one at that – they’ve been turning over a figure in the region of 1.5 billion USD every financial year since 2014).

Viator operated as usual for a while, until recently, when it became rebranded under the moniker ‘Tripadvisor Experiences’.

So what’s in a name?

More than just an attempt to consolidate and unify the various businesses under the Tripadvisor umbrella. The change also signified the end of any previous attempts by the American tourism giant to promote the businesses on their platform, or encourage direct booking on the part of the users of their website.

With the introduction of Tripadvisor Experiences, the website no longer features any links to the website of the companies featured. Instead, it promotes and encourages users of the formerly non-partisan review platform to book their tourist experience through Tripadvisor. Obviously this is bad news for owners and operators of businesses in the tourism industry; they’ve spent years gently urging guests on their tours to leave positive reviews on Tripadvisor, because its power as a kingmaker for holiday planners was recognised, and because in return, it directed customers to their websites and generated business. Now, and all of a sudden, that favour is gone, and business owners are left in the lurch and having to pay commissions between 25 and 30% on bookings that previously would have come straight to them.

So while it’s a slap in the face for companies in the industry, one might be tempted to wonder what difference it makes for the traveller – right? Let’s dig deeper.

Across the tourism industry in general, direct bookings for hotels and experiences are dropping, as huge agencies and booking platforms channel enormous money into monopolising the online market. The big companies like Booking.com and Hostelworld funnel massive cash into buying the best keywords on Google and the ones that established the actual experiences and work hard to run them on a daily basis miss out, slipping down SEO rankings and staring down the barrel of huge online marketing campaigns.

Now that Tripadvisor has jumped on the bandwagon of the hotly lauded ‘Experiences’ game it has joined it’s fellow goliaths in cannibalising the market – the effect of which is that operators, having to pay huge commissions to the big companies, are becoming forced to raise their prices to afford them. The pounds and dollars falling freely into Tripadvisor’s coffers mean less for the people booking and providing experiences, now and in the long run. Ultimately, it’s money in the hands of rich people sitting in air-conditioned suites in a skyscraper in Massachusetts, rather than in the pockets of those carefully planning and budgeting one of the few holidays they get to take around busy lives and schedules.

While the decision regarding who you book your accommodation or experiences with is, at the end of the day, in your hands, it can be easy to get sucked in by big names like Tripadvisor and Google advertising, especially if you’re pushed for time or planning your trip at the last minute. But if you dig a little deeper, scroll down past the Google Ads, and make an effort, the chances are you’ll find websites where you can book everything you need, direct. At the very least, this offers a helping hand to the provider of the experience – the person or group that’s on the ground level, working hard to maintain a high standard of quality – and at best, it’s an ethical way to shop and one that has a financial and economic benefit on both a personal and collective level.

At Cycle Cities, our website promotes the owners and operators of the bicycle tour business in our networks, gathering them together and allowing you – the traveller – to make an informed choice to book direct. Our website, which has negated the opportunity to sell our partner operators’ tours, instead offers information about various cities and the bike tour operators there, linking to their websites and empowering users of cyclecities.tours to shrug off the negative influences of Tripadvisor and other ‘big business’ and give the little guy a helping hand.

For the best bicycle tours across four continents (and counting) head to cyclecities.tours and make the best booking choice.

By Rob Binns

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….

10) ISTANBUL, TURKEY

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.

9) VIENNA, AUSTRIA

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.

8) NICE, FRANCE

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.

7) BERLIN, GERMANY

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.

6) TALLINN, ESTONIA

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.

5) PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

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.

4) ATHENS, GREECE

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.

3) BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

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.

2) LISBON, PORTUGAL

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.

1) RIGA, LATVIA

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 kiwi@cyclecities.tours and let me know what needs to be featured in my next blog!

Until then, on yer bike!

Kiwi

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!

5) TALLINN, ESTONIA

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.

4) COLOGNE, GERMANYcologne

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 cyclecities.tours 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!

Kiwi

Cyclist and blogger from the North Island

cyclecities.tours

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 cyclecities.tours/blog!

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

Kiwi & Steve

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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.

Cheers,

Steve

Director

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