Bucket List Worthy
Of course it’s a joy to slow down, savor the tastes and soak up the scenery of the amazing places around the world, like diving into the culture and cuisine in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. But maybe you’re the type of traveler who refuses to slow down for very long. Sounds like you would be up for a river cruise bike tour, during which you combine the luxury of sailing on the great rivers of the world with active — sometimes challenging — daily bike rides to explore the cities, villages and countryside. We’ve got several reasons why you’ll want to take a river cruise bike tour.
Photo credit: Matthew Hodgeman
You Love to Stand Out From the Crowd
We’re not talking about a casual day riding, with the clunky bikes that your river ship offers onboard to check out for the day in port. Instead, a dedicated bike tour on a river cruise includes a well-designed itinerary with days full of long rides with fellow passengers who also signed on for the trip specifically to put in some serious time in the saddle. Try Backroads, which operates biking tours on AmaWaterways ships, or Trek Travel, which runs the programs for Scenic Cruises.
You will be part of a biking group sharing the ship (usually up to 30 riders) with other passengers, and your cruise program will be quite a bit different from the rest. Off the boat early to start your daily rides, you get to venture a different route (under your own pedal power) to see a wider variety of highlights in the towns and surrounding areas.
Just wave to your fellow cruisers who are following that guide holding a “lollipop” sign as you swoosh by on your custom-fitted bike brought by the tour company for you to use throughout the trip.
Fitness is No Fad, You Know
Adding the biking component changes the game for the traditional river cruise, which is a more sedate and relaxed experience. But people, young and older, are increasingly interested in active travel. Exercise is good for you, and there are few better ways to get your daily dose than on a ride through a hilly countryside village in the shadows of castles or along a twisting path on the Danube or Rhine rivers.
Photo credit: John Roberts
It’s Totally Zen
The riding delivers a slight sense of euphoria as you enjoy time focused on route, the passing scenery and your next turn. You are essentially alone with your own thoughts as the miles and time passes until you get to the next pit stop for a cold drink (beer is typically an option!) and snack or until the scheduled break for lunch at a restaurant or at a castle, country estate or other attraction.
You’ll Never Have a More Restful Sleep
Pedaling 25 to 50 miles during the day and following that up with a walking tour and scrumptious meals paired with a regional wines and lively conversations with new friends ensures you hit the pillow each night pleasantly exhausted, rocked to sleep by the gentle motion of the river ship. It’s also fantastic to unpack once and have your floating hotel move you to a new destination each day.
Bike Shorts, Baby!
You’re not bashful, and these form-fitting and functional biking accessories make a nice fashion statement. You can dress up a bit at night for your dinners on the ship, but you don’t have to overpack by any means. Bike shorts, a light jacket, biking gloves, athletic shirts and shoes will be your daily uniform, and you’ll draw admiring (curious, at least) looks from fellow non-biking passengers who wish they had your vitality.
Photo credit: John Roberts
Guilt-Free Calorie Consumption
Gourmet food abounds on a river cruise ship, with all kinds of meats, breads, seafoods and desserts featured from the regions that you are visiting. When you burn off thousands of calories riding all day, you can feel free to indulge in all of these tastes. Hey, you’re just refueling! It would be irresponsible to not be properly prepared for the next day’s ride, right?
You Set the Pace
Wanna take it easy? Go ahead. Need a day off? No problem. The tours offer options for riders. You can pick a long route or shorter ride depending on what you are in the mood for. Or take a day off from riding and join the other cruisers on a different excursion option offered by the cruise line.
The biking tour operators also offer “e-assist” or electric bikes. You can pick this type of bike when booking the tour if you think you probably will need a bit of a boost on the hilly portions, for example.