Bike tours in Italy
Biking around Italy, on your own or with a bicycle tour
A trip with a company like Bike Tours Direct gets you to tiny hilltowns the big bus tours skip.Cycling is the best way to see Italy at your own pace.
D.I.Y. Italy by bike: Transporting and renting bicycles in Italy
Avid cyclists who plan to tour a whole region by bike, however, will probably want to bring their own bicycle. Some airlines charge extra to bring a bike; many count it as one of your pieces of checked luggage. Either way, your bicycle must be properly boxed—remove the pedals and front wheel; buy the box at a bike shop or the airport for around $10.
You can bring your bike onto Italian trains, but you have to buy a special "bici" supplement, which costs €3.50 and is good for 24 hours from the time you stamp it before boarding the train (if you're going on an international train, the price is €12). Oddly, if you carry the bike in its own bag or box, you can take it on board for free.
Neophytes might want to try a short trip at home first to learn the basics and figure out the essential gear. Perhaps the best way to do it the first time is to hook up with a cycling tour:
Bike tour companies and resources
You can find a long list of bike tour companies around the world at www.bikeleague.org, but they merely list them in alphabetical order, so you'll have to click and click to figure out which ones run tours to Italy.
RealAdventures tour companies
Bike Tours Direct (all over Italy)
Bike Riders (all over)
Bike Riders Tours (all over)
Mountain Bike (Umbria)
Path (Apulia, Campania, Basilicata)
Apulia by Bike (Apulia)
Freeride Mountain Bike Holidays (Urbino/Apennines)
Adventure aggregator RealAdventures (www.realadventures.com) canvases some of the best bike tour outfits out there (along with other adventurous trips), from major international outfits (like BikeToursDirect and Radonee) to local operators in Apulia, Sardegna, Tuscany, and elsewhere.
Again, the box on the right provides direct links to each program offered in 2013.
A few other favorites I'll single out are Italy specialist Ciclismo Classico (www.ciclismoclassico.com) and Bike Tours Direct (www.biketoursdirect.com), represented by RealAdventures, above, and a sort of middleman that can hook you up with smaller, local bike tour outfits, which are often much cheaper than the big international agencies and tour companies.
Bike tours of Italy from trusted partners
Destinations: Siena, Chianciano Terme, Pienza, Montepulciano
In a country famed for its extensive (not to mention delicious) culinary traditions, Tuscany is top dog. And what better way to work up an appetite for all those gastronomic delights than by taking a leisurely ride through some of the most gorgeous countryside you’ll find anywhere? On this trip, you’ll explore the gently rolling hills and tiny villages of this idyllic patch of Europe from the seat of a bike, then dig in to expertly prepared meals and flavourful wines drawn from the land you’ve spent all day traversing. If you really are what you eat, expect to become exquisite....
- Included activities: Cooking class of local organic produce, winetasting with local meats and cheeses, cycling in Tuscan countryside including visit to Pienza, Montepulciano and Siena.
- Accommodation: Small locally owned farmhouse/agriturismo (6 nts)
- Meals: 6 Breakfasts, 6 Dinners; budget €120–170 for other meals
- Transport: Local bus, train, walking, cycling
- Group size: Max 12, Avg 8
Destinations: San Quirico, Pienza, Montepulciano, Bagno Vignoni, Siena, Castellina in Chianti, San Gimignano, Greve in Chianti, Florence
Cycle through Tuscany and explore some of Italy's most endearing countryside. Ride through Italian vineyards, quaint hamlets and small villages full of culture and a friendly local atmosphere. Admire classic gothic architecture lining lively market squares. Try traditional Italian cuisine, full of flavour and unmistakeably different form the copycats around the world. Finish in the stunningly beautiful city of Florence, full of classic artwork from the likes of Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci...
- Included activities: Guided bike ride through Tuscany
- Accommodation: Hotel (7 nts)
- Meals: 7 breakfasts; budget €300 for other meals
- Transport: Bicycle, Support vehicle
- Group size: Max 16
Destinations: San Salvatore Sinis, San Giovanni Sinis, Tharros, Piscinas/Costa Verde, Nebida, Sant'Antioco, Isola di San Pietro, Sant'Anna Arresi, Pula
Cycle over some of the most untouched, breathtaking coastal roads in Europe. Witness flocks of flamingos preening in the lagoons of the beautiful Sinis wetlands. Visit the ancient city ruins of Tharros. Spend a night in a charming agriturismo. Be wowed by the 400-foot-high seat stacks of Pan di Zucchero...
- Included activities: Guide bike ride the length of Sardegna
- Accommodation: Hotel (6 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
- Meals: 7 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches; budget €150 for other meals
- Transport: Bicycle, Ferry, Support vehicle
- Group size: Max 16
When you want just a day of biking, not a whole tour
Even if you don't want to bike from town to town through the countryside, you may be happy to spend a morning tooling around Bologna the city with an experienced guide, or taking a day-long jaunt in the Tuscan countryside, past a medieval monastery and the Etruscan village of Fiesole before coasting back down into Florence.
You can pick up brochures on bike tours at local tourism offices in Italy. For most bike tours, you must reserve in advance, and rates can range anywhere from $20 to $150 for a day (depending if lunch is involved).
ReidsItaly.com has partnered with Viator, which provides a variety of bike (and Segway) tours you can sign up for ahead of time (there are direct links to a few in the last paragraph). Here are some of their guided trips in major Italian destinations:
- Renting bikes in Rome and Florence
- Other active and sporting experiences in Italy
- Tours FAQ (what questions to ask, are tours right for you, etc.)
- Educational tours (cooking, language, art/history/cultural, study)
- Special interest & niche tours (family, seniors, student, women, gay/lesbian, religious, handicapped, singles)
- Escorted group tours
- Design your own group tour
- Private guides
- Vacation packages (air-hotel, air-car, untours)
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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