How to Travel Through Europe by Bike

How to Travel Through Europe by Bike
Europe is famous for its spectacular seascapes, scenic countryside and breathtaking mountain views. Biking your way through this incredible landscape is both inexpensive and rewarding, and can be done alone, with a companion or as part of a group. With a little planning, your bike trip through Europe will let you take in memorable vistas, breathe in fresh air and interact with friendly locals while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Kryptonite-style bike lock Bike bell Tail light Cycling guide book European train schedule Handlebar extensions Bike route map
  • Kryptonite-style bike lock
  • Bike bell
  • Tail light
  • Cycling guide book
  • European train schedule
  • Handlebar extensions
  • Bike route map
Step 1
Plan ahead by browsing through a handful of biking guide books to identify the regions you'd like to visit by bike. There are several great bike routes throughout different areas of the continent, but depending on what time of the year you travel, some routes may be more conducive to traveling than others. While an exact itinerary is not necessary, a rough idea with flexibility for detours is recommended.
Step 2
Bring your own bike. Traveling with your own bike ensures you will be riding on something that your body is used to riding, and that can easily accommodate your panniers and racks.
Step 3
Bring along the right gear for your bike. Most European countries require that a bell be placed on a bike to alert other riders of your presence. If possible, add some handlebar extensions to your bike to give your arms and hands a place to rest. Straight handlebars that accompany mountain bikes generally don't offer this feature and limit hand positioning options, a fact that can tire you out on any longer European routes. Presta tire valves are the standard throughout Europe, so if your bike uses Shraeder valves, be sure to take along an adapter. Last but not least, remember to add some sort of readily identifiable taillight or strobe light for riding through the various dark and long tunnels that invariably pop up all over the place in Europe.
Step 4
Familiarize yourself with the bike laws along your route. If you choose to travel through the Netherlands, for instance, you will learn there are signs dotting the roads specifically for bikers. A bike in a blue circle means cyclists are welcome; a bike in a red circle means stay clear.
Step 5
Take your bike on a train ride. Traveling with your bike on a train will allow you to see more of the continent than if you use only your bike. Travel together with your bike by carefully scanning train timetables to look for trains marked with bicycle symbols. Anyone at a train information station should be able to assist you, and in some cases you may be able to make advance reservations to travel on a bike-friendly train.

Tips & Warnings

While any travel map of Europe can help you find your way around the area, consider purchasing a bike map to really learn the lay of the land by bike. Companies like Michelin, Touring Club Italiano and Die Generalkarte publish maps that include bike-friendly back roads, and will even help you figure out which hills are steep versus flat.
Petty crime is just as common in Europe, so use common sense when traveling by bike. Never leave your bike gear unattended, and lock your bike to something sturdy using a kryptonite-style bike lock when you must leave. Whenever possible, bring your bike indoors or inquire about a locked bike room available at some hostels.

Article Written By Virginia Franco

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.

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