Europe Bicycle Touring
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This page last updated on: January 19, 2012
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By David May

Bicycling in Europe—What Budget?

Costs of Transporting your Bicycle to Your Bike Tour

A bicycle vacation in Europe can cost a fortune, or be very reasonable. At this writing in January 2012, round-trip summer and early-fall restricted coach air fares from the USA to Europe range from $ 1,200 to $ 1,500, and are approximately $300 less in May. However these prices vary by the day, and two months ago the same flights would have cost $300 more.

Airline Charges for a Bicycle: If you are bringing your own bicycle with you, at this writing the airlines would charge for carriage of a bicycle, round-trip, approximately $300, except for British Air and Air France, whose charges would be about $200. Charges for extra suitcases run between $100 and $200 round-trip.

A ferry trip from Britain to France and return, crossing between Dover to Calais, can cost less than £ 100 with a car (carrying bikes) and two passengers, or £ 80 for two persons with bikes and no car.

To this must be added the cost of getting from your home to the airport or ferry terminal, and the cost of getting from the arrival airport or ferry terminal to the beginning of your bike tour. These logistics are discussed on my page Transporting Your Bicycle. These costs may add about $200 per bicycle trip.

Costs of a European Bicycle Tour

The costs of the bicycle tour itself, vary widely, as the following table demonstrates. On this page, I discuss my take on the advantages and disadvantages of the three types of tours shown in the table: Commercial Guided Tours, Commercially Organized Self-Guided Tours, and Self-Organized Tours. I do not discuss bicycle club organized tours, whose styles and costs can vary widely. Note that there are many companies in the bicycle touring business, frequently unknown to me. The following lists are by way of examples, and are not recommendations.

For a listing with links of many-many bicycle touring companies—with their styles and typical prices, see the impressive site http://www.biketour-reviews.com.

The chart below lists budget estimates for the three types of tours at various levels of luxury. From the chart, it is evident that for moderately priced hotels and meals self-organized tours are about one-half the daily cost of commercial guided tours, and for luxury hotels and meals, only about one-third the cost of commercial guided tours.

The cost of commercially organized self-guided tours varies all over the lot, though they are always cheaper than a guided tour. If the organizer of the tour is a well know company, the savings from self-guiding may only be 20 or 30%. If it is a regional operator in Europe, the savings may be comparable or even better than a self-organized trip.

Cost is only one factor, however. For a full discussion please see the following section: Commercial Group Bicycle Tour or Self-Guided Bicycle Tour?

All prices in the following table are Per Person, Per Day assuming double occupancy.

Type of Bike Tour

Example*
or Category
Approximate Daily Cost Per Person, double occupancy, 2012
France or Italy**
Commercial Guided Bike Tours
Note: Many, many bicycle tour companies exist. The following are examples, not recommendations.
Luxury (castle hotels, top restaurants):    

Super Luxury (all meals, drinks, tips, bicycles):

Butterfield and Robinson
$ 1100 - 1300
Luxury (includes most meals, bicycles):
Back Roads, Club Toscana
$ 700 - 850
Moderate (moderate hotels, usually does not include lunches):    
Moderate plus: usually no lunches, includes bicycle
Classic Adventures, Ciclismo Classico (Italy), Austin-Lehman (was Eurobike),
$ 500-650, Greece $400

Moderate, includes bicycle

Easy Rider
$ 500, in some areas $ 400
Moderate minus: No lunches, bike rental if required at about $250 for two weeks
Gerhards
$ 350
Economy, usually a European-based tour company (led by a rider from the local country) (very basic to standard hotels, mediocre food, no lunches, no van support): Barge tours in the Netherlands, various companies.
€ 100, about $ 130 to $140
 
 

Commercially Organized Self-Guided Bike Tours with route guidebooks, baggage transfers, booked hotels

 
Luxury—NOT AVAILABLE
  NA

Moderate plus—The above companies offer some self-guided tours—they include, in addition to the above, high quality bike rental, transport to and from tour from airport included. Meals are not included

  $ 300 - $ 400
Moderate minus
Biketours Direct,Discover France, Pack and Pedal Europe
€ 110, about $ 140 to $150
Economy (no meals included), bike rental of 21 speed hybrid about $10 a day, 2 and 3 star lodging, 4 star sometimes available at extra cost.
Rad und Reise (Eurocycle), , others in Austria, Germany, Holland, France
€70 - €100, about $ 95 to $140

Self-Organized Bike Tours

 

 

Accommodations: All entries exclude capital cities, such as Paris, Venice, or Amsterdam, which may cost double the prices below. Costs shown are one-half of the double room rate.
(
Note: Commercial Bicycle Tours rarely overnight in capital cities.)
Castle Hotels - Top Luxury
€ 75 - 150
  Moderate Hotels or B&B.S.
€ 50 - 75
  Inexpensive Hotels or B&B.S.
€ 25 - 50

Communal (Alpine Club Refuges are one-half if you are a member)

Gites, Refuges, Hostels
€ 20-30

Campgrounds—Tent (no car)

 
€ 3 - 15†

 

Restaurants and Food††

 
  Breakfast
€ 6 - 15
  Lunch or Dinner - *** rated
€ 100 - 130
  Lunch or Diner - * rated
€ 50 - 100
  moderate restaurant
€ 25 - 50
  inexpensive restaurant or pizzeria, or daily special at lunch
€ 12 -25
  fast food chain
€ 6 - 10
  Self-prepared breakfast
€ 1 - 3
  Picnic or self-cooked meal†††
€ 3 - 15
Bicycle Rental For Self-Organized Tour Daily, based on 1 week trip (availability of decent quality bicycles suitable for light touring depends on the country)
  € 6 - 18
Baggage Transport Per Day (only in a few areas or by taxi at much higher expense).
  € 6 -10
Costs below do not include bike rental or baggage transport.    
TOTAL COST, EXCLUDING TRANSPORTATION, FOR A EUROPEAN LUXURY SELF-ORGANIZED BICYCLE TOUR Best Hotels, moderately-priced, lunch, top-rated dinner restaurants €300 - €350
TOTAL COST, EXCLUDING TRANSPORATION, FOR A EUROPEAN BUDGET SELF-ORGANIZED BICYCLE TOUR Inexpensive Hotel, Picnic Lunch, half moderate, half inexpensive dinner restaurants € 75 - € 100
TOTAL COST, EXCLUDING TRANSPORTATION, FOR A EUROPEAN CAMPING SELF-ORGANIZED BICYCLE TOUR Moderately Priced Campgrounds, all meals self-cooked or picnics or at pizzerias € 20 - €30


*The author has not contacted or utilized most of the companies mentioned, and cannot vouch for the quality of their services. Prices were taken from their web sites and are approximate. Discounts may be available. Please confirm all prices.

**Prices of each company for commercial tours tend to be constant across most of their trips, but a few destinations may be a hundred dollars or two per day more or less expensive. Prices rarely vary by season.

***Inexpensive meal plans often are available for these tours.

****Additional $ 10 - 20 total per person for dinner and breakfast.

Higher priced campgrounds have amenities, such as swimming pools. Prices are often substantially higher during the main summer tourist season. Prices also vary by location. Campgrounds near a beach, for example may be much more expensive. It can be possible to camp for nothing by asking permission from local land owners.

†† Includes one less-expensive glass of wine (except breakfast)

†††On the less expensive side, for example, bread and cheese, or pasta and sauce. In the middle: chicken, vegetables, flans, etc. On the more expensive side, smoked salmon, pâté, pastries, raspberries, etc.

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