Last week Ride Velo looked at bucket list cycling holidays of a lifetime. This week we come back down to earth a little, exploring seaside and coastal holidays near the Mediterranean and along the Algarve. There is such an array to choose from, we've just picked out the best road cycling holidays for fairly able riders, but if you're into MTB, ebike or family holidays, don't stop reading now, as all the companies we've featured have a whole host of different trips to try and locations to experience. There really is something for everyone!
Let's travel from West to East, starting in Portugal. Algarve Bike Holidays do some fab trips along the southern coast and we chose a Tour of the Algarve by road bike. This is a self-guided holiday, although you can add in luggage couriering for an additional fee so you don't have to cart your stuff around with you. This road bike trip is based on the annual Pro Volta do Algarve tour, taking advantage of a fantastic network of quiet tarmac roads that stretch across the whole of the Algarve. It can be adapted to suit your individual needs, but the recommended itinerary kicks off in a pretty town on the borders of Spain and Portugal. Every day you ride between 60 and 70km, staying the night in 3* or 4* hotels. The tour takes in popular destinations such as Loulé, Sagres and Albufeira. Seven nights costs from €450, which we think is pretty good value too.
All the way round the coast up to the North of Spain now for a trip to the Costa Brava. Ride Velo regulars will know how much we love Girona and Barcelona for their cycling, food and stunning scenery. So the obvious choice for Spain was Girona Cycling. This company runs tours and training camps as well as triathlon and family breaks. Based in a 3* hotel set in the perfect location to discover the beautiful Province of Girona, there are plenty of fantastic and picturesque routes in every direction, ranging from 10km to 200 km.
From here you can visit the volcanic national park, the foothills and the high Pyrenees, Dali's Cap de Creus and the 10th century monastery of St Pere de Rodes, the Greek and Roman ruins of Empuries overlooking the Med, the medieval town of Besalu and the beautiful Gavarres overlooking the city of Girona. Phew! We can testify that you won't be disappointed - and in the summer months the weather is much more pleasant here than in southern Spain for cyclists. If you're very lucky, you might just spot David Millar and Garmin ex teammate Dan Martin enjoying a cheeky post-ride beer like we did! Self guided camps start at just €288 per person per week for Bed and Breakfast accommodation at Mas Pelegri.
From here we head East to the South of France, and the Riveria district of Nice, Cannes and Monaco, going up into the Provencal southern Alps. Ride Strong bike tours is actually an American company (nothing to do with Lance Armstrong in case you were wondering!) They also specialise in holidays to Girona and Mallorca, but we are going cycling in the South of France at Easter to meet Remi from Café du Cycliste, so we wanted to check out this region for some cycling ideas.
From the beaches of Nice, to the highest paved pass in Europe - we chose the Southern Alps cycling trip for what the company call an 'ultimate sea-to-sky ride'. Loosely following Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba, Ride Strong promise challenging daily rides on back country roads, dramatic mountain scenery and special nights in unique hotels, mountain chalets and castles that have been carefully selected for their comfort, delicious food and authentic charm..
On this guided holiday, you’ll ride roughly 45 – 65 miles (70-110km) each day, over 1-3 mountain passes through several hidden mountain hamlets and spectacular gorges. Rides will all start and finish at a hotel so there’s no need for getting in a van all week (unless you want to). To fully enjoy this tour you must be a fit cyclist capable of riding the daily distances over hilly terrain. The trip isn't cheap though, at $3,750 US for 8 days, so expect it to be pretty luxurious!
From the Alps to the Dolomites and Italy's offering of Velo Veneto. This camp is based close enough to Venice and the Prosecco region of Italy that non-cycling accompanying guests can still have a wonderful time exploring the local area while you're out on your bike. The company offer 'performance oriented cycling vacations' so don't expect to potter around the countryside on this trip, although they will be plenty of delicious gelato, pizza and pasta to build you up again after all those speedy climbs.
Camps, races and watching the Giro are all on the menu this summer, although we chose the Dolomites Cycling Adventure. This takes place in mid June to coincide with the Sella Ronda Bike Day. This is your chance to ride the famous Sella Ronda route over four Dolomite passes with all roads closed to car traffic – nothing but bikes! After that fantastic start, each morning, you'll head out on a ride through the Dolomites that will challenge your legs and amaze your eyes. You’ll have the chance to ride all the climbs from the 2016 Giro d’Italia’s Queen Stage (though not all in one day!) The Hotel Posta Zirm’s Wellness Area will help you recover, as will a free massage. A week's holiday is $2,950 US, not including travel to Venice.
And finally if, like me, you find the thought of spending a week with lots of competitive mamils rather intimidating, how about this 'relaxed' ladies only trip organised by Pinarello Travel? The brilliant thing about his holiday is it also includes a reasonable amount of lying around by the pool which I personally believe is what a summer holiday should be all about! Riding 60-80km a day through the rolling Tuscan hills, there's still plenty of time left after the morning ride to go horse riding, take cookery lessons or lunch by the sea as well. Expect a visit from Carla Pinarello herself at the Tuscan estate where you will be based for the week. This "Pink Tour' is €3,100 from May 30th and the trip includes 7 day Pinarello bike rental, of course #thisgirlcan - or rather, this girl definitely would if she could afford it...