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Tips and Advice / April 6, 2015

Getting around Europe

If you’ve booked a bike tour in Europe, then you probably already know it’s not the type of place where you want to pick one place and stay there (another bonus of the bike). With such cultural variety, you’ll quickly be swept up in the desire to see as much as possible while you’re there. Luckily, transportation is convenient, and you have a lot of options to get around the relatively small continent.

Getting to and from your tour
You’re responsible for travel arrangements between your arrival/departure airport and your bicycle tour’s start and end points. However, there will be information on the best ways to get to and from your start and end hotels in the tour documents that you’ll receive 3-4 weeks before the tour starts. (Some of this information also appears on many tour pages under “How to Get There.”)

Taking a train from city to city in Europe is the traditional way for travelers to get around. Rail Europe offers multi-day or multi-country passes as well as simple point-to-point tickets, which are usually sufficient. One smart solution for long-haul train trips: book an overnight train. You won’t lose valuable sightseeing time to daytime travel, and the train fare will double as your hotel budget for the night!

Seeing Europe by train can be a great experience for shorter trips, but flying is usually advisable for longer distances. Europe has many airports with frequent connections through the major international airlines. But it also has a thriving budget airline industry that you should consider if you want to minimize travel time and money. These no-frills airlines typically fly into more remote airports instead of major metropolitan centers, but are connected to the cities by rail and bus service. If you watch the fares, you can often find deeply-discounted rates.

Beware a few considerations with discount airlines, though. You can’t check luggage through for onward flights with major airlines, and there’s no recourse if you have a flight delay and miss a subsequent flight with a major airline. That’s why we advise only using these airlines if there’s a day or more between flights. (For example, flying into London one day, spending the night, and then flying onward across Europe with Ryanair the next day.)

Public transportation
Major European airports are well connected with public transportation networks, usually including both trains and buses. Check your arrival airport’s website to learn about transportation connections. You should be able to devise a route from the airport to your bike tour’s starting point using the safe and convenient public transportation. The same is true of your return trip – you should be able to plan a route with trains or buses to get from the bike tour’s endpoint to your departure airport. Be sure to leave plenty of time before your flight, though, in case of missed connections or other delays.

Private transportation
If you’re not going too far and don’t mind spending more, the airports are always staffed with plenty of taxis ready to help with luggage and deliver you to the doorstep. You can also book transfers (as well as local sightseeing tours, cultural events, and other activities) through Viator. Rental cars are an option, but not the most economical if you’re only driving from the airport to the bike tour start point. The one-way rental surcharge can be very high.

Bus service runs everywhere in Europe, though is best for travel in and around large cities rather than long-distance trips. Buses are also useful and more economical than taxis if you need to get beyond the furthest train service to an area.

Extending your trip
Some of our clients opt to extend their trip, adding a few days before or after their bicycle tour to get to know a start or end city better, relax before or after a long flight, or travel to European destinations not on their bike tour route.

Have more questions? Contact us.

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