Bike and boat tours are a perennial trip favorite among our travelers. There are so many reasons why, but here’s a quick list that features some of the top reasons.
- No unpacking and re-packing every day
You know how you usually pack super carefully before departing for a trip, allocating hours (or even days) to fold, roll, and carefully manipulate every item into its perfect puzzle spot in the suitcase – only to have it all NEVER fit back in the suitcase the same at the end of your trip? Now multiply that frustration by 7 (the typical number of nights on a bike tour).That’s one of the few downsides of traditional point-to-point bicycle tours – ineffectively cramming your stuff back in the bag once more so you can drop it in the lobby for transfer to your next hotel. Meanwhile, boat passengers’ only task each morning is to enjoy a leisurely breakfast since they’re coming ‘home’ to the same room each night.
- Group camaraderie
Between riding as a group and living in close quarters onboard, you’ll develop relationships with your fellow bike-and-boaters. People tend to gravitate toward the shared spaces on a boat — lounges, decks, the bar — which creates a social atmosphere for relaxing, swapping stories, and getting to know one another.Communal dining is also a great way to enjoy your boat mates. Try sitting at a different table or with a different party at each meal to discuss that day’s ride and adventures.
- Covering ground by boat as well as bike
Since the boat can keep going once you’re onboard, you get the sightseeing benefits of cruising with an ever-changing scene sliding by your cabin windows. Cruising during breakfast or dinner also means you’re being repositioned to the next most appealing town for your overnight or location for cycling. This allows you to see more–sometimes the best of a route–without having to pedal the full distance as you would on a point-to-point tour.
- The boat crew
A boat’s crew can be a wealth of knowledge about the route you’re riding and cruising. After all, they often float that same route week after week and get to know the sites and overnight stops well. All of your needs will be attended by cabin staff, some of whom may double as bartenders or servers at meals. Get to know these folks — they’re the real insiders! If you’re lucky, the barge captain might tell you the intricacies of Dutch lock systems (only if that interests you, of course), or the cook on your Croatia bike and boat tour may let you tag along before dawn as he makes his way through the village markets buying the best farm-to-table fare for the day’s meals.
- Combining the best parts of cruise vacations and adventure travel
There’s a lot to be said for cruises: you cover a lot of ground and see a variety of sites, you only deal with one accommodation check-in and -out, and you don’t have to put much thought or effort into meals. But let’s be honest….they’re a little sedentary. If bingo, shuffleboard, and lying in a pool lounger sound like a snooze fest, and run-of-the-mill off-board excursions (can you say “rum punch beach party” and “trolley tour”?) aren’t your thing, you’ve probably been itching for something a little more active and immersive. Like, say, biking!
- Easy to take a rest day onboard
Not sure you’ll feel like cycling back-to-back-to-back days for a week? Stay onboard and enjoy the shifting scene from your cabin or on deck. You’ll have peace and quiet for a few hours until the rest of the group meets back up with the boat, but you’ll surely be more relaxed and refreshed!
- Great for groups with different levels of passion for cycling
Similar to the rest days described above, these tours are still fun for the non-cyclists in your party or for those who just want to take a break for a day or half-day. Watch the world go by from the deck rather than the saddle, or perhaps take part in alternative excursions sometimes available!
- The boats themselves
While each region employs boats suited to its waterways, it’s safe to say these are, across the board, pretty cool vessels to call home for a week. In inland areas of Europe, they’re typically converted barges. Beautiful motor yachts grace the coasts of the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Specialty boats are entering the scene, too, including one plying the Croatian coast with a full onboard spa, and a recently launched boat crafted specifically to cater to the booming electric bike trend.