Finding the right level of difficulty for a bike tour can be an intimidating task. After all, how do you know if you're up for the challenge? While there is no one size fits all answer, we've put together this guide to help you find your own comfort zone.
Rider level is the term we use to provide guidance regarding the experience you desire to have on your bicycle tour.
It takes into consideration the type of cycling you normally do, whether that’s little-to-none or professional-level. It also takes into account the difficulty of the terrain ridden, how long and intense your rides are, as well as your overall ability level.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what type of ride is best for you. We provide a variety of rider levels so that you can find one that fits both your desires and abilities. We’ve categorized tours by rider level so that you can find programs to best suit your cycling style and ability.
We’ve based our ranking on factors including:
While most of our tours cover about 20–40 miles per day and are designed for travelers who enjoy a slow/intermediate pace, a variety of options are available. Advanced cyclists are more likely to maintain a strong pace, often capable of riding in excess of 50 miles a day, while beginner riders will benefit from shorter rides.
The roads, paths, and trails that make up your tour route can vary in difficulty. We rank tours based on average speed and the complexity of the terrain so you know if it’s an easy ride or a more challenging one.
This is the amount of elevation (or height) gained or lost throughout the course of each day of the ride. It’s measured in meters and can greatly impact the difficulty of a tour. Flat terrain will be much easier to manage than one with steep grades.
The surface you’ll be cycling on can make a big difference in the difficulty of your ride. We rank tours according to the amount of paved road, gravel, and/or dirt that is included in each route.
The rider level of a tour is an important consideration when trying to find your perfect tour. Read the descriptions below to see which one resonates with you.
"I am active at home regularly, but I don’t necessarily cycle. Shorter daily distances or even a few days of moderate distances don’t bother me, as long as the terrain is mostly flat. If I encounter a hill or two, I’d prefer it to be a gentle incline, but I’m okay with walking my bike if I have to.
The thing I will most enjoy on my vacation is cycling leisurely and having lots of time to stop and take pictures, have a picnic lunch, or visit a castle!"
Leisure tours typically feature mainly flat terrain, with some gently rolling hills. Most of the routes will use paved roads, but gravel paths may be included as well. The daily distances for these tours range from one mile to 10–20 miles, so it’s easy to fit in sightseeing and leisurely stops along the way.
If this sounds like you — check out our Leisure tours! Or our recommendations:
Poland's Masurian Lake District (Upscale Lodging)
Amsterdam – Gouda – Bruges by Bike and Boat
"I like to ride my bicycle, but I’m no fancy spandex-clad cyclist. Sometimes I ride my bike on the weekends. I like shorter to moderate distances, and climbing a few steep hills really doesn't intimidate me.
However, I prefer small inclines or infrequent hills. If I have to huff and puff up one big hill, I’ll survive. I would like to spend my days on tour both cycling and sightseeing."
Recreational tours typically feature moderate terrain, with a mix of flat and hilly sections. The roads might be a combination of pavement, gravel roads, and some dirt paths. The daily distances for these tours are typically 20+ miles.
If this sounds like you — check out our Recreational tours! Or our recommendations:
Prague - City of a Hundred Spires Bike and Boat
"I can be found on my bike frequently, commuting to work, attending local rides, and/or traveling to cycle a new trail on weekends. I am comfortable with moderate to long distances.
I know how to climb hills and pace myself on various terrains. I want to cycle at a strong pace. The cycling itself is as much of an appeal as the tour destination and sights."
Active tours typically feature longer distances and more challenging terrain. You’ll find yourself cycling on a mix of pavement, gravel roads, and dirt paths. The daily distances for these tours are typically 30+ miles.
If this sounds like you — check out our Active tours! Or our recommendations:
Southern Fyn: A Tour Around Denmark’s Fairytale Island
Pearls of Dalmatia by Bike and Boat, Romantica
"I live on my bike. Just kidding. I commute to work every day and/or ride looooong distances multiple days a week and extra on the weekends.
I am excited by a challenge whether that’s long mileage days or never-ending steep climbs. The destination is a bonus to all the cycling I will be doing on tour!"
Enthusiast tours are trips designed for advanced cyclists and typically feature mostly hilly terrain, with some flat sections. The roads are usually all paved, but you may find some gravel or dirt paths. The daily distances for these tours are 40+ miles.
If this sounds like you — check out our Enthusiast tours! Or our recommendations:
Tuscan Wine Classic: Pienza to Castellina via Siena
Your comfort level is a personal preference. To help you decide which bike tour suits your needs and skill level, consider the following questions:
How much are you comfortable cycling per day? Intermediate cyclists can usually cover distances of 20–35 miles/per day, whereas advanced riders can cover longer distances.
How much elevation gain are you comfortable with? Hills and mountains add a new element of challenge but also provide rewarding views.
How much time do you want to spend sightseeing? Keep in mind that the more stops, the fewer miles you can cover.
Do you prefer on- or off-road cycling? On paved roads, expect a smoother ride but less scenic routes; off-road trails offer rougher terrain and often great views.
Answering these questions can help you narrow down the list of tours to find one that best fits your cycling style and ability level.
Advanced cyclists may be ready to tackle more difficult terrain and longer distances, while those new to biking should opt for an easier path with shorter rides. You can also get an idea of your comfort level by assessing how often you currently ride—are you a leisurely weekend rider or do you log long miles on the regular?
For intermediate cyclists, we suggest taking a tour that is labeled as recreational or active. That way, you can build up your skills, speed and stamina while exploring new places on two wheels! With so many tours to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a bit of fun and extra support when cycling, an e-bike tour may be the perfect option.
With electric assist, E-bikes make long distances more manageable and are ideal for those who want to take on hilly terrain or longer climbs without breaking too much of a sweat. Giving you an extra boost when you need it, they also make it easier to keep up with friends and family who have different levels of fitness.
We also offer support vans for our riders during some of our tours. A support van provides an extra layer of assistance for a group of our riders with a wide range of abilities and needs.
A support van adds flexibility to the trip—carrying your bike and the full day’s worth of supplies when needed, allowing you a recovery day or providing a break from long rides if desired.
We recommend that everyone who books a bike tour has some experience in riding.
If you're a non-rider keen on the idea of a tour, we would suggest getting used to cycling on a regular basis for at least an hour at a time in training before booking a tour.
This way, you'll enjoy the tour more, feel more secure at a relaxed pace, and have a greater appreciation for the experience.
So, whether you are a leisurely cyclist or an experienced rider looking for a challenge, there’s a tour for everyone. We hope this guide to rider levels has been helpful in helping you to decide which tour best fits your needs.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and our team of experts will be on hand to answer all your queries. Happy cycling!
Looking for something different? Now offering city cycling tours in major destinations all over the world.