Pedal Through Europe On Your Next River Cruise

Did you know you can cycle through Europe on your next river cruise?

It’s true – AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways and the ships of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection all offer complimentary bicycles for guests to use during their European river cruise – and they’re a feature that’s becoming more and more popular with guests of all ages.

River Cruise Travel Tips

Bicycles on-shore next to AmaWaterways’ AmaLyra. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders,

Even if it’s been years since you last hopped on a bicycle, fear not: these are simple, easy-to-use road bikes that feature a minimal set of gears. In most of the places you’ll be cycling around, hills are few and far between, so you don’t have to worry about your adventures being too strenuous – though it may take some time to get used to the braking system on some that involves pressing backwards on the pedals in order to come to a stop.

Just because there are bicycles onboard doesn’t mean you have to check one out and go for a spin with the traffic around the Ringstrasse in Vienna. In fact, we’d recommend checking one out in the smallest of towns on your itinerary. If you’ve been to Melk, Austria before, you’ll know that Melk Abbey – the town’s only real attraction – doesn’t change a lot in between visits. When we’re in Melk now, we prefer to go for a spin in the countryside. Ditto for the gorgeous town of Durnstein. In fact, if your fitness level and itinerary allows for it (and if you clear it with the ship first), you can even opt to cycle between towns and re-join your ship at its next port in the afternoon.

Cycling outside of Hoorn, Netherlands. Photo © Aaron Saunders

Cycling outside of Hoorn, Netherlands. Photo © Aaron Saunders

The Netherlands, of course, remains one of the best spots to cycle in, thanks to the closeness of most major towns and cities. A favorite journey of ours when we’re docked in the picturesque town of Hoorn is to cycle along the backroads through fields and canals to the small village of Schellinkhout, about three kilometres to the northeast. It’s an easy trip, and you can always stop for a coffee and a stroopwafel (a thin wafer-like treat with caramel in the middle) on the way.

Right now, the only major river cruise operator to not offer onboard bicycles is Viking River Cruises. Is that a big deal if you’re a cyclist? Not really – many larger European port cities off the ability to rent a bicycle for the day for only a few Euros. In Amsterdam, for example, a bike rental shop is located just across the street from the main river cruise piers.

Happy River Cruising! Photo © Aaron Saunders

Happy River Cruising! Photo © Aaron Saunders

Still have questions about river cruising through Europe? We’re here to help. Get in touch with us online, or give us a ring if you prefer a good ‘ol voice-to-voice chat.

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Aaron is Cruise Experts Travel’s Social Media Coordinator. A passionate world traveler and cruiser, he writes weekly for the Vancouver Province about cruises, maintains several websites, and has authored two books on ships and the sea.

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