Cycling through Europe on a shoestring

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 17-23, 1997
Where in Colorado should a runner move?
Cycling through Europe on a shoestring
Kayaking Lake Powell — without the crowds
Rock climbing in Kentucky's Red River Gorge
Options for Christmastime trekking in Morocco

Cycling through Europe on a shoestring
Question: I want to cycle across Europe with a group of people without doing the "planned-tour" thing. We would like to take six to eight weeks to just travel everywhere we can. Where can I find detailed maps and travel plans for this type of trip? Also, I would like to keep the cost to a minimum (less money each night means more nights!). Are there any cheap places to stay (just a bed) and how do I find out about them?

Lorien Anderson
Tucson, AZ
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Before you start pedaling make sure you are comfortable with bike touring. I hate to be the bad guy and bring up all the unpleasantries, but keep in mind you’ll have to constantly keep an eye on your bike, and battle foreign drivers, unknown roads, and a variety of weather conditions. If you’re used to bike touring, none of these will pose a problem, but if this is your first major venture on two wheels, I’d seriously consider leaving your bike at home and investing in a Eurail pass instead. Actually, even if you do bring your bike, invest in a Eurail pass anyway. Most trains allow bikes on board and if you get tired of that 7,000-foot mountain pass or extra-wicked headwind, all you have to do is hop aboard. Buy a pass before you leave the U.S. through a local travel agent.

The most inexpensive lodging you’ll find is through Hostelling International (202-783-6161), whose room rates throughout the world range from approximately $9 to $23 per night. Your Hostelling International membership also will entitle you to discounts on air fares, railway tickets, ferry tickets, car rentals, museum admissions, and much more. Hostels can be found throughout Europe and are regulated to meet certain quality standards. They aren’t the Ritz, but you’ll be guaranteed a roof over your head and run-ins with some colorful characters. For other ideas on pleasant inexpensive hotels/inns, take a peek through the Lonely Planet guidebook series at a local bookstore. Lonely Planets are written for the budget-minded and always have accurate, realistic descriptions of lodging written by well-worn travelers.

A few publications to peruse before you go: Adventure Cycling Association’s The Cyclist’s Yellow Pages ($9.95; 406-721-1776). This catalog-style directory will give you up-to-date information on maps, books, routes, and rides throughout Europe. You may also want to check out Europe by Bike, by Karen and Terry Whitehill (Mountaineers Press) and Cycling Europe: Budget Bike Touring in the Old World, by Nadine Slavinski (Bicycle Books). Michelin Guides and Maps’ ($10-$26; 800-423-0485) 1:200,000 series is detailed enough to reveal the most scenic and traffic-free backroads.

Search the archives | Ask the Adventure Adviser

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!