Exploring by Bicycle

posted by Sharon February 17, 2019 32 Comments
Biking Paris Invalides

Have you had the pleasure of exploring a new place from the seat of a bicycle? Pedaling along, you are part of life all around you, breathing in the fresh air, smiling and nodding at people, feeling present and alive and vibrant. You can stop and hop off to admire a view, dip your toes in a lake, or run in a local store for a pastry. You’re not behind the glass of a car or train — you are in your world, soaking it all up. It’s an experience to savor.

You may have a choice of joining a tour or renting a bicycle and riding off on your own. For me, the decision sometimes comes down to how much traffic I’ll encounter. I’m fine on my own riding on a designated bike path. In cities with lots of cars and unfamiliar streets (ah, Paris!), I opted for a tour. When 12 of us on bikes ventured onto the Place de Concorde with it’s crazy cars darting in circles, we literally stopped traffic. I wouldn’t have wanted to try that by myself. For the same reason, I haven’t rented Velib bikes when visiting a bustling city. I’m not confident I could cycle and read my Google Maps and dodge traffic all at once. You may be braver than I am, though. Paris

I don’t own a bicycle, so when we travel and plan for a bike ride, I rent. Just be sure before you leave the rental shop that you are comfortable on your bike. Ride around the parking lot or square and test the pedals, the seat height, and any gears that change. I’ve rented bikes I absolutely did not want to turn in, they fit me so well and were in excellent condition. If you’re riding with a tour group, you may feel pressured to keep up and hurry, but take your time and make sure your bike is a good fit. Also attach any saddle bags, water bottles, or baskets and stash your belongings securely before you begin. BrugesHere are a few of the bicycling tours I’ve enjoyed. I’m hoping to add many more!

Bruges, Belguim

This may be my favorite travel bike ride ever. Biking near Bruges comes with several pluses. The farmland is flat. You can go for miles without tiring. You can follow a canal and never get lost. And the landscape is dotted with windmills. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, BelgiumBruges, BelgiumBruges, BelgiumBruges, Belgium

We rented bicycles from Eric Popelier, whose shop is right off the market square. We planned to ride to the next town, Damme, then eat lunch and bike back to Bruges. The young man who rented the bikes suggested we aim instead for the town of Sluis, much farther away and right on the border of the Netherlands. He instructed us to follow the canal and enjoy ourselves. Why not ride to the next country?! A few blocks from the center of the town we found the canal and began our  tour of the Belgian countryside. We figured out we rode about 26 miles — just a comfortable distance and a full day of fun.Bruges, BelgiumBruges, Belgium

Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is more than 70 miles around, and bike trails run right along the lakeshore. My favorite is the section from the Tahoe City dam south to Homewood ski resort. Last summer we enjoyed this more than ever because we took our pup Bailey along with us in his basket. We rented a bicycle for me, and we spent the day gliding alongside the crystal blue waters. Lake TahoeLake Tahoe Lake Tahoe

Lake TahoeVersailles, France

A highlight of our time in Paris was an all-day bike tour of the town and palace of Versailles with Fat Tire Tours. Discovering the little city of Versailles proved to be one of the unexpected pleasures of the day. Many people ride the train from Paris for about 30 minutes, get off at the train station, and go right to the palace. We headed instead to downtown Versailles to pick up our bikes at the company office there. Versailles Bike TourWe shopped the markets for lunch, then packed up and headed to the palace. Our guide filled us in on the history of Versailles. Biking down the the tree-lined lanes is a great way to cover some of the extensive grounds and gardens. We also stopped to explore Marie Antionette’s play village. We rode to the end of the canal, parked our bikes, and spread out our lunches and wines. I highly recommend this way of touring Versailles. Versailles Bike Tour Versailles Bike Tour Versailles Bike Tour Versailles Bike Tour Versailles Bike Tour Versailles Bike TourWashington, DC

The memorials of Washington, DC are clustered in one area, but it can seem like you’re trudging a long way between them when you are walking (and it’s 95 degrees with high humidity). A bike tour allows you to cover more ground and save your tired feet. We enjoyed an evening bike tour of the memorials with Bike and Roll DC. Taking off at sunset, you pedal around the mall while an excellent guide fills you in on the history of each monument. A storm cut our tour short, but we would gladly book this again (even though they made us wear these dorky neon vests and helmets!). Washinton, DCWashinton, DCWashinton, DCWashinton, DC Washinton, DCCape Cod, Massachusetts

Biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a treat. This path covers 22 miles through forests and along the shores of Cape Cod where the railway once carried trains. It’s flat and takes you through towns like Rock Harbor, where colorful old lobster pots hang on wooden cafes. You can rent bikes in the town of Brewster and ride all day. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy under the canopy of green. You’ll feel like you’ve really visited the Cape. Cape Cod Cape Cod Cape CodCape Cod Cape Cod Cape CodThese are some of my favorite times biking while traveling. How about you? Do you have a favorite bike ride? Versailles

Lake Tahoe

Linking up with Image-in-ing, Monday Murals, Pictorial Tuesday, Wednesday Around the WorldThe Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Travel Photo Thursday, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, The Weekly Postcard, Wanderful Wednesday, Feet Do Travel, Weekend Wanderlust, Nanahood, My Corner of the World, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

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32 Comments

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Patrick Weseman February 17, 2019 at 10:17 am

Very beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing them.

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Mary Lynn February 17, 2019 at 9:19 pm

Love reading this…..

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rupam { xhobdo } February 18, 2019 at 12:56 am

Awesome pics

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin February 18, 2019 at 2:35 am

Such a great way to explore while traveling!

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Junieper/jesh StG February 18, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Biking keeps you healthy! Unfortunately I keep living in areas where one needs a mountain bike. You saw a lot this way! Am smiling, Sharon, because I’m a European who uses the bike to go to school, work, or the grocery store.
Many thanks for your unfailing presence at All Seasons from the beginning on and sharing your interesting and fun traveling posts with us!

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Su-sieee! Mac February 18, 2019 at 6:12 pm

I enjoyed your post immensely. Bicycle riding is all time favorite thing to do outdoors. I love the idea of doing bicycle rides in all these cities.

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Lady Fi February 18, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Bike is a wonderful way to get around and see more. Your photos are gorgeous!

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KB February 19, 2019 at 6:37 pm

I haven’t done it myself but I imagine you see so much more travelling by bike

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Carol February 20, 2019 at 2:43 am

It looks like a wonderful way to explore a city and really see things up close.

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Kelly Anne Rothaermel February 20, 2019 at 4:53 am

A great way to see the city! Have a wonderful week!

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Esther February 20, 2019 at 5:41 am

You’re talking to a Dutch person here, so YES to discovering places by bike. It’s my favourite thing. I think I have cycled in all major cities in Europa, like Prague, Valencia, Malaga and Berlin. I also cycled across the vineyards of Stellenbosch in South Africa, which was amazing. I now regret not cycling anywhere in the US when I visited, though SF with all those steep hills seems quite ambitious for my Dutch legs 😉 Great post!!
#WanderfulWednesday

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goblinette February 20, 2019 at 6:30 am

Love biking, tours not so much. Your trip in Bruges looks tempting. I wonder if they rent bikes with child seats and mini helmets? That would be one awesome day out with kids. Thanks for an idea what to look for on our next trip. We own bikes but never take them with us on road trips…we have a tiny car 😉

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William Kendall February 20, 2019 at 7:22 am

The building with the tower turret fascinates me.

There are bike rental companies here that do group tours as well, though not at this time of year.

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Allison February 20, 2019 at 9:26 am

I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 20 years. But I’m going on a girls’ trip with my sisters this fall and we’re planning on renting bikes in Switzerland. I’m pretty excited. #wanderfulwednesday

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Rhonda Albom February 20, 2019 at 1:11 pm

I have done bike tours in a number of areas including Rarotonga and Berlin. I have been intimidated by traffic and the thought that certain parts of my body will ache after the adventure but that has not been the case. Lake Tahoe is a great place to ride a bike (hubby used to ride the entire Lake Tahoe loop).

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Angie (FeetDoTravel) February 21, 2019 at 10:11 pm

I agree, cycling to explore a new place is great! My favourite cycling trip was in Guilin, China. We cycled through green fields and it was wonderful although it didn’t start out so smooth … I pooped myself (not literally) when we came to the lights on a super busy road! Cars, motorcycles, bikes everywhere 8 deep ready to pull away, but it was all very civilised and everyone gave way to each other. I have since learnt that when cycling is part of a country’s mode of transport, there is more respect. Alas, in the UK you take your life into your hands when cycling on a road with other vehicles. Here in the Philippines, people give me a wide berth when I am cycling around and are very respectful to my slower-than-their-pace, I love it. #feetdotravel

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hilary February 22, 2019 at 9:46 am

A wonderful collection of photos and memories here! I love nothing more than riding my bike along the path with the sun and breeze on my face, stopping here and there… Until now, we’ve never done bike tours as our youngest wasn’t confident enough on his bike, but we’ve been practicing, so hopefully soon! #farawayfiles

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Mandy February 22, 2019 at 3:30 pm

We biked around wine country in Beaune, France. It was quite the challenge with all the hills. 🙂 I love these photos and would like to visit Bruges and bike around!

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Usha February 23, 2019 at 12:53 am

Exploring on a bike is excellent way .i would like to follow on your foot steps. I am not a very confident cyclist.i have learnt /learning to cycle as an adult. So I tend to do Tandem cycling with my husband .I loved the Cycling in Bruges. I love cycling in woods in New Forest, England.. Your post really got me inspired, I am going to focus more on my cycling ‍♀️, this spring. Beautiful photos an d thanks for the inspiration.

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Angela Vincent February 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm

I love to cycle and do it almost every day as my commute, but I like you enjoy cycling when in new places too. A cycling holiday in cuba was incredible. I love the sound of the versailles bike tour, and I can see that Bruges would be a wonderful place to cycle too. #farawayfiles

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Cherrie Almonte February 23, 2019 at 10:05 pm

This must have been an amazing place to bike around. One of our most memorable trips was biking from Zimbabwe to the border of Zambia. We biked for 2 hours passing by locals. I would totally do it again. Biking gives you a better experience and keeps you healthy too.

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Lisa February 24, 2019 at 1:25 am

Bike travel is an excellent way of seeing a new place. Not only do you get to see more places, but you get so fit too! Love your photos, they’re fun!

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Linda (LD Holland) February 24, 2019 at 6:57 am

I have romantic thoughts of travelling Europe by bike. But then reality intrudes. A long trip is something we are probably not fit enough for. But renting bikes to explore cities certainly works for us. I like the idea of riding around somewhere like Bruges where the land is so flat. And there is so much to see. It has been a long time since we visited Lake Tahoe. But your bike route around the lake sounds great. We used a lot of Ubers in Washington. But biking may have been a good plan too. Thanks for reminding me that we need to look at this more.

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Obligatory Traveler February 24, 2019 at 10:10 am

Thanks for all if the great info about riding bikes and all of the great suggestions for rides to try. All of the European biking looks and sounds so dreamy. The rides in the United States surrounded by nature seem magical. #WeekendWanderlust

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Brie February 24, 2019 at 2:08 pm

This looks like so much fun. I’m happy you enjoyed it.

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Nafisa Habib February 24, 2019 at 6:21 pm

All photos are so green and full of life and fun. Cycling is one of the best ways to explore the city on a budget as well

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Jill February 25, 2019 at 4:33 am

Your bike rides look so idyllic! I’m not sure I’d be so graceful on a bike tour or I’d worry about keeping up but I’d love to give it a try. Beautiful photos!

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Nicky@Go Live Young February 27, 2019 at 5:28 am

What a wonderful collection of bike rides. We always hire bikes wherever we go as we love to cycle..and it means you seem so much! #MondayEscapes

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Dorothyadele February 28, 2019 at 11:22 am

Exploring on bike is an excellent way to see a city or town, and you make an important point about taking your time to ensure that the bike fits you and you know how to work the gears etc. Otherwise it could affect your trip.

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Daisy - Dais Like These Family Travel Blog March 5, 2019 at 3:33 am

Wow, you’ve certainly explored lots of amazing places by bike! You should check out Ile de Porquerolles in France where it is virtually car free and bikes are the main mode of transport, there are some gorgeous trails. I love the look of your Cape Cod bike ride.
Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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Katy Stern March 10, 2019 at 2:55 am

What a wonderful collection of bike rides!! I think Biking near Bruges has to my favourite, I love the windmills!! Thanks for linking up to Monday Escapes

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Anna Intrepid Scout November 7, 2019 at 11:51 am

Brudges looks like a fabulous place for a bike ride! I love your post. It gave me an idea to look into renting a bike when I travel.

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