Archive - VBT Community RSS Feed

VBT’s Top Ten Rides

Each one of our bicycling vacations offers ample opportunity to immerse oneself in the culture and engage with the surrounding scenery. With every one of our carefully selected destinations there are a myriad of highlights, but we all have our own personal favorite moments from the road. The following collection, in no specific order, is an assemblage of some of our favorite VBT routes.

The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria

Czech Republic Bike Tour

The scenery of Central Europe has so much to offer travelers. Rides through this unique landscape take us through small villages, past verdant orchards and stunning medieval architecture. On day 6 of our bike tour of The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria, we cycle through Wachau Valley, which encompasses virtually all of the highlights of this special region. As dense forests yield to the Basin of the Danube, we cycle past medieval ruins perched atop rolling green hills, with a gentle river breeze urging us to our destination, Melk.

Holland and Belgium: Bike & Barge

Holland Bike Tours

On our Holland and Belgium bike tour, our cycling route winds along with the water, allowing travelers the flexibility to ride through the day, or to relax, and take in the scenery on board The Iris. Our day 6 ride, through the beautiful Lopikerwaard, runs along a quiet bike path. The ride leads us through a series of villages and hamlets, where we almost literally cycle in their private backyards. In the small old city of Schoonhoven we break to dine on our own before continuing our route to Nieuwpoort. The quiet pasture land is home to many black and white “Frisian” cows and a great variety of water fowl. There are lovely traditional windmills scattered all over the area, and when we reach Kinderdijk, we’ll take in its 19 windmills that were constructed between 1738 – 1740. The windmills blend beautifully into the landscape and with their sails turning they are an impressive sight. We’ll have a chance to visit one of the windmills before reaching the barge and settling in for the evening.

Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast

Italy Bike Tour

On the heel of Italy’s boot, and on the edge of the Adriatic, our Puglia bike tour offers the perfect balance between countryside and coastal villages. Day 6 of our biking vacation is quite a treat for our travelers. After making sagne and orecchiette with nonna, our trip leader’s grandmother, we set out along flat country roads, past rustic villages, before resting at the coast in Castro Marina. Here, stone-white homes overlook the turquoise waters of a lovely Adriatic cove below. We’ll continue our journey, riding past stunning cliffs, and we’ll eventually take some time out for a swim in the tranquil Adriatic at Port Badisco before returning to our hotel for dinner.

Tuscany by the Sea

Tuscany Bike Tours

Vineyards, poppy fields and white sand beaches highlight this very popular bike tour of Tuscany. Day 5 is a traveler favorite and with good reason; to quote our local Trip Leader, Marcello, “It is truly a day to remember.” After an interactive Italian lesson, we ride through gentle Tuscan hills, marked by vineyards and olive trees. Stopping at a local olive mill, we have the wonderful experience of meeting the Andreini family, who provide us with a tour of their mill and a delicious lunch. We’ll linger and chat, then set off for Magliano, a small, fortified village with walls constructed in the 15th century. Next is one of the best rides in all of Tuscany. Our optional cycle takes us up to the small, unique village of Pereta. As we ride we can see in the distance, the island of Giglio and the Argentario Isthmus complementing the serenity of the olive groves and grazing sheep. Gradually climbing higher, we come upon Scansano, where the views of the valleys below, and the mountains on the horizon, are unmatched. We’ll crown the experience with a great gelato, before starting our ride back to the agriturismo.

The Tuscan Coast

Tuscany Bike Tour

The lure of ancient Etruscan ruins keep us engaged with the scenery as well as the unique Tyrrhenian way of life as we journey along Italy’s westerly coast. Our day 5 ride from Sassetta is one of the most momentous in our bike tour of The Tuscan Coast. Hillside villages are connected by ancient trails lined with cypress trees, as we venture through iconic Tuscan landscapes. We arrive in the 1,000 year old village of Suvereto, where ancient walls cradle stone houses and medieval churches. After exploring Suvereto’s wonders, we continue, descending into the Cornia valley, past cork trees and fields of sunflowers.

Provence: The Alpilles

France Bike Tours

Cycle your way through a van Gogh scenic, past historic Roman villages and through lush vineyard roads, on our Provence bike tour. Day 4 of our vacation features a ride through the pristine Provencal countryside. As we pedal along the lowlands, we are treated to an unparalleled vantage of the Alpilles Mountains, a small chain that extends from the Luberon to the Rhone valley. Though the chain is relatively small, its distinct rise out of the Rhone Valley truly warrants exploration. We’ll break in Eygalières and walk to the top of the village to enjoy the panoramic view. After lunch, we ride back to our hotel in Saint Rémy through orchards, fields and flat countryside.

Bicycling Bordeaux & the River Dordogne

France Bike Tours

The tranquil Dordogne Valley is home to one of our new, 2012 biking tours in France. Here we’ll sample its complex namesake, and ride along gentle country roads, chatting with villagers as we explore South Western France. Day 4 of our biking tour of Bordeaux begins on very quiet rural roads with beautiful vineyards as far as the eye can see. We’ll pass an old traditional windmill before cycling through agricultural fields and along the peaceful banks of the River Dordogne. We’ll picnic for lunch and keep our eyes open for the abundant birdlife as our afternoon ride takes us back to our chateau along a rim of the plateau surrounded by vineyards.

Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky

Spain Bike Tours

The warm Andalusian sun, white villages and sangria crown this extraordinary bike trip through southern Spain. On day 6 of our tour we’ll ride to Luque, past sleepy farm villages, extensive olive groves and quaint hillside towns. Along our route we’ll spot goats, storks and a variety of avian wildlife. In the afternoon we cruise into the breathtaking white village of Zuheros. Part of the village has been built into the mountainside and taking it all by bike is the only way to experience this gem of Andalusia.

Mississippi: The Natchez Trace

Natchez  Bike Tours

VBT’s Natchez Trace bicycling vacation offers a unique, roadside window into the old world charm of the Antebellum South. Ambling along the Natchez Trace Parkway, we’ll take in a ghost town, revival mansions and a multitude of early American history. On day 4 of our vacation we begin our ride along the historic Natchez Trace. Always evolving the Natchez Trace began as a natural grazing route for animals. Eventually, traders and thieves caught on to the convenience and accessibility of the trail. Now, modern-day travelers can get a taste of the nation’s past as we cruise along gentle, paved roads, stopping off to explore pine forests and Emerald Mound, a ceremonial center for Natchez Native Americans. Capping off our journey, we’ll visit Monmouth Plantation, which has drawn praise from Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines, before we retire to our antebellum inn.

Classic Vermont

Vermont Bike Tours

We wouldn’t conclude our assembly of top rides without including at least one ride in our backyard. Our Classic Vermont bike tour gives travelers from all over a sampling of what makes Vermont so special. We’ll cycle along country and farm roads, past orchards and, of course, our famed Green Mountains. Our day 5 ride begins in Vergennes, the “smallest city” in America. After lunch we set out along the Otter Creek to Kingsland bay, one of Vermont’s newest state parks. We’ll continue toward Ferrisburg and enjoy the scenic bounty of our home state. Highlights include stunning views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.

We hope you enjoyed our top VBT rides. If it looks like we missed one, feel free tell us about your own, personal favorite VBT route in the comments section below.

 

Winter Carnival

There may be a chill in the air, but that’s no reason to stay in and hibernate. All across Europe, people are gathering, finding unique ways to fend off the cold of winter.

Venice Carnival

In many European nations, the onset of the New Year marks the beginning of Carnival Season. Italy is no exception, and though the nation boasts scores of annual celebrations, one of its most famous yearly festivals is the Venice Carnival. A deceptively modern tradition, Venice’s Carnival began in 1979 and has continued gaining in popularity and notoriety since. However, like many Venetian traditions, Carnival’s roots extend well into the City of Bridges’ history, and was celebrated in the region as early as the 11th century. Historically, masks played a crucial role in the celebrations. To foster a truly inclusive, lively atmosphere, citizens of Venice donned masks, hiding their identities from one another and ruling out any chance of exclusion based upon heritage or class. When the Carnival tradition was revived in the late 20th century, masks were brought back to the forefront of the celebration. Ironically, the contemporary practice of costuming represented a sort of homage to Venice’s rich cultural tradition, rather than a means to mask one’s heritage. Throughout late January and early February, Venetians take part in Carnival with art, dance, and music. Yet, detailed, ornate facades remain a highlight of one of Venice’s biggest annual celebrations.

Croatia Bike Tour

Opposite Italy on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia rings in the New Year with a large festival season beginning on January 17. Each major Croatian city has its own way of celebrating Carnival in the early days of winter, and the partying usually continues through mid-February. One of the more noteworthy, and unorthodox celebrations occurs in the port city of Rijeka, Croatia’s third largest. Small parades and outdoor gatherings occur throughout January and February, but the Carnival Season truly culminates on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, February 19 this year. Beginning at noon, a city-wide procession draws onlookers from many of Rijeka’s surrounding communities. The parade continues through the day and winds down in the evening, as spectators gather near the sea to take in the Burning of the Pust. A large puppet that is held responsible for all of the previous years’ misfortunes, the Pust’s charges are publically read, and then he is sent out to sea to be burned. As the Pust misdeeds smolder in the distance, the slate is clear for a new year to roll on, and a Mediterranean jubilee ensues.

Temple Bar

Stemming from Ireland’s grand musical tradition, Temple Bar Trad Fest comes to Dublin each January to celebrate concert and Irish Culture. Boasting over 200 free events and three major headliner’s venues, there’s no shortage of ways to partake in Dublin’s largest festival. Concerts will be held outdoors, inside historic halls, and of course in pubs throughout the Temple Bar area of central Dublin. In addition, there are Irish Dance exhibitions and a rural Irish village built right into the heart of the city. Though only in its seventh year, Temple Bar Trad Fest is quickly becoming one of Europe’s must-see events.

Join in on the celebration with a biking or walking vacation with VBT and fill us in on your favorite festival in the comments below!