The Best Months to Plan a Bike Tour of Europe
As you look at our 2020 bicycle destination possibilities, consider the best time of the year to travel. Europe is a big place and you wouldn’t want to accidently run into snow on the slopes of Stelvio, or a brutal heatwave in Puglia.
But it’s not just the weather that should motivate you to pick your months wisely. Europe has amazing festivals all throughout the year. Each destination has its own series of local (or national) festivals that you wouldn’t want to miss. And some others you want to avoid.
With this in mind, let’s look at some European geography and see when the best months would be to travel to the old continent.
It’s interesting to know that Belgium and Holland are approximately on the same latitude as Newfoundland, Canada. That’s important information. If you live anywhere in the northern United States, you know how cold it can be southern Canada in October. You can only imagine what Brussels would be like.
Meanwhile, locations in southern France and Italy would have a much milder climate. Their weather patterns are very similar to North and South Carolina. Go to Atlanta, Georgia in the middle of August and you’ll be looking for the first freezer to stick your head into.
Both the Mediterranean basin and the north sea have different weather patterns than you would find along the US eastern seaboard. Storm and wind patterns differ. However, as a general rule consider the temperatures in southern Europe would be like the southern US, and the temps in northern Europe would be – well – cold. And that’s a good thing, especially at summer’s pinnacle.
Nothing beats springtime in Italy. Destinations like La Bella Puglia, La Bella Sicilia and the Southern Amalfi Coast are bursting with color and flavor. The weather is spectacular, and the road opens for miles with no traffic or congestion.
And the flowers take center stage.
Mid-May is a special month for the Infiorata di Noto in Sicily. During this yearly festival local artists take to the streets, creating intricate and complex designs directly on the cobblestone roads with flower petals. It is a popular event, and one that exhibits the Sicilian flair for art and festa.
The Feast of San Giorgio in Ragusa, Ibla is the following week. This popular three-day event honors the town’s patron saint. For a full three days the residents of Ibla lift a massive statue of Saint George on his horse through the city streets. The silver casket (containing the remains of the saint) are accompanied through the town with cannon fire, music and an incredible display of fireworks on the last day. The festival is washed down with plentiful cupfuls of Nero d’Avola and the local delicious scaccia. And – of course – only the Ciclismo Classico La Bella Sicilia trip gets you right up to the action.
More Cool Spring Events in Europe
In Spain, April is a special month. You will discover nationwide Semana Santa festivals in every village. In Andalucia, you have the unique Festival of the Crosses. And this takes place in Cordoba, where we begin our Andalucia journey.
Every year floats built with flowers are paraded around the city streets, announcing the beginning of Spring.
April 23rd is Saint George’s day in Spain and the flower markets of Barcelona hold special parades. They also celebrate in the smaller towns throughout Catalonia that you discover on our Costa Brava departure.
Again in May, Cordoba is the background for the courtyard decoration competition (running simultaneously with the Crosses ceremony). In the Alcazar Viejo district and the Old Jewish Quarter, many people decorate small quarters with beautiful flowers and greenery. It is a colorful display of seasonal happiness accompanied by activity and bouquet.
You may have traveled on our Bike Across Italy departure, but have you ever witnessed the Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio? An experience of a lifetime, this is one medieval Italian festival you won’t want to miss. The locals carry enormous statues of their patron saints around the main piazza and then up to the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo high on a hill. It is a day filled with ceremony and fun.
In summer, the weather in Italy and Spain become increasingly warmer while northern Europe heats up. Traveling to southern Europe is advisable until mid- to late-June. Remember: in July and August most of the locals are on vacation making hotel rooms – and restaurants – difficult to reserve. However, some of the best festivals take place in the summer!
There are many music festivals in the summer, such as the Ancona Jazz festival. Our Bike Across Italy late departure starts in this enchanting jazz town before making its way across the peninsula towards Spello. In this small Umbrian village, you can witness Le Infiorate – a floral design competition bringing out the best artistry in the village. A two-day festival, it is typically held in mid-June to a travelling cyclist’s delight!
Belgium in the summer is an excellent choice! The crystalline sky makes everyday perfect for a beer, and there is a lot of beer in Belgium. And on our Bike Across Belgium, you’ll find a lot of beer! There is also a lot of music and the late July Moods Music festival is a special venue. Bruges is a enchanting and artistic city (once you’ve put down your waffle and chocolate). This year’s Moods edition will feature Suzanne Vega. What a way to spend the summer: bikes, beer and beats!
Fall’s evening twilight lengthens the days as temperatures in northern and central Italy return from their scorching August heat. Southern France is another spectacular destination for any don’t-let-the-summer-get-away last-minute trips.
From mid-September to Mid-November, the Musica dei Popoli in Florence makes a great bookend to our Tuscany Green bike trip. It’s harvest time in the tuscan hills and the Brunello and Sangiovese flow madly…all the way to the Arno. Florence’s ethnic folk music and dance spectacle is one to catch before heading home.
Our Assaggio Toscana takes you to Arezzo, home of the Giostra del Saraceno: an old medieval festival that once prepared knights for battle during the crusades.
Or spend your time in any village in Chianti and enjoy the local wine festivals.
Possibly one of the best regions to visit in the fall would be Piedmont, Italy. Whether the Bra Slow-Cheese festival at the end of September or the Palio di Asti at the beginning, Piedmont is filled with culture and history, and our amazing Barolo and truffles Piedmont adventure! No better place to see all the action than from the seat of your own Bianchi Intenso. It is a great way to ring in the fall!
But October also heralds the white truffle festival in Piedmont and the harvest of bold Barolo. The Alba truffle show is one of the most important in the world, centering on some world’s most renown chefs. This is a great event to open your mind and palate to the treasures of the Piemontase kitchen.
Have you decided when to go? Do you have more questions? Contact us and let us help you get to where you want to go in 2020.