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Bicycling excursion on the Danube hosted by Amawaterways (Photo: Amawaterways)
Bicycling excursion on the Danube hosted by Amawaterways (Photo: Amawaterways)

Considering a Bike Cruise? The 8 Best River Cruises for Bicyclists

Bicycling excursion on the Danube hosted by Amawaterways (Photo: Amawaterways)
Bicycling excursion on the Danube hosted by Amawaterways (Photo: Amawaterways)
Jayne Clark
Melinda Crow

Last updated
Nov 13, 2023

Read time
4 min read

Taking a bike cruise through some of the world’s most picturesque scenery is as easy as booking with a river cruise line that provides bicycles for guests. If biking and boating, especially in European destinations, seems like the perfect combination for you, you don’t have to look far.

A number of river cruise lines give passengers the means to explore what lies beyond the river’s edge -- either independently or via guided shore excursions.

Here are our eight picks for some of the best bike-cruise options on the rivers.

1. AmaWaterways: The Hands-Down Bike Cruise Leader

Bicycling at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinderdijk (Photo: Cynthia J. Drake)
Bicycling at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinderdijk (Photo: Cynthia J. Drake)

AmaWaterways packs more than two dozen bikes and helmets onboard its ever-expanding fleet of river ships for passengers' free use. Guests can even have a local guide tag along on your cycling route; simply let the desk know in advance and they'll arrange it.

For avid cyclists seeking a truly immersive -- and pampered -- bike cruise experience, sign on for one of AmaWaterways' sailings operated in tandem with active tour operator Backroads. These are serious cycling cruises that go far beyond an easy ride along the towpath. Most Backroads' sailings are limited to 30 participants but look for occasional full-ship charter bike boat tours.

The AmaWaterways/Backroads arrangement is a good fit for couples in which one bikes and the other doesn't, because each can book separately through the respective companies, and share a cabin.

2. European Waterways: Bike and Barge Tours

(Photo: European Waterways)
TA Enchante Exterior

European Waterways offers small barge cruising along hidden canals and waterways, complete with cycling -- both independently and in tours along the way. These bike and barge tours are for those wanting a more focused experience, exploring a smaller area, without traveling great distances the way the larger river ships do.

Destination options include the Loire Valley and Burgundy. You’ll spend your days cycling through quaint villages and your evenings enchanted by the passing scenery and exquisite pampering onboard barges that accommodate as few as six guests.

3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Dreamy Bike Trips in Europe

Uniworld's Joie de Vivre (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Uniworld's Joie de Vivre (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Uniworld maintains a fleet of free bicycles for self-guided or escorted group excursions at no extra charge. The line partners with upscale tour operator Butterfield & Robinson for managed bike trips in Europe, including itineraries on both the Danube and Rhine.

The partnership allows Uniworld passengers to participate in a bike trip tailored to your activity level on cycles outfitted with tablets pre-programmed with detailed route maps.

4. Scenic Cruises: Relaxed Bike Boat Tours with E-Bikes

Scenic Eclipse (Photo: Scenic Cruises)
Scenic Eclipse (Photo: Scenic Cruises)

Custom-made electric bikes are on board all Scenic ships. A bonus feature: They come with GPS devices that are also programmed with information on points of interest along the route.

Passengers can opt to ride independently to some shore excursion spots. For example, those who'd prefer getting to Monet's house and garden at Giverny on their own power can hop on a bike and skip the motor coach ride. Scenic also offers guided rides of up to 18 miles in some ports; these are included.

Picture yourself cycling along the Seine in France or the Douro in Portugal.

5. Emerald Waterways: Excellent Option For Your Cycling Cruise

Guided bike tours are among Emerald Cruises' tour offerings (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
EmeraldACTIVE guided bike tour near Willmestad, the Netherlands (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

Scenic's four-star sister line stocks regular bikes on each of its ships, and they're free for the asking. Guided tours are featured in several locations, including Nuremberg, Germany; Melk, Austria; and Belgrade, Serbia. Emerald Waterways includes one active shore excursion per cruise, and biking is often one of them.

6. Avalon Waterways: Bike Cruise Independently

Cycling Through Vineyards with Avalon Waterways
Cycling Through Vineyards with Avalon Waterways (Photo: Marilyn Borth)

Avalon Waterways carries bikes on each of its Europe-based ships. They're free and available for independent touring.

Additionally, the line is offering optional for-fee guided excursions in locales where cycling is particularly good. These include the Dutch countryside outside Amsterdam; Austria's Wachau Valley (a UNESCO World Heritage Site); Germany's Kaiserstuhl wine region; and along the Moselle River in Germany.

7. Tauck River Cruises: Build Your Ideal Bicycle River Cruise

Tauck  ms Emerald (Photo: Tauck River Cruises)
Tauck ms Emerald (Photo: Tauck River Cruises)

Each Tauck ship stocks bicycles for complimentary use. A number of included guided excursions include a ride along the Rhine and Moselle rivers; cycling through vineyards along the Rhone River; and, on some of its family-oriented itineraries, guided rides along the Seine in Paris and the gardens at Versailles.

8. A-Rosa Cruises: Under-the-Radar River Line For Bicycling

Donna (Photo: A-ROSA Cruises)
Donna (Photo: A-ROSA Cruises)

A-Rosa ships sail with bicycles onboard. Full-cruise cycling packages in partnership with Terranova can be added to your cruise premium all-inclusive cruise package. The line is not known to most Americans but its young and hip vibe is ideal for families and young travelers who might not otherwise consider a river cruise.

Publish date August 21, 2018
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