What is the Eurovelo 6?
The Eurovelo network is a series of cycle routes that traverse the European Union. Initiated in 1994 they offer a wonderful way to explore the continent and are ideal for people with a sense of adventure who want to explore Europe.
The Eurovelo routes on the northern European coasts typically have cooler, wetter weather; whereas the routes along the Mediterranean often contend with steeper gradients and narrow roads shared with other vehicles. The Eurovelo 6 (EV6) cuts through the middle of Europe and benefits from gentle gradients, mild weather and good infrastructure.
The Eurovelo 6 (EV6) officially starts at the mouth of the river Loire on the Atlantic Ocean and stretches east to the Black Sea. This route traverses 3,653 km through France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Whilst the distances may seem immense they are very manageable when spread over several weeks.
The slice of the route from France to Hungary (Budapest) encompassing more than 2,000km is well developed and makes for excellent riding. The route includes a mix of cycle trails, farm roads and highways. Cycle tourism has proved exceedingly successful in the Passau to Vienna section and other countries are now rolling out kilometre after kilometre of excellent asphalt cycleway along the route.
The portion of the route east of Hungary is less developed and accommodation intermittent. For this reason many cyclists elect to finish in Vienna or Budapest, perhaps spending more time in France by starting on the north coast and making their way south to the Loire.
Cycling the Eurovelo 6 guide currently covers the France to Budapest sections.
Why Europe by bike?
Most of the fertile European countryside was developed when horses were the common mode of transport. This means hamlets, villages and towns are spaced relatively close together. Territories in the past were protected by fortresses, towers and castles. The abundance of historical sights and the dense network of rural communities makes cycling in Europe interesting and easy.
Cycling the Eurovelo 6 guide contains information on attractions along the cycle route including churchs, abbeys, wine tastings, museums, battlefields, roman ruins and more.
Who does cycle touring?
Cycle touring has surged in popularity recently due to its clean green image. There is no “average” cycle tourist. Some people fit in the category of young explorers but most tourers are retirees who relish the freedom and adventure that cycle touring provides. Cycling is popular with the Dutch, Germans, and to a lesser extent the French, English, and antipodeans. Families riding with young children in trailers are surprisingly common.
Some cycle tourers have been road riding for years however most people have little experience on a bike, let alone one with laden panniers. Fortunately it is an easy sport to pick up. For many people a Eurovelo is their first “big” ride.
Cycling is also a great equaliser for couple or groups with mixed fitness levels. A stronger rider will typically ride at the front, allowing other riders to be sucked along in the slipstream behind. If there is a very large difference in ability and size then you may consider a tandem bicycle.
Climate and when to travel
The route has a continental climate with the exception of the section closest to the Atlantic coast. Expect occasional afternoon thunderstorms in spring, dry heat during the peak of summer, and cooler temperatures as winter approaches.
The route is most comfortably rideable from the May to September. Note many campsites are only open from June. July and August are peak season in Europe and facilities are undoubtedly busier; fortunately most holiday makers head to the coast and therefore crowds are manageable along the route.
Riding in winter, with cold weather and short days, is not recommended.
How long should I allow?
A rider with average fitness will comfortably cycle from the French Atlantic coast to Budapest in around 8 weeks. This includes some long days as well as a few days rest along the way.
Daily distances will depend on personal preference, fitness and what you plan to see along the way. We have met cyclists on the route averaging anything from 30 km/day to 120km/day. Many people will be comfortable with 50km/day for the first week rising to 100km/day for the balance of the trip. This equates to about 5 hours in the saddle cruising at about 20km/hr. Plan your trip itinerary to reflect suitable daily distance for your group, you may choose to ride a section of the route if you are short on time.
Make sure you incorporate rest days to reduce the risk of fatigue. One day per week is a good guide. This gives your muscles time to recover, time for clothes to dry, equipment to be repaired and provides a chance to relax and explore the local area.
Where is accommodation en route?
The EV6 route passes through popular tourist areas, rural areas and industrial backwaters. Access to accommodation is varied and can be spaced dozens of kilometres apart. Unless you are planning a short trip it is generally impractical to pre-plan each night’s accommodation. On a long trip the variability of weather, your body, equipment and other confounding factors are all reasons you might not cover your planned distance in any day. Remain flexible and you will have a more pleasant experience.
Most long distance tourers prefer camping because of the freedom and flexibility. Campsites are common along the route and almost always have space. If the weather is poor you can upgrade to a cabin at a campsite or find a bed and breakfast. Another advantage of camping is you can buy food locally and cook your own meals.
Cycling the Eurovelo 6 contains information on more than 100 campsites along the cycle route.
How much will it cost?
Cycle touring is cheap compared with other modes of travel. It is possible to rent bikes however it is cheaper to buy your own for long distance touring.
Set up costs
These vary widely but a basic setup would be as follows:
€400 The bike
€150 Bike accessories
€150 Camping gear
€50 Navigation and Sundries
Total €850 per person
It would be easy to spend twice this amount on better equipment so let your budget guide you. Refer to gear room for further details.
Costs on the road
Depending on your penchant for fine food and stylish accommodation you can get by in Europe for very little or quite a lot. A simple but comfortable lifestyle for a couple might cost:
€20/day food and drink (if you prepare your own meals)
€10/night camping OR €40/night cabin or B&B
€5/day for sights, attractions and local produce
€5/day for tyre tubes, chain oil, brake pads and repairs.
Total €40-€70/day for two people depending on accommodation
Campsite and attractions costs are included where possible in Cycling the Eurovelo 6 to help plan your trip budget (and avoid those expensive campsites).