Explore’s Peter Crane pedalled through two countries, along two great river valleys for 234 kilometres on his first ever cycling break.
Being new to cycling holidays this seemed challenge enough for my first ride. I was looking forward to the route itself, through the heart of Europe following the Vltava and Elbe valleys from Prague to Meissen, but I was also keen to see the many castles, towns and cities along the way.
We met in Prague, where our leader, Ania, broke the ice by taking us straight out to a small, local restaurant where we got to know each other over a pilsner or two. We were a small group and while most had been on previous Explore cycling tours there were a few of us who hadn’t. Ania reassured us the route wasn’t hard and she was right: any worries about the difficulty of the cycling were quickly dispelled the next morning, as we headed off along the Vltava cycle path.
For most of the next five days we cruised along beautiful, traffic-free cycle tracks at a gentle pace, following first the Vltava Valley and then the Elbe, almost always on the flat with only occasional small climbs. The track is comfortably wide enough to cycle two abreast, so it’s easy and safe to chat as you go.
From Prague our route took us through Bohemia’s beautiful countryside to the vineyards of Melnik, where we stopped to sample the wines. For the rest of the week we settled into a comfortable daily routine - cycling 40 to 50 kilometres on flat terrain, at an easy pace, with visits along the way to places that echo to the key events in European history.
We cycled to the fortress town of Terezin, used by the Nazis in World War II as a holding camp for Jews, then to the crenelated ramparts of Konigstein, Europe’s biggest fortress, with its panoramic views over the Elbe valley, and to Dresden, whose famous buildings have been lovingly reconstructed following the Allied bombings of 1945.
This was my first cycling tour and I loved everything about it. I enjoyed watching the ever-changing landscapes unfold ahead of me and by the end of the week was a complete convert: it’s hard to think of a better way to appreciate a country than to cycle through it. I also enjoyed that special sense of achievement you get as you arrive by bike into historic market towns like Litomerice and Pirna, with their cobbled squares and timber framed buildings, and settle down with a long, cold, well-earned beer.
The Prague to Meissen by bike tour is a perfect choice for anyone who, like me, is new to cycling holidays and just wants to give it a go. You don’t need special clothing or equipment and you don’t need to be particularly fit. The wide, traffic-free cycle tracks make the route all the more relaxing and enjoyable. You can easily chat with the people around you. At the outset those 234 kilometres seemed a mighty long way, but with all the laughs along the way they seemed to fly past!
Experience cycling in The Czech Republic and Germany on our Prague to Meissen by bike tour