What could be more romantic than jumping on a tandem together and rolling through French vineyards or along the coastal cliffs of Portugal with your other half? It’s a great way to stay connected when both partners enjoy riding, but not necessarily at the same speed. On a tandem, the pilot steers, brakes and shifts while the rear rider provides the extra power from the backseat. The cyclists must pedal in unison, but the pilot decides where the duo is going and how fast. Riding a tandem, in the end, requires teamwork and how a couple rides it together both reflects and intensifies their relationship, for better or for worse.
If you want to put your relationship to the test, here are the most romantic tandem cycling tours to enjoy with your partner. All the tours are operated by specialist company Headwater. Their tandem bikes are also fitted with panniers and the majority have ‘Ride With GPS’ technology – which has turn by turn audio instructions – so whoever is in the back seat won’t need any map reading skills.
Cotes du Ventoux, France
There are few things more romantic than a tandem cycle with your significant other around the vineyards and olive groves of southern France, and this trip allows just that. This cycling paradise cascades through colourful medieval towns and villages, all against the stunning backdrop of Mount Ventoux. Highlights of this self-guided cycling tour include 12th-century Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise – famous for its Muscat wine – and the town of Mazan. The trip ends in Pernes-Les-Fontaines, which has a delightful old town complete with over 40 ancient stone fountains to marvel at.
Seven-day/six-night, self-guided ‘Cotes du Ventoux Cycling’ holiday starting from £1,565 per person. The price includes flights, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, four evening meals, high-quality tandem bikes, and airport transfers.
Puglia is firmly tucked away on the heel of Italy’s boot, offering extraordinary beauty and dramatic, rugged coast which is perfect to explore by bicycle. The self-guided cycling tour begins in Conversano and ends in the historic town of Monopoli. Cyclists will stop off in Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the postcard-pretty village of Ostuni. One of the over-night stays includes accommodation in a restored 17th-century Masseria – a fortified farmhouse – surrounded by 200 hectares of ancient palms and olive trees, perfect for a romantic stroll after a sunny day on a tandem.
Eight-days/seven-nights, self-guided ‘Cycling in Puglia’ holiday starting from £1,645 per person, including flights, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, two evening meals, high-quality tandem bikes, and airport transfers.
The rocky coastline of Catalonia offers a gentle cycling route, occasionally meandering off-road through olive groves, peach orchards and pine forests. Couples biking through the region will pass through medieval fishing villages, calling at Peratallada and Begur. All the carefully selected hotels along the route have swimming pools, so a cool dip can be enjoyed after a day exploring the countryside.
Seven days/six-nights, self-guided ‘Contrasts of Catalonia’ Cycling holiday starting from £1,395 per person, including flights, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, four evening meals, high-quality tandem bikes, and airport transfers.
Passau to Vienna
The route from Passau, on Germany’s eastern border, to Vienna is one of the most popular cycle paths in Europe. This stretch of the Danube has an abundance of historical landmarks to enjoy; 60 dramatic castles and palaces lie along the river and the landscape is dotted with fertile plains, narrow gorges, forests and picturesque vines. Highlights on the self-guided route include the bustling medieval centre of Linz, the 11th-century Baroque abbey at Melk, and the UNESCO-celebrated Krems.
Eleven-days/Ten-nights, self-guided ‘Passau to Vienna’ Cycling holiday starting from £1,595 per person, including flights, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, high-quality tandem bikes, and airport transfers.
This relaxing route down Porto’s coastline is almost completely flat, so it’s perfect for first-time cyclists. The trail passes world-famous wine cellars and includes plenty of beach and bay hopping. There is also a visit to the Aveiro Lagoon, which is home to pink flamingo and other colourful birdlife.
Eight-days/seven-nights ‘Porto Coastal’ Cycling self-guided holiday starting from £1,735 per person, including flights, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, four evening meals, high-quality tandem bikes, and airport transfers.
Tandem tips for beginners
- Start out easy. Don’t go for a century ride on the first time out.
- Make sure you can get along very well with your stoker/captain. It’s a lot of togetherness and it takes time to become a “team”. Just being married or living together doesn’t mean you will tandem well together in the beginning.
- The assumption that the man should be the captain and the women should be the stoker may or may not be right for you. It’s better considering differences in physical build or attitude toward ‘tandeming’.
- Communicate your needs to each other. Remember that safety requires that decisions about starting, stopping, steering, standing, etc., be communicated.
- If you want more information or inspiration, consider joining the Tandem Club, which was founded by Cycling UK/CTC members in 1971.