How to Arrive Ready-to-Roll for your overseas bike tour

While we want you to arrive at the start of your Stephanie Ventures bicycle tour with unbridled enthusiasm, it’s equally important that you bring along bike handling skills and fitness to ensure you thoroughly enjoy your cycling holiday and return home ready to join us on another one!   

All Stephanie Ventures tours are rated according to distance, elevation changes, and climate in the regions we visit. Most of our tours are rated Level 1 or 2, appropriate for novice, intermediate or advanced cyclists as long as they come prepared.

Remember that you will have the option to ride almost every day on our tours, so if you can progress to the point where you can comfortably ride four times per week for 25 – 35 miles per ride, you should arrive prepared to enjoy our daily rides on tour.

Cyclists who join us will get the most out of their bike tour if they also have these necessary bike handling skills:

  • Shifting gears – knowing when and how  
  • Maintaining safe distance – between themselves and other riders
  • Controlling speed – accelerating, slowing, turning, stopping as necessary
  • Riding comfortably – at 12 mph pace
  • Use of directional hand signals – key to avoiding accidents and injuries

We review these and other safety measures during our welcome briefing.

If you do not live in a climate that facilitates outdoor riding in the winter, chose indoor cardio activities that allow you to build or maintain year-round fitness, so that when spring arrives, you’ll already have some basic fitness to build on. Be sure to discuss any new exercise routine or activity with your doctor, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Cross—training is a smart way to avoid overuse injuries and round out your fitness.

Working out on a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical, even swimming at your local gym can help you get fit before you start riding outdoors.

If your gym offers classes or there is a studio in town, yoga is an excellent practice that stretches cycling muscles, builds core strength, improves balance, flexibility, and mental focus. If yoga isn’t your jam, consider lifting weights a couple of days each week with a trainer who can demonstrate proper technique.

Start your outdoor training at least twelve weeks before the start of your tour.

That way, you can slowly build endurance for longer rides and develop strength to tackle the gentle rolling hills on our tours.

We do stop frequently to stretch, admire the view, visit an interesting site, or refuel with a pastry, coffee, glass of wine…or beer…it’s your vacation after all!

Do you ride alone or with a group of people? If you ride alone, we encourage you to work group rides into your schedule. You can meet likeminded folks by joining a local cycling club or searching for a cycling group on Facebook or MeetUp. Some groups cater to advanced riders, but most welcome novices and intermediate level riders, and offer a wide range of rides categorized by level of difficulty. When you participate in organized rides you learn to anticipate the actions of the rider(s) in front of you, be mindful of those riding behind you, and become skilled at safe riding techniques. It’s likely that you will soon get into the habit of using hand signals and verbal commands when you are slowing, stopping, or turning.

Bicycle clubs often host meetings with guest speakers who deliver talks on relevant topics like bike fitting, bike advocacy, fitness, and bike safety. Clubs usually post their calendars online with ride descriptions that include length and elevation gains to help you choose ones that are right for you. If you progress from rides rated F (flat), to E (easy) to D (some gentle rolling hills and occasional steeper grades), those will prepare you for the rides on our tours. Another phrase to look for in a ride description is “no drop” which means someone is designated the “sweep”. They ride at the back of the group to ensure no rider gets left behind. We usually have no problem getting a volunteer to sweep our tour rides, especially when there’s a free beer waiting at the end of the day!

Keep in mind that on tour we ride sturdy “touring” bikes with tires and gearing that are appropriate for the varied terrain we travel on. Sometimes we’re on paved dedicated bike paths, at other times we travel on bike lanes where we share the road. We love our ancient cobblestones in these parts, so short stretches are often part of the authentic tour experience. On occasion, we even go off road on unpaved paths so we can enjoy a short scenic ride through a quiet forest. At an average weight of 35 lbs., the bikes you’ll ride on tour are likely to be heavier than your road bike at home. However, we think they’re the best option. After all, most Europeans ride these types of bikes whether they are heading down the street for groceries or cruising through the countryside on a weekend getaway. You have the option to upgrade to an electric bike (for a fee) before you leave home, but remember they are heavier than the touring bikes so if you choose this option, get some experience with an e-bike at home before attempting to ride one on tour. Check with your local bike shop to rent one for a day or longer.

The key to getting ready to fully enjoy your tour is to start preparing at home, slow and easy and adding more time and distance “in the saddle” as your tour date nears.

We look forward to welcoming you on one of our tours soon.

Until then, keep on pedaling!

You can’t miss our Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Bike Tour when this much fun awaits!

Join our small group for a fascinating journey by bike (and occasional boat) around Lake Constance (or as the locals call it, Bodensee). Check in on June 24, 2023, for a 7-night stay in our HUB, a welcoming, modern (air-conditioned!) four-star hotel conveniently located in the historic city of Konstanz, Germany. Become fast friends with your new travel companions as you cycle together each day in a new direction along our SPOKES – through the idyllic landscape where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet.

Here are 10 terrific reasons you ought to join us in June

(SPOILER ALERT: We think there are WAY more than 10 reasons!)

  1. Relaxing rides to magnificent medieval towns with beautifully preserved squares, half-timbered house and brightly painted facades
  2. Rheinfall: Europe’s largest waterfall that delivers a photo opp at every turn
  3. Scenic sightseeing cruises, long and short: across lovely Lake Constance and along the mighty Rhine
  4. Wine tastings, cider tastings. beer tastings & more: cycle past vineyards and orchards to savor the region’s best
  5. Prehistoric Pile Dwelling Museum: ok, this may sound strange, but we promise you’ll enjoy discovering an ancient world brought back to life at this UNESCO World Heritage site and Germany’s oldest open-air archeological museum.
  6. Mainau Flower Island: stroll past splendid Baroque palaces amidst glorious colors and floral beauty
  7. Tour of the Zeppelin Museum: birthplace of airship aviation featuring a full-scale model of the gondola of the Hindenburg
  8. Cable Car ride: head up, up, up Pfänder Mountain for panoramic views of the lake and the northern Alps
  9. Affenburg Sanctuary: Enjoy an entertaining walk in the free-range home of 200 Barbary apes and 100 storks
  10. UNESCO site Reichenau Island: cycle through a landscape that bears witness to the religious and cultural role of a large Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages. Gaze in awe at fine examples of monastic architecture: well-preserved churches and carefully restored wall paintings showcasing the island as an artistic center of great importance in European art history

ONLY A FEW SPACES OPEN on this exciting tour, so please contact us soon to register.

View our full itinerary and pricing on the tour page: Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Tour Itinerary

Stephanie Ventures 2023 Bicycle Tour Formats – what’s new and what’s right for you?

Curious about our 2023 bike tour formats? Check out our handy graphic below which compares all three of our tour types. Hopefully, it will help you decide which one suits your cycling and traveling style, and you’ll be one step closer to joining us for a great bike tour in Europe!

Do they all look great? Yep, we agree! Well…no one says you have to choose just one, in fact, a few of our 2023 registered guests refuse to choose one, so they’re doing all three!

Our tours are scheduled close enough to one another that you could do more than one if you want to spend more than a week here in Europe. If you’re going to spend all…that…time on a plane to get here, why not stay a while?

Sweden’s Scenic West Coast? Lake Constance, where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet? A cruise along the Danube River through six countries? So many choices.

Try to choose soon because we expect an early sell-out for the 2023 season!

Stephanie Ventures 2023 Bike Tour Calendar features three new tours, two new tour formats!

Greetings from our new home base in Europe where we are now much closer to the destinations you want to visit. We’ve created some exciting new tours and tour formats we think you’ll find both intriguing and irresistibleWe can’t wait to welcome you back to this side of the planet!

 What’s New? While Stephanie Ventures was founded in 2014 as a Bike and Barge tour company, we know some travelers want a more immersive experience, in which they can cycle at their own pace, dine in local restaurants, or take a day off the bike SO – – – we’ve expanded our offerings to include new land-based tours where one can do just that! Check out our itineraries below to learn more about our Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Tour and Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Tour!

Of course, if biking and barging and all its convenience is what you’ve still got your heart set on, check out our exciting new 14-night Danube Discovery Bike & Boat itinerary below.  

We expect our 2023 tours to fill quickly so contact us as soon as possible to secure your spot on one (or more!) of our tours! Deposit of 30% is due at registration, payable in Euros by credit card or bank transfer.

Ready to start packing your bags? CONTACT US HERE! Contact

Lake Constance Hub-&-Spoke Bike Tour ~7 nights, 3 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)

TOUR DATES: June 24 – July 1, 2023

If you want to visit a picturesque place, unpack once, and enjoy the comfort of a nice spacious four-star hotel room at the end of each day’s ride, this tour is for you! Easy to reach by direct train from Zurich airport, this tour features daily rides from your hotel “hub” in different directions along your route “spokes”. Tour Director Stephanie will lead this tour that visits one of her favorite places to cycle: where Germany, Austria, and Switzerland meet – at the northern foot of the Alps, on the scenic shores of Germany’s largest lake. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Bike Tour – June 24 – July 1

Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Bike Tour ~ 7 nights, 300 km on Kattegatt Trail, voted Europe’s Most Beautiful Bike Route 2018

TOUR DATES: July 15 – 22, 2023

Are longer daily rides, breathtaking scenery and distinctive local cuisine your idea of a great vacation? Then give this tour some serious consideration! 

Cycle along Sweden’s west coast on the 300 km bike path voted “Most Beautiful Cycling Route in Europe” in 2018. Wake up each morning in a new hotel and after enjoying a hearty breakfast, hop on your bike to continue pedaling. No worries, your luggage will be transported for you each day while you enjoy a captivating ride and camaraderie with your traveling companions. 

Journey through quaint fishing villages on a route that mostly follows the sea, traveling through open countryside, exciting nature reserves, and lush farmlands. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Bike Tour – July 15-22

Danube Discovery Bike-&-Boat Cruise ~14 nights, 6 countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia)

TOUR DATES: Aug 5-19, 2023

We heard you wanted longer tours so here’s one we eagerly await! Sail with us on a luxurious river cruise ship, with more spacious cabins; a whirlpool, sauna and spa; a sightseeing program for non-cyclists; and optional excursions when you want to enjoy a rest day from the bike. Our bike guide will lead us on a discovery of the breathtaking natural scenery of the Iron Gates, one of Europe’s most spectacular gorges; the vast expanse of the Pannonian plains, the Danube Bend in Hungary, the breadbaskets of Croatia and Serbia, idyllic wine-growing regions, and commanding fortresses high above the river. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Danube Discovery Bike & Boat Tour – Aug 5-19

Tulip Trails of Holland tour launches our 2022 Bike & Barge season!

On April 2, our enthusiastic tour guests departed from Amsterdam’s small ship harbor, Oosterdok. I’m not sure who was more excited to get the cruise underway, our tour guests or the crew of the Zwaantje, our beautifully appointed floating hotel, fully equipped with all we needed for our 8 day voyage through the cities, countryside and canals of North and South Holland in search of tulips! On the bike, we enjoyed scenic landscapes, off the bike, excursions and evening walks with our bike guide Hans.

The lovely Zwaantje sailing out of Alkmaar on her way back to Amsterdam

Our captain Martijn welcomed us aboard, introduced the crew, and conducted a briefing before heading to the wheelhouse to point us in the direction of Haarlem where we would spend the first night. On the way, we docked briefly at Spaarndam so the cyclists could disembark for a bike fitting and short test ride so Hans could dial in everyone’s fit. We meandered through the polders, past cow pastures and windmills. The ship continued on to the mooring on Haarlem’s Donkere Spaarne, just steps away from the city’s historic center. While all that was in motion, our lovely hostess Karin prepared the dining room for dinner while chef Frank got busy preparing a feast for the eyes and the belly in the ship’s kitchen.

Later that evening, we enjoyed the first of many fine meals. Once I provide the culinary crew with any dietary needs of my guests, they design menus that all of our guests can enjoy. Our meals were, as the Dutch say, “lekker”, a tasty variety of cuisines including Dutch (bitterballen!), Indonesian (a nod to the country’s spice trading history and my vote for favorite meal of the week), French (coq au vin – oh wow) and Italian (veggie pasta and a trio of bruschetta spreads). Check out our meal diary video below!

Our talented chef prepared delicious meals of generous portions with our guests dietary needs in mind.

Our guests began each day of the tour with a hearty buffet breakfast at 8 AM. On most mornings we also prepared our own boxed lunch for later. Sometimes we disembarked at 9 to start the daily bike ride, on other days we stayed onboard to enjoy a cruise and light lunch on the way to whatever town we’d start the ride. We experienced the full range of “typical” Dutch weather during the tour: sunshine, headwinds and tailwinds, rain, and yes, a brief sprinkling of sleet, but our adventurous guests took it all in stride. When the weather didn’t promise a safe ride, there were other ways to pass the time and enjoy the scenery from the cozy lounge on board. Some joined the captain in the wheelhouse, others read a book, and a few guests toiled over an impossible jigsaw puzzle featuring too many tiny tulips and too much sky!

Guests enjoying a quick ferry ride across a river to continue cycling on the other side.

Our tour itinerary included several fun excursions like the flower gardens at Keukenhof, where seven million flower bulbs are planted annually and bloom throughout the spring. We turned our guests loose to explore on their own the sprawling acres of tulips, hyacinths, orchids and more.

Keukenhof Gardens – tulips for days! And a few orchids and hyacinths thrown in for good measure.

A few days later, it was totally worth waking up before the birds to witness all the early morning action at Aalsmeer, the largest flower auction in the world. After we jumped back on the Zwaantje for a late breakfast, we were treated to a lovely sail through Amsterdam on the way to Zaandam. Once our crew secured the “rock star mooring” amidst a stiff breeze, we set out to discover just what one of those working windmills were whipping up at Zaanse Schans. As it turns out – paint! “De Kat” as it’s known, is a mill that grinds stones to make pigments. The mill’s arms were feverishly spinning so we were able to see all the action inside. After our visit, we strolled through a village of historic homes, a cheese “winkel” with plenty of free samples, and the Klompenmakerij which conducts live wooden shoemaking demonstrations. If you’re not in the market for your own pair of wooden shoes, you might want to consider picking up a pair of kitschy klompen-shaped bedroom slippers. I did!

Venture inside this working windmill with us!

We like to do things a little different on a Stephanie Ventures tour so I arranged a special visit to meet a herd of friendly cows at de Witte Gravin, a dairy farm in my new hometown of Alphen aan den Rijn. My farmer friend Sari showed us around and answered questions from our curious guests about what it’s like to raise dairy cows in Holland’s Green Heart. Dairy is the queen of the food groups in these parts so we got our fill in many forms! De Witte Gravin sells milk on tap in a cute roadside shed. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! During the week we also enjoyed local cheese, warm siroopwafels and stroopwafels, cheese, artisan chocolate, cheese and more cheese. Exploring the Cheese Experience in Gouda was a fun alternative to spending a rainy afternoon on a bike.

Thanks for visiting the blog! Have I sparked a little wanderlust? I do hope you’ll consider traveling with me on one of our other 2022 tours which are featured at the top of the home page or you can view them here:

Panoramas in Provence (June 4-11)

Panoramas in Provence (June 11-18)

Beautiful Burgundy (Aug 23-30)

I may have had a little too much caffeine before we left the ship to visit Alsmeer…

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Tour Director Stephanie here, sending you this greeting from the Netherlands where I landed on Monday. Yes, I am a little early for our Tulip Trails of Holland Bike (or Walk) and Barge Tour but I’m here to call the Netherlands home for a while. We will be ready to sail in just a few weeks but there’s still time to book yourself a cabin and join me on April 2!

I want to share my recent travel experience with you as I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s like to fly to Europe these days. I ran a safe tour in the Netherlands in September and couldn’t wait to return for my Tulip Trails of Holland tour in April. The entry requirements vary by country but I am happy to report that many of the Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands have been lifted. The museums, cultural sites, and restaurants are all open. Masks are still required in certain places (public transportation and indoor shops) but I think that’s a minor inconvenience for the opportunity to experience all the wonders this country has to offer – especially during TULIP SEASON!

Some important details about my journey… I flew with United Airlines and was truly impressed with their Travel Ready Center. It’s a portal that allows you to link your travel documents (passport scan, vaccination record, and Netherlands entry forms) to your itinerary so you don’t have to waste energy wondering if you have every document you need to travel hassle-free. I received reminders of what to provide as my departure day approached. I was able to schedule my Covid-19 test locally with a participating test site. On test day, my results were sent to me and to United so when I arrived at the airport the next day to check in, all I did was drop off my bags and head to security where I only had to show my boarding pass and passport because everything else was “on file.” The arrival in Amsterdam was equally easy, I showed my passport and my CDC vaccination card, grabbed my luggage and was on my way!

If you are fully vaxxed and boosted, and you can’t wait to start traveling again, don’t wait any longer! 

We only have a few cabins available at these special prices below! We have a beautiful itinerary for cyclists and for the first time, we are welcoming walking guests aboard with a special escorted experience for them, too!  

The Netherlands is open and ready to welcome you, AND I AM TOO! 


View our complete itinerary at this link: TULIP TRAILS OF HOLLAND – Itinerary

Ready to bike and barge your way around Europe? Check out our new itineraries for 2022!

We’re excited to announce three new tours for 2022! We are proud of our loyal following and want our guests to keep coming back to explore more of the bike paths, waterways, and hidden gems of Europe. If this is your first tour with us or your fifth, we are sure it will be memorable!

Visit our Youtube channel for a glimpse of the Stephanie Ventures bike & barge experience and follow us on Facebook @ Stephanie Ventures LLC

Contact us at for pricing, to schedule an introductory phone/Zoom call, or to book your European bike & barge getaway! Have a group you’d like to travel with? Inquire about special group rates and a private online or in-person presentation to your group.

~~~~~ 2022 BIKE & BARGE TOURS ~~~~~

Tulip Trails of Holland ~ April 2-9, 2022, roundtrip from Amsterdam

Click here to view: Tulip Trails of Holland ITINERARY

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 4-11, 2022, Avignon – Aigues-Mortes, France

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 11-18, 2022, Aigues-Mortes – Avignon, France

Click here to view Panoramas in Provence ITINERARY

Beautiful Burgundy ~ August 23-30, 2022, Moret-sur-Loing – Auxerre, France

Click here to view Beautiful Burgundy ITINERARY

Breaking news! Dutch borders may re-open to Americans by mid-summer so our Tandem Ramble tour can sail!

UPDATE (Oct 13,2021) – We successfully hosted this tour and were delighted to travel with our guests to this beautiful corner of the Netherlands! Guests rode a combo of touring bikes, e-bikes, and tandems. All of our guests have returned home safely and several have already made plans to return to Europe with us again on a 2022 Stephanie Ventures Bike & Barge tour.

We’re celebrating Monday with news out of Europe that Dutch borders may open soon to vaccinated US travelers. That’s great news for cycling enthusiasts with wanderlust…our Sept 4, 2021 tour should be full steam ahead out of Amsterdam as planned. If you can’t wait to hop on a bike and barge in Europe, check out our Tandem Ramble thru Holland’s Hansa Towns itinerary at the link below and contact us today.

2021 Tandem Ramble Thru Holland’s Hansa Towns – SPACE AVAILABLE

On this tour you’ll pedal through a historic “drive-thru” windmill!
Enjoy dedicated bike paths through the scenic Hoge Veluwe National Park.

How we’re adapting our bike & barge tours for your safe and enjoyable post-pandemic vacation

I should be packing my luggage, practicing my French, and preparing to join twenty enthusiastic cyclists for our Panoramas in Provence Bike & Barge tour. However, since recent world events have made it necessary to reschedule our tours to 2021, I find myself researching topics for video calls I’ll be hosting for my registered guests. Most of them will eventually be joining me on their 3rd, 4th or 5th tours so they’re seasoned bike and barge travelers. While we wait for the right time to travel again, technology will allow them to reminisce with former travel companions and meet new ones, but also to ask questions and learn how their next bike and barge tour will be different from their previous ones. Social distancing and stepped-up disinfecting procedures may be with us for a while but those guidelines won’t prevent us from enjoying a fantastic voyage. I will see to that.

I know we’re all sleeping better at night now that I’ve chased down refunds for airline tickets. I’ve also updated trip insurance policies with new departure dates, so they won’t have to purchase new policies. Lastly, I’m working with my “best-in-class” overseas operators to develop new protocols to ensure all of my tour groups enjoy safe journeys when we travel together again.

Because we sail on small ships that sleep 20-24 passengers, it’s easier to socially distance ourselves when we’re on board. And when we’re off the ship during the day, we’ll have the option to ride with a regional guide, or explore independently in smaller groups, with maps and route sheets. While we’re all meandering through the countryside, the crew will get down to the daily business of cleaning the ship before our return. At the end of our ride, they’ll greet us with smiles and snacks, while our guide whisks away our bikes for a thorough cleaning. The culinary staff will prepare a fantastic three course dinner which may be served in two seatings to allow proper spacing between guests. After dinner, our guides will lead a town walk to wrap up a perfect day, we’ll just take up a lot more space on the sidewalks than we have in the past.

If you’re dreaming of a day when you can see the world again, the scientists say it’s helping you cope with stress and anxiety. They also say that committing to a vacation helps you cope even better! We’re here for you.

Check out our (now) 2021 tour itineraries. We only have a few cabins available – but they may not be for long. My awesomely loyal tour guests have a talent for persuading friends to come along for the ride!

2021 Panoramas in Provence Itinerary Jun 19

2021 Tandem Ramble through Holland’s Hansa Towns



Announcing the first ever TANDEM Bike & Barge tour!

UPDATE: We’ve rescheduled this tour to 2021 due to Covid-19 Pandemic. Changes are reflected and highlighted in the post. 

In Europe, bike & barge tours exclusively for tandem riders are a challenging proposition for tour operators. One has to consider the availability of tandem rentals and the space constraints on the ship’s decks where the bikes are stored overnight. Most ships that host bike & barge tours maintain their own fleet of hybrid touring bicycles (for solo riders), better suited for the terrain than the road bikes most of us ride at home. In order to offer an all-tandem tour, the crew would need to switch out a couple dozen hybrids for a dozen tandems, which they’d likely need to rent locally. And at the end of that tour, switch all of those bikes out again, in addition to all the usual tasks to ready the ship to welcome a new group of travelers!


I’ve hosted several bike & barge tours over the last five years but it didn’t occur to me to offer an all-tandem tour until I had the pleasure of traveling with a fun tandem-riding couple on one of my recent tours. Tom and Diane (pictured above) lobbied me daily on behalf of tandem enthusiasts everywhere for an all-tandem tour. They were so convincing that after the tour ended, I tapped into my expert bike & barge network for a recommended itinerary that could cater to tandem riders, with enough proper tandem rentals. The network’s unanimous vote: embark from the city where there are more bikes than citizens: Amsterdam. It so happens to be one of my favorite cities on the planet, so let’s do it!

I’m excited to announce our 2021 tour: Tandem Ramble through Holland’s Hansa Towns. AND we will open this tour up to all cyclists and will offer hybrid touring bikes and e-bikes (surcharge)!

If you want to bring your own bike to ride on tour, you are welcome to do so. Please let us know when you inquire about booking so that we can make recommendations on the type of tires you should be bringing – skinny road tires won’t perform well on cobblestones. 

Tandem Gazelle (003)

From Amsterdam, this tour will take you on a scenic journey through the central region of the Netherlands, its landscape shaped by the many rivers and streams that crisscross it. This region flourished during the Middle Ages when the Ijssel River was one of the most important Hanseatic trade routes in Europe. This relatively undiscovered area is a favorite among Dutch cyclists and we’re confident it will become a favorite of yours!

For more details on this fine voyage, please check out the complete itinerary and contact us for pricing and availability! 2021 Tandem Ramble through Holland’s Hansa Towns

Tandem Ramble tour map