Vacations are an escape from everyday life – a chance to do things we normally don’t do and come back brimming with fresh energy.

Maybe that’s why cycling vacations are so popular. Think of it: a gentle breeze across your face, sunshine on your shoulders, out in the open exploring a beautiful landscape – all by virtue of your own pedal power. Whether it’s a day tour from your M base in Vienna or a weeklong excursion, cycling is a fantastic way to experience the beauty and culture of anyplace, anywhere. You take things in differently on a bike; the experience is more personal, more intimate, and it happens at your own pace. Better still, you feel great doing it – and not the least bit guilty for indulging in local cuisine!

Vienna is among the most popular destinations among cycle enthusiasts worldwide. Culturally, musically and architecturally speaking, Vienna one of the richest cities in the world. There is much to see and appreciate, and cycling is an ideal way to take it in.

Guided cycle tours in Vienna are abundant, and although you’ll learn a lot from a knowledgeable guide, there is something to be said for venturing out on your own. Going solo allows you to set your own agenda, and renting a bike in Vienna is very easy to do. The city has a public bike service (appropriately called CityBike) that allows anyone to rent a bicycle at minimal cost. A total of 1,500 bikes are available at 121 stations around the city. You just get to a station, pay the fee and pedal away, then return the bike at any station when you’re finished with it. There is over 1,300 kilometres of bike paths in Vienna, which gives you some idea how popular this form of transportation is among the Viennese.

The very old and the very new stand side by side in Vienna, and every street you turn onto offers something amazing to see. Imperial palaces and Baroque cathedrals are juxtaposed by a myriad of quaint coffeehouses and modern art pieces, and there are monuments to Vienna’s illustrious musical past all over the city. Ringstrasse is Vienna’s main boulevard and home to several of Vienna’s most notable attractions: the State Opera House, the Parliament building, the National Theatre, and three must-see museums – the Museums of Applied Arts,  Fine Arts, and  Natural History. Ringstrasse is a great place to start a self-guided tour, but do your best to pedal past Hofburg Palace, Hundertwasser House and the incredible Stephansdom  (St. Stephen’s Cathedral ) –  the most famous cathedral in the city.

If the cycling bug bites you in Vienna, consider taking things beyond its borders. Austria offers bike tours that cater to cyclists at every level of ability, from pleasure trips that wind leisurely down dedicated bike paths to epic adventures in the Alps. The more the challenging the path, the more advisable it is to engage the services of an experienced guide, and there are many reputable companies to choose from. Beginners should start with a straightaway pleasure trip, like the path that runs along the picturesque Danube River. It’s lengthy (381 km) but easy – mostly downhill and entirely traffic free, and you can start and stop at any one of the lovely villages along the way. A shorter but slightly more challenging path that’s great for beginners is the river path between Ybbs and Lunz on the Lake. It’s 107 km with moderately difficult stretches that combine paved bike paths and low traffic side roads.

Do a bit of research beforehand and you’ll undoubtedly find the perfect Austrian cycling tour for you. Fair warning – cycling tours can be highly addictive.