Freewheel Holidays Augments Must-See Icons on European Vacations with 20th Century “Ugly Tours”

MANCHESTER, UK, March 27, 2019– Every city has its icons. Think London’s Big Ben, silenced for repairs until 2021 as Brexit tolls away. Think the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile in Paris, a visiting driver’s nightmare. Think exploring Rome’s Sistine Chapel over Easter. Don’t.

A bicycle touring company in the UK, Freewheel Holidays, has created throughout Europe alternatives or add-ons to traditional must-sees on its self-guided cycle tours.

Leaving judgements of beauty to the eyes of beholders, Freewheel Holidays teasingly calls these “Ugly Tours.” For example, an alternative to selfie-hordes around Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid might be a visit to the futuristic National Aquarium of Denmark. Or how about stopping at Antwerp’s uber-modern Port House on a Belgian Beer Tour -- instead of a 17th century house named after yet another old master, Reubens?

“We’re keen to show there’s a very different kind of sightseeing – one of fascinating history and eye-catching architecture,” says Steven Rittey, company spokesperson.“These run the gamut from concrete brutes to dazzling modern buildings that delight and perplex in equal measure. You can visit and stop off at these buildings on selected European cycling holidays.”

He added that the ‘Ugly’ Tours aren’t meant to substitute for the tried and true icons; but they are meant to embellish centuries-old histories with 20th century overlays.  Following are samples of Freewheel Holiday itineraries with newly embedded “Ugly Tours” that suggest 21st century alternatives or add-ons to tried-and-true haunts.

Elbe (River) Cycle Path: Prague to Dresden is an eight-day, self-guided bicycle tour through Czechoslovakia and Germany that blends ancient fiefdoms and castles with the iconography of Eastern Europe, the Cold War and the former East Germany (DDR). For example, Prague’s Bata Department Store embraces a visionary and benevolent shoe manufacturer, a flight to Canada in World War II and use of the old-country shoe factory for Allied-driven arms manufacturing. Today there are over 5,000 Bata stores in more than 50 countries and the company still produces shoes – some 150 million pair annually.

Still in Prague and after traveling five stories underground, Nuclear Bunker Museum reveals Soviet-style paranoia. Think gas masks and Cold War paraphernalia. Then it may be time for a drink in Hotel Družba (now Hotel International), a show piece of Cold War architecture. An evening river stroll reveals “The Drunk House,” a building with a lilt and tilt conceived by, among other architects, Frank Gehry. The per person double rate is from £619. For details see

Florence to Rome is an eight-day, self-guided bicycle tour through La Bella Italia that wasn’t always so beautiful. Think Mussolini and the era of Fascism. Architecture was important to Italy’s fascist government and the surviving buildings from this time are often striking, despite their tragic past.

In 1932 Santa Maria Novella Railway Station in Florence became a prime example of Italian modernism while Foro Italico – a sports complex - was built to host the Olympic Games of 1940 in Rome. Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome’s EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) Quarter is one of Italy's best examples of fascist architecture. Mussolini planned to celebrate 20 years of power here in 1942. Near Florence San Giovanni Battista Church in 1960 sprang up on a motorway rest stop. More recently, in 2002 Auditorium Parco della Musicawas inaugurated in Rome to serve the music-loving public. The per person double rate is from £939. For details see

Brussels to Bruges via Ghent is a seven-day, self-guided bicycle tour of Belgium. “Ugly Tour’ must-sees are Antomium, a building designed for the 1958 World’s Fair of Brussels as an iron crystal with five spheres used for public spaces and exhibit halls. At the top is a restaurant overlooking Brussels. The seat of the European Council is Europa building, shaped as a lantern, with an Art Deco exterior from the 1920s. When in Mechelen, “Ugly Tour” may draw cyclists to a brand-new conference and heritage center near a WWII concentration camp. Close to Bruges’s historic center is Concertgebouw (concert building) that opened in 2002 with great acoustics but its architecture drew mixed acclaim. The per person double rate is from £519. For details see

Additional itineraries, among many others, with “Ugly Tour” concentrations include:

To check trip availability, make reservations, or to find out more about Freewheel Holidays’ leisure cycling tours call +44 (0) 161 703 5823, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or visit

About Freewheel Holidays

A division of Sports Tours International, Freewheel Holidays specializes in self-guided, expertly supported European cycling holidays that strike the perfect balance between leisure pedaling and immersive sightseeing. The company offers easy cycling programs designed with special appeal to European and North American travelers. Guests cycle on their own, with enroute assistance and distinctive accommodations expertly chosen and secured by the company. A portfolio of over 40 established European holidays offers riders of all levels a freedom of choice. The company features a range of 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9-night itineraries to 12 European countries including the UK, Austria, France, Holland, Czech Republic, Italy, Malta, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Portugal. The majority of tours are self-guided with the exception of a few fully-guided vacation packages in Croatia, France, Italy and Prague to Vienna.  The company also offers family-focused, coastal, wine lover, bike and boat, and solo traveler holidays.

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