Whether it’s rolling gently across flat-as-a-pancake landscapes, facing thigh-burning mountain ascents or pootling around vineyards, a cycling holiday lets you plug in to the heart of your destination.

Often you’ll be able to get right into the countryside with your luggage transported ahead of you. And if your legs are a little rusty, there are gentle, guided options with only a few hours of pedalling each day.

With vintage appeal

Explore the Loire Valley with Anjou Velo Vintage this summer. The retro group cycling event takes place in Saumur on 28-29 June, bringing together thousands of cyclists in their best tea dresses, straw boaters, braces and berets. Vintage dress is mandatory, as is your bike type, which must be pre-1987 with no handle-bar mounted gear-shift (hire bikes are available for €15). There are four routes: the 30km “Discovery” through vineyards and villages; the 55km “Stroll” that may stop for a picnic by a windmill; the 90km “Hike” via hills and forests; and the 150km “Legend” race. Packages cost €360 with coach travel from London and three nights’ B&B. Bike transport €60 (anjou-velo-vintage.com).

With adventure on the open road

High-performance roadwear company and Team Sky outfitter Rapha offers “once in a lifetime cycling journeys” on classic routes as well as endurance rides and longer events. In the latter category is the Randonée from Portland to San Francisco. The 10-day trip pushes through the vineyards of Oregon, down the Pacific Coast Highway and through the Humboldt State Forest before cruising across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. It covers 1,250km and climbs over 2,500m, with stays in artists’ villages and fishing towns. The trip departs on 2 August at £3,100pp with technical support, accommodation, most meals, guides, bike hire and massage; flights not included (020 7485 5000; rapha.cc).

With little ones in tow

France, Spain and Italy are just some of Saddle Skedaddle’s family cycling holidays, with options for self-guided, supported, guided and bespoke trips. The easiest is in Burgundy – an eight-day trip based in treehouses or caravans in Puisaye, moving on to a hotel in St-Fargeau, with a maximum 26km cycling per day. Luggage is transported and maps provided. Days might include swimming in a lake or watching a medieval castle being built in Guédelon. The holiday costs £755pp with B&B, route notes and luggage transport; travel and bike hire extra (0191 2651110; www.skedaddle.co.uk/family).

With the gears set low

If breaking a sweat isn’t a priority, Inntravel’s four-night “Taste of Holland” trip from Edam to Amsterdam is a good bet. You can go at your own pace along country roads and cycle paths, past windmills and fishing villages. From £630pp, bike hire is included, plus a transfer from Amsterdam to Edam, B&B, one dinner and maps; departures between 29 March-30 September (01653 617003; inntravel.co.uk).

With the Yellow Jersey in sight

The Tour de France pedals off from the UK for the second time in its 111-year history this summer, departing Leeds on 5 July and working its way around Yorkshire before heading south to Cambridge, London, then France. Fans can experience the drama on HF Holidays’ three-night Tour de France Weekend Dovedale, following part of the route on moderately challenging terrain (maximum seven hours cycling a day), or allowing you to watch. It costs £375pp, including full board and guided rides, or transport if you’re just watching (0345 470 8558; hfholidays.co.uk).