Hannibal Bike Tour Overview
Join us on a ride of historical proportions as we ride in the footsteps of Hannibal from Barcelona to Rome. Cycling on some of Europe’s most iconic and picturesque bike touring routes through Spain, France and Italy this epic journey has it all. Divided into 2 stages the Hannibal tour takes in some of the finest cycling you could ever wish to find. Picture postcard views abound as we traverse some of the iconic climbs of the Grand Tours, roll through the vineyards of the Languedoc, Provence, Piedmont and Tuscany, and sample the delights of the diverse gastronomy to be found along the route.
Experience total immersion into the landscape, history and culture of the places we visit as we ride this inspirational iconic trail on the road less travelled. Discover from the saddle why Hannibal’s invasion of Rome in 218 BC was a major turning point in history. This was the clash of the ancient superpowers. If Hannibal had been victorious against Rome our world today would be completely different. The Western world wouldn’t have Rome at its origins, rather a Middle Eastern colony based in North Africa!
The Hannibal Expedition is divided into 2 distinct stages and you can choose to do either of them or both. For those of you wishing to do them both we call it the ‘Epic’.
At the end of every week we offer a ‘rest’ day. The official change over day is at the end of the first stage. On the rest and changeover days we try to stay in interesting towns which have all the practical facilities available (laundromat, atms etc). This doesn’t mean that you cannot take a rest any other day! The van is always available.
Hannibal Bike Tour Highlights
The Itinerary for the Hannibal Expedition is split into 2 stages. Riders may participate in either or both of the stages. If you’d like to take on the entire Hannibal challenge choose the Epic!
Stage 1 – Barcelona to Alba
Stage 2 – Alba to Rome
Hannibal Bike Tour Dates 2018
|Stage||Start Date||End Date||Days*||Distance||Cost (Euros)|
|Hannibal Stage 1 – Barcelona to Alba||2 September||17 September||16 (15 nights)||1558 km (968 miles)||€6,230|
|Hannibal Stage 2 – Alba to Rome||17 September||30 September||14 (13 nights)||1312 km (818 miles)||€5,470|
|Hannibal Epic – Barcelona to Rome||2 September||30 September||29 (28 nights)||2870 km (1787 miles)||€11,330|
Hannibal Bike Tour Food
Stage 1 – A gastronomic odyssey through 3 countries from Barcelona to Alba
We take in three different regions as we travel from Barcelona in Spain to the charming town of Mazan. Barcelona is the capital city of the fiercely independent state of Catalunya that has become increasingly associated with fine gastronomy in recent years. The world famous El Bulli restaurant (chef Ferran Adrià ),rated by the Michelin guide as the world’s best a record 5 times before it closed, bears testament to this. The next region we pass through is the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. A strong Spanish influence can be found in this region and you will see a lighter style of eating (less creamy rich sauces) than in the north of France. Languedoc cuisine relies heavily on local produce: olive oil, tomato sauces, herbs from the wild garrigue landscapes of the region such as thyme, rosemary and sorrel. Locals take eating seriously with meals often taking hours and including several courses. Provence is next on the itinerary with a wealth of seafood based dishes and local specialities. Olives are grown in the area and some high quality olive oil is produced in this region. With a strong Italian and Spanish influence the cuisine of Provence has a distinctive flair that sets it apart from more classic French fare. Blessed with an abundance of natural ingredients that flourish in the region, Provence is unsurpassed for the freshness of its produce and variety of its dishes.
We continue our journey through Provence as we head up towards the Alps in the north of the region – Alpes de Haute Provence. This sprawling area is crossed by the river Durance which is a fruit growing region, however, the cuisine in general is far more filling and heavy which will give you more fuel for climbing by bike. Based on butter rather than olive oil it is characterized by wild herbs, spelt and goat produce. Perhaps the best known product of the area though is the lamb from Sisteron which features in many local recipes. After climbing the Alps we descend into Italy and some great new culinary experiences.We enter Italy through the Piedmont region to discover the home of the “Slow Food” movement, Barolo wine, white truffles and nutella. Arguably Italy’s most culinary progressive region we delight in the symphony between tradition bound cooking and a burgeoning new wave gastronomic scene.
Stage 2 – A gastronomic safari through the heart of Italy from Piedmont to Lazio
We continue our journey through Piedmont and in to Emilia Romagna. This region truly is a gastronomic treasure trove with local delicacies including Parmigiano Reggiano- arguably the cheese of which Italians are most proud, Balsamic Vinegar and Proscuitto de Parma. As stage 3 continues we next find ourselves in picturesque Tuscany. Simplicity is the key to Tuscan cuisine with dishes based on top quality ingredients including legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables and fresh fruit. The delicious Tuscan soup called ribolitta will refuel you at the end of a long day with its ingredients of bread, cannellini beans and vegetables. For more detailed information on Tuscan cuisine visit our Tuscan tour page.
From Tuscany we then pass into Umbria where the renown Norcia black truffles are found. Other produce includes fresh ricotta, delicious pecorino cheese and high quality olive oils from the Trevi area. For main meals expect Strangozzi pasta and perhaps even suckling pig. Our journey is coming to an end as we enter the Lazio region and in to Rome. There is a predominance of pork in dishes in Lazio including as an ingredient in pasta sauces or roasted (porchetta). Other typical dishes to look out for are Carciofi alla giudea (lightly fried artichokes), fiori di zucca (stuffed zucchini flowers) and baccala (deep fried salted cod).
Hannibal Bike Tour Accommodation
Below are some of the hotels which we stay at during the tour. We have carefully selected these places based on their ‘personality’ and the hospitality of our hosts. If you wish to see the full accommodation list please click here to get in touch and we will be happy to email
Hotel Sant Bernat – Nestled in the Montseny National Park forest with views across the mountains, this authentic Spanish hotel is a great place to start the epic tour!
Hostal Empuries is an amazing hotel. It stands next to the ancient Greek and Roman ruins of Empuries which stood when Hannibal marched by. The beauty and tranquility of the location is exceptional.
Hotel Cloitre St Louis in Avignon – This class hotel is housed in a 16th century Jesuit school and is perfected located for our day off and exploring the historic city of Avignon.
Villa Sparina – One of Piedmont’s best hotels and the producer of the renowned Gavi di Gavi wine. A fantastic setting among their own vineyards. A real highlight of the entire tour.
Antico Borgo di Tabiano – An 11th century castle in the hills of Emilia Romagna built on the ruins of a Roman settlement. The ride up is challenging but it is certainly worth it!
Il Postiglione at Campagnano was known as early as 1463 under the name of “The Lion’s Inn”. However, it is likely the location has been used as a stop out of Rome since ancient times as it sits on the Via Cassia, built in the 1st century BC by the Romans!
Our Expedition Tour reading lists are aimed at being accessible to everyone – all the books are historical but there is fiction, primary authors and serious historians so take your pick! As always if you want any more information or more recomendations please contact us
Possibly the most comprehensive history of Hannibal’s War.
Serge Lancel: Hannibal
An excellent and accessible history of Hannibal and his legacy.
Dexter Hoyos: Hannibal’s Dynasty
The most trusted primary source, written by a Greek General who talked to veterans of the Hannibalic Wars.
Polybius: The Histories
An entertaining and easy read. Cottrell follows much of Hannibal’s route in a campervan!
Leonard Cottrell: Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome
Excellent historical fiction by this best selling author who is also joining us to ride the Hannibal – Barcelona to Rome in 2016!
Ben Kane: Hannibal and Rome series
Authentic primary source. Livy was a Roman who wrote about 100 years after the Hanniballic War. All modern histories are based on his and Polybius’ works.
Livy: The War with Hannibal
Felix Lowe, Guardian journalist and Author rode Hannibal with us in 2013. This entertaining encounter brings in cycling history, Hanniballic history and all the adventures on the road.
Felix Lowe: Climbs and Punishment
I will either find a way, or make one.
Hannibal Barca is one of the greatest military commanders of all time. As a leader of the ancient superpower, Carthage, he waged a lifelong war against the Romans and nearly destroyed them. And yet, today we know very little about Hannibal or his people: the Carthaginians. What we do remember is one of his amazing feats: to fight the Romans on their own turf, Hannibal led an army that included nearly forty elephants, over the frozen mountain tops of the Alps and into Italy.
That achievement, leading the largest land animal over one of the biggest mountain chains, was just part of an incredible journey that took Hannibal and his force of sixty thousand men from southern Spain, through France, into Italy via the Alps and finally, over the sea and back to the now Tunisian city of Carthage. For Hannibal Barca this was a very personal conflict – a family affair. As a boy he’d sworn to his father Hamilcar that he would fight Rome to the death and his top generals were his two brothers, Hasdrubal and Mago. Their struggle was the main event during the biggest and bloodiest conflict of ancient times, the century long Punic Wars (264-146 BC). With Hannibal as commander, it really looked as if Carthage was going to win. European civilisation came so close to being something very different – Rome-free,and yet Rome totally dominates our imagination when we think about the ancient world. When Hannibal lived, things were very different.
Sam and Dylan had obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching and organising the Hannibal Epic. The detail in the planning is obvious from the start and resulted in a magnificent experience every day. The hotels, restaurants, routes, lunch stops including several picnics, coffee breaks and extras such as wine tastings and farmhouse meals were superb. An added feature of their tours is the historical aspect which was regularly explained to us in regard to our location. I feel very lucky to have found this tour and to have been able to participate as it was challenging, unforgettable and a great opportunity to meet other like minded cyclists and create new friendships. It was hard coming home after such a unique experience. Thank you Sam and Dylan. Kay J
Ride and Seek certainly do more than just take you from A to B. They take you to C, D, E, F and just about every other letter of the alphabet. The 25 days I spent on the road with Sam and Dylan was the best month I have had in my life. To be able to travel through Spain, France and Italy, and to see, do, eat and enjoy so much, was a real privilege. Sam and Dylan eliminate any stress that may come with such a huge undertaking. Really, all you have to do is keep pedalling and not lose control of your bike when you pinch yourself to check you are not actually dreaming. Felix L
Sam and Dylan are both great guys, but as a team they are simply unmatched. All the bases are covered, everything you need has already been thought of, they have been there, done it themselves and that experience shines through. The riding know how and guidance is invaluable and the knowledge of the region and its history second to none, these guys are the best!
A spectacular, challenging, exquisite, unforgettable experience. When you ride and seek you will hit the bed each night knowing you are truly alive and you have experienced something very special.
Although I am only a fairly new cyclist, Ride and Seek gave me the opportunity to take on some of the most famous and challenging routes while feeling in control and well taken care of. Ride and Seek give you everything you need to enjoy your cycling holiday worry free. The routes, the accommodation, the support. Set off every day knowing that they have prepared a stunning experience, but left you the ability to choose your own adventure. Ride and Seek showed me everything I love about Europe and gave me new things to love about cycling. David G
What an event, exceeded my expectations in a big way, Dylan was an absolute professional, great communicator, the tour ran smoothly, nothing seemed too much effort for the boys.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week with Ride and Seek following in the footsteps of Hannibal. The stage 2 route was well-conceived to provide a variety of terrain and riding. The meals and accommodation were a highlight which enhanced the joy and challenges of the days on the bike. Sam, Dylan and James were thoughtful and supportive guides and great hosts. I hope I get the chance ride with them again.
The Ride and Seek Hannibal tour exceeded our expectations. The riding was fabulous, the regional food and wine were amazing. The organisation was seamless. This was the trip of a lifetime, only I am pretty sure we will be doing it again.
Challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Great riding, scenery, food, wine, company.and support from the guys at Ride and Seek. Would highly recommend for any rider thinking of a European cycling tour.
It is a rare thing to experience something that changes your perspective on life permanently, even more rare when that something is a choice, and not a challenge that life has forced upon you.
In 2012, the Hannibal Tour, led by Dylan and Sam at Ride and Seek, did just that, it changed my perspective on life. I started the tour with very high expectations, to see the best of Europe, to make friends, to challenge myself physically. What it achieved was well beyond this. The Hannibal Tour covered some of the most extraordinary landscape I will ever see, including times when I truly was on top of the world. Meeting the physical challenge of 26 days of cycling when I have never in my life before been a cyclist has left me with an incredible belief that anything is possible in life. I have made lifelong friends from across the globe. On this tour, I felt more alive than I had since I was a kid. We all laughed hard, ate and drank like kings, and at the top of the Alps, I cried with joy. And all this, from the seat of a bicycle.
Dylan and Sam did a faultless job running the tour from the hotels to the food, the support, the hire bikes and the incredible history of Hannibal along the way, I cannot imagine how it could have been executed any better. They were both professional, dedicated, friendly and supportive. Their experience shone through and is their greatest asset.
I already have my next Ride-and-Seek tour planned, and it won’t be the last. Jason L
To go on a trip that has congruency with the challenge of the ride -the epic and the history, gastronomy, the culture, the landscapes and to provide such intelligent support is amazing. I loved it, felt challenged, gave myself to the whole experience and have no criticisms, just grateful to Ride and Seek for a marvellous trip.
Hannibal Barca, the wily Carthaginian General, was a fine strategist and leader. His attempt to conquer Rome by taking war elephants across the Alps was a real feat. If you wish to ride across the Alps, in fine style, without the support of war elephants, then you should sign up with Ride & Seek. They are great operators and their tour is first class. Roddy Johnson, Dubai, UAE
This was by far the most fun I have had on a bike. It was a pretty stern physical test for me, and thus perfect. I eyed off the van once or twice but never had to get in it. Lovely places and lovely routes that you would never find by yourself, and all fully supported.
The guides, Dylan & Sam, on the Hannibal Expedition 2012 were excellent.
Both are excellent organisers, who think ahead, and are always looking to make the best possible experience for the riders, whether this be making sure the bikes are in top condition, or the picnics lunch is in “the spot”, or the evening meal is an experience to remember. They are happy to answer to questions on the route, and change things as weather or circumstance require. Sam’s historical knowledge and has willingness to share this knowledge really added to the trip.
I am very much looking forward to riding with either or both of them again.
The Hannibal Expedition has been the major riding highlight of my 20-year riding career. The scenery, food wine and accommodation were something I have no hesitation in recommending. For me, the greatest plus was achieving the challenge the Hannibal Expedition thoughtfully crafted route provides. Plenty of personal challenge, in beautiful and historic countries, with almost no traffic. What more could you ask for. Stephen S
Ride & Seek, fantastic adventure, really well organized, every detail considered. The highlights would be the routes and food along the way
Ride and Seek operated a sleek tour over some of the best riding roads I never knew existed. Clearly their experience has been built over a number of years. The cultural aspects (food, wine and history) provided an interesting backdrop to a sensational ride across the alps.
The Stages at-a-glance
Barcelona to Alba
Length: 16 Days / 15 Nights
Distance: 1558 km | 968 miles
Elevation: 24964m | 81903ft
Dates: September 2nd - 17th
Alba to Rome
Length: 14 Days / 13 Nights
Distance: 1312 km | 818 miles
Elevation: 22365m I 73376ft
Dates: September 17th - 30th
Barcelona to Rome
Length: 29 Days / 28 Nights
Distance: 2870 km | 1787 miles
Elevation: 47,329m | 155,279 ft
Dates: September 2nd - 30th