• Road-less-travelled
  • Carcassonne
  • Pont-du-Garde
  • Col-d-Agnel
  • LynskyHelix
  • Breakfast
  • View-to-Italy
  • Hannibal-Barcelona-to-Rome-map

Hannibal - Barcelona to Rome

Hannibal Bike Tour Overview

Cycling on some of Europe's most iconic and picturesque bike touring routes through Spain, France and Italy; the Hannibal expedition has it all.

A modern day tour gives riders the chance to take up Hannibal’s trail in Barcelona, Mazan, Alba or Pisa and ride 1, 2, 3 or 4 stages of this epic expedition.

The trail passes through some of the most beautiful cycling areas in Europe - Catalonia, Languedoc, Provence, Piedmont, Tuscany and Umbria among others. It takes us over the Pyrenees, Alps and Apennines as we challenge ourselves on routes that feature regularly in the Vuelta, Tour and Giro.

We will sample the culinary delights on offer. We will also embrace the abundant cultural & historical elements of these areas as we meander our way down the road less travelled by modern day tourists, but once travelled by the Carthaginian general Hannibal.

Conceptualised by Sam Wood, archaeologist and documentary maker - 'On Hannibal's Trail' - and Dylan Reynolds, a bike guide who has lived in all 3 of the countries we travel through, the Hannibal Expedition is one of the world's great bike journeys.

Watch our latest video to get a taste of the Hannibal Expedition and please get in touch for more information.

Stage Structure

The Hannibal Expedition is divided into 4 distinct stages and you can choose to do as many of them as you choose. For those of you wishing to do them all we call it the ‘Epic’.

There are two Epic options depending on what stage you choose to start with. For stage 1 there are two options – ‘The Road Less Travelled’ and ‘Across the Pyrenees’ – with the latter being less historically accurate but the tougher of the two. Whilst the stages overlap from day 5 onwards ‘Across the Pyrenees’ is actually a day longer and starts a day earlier – hence the price disparity. With the exception of the final stage all the other stages are 8 days/ 7 nights long. The final stage down to Rome is the shortest of the stages and is 7 days / 6 nights long. Once again this is reflected in the pricing.

We work around the changeover days being on a Saturday. Riders who are continuing from stage to stage enjoy the Saturdays as a rest day and a chance to explore the town we are staying in. For this reason 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.

Typically for each stage the first day of your trip is a warm up ride which gives you a chance to either get used to your rental bike and have it fitted, or get on your own bike for the first time on tour, before joining the main group for the regular day to day rides.

Hannibal Bike Tour Highlights

The Itinerary for the Hannibal Expedition is split into 4 stages. Riders may participate in 1, 2, 3 or all 4 stages.  If you'd like to take on the entire Hannibal challenge choose the Epic!

For Stage 1 we actually offer two options - The Road Less Travelled and Across the Pyrenees. The former is the original option and takes us from Barcelona to Mazan over the lower elevations of the Pyrenees as it stays close the coast - this route is historically more accurate. The latter option was conceptualised to give participants the chance to take on the iconic Grand Tour cols of the Pyrennees and we meet further to the west in Zaragoza. The two tours follow the same itinerary again from day 5 onwards.

Stage 1 - The Road Less Travelled - Barcelona to Mazan

The meeting point for this stage is the stunning city of Barcelona. However, rather than cycle out of Barcelona among the heavy city traffic we shuttle you to the coast and the take up residence at our lovely first hotel overseeing the Mediterranean. From there we cycle up through Cataluña and over the Pyrenees mountain range. The crossing of the Pyrenees is obviously a tough undertaking but our route doesn’t take in the highest peaks which makes this stage a relatively relaxed introduction to the stages ahead. We enter France through the lovely town of Ceret which was once home to Picasso before  continuing through the beautiful French countryside of the Languedoc-Roussillon. Our destination on this stage is the village of Mazan where we stay in the former abode of the infamous Marquis de Sade.

Stage 1 (Alternate Pyrenean Route) - Zaragoza to Mazan - Across the Pyrennees

We ride ‘Across the Pyrenees’ from Spain into France. Seeking out the iconic climbs of this fabled mountain chain we initially move away from the likely passage of Hannibal in search of some serious peak bagging. After meeting in Zaragoza we head up into the foothills of the Pyrenees to the picturesque town of Biescas. This provides us with our gateway to some of the most acclaimed and feared Grand Tour climbs - Tourmalet, Aubisque and Aspin to name just three. The first part of the ride is in Spain before we cross over into the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region of France and on to  the picturesque Languedoc region where we rejoin the original route. Cycling on some of Europe’s most iconic and picturesque bike touring routes this journey has it all. Picture postcard views abound as we traverse some of the iconic climbs of the Vuelta and the Tour de France, roll through the land of Cathar castles and sample the delights of the diverse gastronomy to be found along the route. Our destination is the town of Mazan in Provence which is situated in the shadow of Mont Ventoux.

Stage 2 -Mazan to Alba - Across the Alps

Stage 2 of our journey in the footsteps of Hannibal takes us on perhaps the most iconic leg of his journey – across the Alps. We won’t have 39 war elephants to provide us support but we will have our support vehicles to lend us a hand if you need it. From Mazan you can choose to take on the ‘giant’ of Provence – Mont Ventoux – or skirt around it along the spectacular Gorges de la Nesque – as we head into the foothills of the Alps. This stage provides opportunity to take on a number of iconic climbs – Galibier, Alpe d’Huez, Agnel and Izoard among others – as we ride from France into Italy. Our gateway into Italy is via Col Agnel (Colle Agnello to the Italians) which takes us into the lovely region of Piedmont and the vine clad hills of the Langhe and Monferrato. We'll follow in the tyre tracks of the greatest Italian cyclist of them all - Fausto Coppi - on our way to the gastronomic hub of Alba that provides a fitting end to this classic stage.
Looking back down into France from Col Agnel (2744m). From here Italy awaits.

Stage 3 - Alba to Pisa - The Italian's Italy

Stage 3 takes us on across the spine of Italy – the Apennines – and through a landscape of vines, castles, agriculture and beautiful hill towns. Starting in Piedmont, the area known as the Italian’s Italy, we traverse the spectacular Oltrepo Pavese and head into Emila Romagna where our route over the Apennines awaits us. A number of Italy’s culinary jewels - Reggio Emilia, Modena, Parma and Piacenza - are found in this region so gastronomic delights abound. The Apennines may not be the Pyrenees’ or Alps but they are a challenge none the less with regular climbs and steep ascents which the Giro has become famed for. Our destination is the city of Pisa where our hotel overlooking its eponymous tower provides a fitting spot to toast the end of the stage.

Stage 4 - Pisa to Rome - Classic Italy

Stage 4 takes us from Tuscany to Rome through what can only be described as picture postcard scenes. Meandering through Renaissance Italy on the road less travelled through beautiful scenery and hill towns is cycling at its best. Rolling Tuscan hills covered in sunflowers, Umbrian medieval towns and Lazio which provides us with our final Italian canvas, the prominence of Roman heritage increasing as we make our way towards Rome. We pass by Trasimene where Hannibal destroyed a Roman army forcing them into the lake and cycle in the footsteps of Hannibal’s army through what were once the Arno Swamps and to the gates of Rome! Our final hotel is in the heart of the lively Trastevere district which provides a perfect venue for a gala dinner to toast the end of our great cycling adventure.

Hannibal Bike Tour Dates

StageStart Date 2015End Date 2015DaysDistanceCost (Euros)
1. The Road less Travelled
     Barcelona to Mazan
5 September 12 September 8 (7 nights) 658 km (411 miles) €2295
1. Pyrenean Route - Across the Pyrenees
     Zaragoza to Mazan
4 September 12 September 9 (8 nights) 800 km (497 miles) €2650
2. Over the Alps
     Mazan to Alba
12 September 19 September 8 (7 nights) 599 km (374 miles) €2295
3. The Italian's Italy
     Alba to Pisa
19 September 26 September 8 (7 nights) 622 km (389 miles) €2295
4. Classic Italy
     Pisa to Rome
26 September 2 October 7 (6 nights) 590 km (369 miles) €1995
Epic! - Barcelona to Rome 5 September 2 October 28 (27 nights) 2529 km (1581 miles) €8095
Pyrenean Epic! - Zaragoza to Rome 4 September 2 October 29 (28 nights) 2611 km (1622 miles) €8395

Supplements

> Epic price differences. Not a supplement as such but recognition that the full Pyrenean tour that involves the 'Across the Pyrenees' stage is a day longer than the regular Hannibal tour. As a result we have two seperate prices for the Epic options.
Single supplement - Our prices are based on twin/double occupancy. If you wish to have your own room then a supplement of €50 per night is applicable.
> Bike hire - If you don't bring your own bike we have a fleet of bikes that we are able to rent out. The Our Bikes  page shows the options we have available. Typically our bike hire costs are €30 per day but there are variations on this depending on the model you choose and the number of days you require the bike for. 
> Wine kitty - On all of your tours we run a wine kitty system. This is very much an optional arrangement that ensures non-drinkers can be accommodated. The wine kitty is owned by the group and anything left over is divided up although this rarely happens! The wine kitty cost for this tour is €40 per person and will ensure that we can enjoy the fine wines that Tuscany has to offer.
To reserve a place on this tour you need to pay a deposit of €500 (or your local currency equivalent) for a single stage and €1000 (or your local currency equivalent) if you wish to participate in multiple stages - we can accept payment in GB£ and AU$ too.  The final invoice will include any applicable single supplements or bike hire costs. Normally. unless otherwise requested, we collect the wine kitty monies on the tour itself. Contact us with your specific requirements and any questions you may have.

Hannibal Bike Tour Food

Stage 1

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.

Stage 2

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. For a more detailed overview check out our Piedmont tour page.

Stage 3

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. 

Stage 4

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. Visit our Umbrian tour page for some more detailed information on Umbrian Cuisine. 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 Essentials

Our Pre Tour information pack which we will send you when you sign on to the tour will tell you everything from what to bring and meeting arrangments to training recommendations.

Trip Difficulty / Espresso Grading

Hannibal is graded between 3 and 3 1/2 espresso cups throughout the 4 stage tour.

Stage 1 - Barcelona to Mazan - The Road less Travelled

Stage 2 - Mazan to Alba - Over the Alps 

Stage 3 -Alba to Pisa - The Italian's Italy 

Stage 4 - Pisa to Rome - Classic Italy   

Frequently Asked Questions

For general essentials relating to group size, bikes, accommodation, tour payments please see our extensive FAQs section. If you can't find the answer there please get in touch and we'd be happy to help.

Hannibal History

I will either find a way, or make one.

Hannibal

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.

Hannibal in the Alps

Contact Us to get the Hannibal Itinerary which is full of the history, or send me an email anytime to talk Hannibal!

Hannibal Reading

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

Hannibal by Serge Lancel

Possibly the most comprehensive history of Hannibal's War.

Serge Lancel Hannibal
Hannibal's Dynasty by Dextor Hoyos

An excellent and accessible history of Hannibal and his legacy.

Dexter Hoyos Hannibal's Dynasty
The Histories by Polybius

The most trusted primary source, written by a Greek General who talked to veterans of the Hannibalic Wars.

Polybius The Histories
Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome by Leonard Cottrell

An entertaining and easy read. Cottrell follows much of Hannibal's route in a campervan!

Leonard Cottrell Hannibal: Enemy Of Rome
Hannibal by Ben Kane

Excellent historical fiction by this best selling author.

Ben Kane Hannibal
The War with Hannibal by Livy

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 book

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

Hannibal Bike Tour Testimonials

Kay Jacob riding in the Alps

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 Jacob
Felix Lowe

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 Lowe
John Keppel

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!

John Keppel
Luke Naish

A spectacular, challenging, exquisite , unforgettable experience. When you ride and seek you wil hit the bed each night knowing you are truly alive and you have experienced something very special.

Luke Naish
David Griffiths

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 Griffiths
James Earnegy

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.

James Earnegy
John Neil

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.

John Neil
Francesca Boase

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.

Francesca Boase
Phil Roche

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.

Phil Roche
Jason Langer

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 Langer
Bernadette Redfern

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.

Bernadette Redfern
Roddy Johnson

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

Roddy Johnson
Ted Robinson

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.

Ted Robinson
Stephen Seymour

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, wether 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 Seymour
Andrew Colgan

Ride & Seek, fantastic adventure, really well organized, every detail considered. The highlights would be the routes and food along the way

Andrew Colgan
Jeff Sapier

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.

Jeff Sapier

The Trip

Cycle some of Europe's most iconic and picturesque bike routes through Spain, France and Italy; the Hannibal Expedition has it all.

Email me the trip catalog

The Stages at-a-glance

Choose from any of our 4 one week stages or take the entire epic journey!

Trip Difficulty
Advanced - 100 km / 60 miles per day
Stage 1 - Barcelona to Mazan
Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 658 km (411 miles)
Stage 2 - Mazan to Alba
Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 599 km (374 miles)
Stage 3 - Alba to Pisa
Length: 8 Days / 7 Nights
Distance: 622 km (389 miles)
Stage 4 - Pisa to Rome
Length: 7 Days / 6 Nights
Distance: 590 km (369 miles)
Epic! Barcelona to Rome
Length: 28 days / 27 nights
Distance: 2469 km (1543 miles)

Trip Press

Cycling Australia logo

Ride and Seek Bike Quarterly

BBC Breakfast logo

The Independent

Barcelona Metropolitan logo

Electrum Magazine

the Telegraph logo

Bantam Press logo

Cycling Australia logo

The Hannibal Expedition is based on the journey made by Ride and Seek's Sam Wood for the BBC documentary On Hannibal's Trail currently showing on National Geographic and Viasat worldwide.

Ride and Seek BBC logo

Ride and Seek National Geographic logo

VIA Scandinavia and Eastern Europe