21 years ago I rode the touring bike with four panniers and handlebar bag around western Europe. Rome to Brussels. Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Czechslovakia, East and West Germany(they were combined by 1992, but you could easily tell where the border was), Netherlands, Belgium. Covered about 6000 kilometers in three and a half months. Stayed in hostels, pensiones, with friends met along the road and contacts from home. Wonderful. Riding was good everywhere. Maybe fewer cars in the former soviet countries. Did not like all the bike trails in Netherlands. Everywhere was good. Italy is the most historic. Pisa, Venice, Rome, Florence are just a couple cities I saw.
Rode around Portugal and southern Spain in November 2000. Two weeks, maybe 1000 kilometers. Touring bike. Pensiones, cheap motels. Warm weather for November. Good roads, good traffic, good riding. Nice riding along the coast.
I can't recommend anyplace in particular to ride. All of western Europe is great for riding. Eastern Germany and Czechslovakia are also great. Pick a place and go. It will be great.
For carrying minimal gear on the bike. Consider Carradice saddle bags and the Jandd Mountain Wedge 3.http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FMW3http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?pa ... duct_id=33http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?pa ... duct_id=35http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?pa ... duct_id=37