Barcelona Bike Tours
Sightseeing from the saddle
By Duncan Rhodes
With a host of specialist companies in town, clement weather and an ever increasing number of bike paths, exploring Barcelona on two wheels is a tonne of fun… here’s everything you need to know to get going.
Why Explore by Bicycle?
A bike tour is a great way to see Barcelona, and has numerous advantages over traditional walking tours. The most obvious is that being on a bicycle enables you to see much more of the city, but those of you who like a little exercise will also appreciate the chance to burn off a couple more calories and keep the oxygen flowing to the brain as your invariably knowledgeable guide regales you with fascinating histories and amusing anecdotes.
The chance to rattle around Barcelona on two wheels will also make you feel a little more independent (and dare we say ‘cool’) than those who’ve hopped on the nearest tourist bus
The chance to rattle around Barcelona on two wheels will also make you feel a little more independent (and dare we say ‘cool’) than those who’ve hopped on the nearest tourist bus – and you can even maintain the moral high ground on environmental friendliness. There’s no carbon emissions generated from pedal power.
The fact that Barcelona is (with the exception of the odd mountain) an incredibly flat city with over 200km of bike paths (and more planned) should provide additional incentive to get in the saddle and discover the town’s best attractions.
8 Advantages of Exploring by Bike
- Barcelona’s warm & dry weather is perfect for biking
- It’s not strenuous, but still a good work out
- You see many more things than on a walking tour…
- But you are more independent than on a bus / coach tour!
- Barcelona has 200km+ of cycling paths and many car-free zones
- The centre of the city is mostly flat (and the hilly tours you can do on an Electric Bicycle!)
- It’s an environmentally friendly way of seeing the city
- Bicycle tours tend to be very affordable!
Most of Barcelona’s numerous bike tour companies offer both private tours and group excursions with a guide. As well as catch-all routes that take in the likes of La Sagrada Familia, Barceloneta Beach and La Rambla in one circuit, you’ll also find some exciting alternative tours on offer, concentrating on different themes (like eating tapas or football) or taking you to less-heralded, but equally fascinating, districts.
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Top 3 Bike Tours
Find our recommended list of providers below, many of whom also do bike rentals if you prefer free-wheeling it…
Looking for a two-wheel ride you will never forget? The Steel Donkey team (the donkey is the national animal of Catalonia in case you were wondering!) offer small group adventures around the city of Barcelona, riding in groups of no more than 8 people. Their friendly guides are all Barna locals, with an eye for the fascinating details and stories that others might miss, and a nose for adventure. You won’t get a history lesson on Gaudi, but you might learn a little bit about Catalan independence and see sides of the city that most tourists simply don’t know about as you spend a unique afternoon uncovering Barcelona’s secrets. There is no fixed itinerary as such, but beach bars, side streets, chocolate and churros, flea markets and forgotten cemeteries are just a few delights you may well experience. A simply great tour for people who don’t like to be tourists. Tripadvisor certificate of excellence winners in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, check out their bike tour reviews, or their website below.
The Original Steel Donkey Experience
Price: €35 per person (plus €10 for an E-bike)
Duration: 4 hours
Maximum group size: 8 people
When: Tues, Fri and Sat at 10am (or request a private departure)
Itinerary: Varies, but usually includes cool barrios, local markets, hidden squares, modern architecture, street art, authentic shops, refreshment stop at nice locale.
A great compromise if you want to combine sightseeing with a bit of exercise – but not test the lungs or thighs too much. These fun and easy to ride electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance to your cycling, ensuring you can climb hills and cover distances with ease. Thanks to how easy it becomes to get around you can also enjoy an tour that goes way beyond the average excursion and travellers can choose between a ride up to Montjuic mountain with fantastic views of the city, or taking in all of Gaudi’s greats in one afternoon. Check out their website for more info.
Specialists in road biking, a day in the company of Montefusco involves more than tottering around the sights… on their Hills Around The City Tour you’ll cover more than 80km of ground as you take in the entire city, from Parc del Forum to the Olimpic Stadium, via La Sagrada Familia and not forgetting – appropriately enough – the velodrome. If you want to go further afield they also organise trips to the small town of Sitges and the beautiful landscapes of Montserrat.
The Hills Around Barcelona with Montesfusco Cycling
Price: €90-130 per person
Duration: 4 hours (covering 60-80 kms!)
Maximum group size: 4 people
When: Private, on demand
Itinerary: Hotel pick up, River Besos, Tibidabo mountain and hills of Collserola park
Best of the Rest…
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, here are some other well-known companies you might choose to ride with…
Fat Tire Barcelona
One of Europe’s most popular operators, if you’re looking for the classic round up of the city’s main attractions for a fair price you can’t go wrong with these dependable tours. Crowd-pleasing sights like the Gothic Cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, Parc de la Ciutadella and the beach make for a great introduction to the city, and their guides are young charismatic and fun. Popular with backpackers and budget travellers they usually ride in groups of 15 people. You can book their most popular experience “Sagrada Familia and More” via Get Your Guide
Uncovering the secrets of Las Ramblas, the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter and many of Gaudi’s greats, Baja Bike’s three hour Barcelona Highlights Tour is a natural choice for those visiting the city for the first time. The itinerary also includes the famous Colombus Statue and delightful Parc de la Ciutadella, and as well as some less known highlights. The tour includes time for a coffee break and your guide will give you plenty of historic and cultural insight into the Catalan capital. Maximum 15 people per guide. You can book it via Get Your Guide.
Offering some of the most affordable bike rentals in Barcelona, they also offer their clients an intriguing tour of the city. Their 3.5 hour round trip takes in all the greats, including the Gothic Quarter and El Borne districts and sights such as the Palau de la Musica and Gaudi’s Casa Battlo. Their tours are offered in more languages than spoken in the Tower of Babel so drop them a line if English is not your group’s Lingua Franca.
What Should I Bring?
Nothing too bad will happen if you rock up to a bicycle tour with just the shirt on your back (and some shorts hopefully), but this is what a boy scout would bring, in order to be totally prepared for a few hours in the saddle:
- Sunscreen… be sure to apply plenty to the back of neck, forearms and face.
- Sunglasses. The light in Barcelona can be oh so bright… you’ll get a headache if you forget these.
- Sensible footwear. Flip flops on bikes are rarely a good idea.
- Bottle of water. You’re going to need to rehydrate, possibly quite regularly if it’s scorchio outside.
- Second layer. Check the weather forecast before you set off, as you might appreciate having a light rain jacket, or sweater, for those times when the legendary local climate lets us down.
- Camera. Probably best not to pack your DSLR… too clunky and not great way to carry it on a bike. But you’ll want to have a camera of some sort handy for when you stop outside one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, a cool piece of street art or are cruising back to the city via the beach. Your phone or a point of shoot should prove perfect.
- Address of the tour meeting point.
- Cash. Some pocket change for snacks and souvenirs (some tours stop via cool stores) might come in handy.
- Backpack… we’d recommend a double shoulder strapped bag as these are much more stable when you’re riding a bike.
- Lip balm. The Barcelona Life team have very sensitive lips, ok!?
Cycling Outside The City
The rolling hills and vineyards of the Penedes region make an idyllic setting for a bit of low key pedalling punctuated by wine tasting! On this day tour you catch a train out of town to Vilafranca del Penedes where your genial guide will meet you and guide you around the local countryside and wineries. Click on the link above for more info.
Meanwhile if you’re looking for some more hardcore thigh-burn then check out our guide to cycling and mountain biking in Catalonia. There’s some amazing countryside to be discovered, whether you’re interested in a day trip or a lycra-sponsored excursion.
Hopefully then you’ve found some handy options to get you going, but if you feel there’s some cycle action we’re missing drop us a line with your suggestions.