I say it a lot because I think it’s important: Barcelona is a cyclist’s dream and there’s no better way to explore it than on two wheels.
In fact it’s one of the things I miss most about Barcelona now that I don’t live there anymore, so I was thrilled when Buena Vista Bike Tours invited me to join them for a fun-filled afternoon exploring this sun-drenched Mediterranean metropolis.
Here are a few reasons why I recommend you do the same:
Because Small Tour Groups are the Only Way to Go in Barcelona
Many of the tour companies in Barcelona are run by franchises and large companies that lack anything resembling “the personal touch”.
I mean, I’m not saying they don’t try their best, but there’s only so personable a guide can be while taking care of 50 selfie-stick-wielding tourists.
But it’s a very different story with Buena Vista Bike Tours.
They’re a small local company with strong ethics, and they’re strict about keeping their groups small and intimate.
This allows them to really connect with their guests on a one-to-one level and tailor each and every tour.
No tour is ever exactly the same, which keeps things flexible during the various cultural festivities that kick off across different parts of Barcelona on an almost weekly basis.
Because it’s More Like Hanging Out with a Friend Than a Tour Guide
Having Paula as our guide was like having a knowledgable friend showing us around, while telling us fascinating stories and little nuggets of info as we went.
It was great to be able to have a two-way conversation, to be able to ask questions not only about the tour and sights we were seeing, but also about daily life in the city and the local culture in general.
I’d like to think I know a thing or two about Barcelona. Most of this blog is dedicated to the city, and I’ve published two books about it, but I still learned plenty from Paula. Hats off to her, she really knows her stuff.
I think this is how all tours should be.
Because Barcelona Really is a Dream Cycling City – Even for Easy Riders
Barcelona has something like 300km of dedicated cycle lanes and is arguably one of the finest cycling cities on the planet.
What’s more, the paths are generally pretty straight and flat, making them safe and easy for cyclists of all ages and abilities to enjoy.
The Buena Vista City Bike Tour is an easy ride, even for those who don’t know a handlebar from a tapas bar.
The bikes are cruiser bikes designed more for comfort than speed, making them quick to pull over when you see something you want to photograph. Which, in my experience, was quite often!
Because You’ll See and Experience the Best of Barcelona
Buena Vista Bike Tours cover most of Barcelona’s iconic attractions, including La Sagrada Familia, Palau de la Musica, Ciutadella Park and, my favourite, the sandy boardwalk that hugs the beach.
We also went off-piste on my tour and cruised through the trendy but lesser-known Poblenou neighbourhood, which was enlightening even for me.
Seriously, this city changes so quickly!
Ultimately however, the small group sizes allow Paula to work requests into the tour, or skip places you may have already visited.
Because Buena Vista Bike Tours is a Responsible Tourism Company
Smaller group sizes aren’t only good for you and the environment, but also for Barcelona and its residents in general.
I’ve spent a great deal of time cycling around Barcelona and have seen the look on locals’ faces as groups of 50 tourists roll into their neighbourhood square.
Hell, even I’ve worn the same look on my face as I’ve struggled to snake my way through rivers of swerving, photo-snapping tourists.
Large tour groups disrupt everyday life and can cause problems for many local businesses in Barcelona. So much so in fact that they have officially banned large groups from entering Barcelona’s famous Boqueria food market.
So yes, responsible tourism is a big one for me, and immensely important for the residents and future of Barcelona.
Whatever tours you book, whether it be here in Barcelona or elsewhere, make sure it’s a tour company like Buena Vista that respects and protects the local culture.
Because Everyone Loves Making New Friends While They’re Travelling
I’ve already mentioned how Paula felt more like a friend than a guide, but it was also great to connect with other travellers and visitors during the tour.
By the end of our ride, and after a pitstop for cold beers, we’d become firm friends.
If you’re reading this Nicky and Andrea, it was fantastic to meet you both and I hope to see you on another Catalan/Spanish aventura!
Because in Barcelona it’s all About Timing…
I noticed on our bike tour that we seemed to arrive at each landmark, explore it and then leave just as a huge group of tourists arrived.
Paula has worked as a guide in Barcelona for many years and it seems she knows when, where and how to avoid the mega crowds of tourists at each site.
As a small tour group you have the benefit of being nimble and agile, so you can zip around the city with ease and not have to worry about losing your guide (and your guide doesn’t have to worry about losing you!).
Because This is Barcelona, Baby!
And you’re going to see all of this and more…
Seriously, I can’t think of a better way to experience Barcelona!
Make it Happen
Go to the Buena Vista website to book your Barcelona bike tour.
Where: Buena Vista offers two daily bike tours in Barcelona departing from Plaça Reial (just off Las Ramblas in the Gothic Quarter).
When: The first tour of the day starts at 11am and the afternoon tour starts at 4pm.
How Long: Tours take approximately three hours.
Price: The price is €26 for adults and €23 for children (aged 4-12), which includes bike rental and the guided tour itself.
Helmets are available but not compulsory.
Looking for Private Bike Tours in Barcelona?
Buena Vista Tours specialises in private bike tours in Barcelona, which are perfect for families and groups of friends – find out more here.
The private tours are fully customisable, which is ideal if you have a specific list of places you’d like to explore and learn about.
You can also work in lunch at a tapas bar, or even a full picnic on the beach.
Just email them and let them know what you’re interested in – firstname.lastname@example.org.
A huge thank you to the guys at Buena Vista for inviting me on their fantastic bike tour in Barcelona. All photos, words, thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own and based entirely on my personal experience of the tour.