There’s no better way to get to know Barcelona than on a bike tour. You can check out the back streets, find the hidden gems, discover the romantic hideaways. And think of the wear and tear a bike saves on your feet. Plus, it’s pedal power: no emissions.
On a bus tour, your guide is a pair of earplugs. On a bike tour, your guide is a local who knows the city backward. It’s like having a friend show you around, someone who can not only tell you all about Barcelona’s origins, but knows where to find the best paella in town, and can tell where the best beaches are.
Barcelona is a fantastic city for bikes. Most of the time the weather is warm and dry and there are lots of bike lanes and more are being created every day. Plus it’s flat – you can safely and comfortably ride across the entire city without breaking into a sweat. Although on a hot day in August you could be forgiven for working up a glow.
Buena Vista Tours
Buena Vista Tours is a young company but with plenty of experience and local knowledge. After working for various other bike tour companies in Barcelona, they decided they could put together a better operation themselves by going on more interesting routes, having better trained local guides, keeping the groups small (max 8) and making the tours more fun.
Small groups and good guides are what make for a great tour. Paula, the Tour Manager, is a Barcelona local who knows the city inside-out, back-to-front, bottom-to-top. She has been a tour guide for more than 8 years and loves her job. She loves her city, she loves meeting new people, and she genuinely wants her fellow bikers to take away fond memories of Barcelona.
A friendly guide with a small group leads to a friendly, laid-back experience where everybody gets to know each other, everybody exchanges travel experiences and people from mixed nationalities all get to make a new contact in a foreign location.
Small groups are also safer in busy traffic, by the way; nobody gets lost, everyone is more relaxed. And it’s easier to weave your way through the small streets and pedestrian alleyways that make up the real Barcelona.
Some bike tour companies take up to twenty people – a traffic hazard – a swarm of spoked wheels that tangle up the pavement annoying not only the local pedestrians but the other cyclists and the dogs and pigeons that have to avoid them.
Small also means flexible, so if someone needs to stop to water the lilies, or to take the ultimate photo, or to just stretch the legs, it’s not a problem.
Most of the big bike tour companies are based in Holland or Paris where the focus is on shareholder returns, not customer satisfaction. This was where the guys at Buena Vista saw an opportunity to do something better: smaller, friendlier, more personal, more smiles – an intimate group that would appeal to everyone – especially with it being an easy ride for kids.
Barcelona is a fun city and a party town and although Buena Vista don’t hand out fire-crackers or balloons, their guides are chosen not only for their knowledge of Barcelona but for their sense of humor, so that even if you don’t remember the name of the architect who built the Palau de la Musica, you will remember how much fun you had biking around Barcelona on the Buena Vista Tour.
The Barcelona City Bike Tour
Buena Vista Tours have 2 bike tours per day: A morning tour that kicks off at 11 am and an afternoon tour at 4 pm (3 pm in the winter months). The tours take approximately 3 hours, with plenty of stops to take in the sights, take the photographic masterpiece and wonder why it is that architects nowadays just don’t make buildings the way they used to.
The Barcelona City Bike Tour is an easy ride, even for those of you who don’t know a handlebar from a tapas bar – as long as you can ride a bike you can do the tour. The bikes are comfortable, the tour follows bike lanes and safe paths and you can take a break any time for a photo, a cool drink or an ice-cream. On some Buena Vista tours, the itinerary even includes a picnic on the beach (depending on weather and numbers and itinerary).
Because the route is not challenging and the bikes are easy to handle, the tour is suitable for everyone. It’s popular with singles and couples as well as families with children. Think of the Buena Vista Tour as a social event on two wheels.
The tours depart from the fountain in Plaça Reial (look for the smiling face underneath the orange umbrella). It stops by the city’s major landmarks like the Sagrada Familia, the Palau de la Musica, Ciutadella Park and Plaça Sant Jaume, home of the elegant Town Hall and the historic Generalitat. But it also stops by some hidden treasures and you get to see some of the eccentric back-street workshops, galleries, and studios that do not appear on the tourist brochures but make up the character of the city.
From the start, Buena Vista Tours has been popular with groups or families wanting a private tour which, being private, can be ‘customized’. So the focus could be on history and architecture if you’re that way inclined, or a breezy ride along the beach with a stop at a chiringuito. Whatever it may be, Buena Vista can help you put together a plan that is practical, informative and fun for everybody.
In a city where tapas for the tourists are in abundance, the objective of the Buena Vista Tapas Tours is to take you to places that serve the same tapas today that they did before the first tourist came to Barcelona. The Tour starts at the glorious old Sant Antoni Market where you can see some of the local produce on display and get a feel for how the locals do their shopping. From there it’s a short walk to three contrasting tapas bars to show you the variety of dishes that come under the heading of tapas, as well as the different kinds of barroom vibes you can find. In the words of the late Anthony Bourdain, “the uninitiated could be forgiven for being unimpressed” by some of the establishments, as they are gritty, old man bars that make no concessions to tourists. But that’s what you’ll like about them.
If you’re the kind of person whose preference is for Macdonalds and KFC, this tour is probably not for you, but if you’re genuinely interested in experiencing new flavors and have an open mind to new foods and ideas, this is going to be a fun night out for you and your taste buds.
For more information and to book a tour, head to their website Buena Vista Tours.