It’s become a tradition of mine that I take a bike tour whenever I explore a new city – particularly in Europe. Obviously there are some exceptions (Venice anyone?) but so far it’s become something that I really enjoy whenever I’m able to do it.
When I went to Paris I was particularly excited to get to do a bike tour there as there was a company (Fat Tire) that I’d previously used and loved in London and they also operate in Paris. To top it off my bike tour in Paris ended up consisting of a really fun group of people including two flight attendants (one Delta & one American), an American pilot (who was married to the Delta flight attendant), the daughters of these airline employees, a girl from California who works for Disney (another solo traveler!), and two guys from Ireland (y’know how I love Ireland!).
Here are several reasons that I think bike tours are wonderful:
+ The route is well mapped out to cover the highlights of a city
+ They’re great for solo travelers
+ I almost always meet some fun people
+ The guides are always fantastic and amusing
+ You can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time on a bike
+ It makes me feel like I’m experiencing the city like a local
+ It’s good exercise
+ The extra information the guide provides can help you see the city in a whole new way
+ Guides are usually more than happy to answer any questions you have – from which tourist sites are worth skipping to the best place nearby to grab a beer
I recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours if you’re if London or Paris (and they also operate in Barcelona & Berlin)! I had wonderful experiences with them in both cities and the one in Paris was the highlight of my time there. I did the evening tour and it was a fantastic way to see the city at night (including numerous fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower).
The other alternative is to rent a bike and give yourself a self-guided tour of the city. The picture above is the bike I rented in Vancouver to explore Stanley Park. Non-tour bike rentals lack some of the benefits of having a guide + the social element but it’s still a fantastic way to experience a city! If you’ve never explored a city via bike I highly encourage you to give it a try. I’m not normally a bike rider at home but it’s become a regular part of my trips and I’m loving every second of it.
What about you guys? Have you ever done a bike tour as part of exploring a city? What’s been your favorite?