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Why I Love Taking Bike Tours To Explore A New City

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!).

DublinBikes

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).

Spokes Rental Bike

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?

 

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  • I totally agree! We have started doing either a bike tour or walking tour whenever we go to a city that has one with good reviews. We did the Brakeaway Bike Tour in London last year and loved it. We are going back to London at the end of the year, so I’ll jot down Fat Tire on my list as an option! It will be my family’s first time in London (in Europe at all actually!), so I definitely want to take them on some sort of tour like this.

    • I love walking tours too! I did one in Oxford and we ended up seeing so many things we never would have known about had we not done it.
      And London is probably one of my favorite cities for bike tours because of how many sites there are and how many of them you can see in one bike tour. I look forward to hearing about how it goes with your family!

  • This is such a great way to explore a new city! I used to live a few miles from an island, and I used to ride my bike there regularly. It was so much fun to explore the cute little village and the beaches on a bike. I definitely want to try it sometime when I’m on vacation! Bike rentals are affordable and you can see more than when you are walking around.

    • Exploring an island on a bike would be so much fun. And I agree – I love how on a bike you cover more ground yet it’s still a really relaxed way to experience the location. =)

  • Great idea! Hopefully we will visit London in the next year or two- a bike tour sounds AWESOME! My hubby and I rented bikes when we visited Nantucket- it’s the perfect way to get around on a 14 mile island!

    • London is seriously one of the best places for bike tours! Since there are so many sites to see in London it’s great to be able to cover a ton of ground on a bike. Plus it’s relatively flat so that makes it even better. =D

  • I love this idea! I haven’t tried bike tours (heck I haven’t even been on a bike in YEARS), but it sounds like a fun way to explore a new place!

    • Outside of doing bike tours I never ride a bike so don’t let that scare you! I hope you have a blast when you get to try a tour =D

  • Paris is a brilliant city to rent bikes in! I never did a bike tour but I just rented one of the city Vélib bikes and rode it all up and down the Seine, stopping along the way at sights. It was brilliant!! You’ve gotta love a city with its own bike lanes. I always meant to rent bikes in Amsterdam (hello, city of bicycles!) but I didn’t get around to it. Next time!

    • I didn’t get to try the Velib bikes in Paris but I kept seeing them all over and meant to! Next time I’m there I will for sure. Biking along the Seine would be such a fantastic way to use them.
      And riding a bike in Amsterdam is on my bucket list! =D

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