Where to start when visiting Barcelona for the first time? My family’s favorite way to get to know a city is by taking a bike tour, and I highly recommend it. That is exactly what we did, biking in Barcelona!
While there are many different types of tours in the city, biking in Barcelona offers riders a means of transport, exercise, and fun. With more effort being put into the city of Barcelona to make it more bike-friendly, there has been a notable increase in the number of people that ride bikes recently.
The Moorish feel continues into the towns and cities, and even the world-famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí, incorporated its essence into his awe-inspiring creations in Barcelona, with seven of his works being declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO making it an incredible city to check out by bike. The most famous of these is the Basílica de la Sagrada Família.
Why Biking in Barcelona?
The best way to see Barcelona is by bike, and not only that, but it’s also the best way to check out Spain. With up to 45% of Spaniards choosing bikes over motor vehicles, the country is one of the most bike-friendly you will find. Throughout Spain, cycle infrastructure has been well-considered and is regularly maintained. You’ll find cycle paths and tracks, protected intersections preventing cars from getting too close to cyclists, and secure designated parking in even the most remote locations.
Choosing the Right Company for Biking in Barcelona
The one main issue with bike tours is that not every company works with young kids, under 16, who need smaller bikes and bike seats to attach to their parent’s bikes. They simply aren’t widely available.
And with sooo many bike operators in BCN, I didn’t even know where to start. Google search is without a doubt my favorite go-to and after putting in ‘Family-friendly bike tours in Spain’ I was directed to Baja Bikes, via several Google searches.
Baja Bikes actually is a European company that deals with the best, most reliable bike outlets for rentals and tours, so they do the filtering out for you. Plus, working with Amanda, I was able to explain all that we wanted, the ages of my kids and the importance of their safety, and she did the rest.
The place she set up for us was Budget Bikes. They are located in the heart of the Gothic Quater of Barcelona, and the best place to start your tour for multiple reasons.
Best Place to Start Your Biking Tour in Barcelona
While there are many places worthy to start your trip, by far the best place to start your biking journey in Barcelona is the Gothic Quarter, and there are several reasons:
- This is the oldest part of Barcelona – full of history
- It is close to everything else in the city
- Easy to get around and also a good place to stop the tour and head out on your own exploration from here
What Should You Expect from Biking in Barcelona?
Riding around Barcelona is no easy feat, but it’s really worth it, and my oldest, 11 years old, did amazing. Even though our guide worked hard at keeping us on pedestrian streets and areas where no cars drove, we did have to pass some busy sections first.
Where able to check out most of the top landmarks in the gothic quarter:
- Casa de la Ciutat
- Parc de la Ciutadella
- Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
But there are many more places to visit, it’s up to you to choose. Some other popular places to visit while biking in Barcelona are:
- Cathedral of Barcelona
- Barcelona History Museum
- Picasso Museum
- Plaça Sant Jaume
- Sant Felip Neri Square
- Royal Artistic Circle
- Bishop Street Bridge
- Royal Square
Historical Facts We Learned about Barcelona While Biking
- The city was founded by the Romans who set up a colony called Barcino at the end of the 1st century BC.
- The colony was bounded by a defensive wall, the remains of which can still be seen.
- For over 200 years, Barcelona was under Muslim rule.
- After the Christian reconquest, it became a county of the Carolingian Empire. It was one of the main residences of the court of the Crown of Aragon.
- During the medieval period, Barcelona became the economic and political center of the Western Mediterranean.
- You can still see buildings from that golden age (13th to 15th centuries) in the city’s Gothic Quarter.
- From the 15th to 18th centuries, Barcelona entered a period of decline.
- In 1714 the city fell to the Bourbon troops and Catalonia’s and Catalans’ rights and privileges were suppressed.
- A period of cultural recovery began in the mid-19th century with the arrival of the textile industry. This period is known as the Renaixença.
- The 20th century saw tons of structures being built with Barcelona’s most distinctive Catalan art-nouveau, or modernista style.
- The Catalan Antoni Gaudí, one of the most eminent architects, designed buildings such as the Casa Milà (known as La Pedrera, the Catalan for stone quarry), the Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família church, which have become world-famous landmarks.
- Its people suffered greatly when they got their rights severely restricted during the Civil War in 1936 and the subsequent dictatorship.
- With the reinstatement of democracy in 1978, Barcelona society regained its economic strength, and the Catalan language was restored.
- The city’s hosting of the 1992 Olympic Games gave fresh impetus to Barcelona’s potential.
Rules and Tips for Biking in Barcelona
Just like vehicles, there are rules for biking in Barcelona. Since bike tours in Barcelona offer a great way to see this city filled with amazing landmarks, learning about the following bike-riding rules in Barcelona is a good practice.
1. Do a Proper Bike Check
Your safety remains a priority and explains the need to check if everything is okay before setting out on a bike. Inspect your bike to ensure that every part is in excellent condition and working just fine. This includes making sure that its brakes are working properly and confirming that the tires are properly inflated. So, taking the time to ensure that your bike is ready to ride is the first thing that you do.
2. Wear the Right Gear
While no one prays to fall off when riding a bike, protecting the head just in case an accident occurs is important. For this reason, one of the rules made for riding bikes in Barcelona is wearing helmets that fit properly. Bike helmets are designed to protect you from any possible injuries in case of a fall.
3. Ride a Bicycle That Fits
The standard practice is that when you stand over your bicycle, the distance between you and the top bar should be between one and two inches when taking one of many bike routes created by the city. It is also crucial that your seat is kept level from front to back and adjusted to ensure that your knee is allowed to bend slightly when the leg is extended. Maintaining the height of the handlebar at the same level as your seat is good practice.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Whether you choose to ride alone or join a free biking tour group, you are not expected to take alcohol. It is worth noting that Police Officers reserve the right to stop you at any point and request an alcohol breath test. As is expected, there is a stiff penalty for offenders. To avoid paying a substantial fine, it is advisable that you walk with your bike after drinking.
5. Respect Pedestrians
In addition to the bike routes created by the city of Barcelona, riding a bike on sidewalks is allowed, so long as they are at least 5 meters (16ft) wide. However, since sidewalks are designed for pedestrians, do not be offended if a Police Officer asks you to either ride on the street or walk with your bike. They are simply enforcing the rights of pedestrians on sidewalks. It is also good practice to use your microphone when listening to music while bike riding on pedestrian pathways.