Touring Barcelona by bike

Viewing a city on foot, or by bike are two of the best ways to see a city. In the past I have cycled around London and Melbourne. I have also walked around hundreds of other cities, armed with a map and a bottle of water.

Touring Singapore on foot in 2014 with a map and a bottle of water
Touring Singapore on foot in 2014 with a map and a bottle of water

Although bus tours are easier on the legs, I find they are too touristic, and don’t offer the same experience.

I went on a bus tour in Lisbon, and in Vienna, and felt they were a huge waste of money, so have decided to stick with walking or cycling.

Recently I got taken on a surprise trip to Barcelona in Catalonia (Spain). I had no idea what I would see or do, and no time to research it.

My sister had booked us on a bike tour for the next day, and I am so glad she did. I got to see so much of the city, and got in some exercise at the same time.

What is Barcelona Free Bike Tour?

Much like free walking tours, the Barcelona Free Bike Tour works on the same principle. Run by a local, you meet at a specified location, grab a bike and get going.

Where and when are the tours?

Tours run daily at 2pm and last for three hours. The meeting point is Barceloneta metro station .

You should aim to arrive 10 minutes before, as the bikes are kept in the office a little walk away (and may be hard to find otherwise).

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Are the tours really free?

The tours aren’t fully free. You will pay a 2 Euro booking fee for bike rental. At the end of the tour, you can tip the guide if you wish to.

Barcelona Free Bike Tour is the only free tour in the city, with most tours costing an average of 27 Euro.

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My Experience on the tour

After being matched with a bike, our tour guide decided that as it was my Hen Party, I shoud look as ridiclious as possible.

On top of my t-shirt, which I had local people sign or kiss with lip stick, I was made to wear: Star Wars boxer shorts, a hat, helmet, and face mask. My bike was also given a facelift with a dead plant attached to the bike (I am sure there is some symbolisim there).

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It certainly was diifferent and I got some looks as I cycled around.

What do you see on the tour?

We covered a lot of ground in our three hour tour. In fact, we covered 14 kilometres of ground. Surprisingly my legs were not sore the next day.

During our tour, we heard lots of facts and anecdotes about the city, and stopped at a number of touristic sights of Barcelona, which gave us a great overview of the city.

Face (or head) of Barcelona: El Cap De Barcelona

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El Cap de Barcelona is translated to English as the head or face of Barcelona. It is the work of an American pop artist. Made from ceramic tiles, the design is very abstract and when viewed, there are various shapes of face you can see with it. It was made for the summer olympics of 1992, and initally met with some critisism from locals, but now accepted and has become a popular tourist attraction.

Where is this?

Las Ramblas

 

Image Credit: Culture Trip
Image Credit: Culture Trip

No trip to Barcelona can be complete without visiting Las Ramblas. This is a street of just over 1 kilometre long. It is a tree lined pedestrian mall, which attracts both locals and tourists.

At the end of the street you will find the Christopher Columbus monument, placed here to commemorate columbus’  first voyage to the Americas.

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The statue shows Columbus pointing toward the New World, but the fact is, he is actually pointing toward his birth place of Genoa, Italy

Where is this?

Sagrada Familia

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Sagarda Familia is the largest unfinished Roman Catholic Church in the World. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, work commenced in 1882. When Gaudi died in 1926, less than 1/4 of he church was completed.

During the Spanish civil war, parts of the church were destroyed under communist rule, as it was not thought to be fitting with the rest of the city.

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The church is due to be completed in 2020.

Where is this?

Metropolitan Cathedral of Barcelona: Catedral De Barcelona

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Although you may feel that the Sangara Familia looks like a cathedral, you are mistaken (I was) At the time  of compeltion, rules stipulated one cathedral per city. This of course is not the rule now. Liverpool (and London) are the only other cities in Europe to have more than one Cathedral.

Sorry I digress.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Barcelona sits within the gothic quarter. It is stunning and fits in well with the rest of the area.

It is super touristy though, and you’ll find it hard to get a good photograph without hordes of tourists in the way (of course I was one of them!)

Star Wars Inspiration

When wandering around Barcelona, be sure to look carefully at the buildings, especially the Cathedral. Can you see Darth Vader in the glass?

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In fact, Barcelona has a number of sites which inspired the writing of Star Wars.

Where is this?

Parc de la Ciutadella

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During our tour, we got to spend a while in Citadel Park. For a number of years, this was Barcelona’s only green space.

Image Credit: Barcelona Home Blog
Image Credit: Barcelona Home Blog

The park is 70 acres and is home to the city zoo, as well as a museums, a small lake and a fountain.

It certainly was a nice place to get some time out of the busy city.

Where is this?

Arc De Trimof

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No, I have not just skipped to Paris. There is also an Arc De Triof in Barcelona (NB: Arc De triomphe in France).

This is a large archway, built is 1888 for the access gate to the Barcelona World Open Fair. The Arc De Trimof leads to the Citadel Park.

French connection

Speaking of Paris, France. Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was orginally gifted to Barcelona? Me Either! It was rejected there, and taken to Paris instead.

Where is this?

Port Olímpic

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Our last stop on the tour was Port Olímpic. This is an upmarket area, built for the 1992 Olympics. There are a number of trendy clubs, bars and restaraunts nearby. As well as hotels and a 4km long beach.

Once wasteland, it has turned out to be a highly desirable location. We enjoyed a lovely sunset there, before cycling back to our finishing point.

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The fish shaped W hotel in Port Olympic, Barcelona.

Where is this?

Know before you go (on the tour)

  • Wear layers – Although it was sunny and warm when we started. After the sun started to go down, it got really cold (we travelled early December). So pack layers if travelling in Winter.
  • Pack water and snacks – The tour is 3 hours long, and you don’t stop for food en route, though can buy something at the snack van in Citadel Park. Make sure you eat prior, or if you are a baby dino like me, then bring snacks and water
  • Prepare to have fun – this tour is fun and factual and gives you a great overview of the city.

I loved this tour, and definately want to return to Barcelona to explore it some more.

 

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