I have been driving since the age of 15 however the moment I became a legal temporary resident my US drivers license was no longer valid dashing my dreams of scooting around town on a moto.
Sure, I could enroll myself into the timely and costly driving schools however the task of doing this all over again in Spanish is still a bit daunting to me. Therefore, my preferred mode of transportation is by bicycle or as we say, bici.
I utilize a local bicycle sharing program that is a facet of the large public transportation system and only reserved for legal citizens however tourists can also enjoy cycling around the city by renting a bike from the numerous bike rental agencies that Barcelona has to offer.
Bus, metro and taxi are all fine ways to explore the city however why not get some exercise and travel around on your own terms. Skip taxi and bus fares as well as having to adhere to a specified metro route and schedule, which you can do on a two-wheeled bicycle.
The demand for bike rentals has become so great among tourists that rental agencies have popped up all over the city offering a myriad of services and bicycles to rent. Many also offer tours ranging from self-guided adventures to thematic tours such as those provided by Barceloneta Bikes and customized group or individual tours provided by Un Cotxe Menys.
As competition for clients is fierce among rental companies it is wise to check around to compare prices and other amenities. From what I have found you can rent by the hour, half-day, day or by the week and the fees include a map of the city, bike lock (very important) and helmet.
Some extra costs generally include the cost of children’s seats and carriers. However you can find deep discounts for group rentals or family rentals and of course the longer you keep the bike the cheaper it gets.
I also found one company, Bike Rental Barcelona, will deliver and pick-up your bike to your location. Many have multiple rental locations such as Budget Bikes Barcelona, which is famous for their classic Dutch bikes painted neon orange, have three offices located in key Barcelona tourist points of interest.
Furthermore depending on your taste and needs for biking, companies like Classic Bikes, Barcelona Ciclo Tour and Bicilot you can find classic city bikes, folding bikes, and bikes for kids, tandem and adult tricycles.
Lastly I came across Barcelona Biking. The only place that also rents mountain bikes and fast city bikes, which have become a favorite among the cool crowd. Subsequently the rental fee for these bikes is by consultation. Furthermore, if you want to get out of town and enjoy nature Barcelona Biking organizes mountain bike tours too.
I will also add with the resident bici transportation system the local government has painted in designated bike paths in white as well as bright red along major streets ensuring bikers can travel safely in the midst of buzzing scooters and other motorists on the road.
Right now the number of bike paths cover about 120km and is said to increase to 140km over the next few years. The city has become more bike-friendly over the years but it isn’t Amsterdam by any means. You will still come across pedestrians that like to walk in the bike line or drivers that honk at you because you are slowing them up although you have the same right to the street lane as they do.
Don’t let this discourage you because overall, cycling Barcelona is an enjoyable experience. To feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair as you pedal down the city’s tree-lined avenues is infinitely better than cramming onto a packed bus and is better for the environment.
In my opinion biking is also a fast way to get from point A to point B. Walking is pleasant but the slowest way to move around. Motorized transportation (taxi, bus, etc) means dealing with traffic congestion. Public transport runs on a timetable and doesn’t necessarily take you directly where you want to go. On a bike you take the route you want, which is door-to-door and you can circumvent street traffic.
Keep in mind for longer trips outside of Barcelona you can take your bike on other public transport however you must adhere to the following rules:
- Weekdays bikes are permitted on the train between 5am – 6:30am, 9:30 am – 4pm, 8:30 until the last train
- Weekends and public holidays – all day
- July and August – all day, everyday
- Board at the end of the train carriage where there are designated areas to transport bikes
- TMB metro staff does have the right to not allow passengers with bikes to board if there is a justified reason
- Minimum age is 14
- One bike per cyclist
- Bikes are allowed all day on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays
- Monday – Friday between 10am-3pm bikes are allowed, space permitting
- Bikes are allowed on al regional trains
- Bikes can be hung from hooks in the ‘’guard’s carriage’’ or on the last train carriage if it is empty
- For groups of 5 or more a permit must be requested at the Sants train station
Ferrocarriles del Generalitat de Cataluyna (FGC)
- Bikes can be carried on all trains at any time
- Some trains do have designated areas for bike transport
- FGC staff does have the right to refuse passage to cyclists due to crowding
For more information on the bike rental companies mentioned above, log onto their respective webpages.
Barceloneta Bikes: www.barcelonetabikes.com
Un Cotxe Menys: www.bicicletabarcelona.com
Bike Rental Barcelona: www.bikerentalbarcelona.com
Budget Bikes Barcelona: www.budgetbikes.eu
Classic Bikes: www.barcelonarentbikes.com
Barcelona Ciclo Tour: www.barcelonaciclotour.com
Barcelona Biking: www.barcelonabiking.com