Cycling in Barcelona
A mild Mediterranean climate and a vast improvement in their biking infrastructure make Barcelona every cyclists dream. From sandy beach boulevards and urban cycle lanes, to mountain bike trails and skate parks, it’s no wonder ‘la bicicleta’ is becoming an increasingly popular means of transport in the Catalan capital.
Cycling is an incredibly fun, efficient and healthy way to take in the sights of Barcelona. Even the recent Covid19 pandemic has only stimulated the use of bicycles as means of transport even more.
It may not be on par with the Netherlands or Denmark just yet (where cyclists seem to have priority over everything), but compared to other Southern European cities, Barcelona is definitely one of the most bicycle-friendly places!
Taking a spin around a city as busy as Barcelona can be intimidating, but beginners have no fear, most roads have a designated bike lane and you’ll soon find that it’s often faster to use a bike than the metro.
There are now more than 200 kilometres of cycle paths in Barcelona and this number will only increase in the coming years. Thanks to the enormous success of Bicing (introduced in 2007), the “red bicycles” of Barcelona have created a huge demand for bikes and the number of cyclists in the city has exploded.
Besides designated bicycle paths and lanes, Barcelona has also introduced a number of ‘bicycle safe’ roads. Here, cyclists can use the same lanes as car drivers but motorists should always be mindful of cyclists and shouldn’t go faster than 30 km/hour.
Things to keep in mind
The Bicing system was introduced in Barcelona in 2007 as an alternative to cars and public transport. As of recently, you can use both regular bicycles and electric bikes! To take advantage of this rental scheme you can register on the Bicing website and pay a fixed subscription price per year (for this you need a Spanish bank account/credit card). This will allow you to use a Bicing bike free of charge for half an hour, with a small additional charge for an extra half an hour.
Advantages: You don’t need to worry about leaving the bike on the street and it’s maintenance. The biggest pro is that it’s a cheap and healthy alternative for cars/public transport.
Disadvantages: You can’t hire a bike for long periods of time (e.g. for the whole day). It may also be quite hard to find a bicycle to use or a parking space (typically when you’re in a rush to be somewhere).
Buying a bicycle
If you’re looking to invest in your own bicycle, it is advisable to first consider whether you plan to lock your bicycle outside on the street or inside your home. If you’re going for option A, we recommend that you don’t splash out too much, as expensive bicycles are usually the target for thieves.
One of the best places in the city to buy a second-hand bike is El Ciclo. El Ciclo refurbishes old and used bicycles and offers sturdy and solid replacements. All of their bikes are great value for money and El Ciclo also offers maintenance services if you ever need to get your bike repaired!
If you want to buy a brand new bicycle, Decathlon is the go to store for most people. But, if you prefer to shop at smaller, more unique and specialised shops then head to Castells, the oldest bicycle shop in town.
Locking your bicycle
Important: Always lock your bicycle if you leave it on the street! After all, Barcelona is a big city and notorious for theft. Here are some tips in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises:
El Ciclo offers second hand bicycles, bike rentals, guided bike tours and bike art. Located in the center of Barcelona in El Barrio Gótico, between the Ramblas, Plaça Reial and Port Vell.
“At El Ciclo we buy large batches of used bikes and we repair and restore them in our workshop. We sell them at a very reasonable and economic price (from €70 to €180, children bicycles as from €30). We offer you different sizes, models etc.
We offer quality bicycle rental: our bikes will take you anywhere through town. By bike you will see a lot more and you will feel like a local”.
El Ciclo provides bicycle tours with a personal guide in your own language. The perfect activity if you’re new in town or if you have family and friends visiting.
El Ciclo was the creation of Ramiro Sobral, born in Buenos Aires and raised in the Northern Argentina city of Tucumán, with the help of his Dutch partner Annebeth Vis. Bicycles have always been Ramiro’s passion. What started with bicycle repair and rental, grew into a true tribute to the two-wheeler. Journalist and travel author Annebeth, adores Barcelona and shares her passion for this city by managing the bicycle tours that El Ciclo offers.