bike 101: renting bikes while on vacation {prague}

prague

UPDATE: Read my post on Touring Prague’s Monuments and Architecture by Bike on Untapped Cities and then read the behind-the-scenes planning of our bike tour below!

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I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. That’s because one of the most fun things that has come out of my cycling as an adult has been renting bikes while on vacation and exploring a new city that way. Last summer, T. and I spent a few days in Prague and decided to get to know the city upon our arrival by taking a guided bicycle tour. We’ve rented bikes for rides on our own (another post on that soon) but opted for a guided tour in Prague because we found the idea of navigating a city that was completely foreign to us and whose signs we could not read a little overwhelming. So if you’re traveling this summer, why not take a bike tour at your destination (and if you do, make sure to enter in the LGRAB Summer Games for your chance to win some awesome bike swag). Here are some tips on taking a tour by bike based on our experience with it…

City Bike Prague

1) Do your research ahead of time.

This is especially useful if you’re traveling abroad and staying at a hostel or hotel where you may not have internet access. I did a search for bike rentals in Prague before our trip and narrowed my selection to City Bike, a company that provides guided tours in English and offers a selection of bikes (kids bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes, etc) for varying comfort levels. I wrote down their office location and hours and looked for any price specials on their site.

2) Choose a tour that fits with your fitness and comfort level.

Most companies offer a variety of tour packages – some are day long trips, others are shorter hour long options that cover mostly the inner city. Choose one that is suitable to your level of fitness and keep in mind that most tours are meant to be leisurely with lots of stops for photos and explanations about the sight at hand.

3) Anyone can do this.

Even if you think that your cycling skills aren’t ‘good enough’, most bike rental companies offer bikes that are easy to ride (like cruisers) and some even have tandems at their disposal. A colleague of mine took students to Berlin this summer and scheduled a bike tour of the city for their first days there. He was able to cater to everone, including students who felt inexperienced on a bike, by renting tandems for the more novice riders to pedal in the back of a more experienced rider.

Prague Bike Rental

We loved our experience with City Bike in particular; the personel were friendly, our guide was a wealth of information with a sense of humor to boot, and we got to see so much more of the city than we would have on foot or by using the underground metro to get from point A to B.

We also learned a lot about the history of the city, the youth culture, the politics, and the various landmarks we saw. We could have likely found this information by doing some research on our own, but it was much more enjoyable and interesting to get it from someone living in the city and conveying it from the point of view of a ‘local’.

prague prague
prague prague

Our tour lasted about an hour and a half. Besides seeing all of the usual tourist spots in Prague (the Atronomical Clock in the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge), we also stopped at the Franz Kafka museum, the John Lennon wall, at various public art displays, and by the ‘Dancing House‘ in Prague. At the end of our tour, we found ourselves back at the City Bike location, which was only a couple of streets away from the Old Town Square (in the heart of the old city), where we returned our bikes and received a free Czech beer in exchange. We then took our beer and rested our legs at an outdoor concert that just happened to be set up in the Old Town Square along with food vendors that afternoon. It was the perfect end to a great tour.

My experience with that guided bike tour has left me looking for bike rentals and bike tours anytime I’m planning a vacation these days. I’m also interested in hearing from readers who have done this but with their kids along for the ride. Our group in Prague included a family with three kids, ages 10-15 (approximately), and they enjoyed the tour and were able to keep up just fine. Has anyone undertaken something like this with younger children?

Prague

Prague Bike Rental Prague Bike Rental

Have you rented bikes as a way to tour a city? Where did you do that and what did you think of your experience? Did you opt for a guided tour or just the bikes to go exploring on your own? Did you have children with you? Chime in with your own tips and anecdotes in the comments below!

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Bike 101, Bike Touring, Social Cycling, Summer Cycling, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to bike 101: renting bikes while on vacation {prague}

  1. Janna says:

    I love looking at your pictures of Prague!

    We rented bikes on South Padre Island on our honeymoon. The island is flat and about three blocks wide and four miles long – perfect for biking. We saw the whole thing and were able to avoid taxi charges or walking forever.

    Also, we took our own bikes to Boise, Idaho this summer for a long weekend – a fantastic, beautiful biking city!

    We’ve never tried it with our babies, though. I’m thinking we’d have to rent a trailer, because our trailer is too big to transport.

  2. aem2 says:

    I did Mike’s Bike Tour in Amsterdam and two of the Fat Tire Bike tours in Paris, and they were terrific. The guides were funny and really careful of the group. Highly recommended. It’s also a way to feel part of the city, instead of just observing it from a bus.

    I have also rented bikes, not to tour the city unless I know it fairly well because I invariably wind up making wrong turns and that’s less nerve-wracking on foot than it is on a bike, but to get to an out-of-the-way location, like Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island or Stonehenge. Those were also great experiences because the bike shops gave me directions for the prettiest and least traffic-filled routes, which makes the journey just as good as the destination.

    I’m actually really excited for the proliferation of bike-sharing programs in so many cities. I think some enterprising guidebook company should come up with bike-sharing specific tours.

  3. CR says:

    are those Palladium shoes you’re wearing? I have an old pair that i just refuse to throw away even though they are so beat-up looking because they don’t make that model anymore.

    • simplybike says:

      CR – yes, those were my trusty Palladium flats, may they rest in peace. They were my favorite shoes and I wore them until they fell apart. They were great travel shoes because they looked good with almost anything and I could walk miles in them. I haven’t quite found the perfect replacement pair yet, but I have my eyes on Camper shoes now.

  4. Dottie says:

    Okay, now I want to go visit Prague!

    I try to rent bikes any time I visit a new city. It’s a great way to experience a place intimately while covering a lot of ground and sparing my feet.

  5. gary says:

    Exploring the city on bike its really one of the best option. I took the bike tour in Prague too but with PrahaBike company. I got very quality 24 gear hybrid bike and I was very pleased with a high standard services in English. I would also recommend taking a bike while visiting Prague or any other city!

  6. HokieKate says:

    I rented a bike a couple of years ago in Delft, and it felt wonderful to ride a Dutch bike around an old Dutch city.

    Last month my husband and I rented bikes to go around Vancouver’s Stanley Park seawall. We had a great time, despite rainy conditions. We tried to rent a tandem, and it was a disaster! We couldn’t get balanced. After fifteen minutes we traded it in for two cruisers and were much, much happier.

    • simplybike says:

      Ha! I’ve been curious to try a tandem, I’ve never ridden one. It would be fun to try even if it didn’t go well. Your bike trips sound wonderful!

    • Andrea says:

      I was going to post about Stanley Park as well! We enjoyed rented bikes as a great way to get around and explore, and it was very affordable.

      As for the tandem, my parents have one and love it. I think it just takes time and practice.

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