Tips on picking the best Madrid cycling tours (& my experience of exploring the city)

Whiz past the glorified squares
While listening to the stories of the Kings & the Madrid bear.
Enjoy the Madrid cycling tours that take you up and down the plains
While you take in the sights and tales of those historic lanes.

Get the most out of the capital city of Spain with the bike tours in Madrid. Get insider tips that will help you pick the best cycling tours in Madrid – including the various types of bike tours, their prices, how to book them and more. Also, get an insight into my own experience with a bike tour in Madrid.

If you are looking for the best way to start your Madrid city tour, then you should definitely consider booking one of the many bike tours available in the city. In fact, signing up for a cycling tour was one of the first and the best things I did during my 2-day Madrid trip. With a dynamic combination of sightseeing and storytelling, my 3-hour Madrid cycling tour became a perfect induction to the 2nd largest city in the European Union.

One of the best things that I did was signing up for one of the Madrid cycling tours during my 2 days in the city
One of the best things that I did was signing up for one of the Madrid cycling tours during my 2 days in the city

Madrid has a plethora of options when it comes to bike tours. From traditional bikes to electric ones and private guided tours to self-guided options with bike rentals – you will be wondering which option is best for you. Don’t fret as you have landed on the right page to get answers for all your queries.

Based on my own experience, in this blog post, I have shared tips that you need to keep in mind when planning a Madrid bike tour. The post also, covers the various options available for Madrid cycling tours, their pros and cons and prices. I have also, included recommendations on the best bike tours in Madrid and how you can book them.

Quick links for your Madrid trip

Here are some useful resources and links that you can use to plan your Madrid trip – including highly-rated bike tours and rentals that can be booked online.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.

Why should you consider a bike tour in Madrid?   

Let me start this guide to Madrid bike tours by explaining why I think you should sign up for one.  The biggest reason for my recommendation is that it is an ideal introduction to all Madrid has to offer.

Plaza Mayor- a popular square where most of the Madrid bike tours or walking tours start
Plaza Mayor- a popular square where most of the Madrid bike tours or walking tours start

These cycle tours of Madrid capture all the key attractions in one single tour. You start understanding the city through its history and get introduced to the iconic people who shaped the city. The cycling route of most of these bike tours take you past the popular landmarks like Plaza Mayor as well as the slightly offbeat ones like Plaza de la Villa – all of which are filled with enthralling stories.

The guides of various bike tours in Madrid also, help you out with recommendations of where to eat and shop. In short, you get all that you might need for the rest of your Madrid city tours.

Of course, then there are other health benefits like exercising your lung power – all of which I am not going to dwell upon.

Which is better – a Madrid bike tour or a walking tour?

Both these options are a good way to start exploring Madrid. Each has their own pros and cons. Walking tours in Madrid are usually restricted to a smaller area and takes around 2 – 2.5 hours. Cycling tours on the other hand cover an area of at least 12 kms within 3 hours – which makes it easy for you to take in more sights.

That said, not everyone is comfortable cycling around and for them, the walking tours work out well. If you are comfortable cycling, I would urge you to opt for the bike tour over the walking tour.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Various options of Madrid Cycling tours

Pedal- powered sightseeing in Madrid comes in various forms and I would broadly classify them based on the bicycle used and the type of tour. Let me explain both and the pros and cons of each option.

Based on the type of bicycles

There are three types of bike tours available in Madrid - I chose the regular geared bike tour
There are three types of bike tours available in Madrid – I chose the regular geared bike tour

There are three basic types of bicycles that you can choose for your bike tour.

Traditional bikes

These are without gears. These require a fair bit of fitness to move around. Madrid does require uphill cycling efforts

Geared bicycles

These are the most common bicycle tours available in Madrid. In fact, if you are booking online, unless specified, most bicycle tours offer geared bikes. Personally, I think these are ideal for your Madrid tours as you can easily cycle along the lanes – uphill or downhill.

Electric bikes

These are a cross between motorbikes and bicycles. Again, good for the Madrid roads and most bike tour operators in Madrid offer you 15 – 20 minutes of training on these bikes.

Different types of Bike tours in Madrid

You have two options that you can consider – self-guided bike tours in Madrid or a guided cycling tour.

Self-Guided bike tours of Madrid

Several tour companies like this one – offer you a self-guided bike tour of Madrid. All you have to do is rent a bike and download the biking route from their website. Some even offer you printed ones and explain what to see at the various stops. The advantage here is that you can ride at your own pace and stop at places for as much time as you require.

Rent-a cycle using an app in Madrid
Rent-a cycle using an app in Madrid

There are several app-based bike rentals in Madrid. You can pick one of these up and head out on a general cycling route (I have shared one below). If you wish to explore a place in detail, then you can leave these bikes at the nearest stand and pick up another one when you are done. While I have not tried these apps, I am told that the bikes are not too bad.

Guided Madrid bike tours 

As the name explains – you have a guide guiding the bike tour. He is the one who navigates the group and stops at various points to share stories. If you are lucky like me, then you will be blessed with one who even gives you invaluable money-saving tips along with suggestions on the best localities to eat, shop or walk around.

A guided cycling tour in Madrid involves a small group led by a captain
A guided cycling tour in Madrid involves a small group led by a captain

The guided bike tours in Madrid usually start at a particular time and you have to follow strict schedules and stops. That might take away some freedom of exploring a particular site longer but then, you can always come back to those places once the tour is done. You also, have the option of private guided tours on the bike as against the group Madrid bicycle tours.

Booking the best bike tour in Madrid

Walk around Plaza Mayor and its connecting lanes, and you will find tons of bike rentals and tours in Madrid. Most of them are priced between €28 – €35.

When I booked my bike tour in Madrid, I found the same operators online on GetYourGuide and Viator. The prices were the same in most cases, except a few that were running discounts online. The advantage of booking online was that I could see actual reviews of people who had taken the tour. That helped me decide on the best bike tours in Madrid.

Based on my research, here are the top three guided tours to explore Madrid by bike. You can consider booking them online using the given link.

3-Hour Guided Bike Tour in Small Groups with Tim Bikes

My Madrid bike tour took me through El Retiro park
My Madrid bike tour took me through El Retiro park

This is the one that I opted for and I loved it. It covers the key neighborhoods of Madrid and gives you well-maintained cycles. They offer you complimentary helmets and saddlebags for the ride. My guide – David was not only knowledgeable but quite amusing with his anecdotes. He made the whole journey fun and gave a lot of tips on the various places to eat, shop and go around.

This Madrid cycling tour operator offers tours in four languages – English, Dutch, French and Spanish. You can also, opt for private tours.

This tour operator has over 1000 reviews and a good rating of 4.8 out of 5. To book a slot or read more reviews- click on this link or enter your details below.

Powered by GetYourGuide

3-Hour Guided Bike Tour in Small Groups with Rent & Roll

If I had not got a slot with my first option, then this was my next choice. The cycling route offered covers most of the key neighborhoods and the general feedback on the bikes is good. The tours are offered only in English and Spanish. There is no option of a private tour.

You can check the regular bike tour here and the electric bike one here

Madrid: City Highlights Guided Vintage Bike Tour by Bizitour

With a five star rating and over 500 reviews, this Madrid bike tour is a definite consideration for anyone who love vintage bikes. Available in three languages – Spanish, English and French, the cycling route takes around 3 hours to cover the main city attractions. The feedback on the guides is pretty good. They even have an option of bike rentals.

Check the start times and booking options for this tour here.

Besides the above tours, here are a few Bike rentals in Madrid that can be booked online. This will be handy if you are looking to do a self-guided Madrid cycling tour.

Insider tips to help you with a good bicycle tour in Madrid

My Madrid bike tour took me through El Retiro park
My Madrid bike tour took me through El Retiro park

You will find numerous operators in Madrid offering you bike tours. I have put together these pointers that will help you evaluate them and get the best cycling tour in Madrid. Also, included are general tips that you can follow during your bike tour in Madrid.

  • Most operators include a safety helmet along with the bicycles
  • If you can, check the condition of their bicycles. They need to be well-maintained and smooth to ride
  • Check the online reviews of these bicycle operators. You can get them on Viator or GetYourGuide. Most of them mention the quality of guides, bicycles and length of tours
  • On an average, in Madrid, a good cycling tour will not take anything less than 3 hours.
  • Most of the cycle tours provide you with a map of their cycling route. You can use that to compare all the stops that are included
  • Check on the total group size. You do not want to have an extremely large group. An ideal size according to me is 10 -12 people
  • If you have a child with you, make sure you have cycles for his/ her size. If you have an infant, most of these tour providers offer you a free baby carriage.
  • Saddlebags are normally provided free of charge.
  • The Madrid cycling tour operators offer lockers at their start point for you to keep your belongings or heavy bags. These are complimentary.
  • Rain ponchos are also, provided by many of these operators as an inclusion.
  • Carry a bottle of water and sunglasses with you.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Avoid flowy dresses or skirts.
  • Keep up with the guide. If you need to slow the pace, let him or her know.  Try to pedal along in a single line.

Highlights of my experience of Madrid by bike

My Madrid cycling tour map
My Madrid cycling tour map

As I mentioned earlier, my Madrid cycle tour was quite interesting and I totally loved it. The route that I followed started at the operator’s shop in Calle de Santiago and ended back there. The entire stretch was a little over 12 km which we covered in 3.5 hours.  David, our guide for the day was quite a quirky chap with tons of anecdotes at every stop.

Sharing glimpses of what I loved at some of the main stops on my Madrid cycling tour –

Royal Palace of Madrid and the Almundena Catedral.

Not only did I get a glimpse into the history of these two Madrid monuments but a good orientation into the early history of Madrid. Our guide explained how the city name – Madrid was a misnomer (it means city of water) and the change of hands that took place from the early Visigoth rule to the Arabs and then the Castille kings. He even, shared intriguing facts about the Madrid Royal Palace.

The Grand Staircase that leads to the extravagant Royal Palace of Madrid rooms

The Royal Palace of Madrid is the largest living palace in Western Europe and home to some amazing art. Check out what lies inside the palace with this post

Plaza de la Ville

This not-so-popular historical square has 3 heritage buildings that depict three different eras of the city of Madrid. The largest building here belongs to the 17th century and is called Casa de la Villa. This served as a town hall and prison and for a long time served as the seat of the City Government.

Plaza de la Villa - one of the offbeat sightseeing places in Madrid
Plaza de la Villa – one of the offbeat sightseeing places in Madrid

Next to it is the Casa de Cisneros which has a Gothic style of architecture. It was built in the 15th century. And finally beside it is the Torre de los Lujanes with the Mudéjar palace architecture of the Arab caliphate age – basically 12th century.

David also, shared a secret spot in Madrid behind these buildings. He told us about a convent where you can buy cookies made by nuns. As the story goes, you have to enter and place the order in a particular manner and you are served the cookies in a contactless format. It involves an old torno in which you place the order, add your money and it turns to give you cookies. 

While we could not visit it as a part of the Madrid cycling tour, we were free to return to it later.

Plaza Mayor

Casa de la Panaderia - One of the oldest Madrid attractions in Plaza Mayor
Casa de la Panaderia – One of the oldest Madrid attractions in Plaza Mayor

David whisked us past a unique lane called as Calle del Codo which has a 90 degree bend. The lane was quite popular for secret meetings during the Spanish Inquisition – both political and romantic as one would not know what was happening in the next bent.

At the Plaza Mayor, we had to dismount and walk with the bikes while David told us the history of the square. He also, pointed out the oldest restaurant in Madrid called Botin before we entered the square. While he recommended what we should eat there, he also gave us a little background on the San Miguel market, that is right next to Plaza Mayor.

The literary district of Madrid

Past the Plaza Mayor, we reached the house of Cervantes – the famous Spanish writer who has been credited for the World’s first novel. This is where we learned a little more about the literary world of Spain and the struggles of Cervantes.

Art district of Madrid

The Vertical Garden in Madrid
The Vertical Garden in Madrid

The next stop was at the Vertical Garden in Madrid. Called the Caixa Forum, this is the beginning of the art district in Madrid. Our guide shared the names and highlights of the various museums that can be visited visit during the Madrid stay. He also, gave a good background on the evolution of art forms and how the royal court was involved in developing them.

Prado museum and San Jerónimo el Real church

Our Madrid cycling route stop at San Jerónimo el Real church
Our Madrid cycling route stop at San Jerónimo el Real church

This was a slightly longish stop where David suggested a visit inside the San Jeronimo El Real church. The church was where most of the royal weddings took place and even today, is considered auspicious – so much that there is a waiting list for weddings that runs to over 2 years. It is one of the oldest churches in the city.

Right opposite this is the Prado museum – for which our guide shared certain must-see arts along with its history. He even gave us tips on getting free tickets between 6 pm and 8 pm every day.

Inside El Retiro Park

We made a few stops inside the El Retiro park where David explained the history of how the park was once a private royal garden and it was then opened to public. While he did take us to the key attractions inside the park, he mentioned a few more that we could visit if we had more time in Madrid.

Puerta de Alacala and Plaza Cibeles

Cibeles fountain where the Real Madrid team celebrates their victory
Cibeles fountain where the Real Madrid team celebrates their victory

From here, the cycling route took us past Madrid’s own victory arch – Puerta de Alacala onto the Plaza Cibeles with its epic fountain that the Real Madrid team uses to celebrate their victory. Along the way, David pointed out various neoclassical buildings of importance.

Puerta de Sol

King Charles III statue in the middle of Puerto de Sol
King Charles III statue in the middle of Puerto de Sol

This was my last stop before I returned to base. David stopped near the famous bear statue and explained the significance of the emblem. He even pointed out to popular bakeries and tapas bars in the square and finally told us the story of the fabled tradition of 12 grapes that is practiced during the New Years as the bells chime over the Réal Casa de Correos.

You can read about this in my blog post on 48 hours in Madrid.

I am sure you can now see why I say these bike tours in Madrid are a perfect induction to the city. You get a good glimpse of what you would want to explore in detail and also, get the right tips to do so. I am sure you now all game to sign up for one.

Common FAQs on Madrid cycling tours

Is Madrid a bike-friendly city?

While there are lots of cyclists in Madrid, there aren’t too many dedicated lanes for cyclists. One can ride onto the roads, which sometimes, can be dangerous. However, with proper precautions and lane discipline, it is pretty safe to ride in Madrid.

Are the Madrid bike tours flexible in terms of timing?

Group tours are bound to start at a particular time – usually at 10 am and 5pm. Private tours can be scheduled as per convenience.

Is it better to opt for a guided tour? Or a self-guided cycling tour in Madrid is good enough?

I would recommend a guided bike tour in Madrid as you will be with the locals who know the roads well. In addition to the safety of riding, you get a lot of information with the live guides – from tips to stories and history.

What is the average price of a Madrid bike tour?

The Madrid bike tours cost anything between €28 – €35 per adult – depending on the type of bike.

Before you go, pin this

Madrid bike tours
Biking tours in madrid spain
Madrid cycling tour tips

You might also like these posts –

Show some love and share the post

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.