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Tips and Advice / August 1, 2023

Your First Cycling Day Tour: What to Expect & How to Maximize Your Experience

Day tours can take you to places you've only ever dreamed of

You’ve got your booking confirmation, you’ve marked the calendar, and now you’re eagerly counting down the hours until your first cycling day tour!

In this post, we’ll provide a run-down of exactly what to expect before, during, and after your tour, as well as our top tips for squeezing every ounce of awesomeness out of your adventure.

For a detailed introduction to cycling day tours and their benefits, have a read of our informative blog post: Cycling Day Tours: Why a Day Tour is the Best Way to Sightsee.

Bike to the best sea views

What happens before the tour?

Your booking confirmation email will provide a meeting place for the tour, and this information is also available on our website. Check the location in advance and make sure you know how you’ll get there on the day. Don’t forget the time difference! If you’re flying in, adjust your phone or watch to the new time zone when you're on the plane or at the arrival airport.

It’s usually recommended that you arrive between 15–30 minutes early to sign any waivers, get fitted for your bicycle and helmet, and receive an introduction to your e-bike controls, if relevant. If you’re running late, please give the tour operator a ring on the number provided in your confirmation email to let them know your ETA.

Your guide will greet you at the meeting place, introduce themselves and any fellow guides, and get to know a little about you and your groupmates. For the next few hours, you’ll all be companions in discovery, and our customers often make wonderful new friendships on their trips! This social aspect is just one of the benefits of biking - sightseeing is a lot more rewarding when you’re sharing your moments of wonder with fellow travelers. That being said, you’ll never be under any pressure to chat to your guide or groupmates if you’d prefer not to.

Your guide will always ensure you're comfortable on your bike

You’ll be fitted for a bicycle by a guide who will choose the right bike for your height and weight and attach child seats or set up children’s bikes as appropriate. They can adjust your handlebars and bike seat to ensure your optimum comfort on the ride. You’ll never be forced to wear a helmet, but we always recommend them for safety purposes, especially for children. You can bring your own (this is actually a recommended practice for hygiene reasons), and if you’d prefer to use your own bike for the tour, this can nearly always be arranged too. Once everyone’s been fitted, with one foot on the pedal raring to go, you’ll set off on your unmissable sightseeing adventure!

If you’ve booked an e-bike tour or an e-bike upgrade, your guide will adjust the bicycle seat and handlebars as appropriate, then provide you with an overview of the controls. Electrically assisted bikes vary by model, but they are generally very simple to use, with clear numbered controls (like gear shifts) and brakes just like normal bikes. It’s critical that you’re confident riding an e-bike before you take the tour - they’re not the same as riding a standard push bike, and you should have some first-hand experience under your belt. For a full low-down on electric bikes, take a look at our helpful guide.

See sights up close and personal, exploring streets and backroads inaccessible to motorized vehicles

What happens during the tour?

Day tours differ in duration depending on the kind of tour you’re taking (city bike tour, food tasting extravaganza, or rural mountain bike ride). Whilst some are full-day tours lasting from morning until late afternoon, the majority of our day tours are 2-4 hour sightseeing rides that can be booked in the morning, afternoon, or even the evening.

Make sure you’ve got enough water to last you the duration of the tour, as although many tour guides carry complimentary water bottles, or even plan cafe visits during the tour, it’s always a good idea to have your own provisions.

You’ll set off on your tour, following your guide, and usually riding single file along inner-city roads, but with the opportunity to ride alongside your guide and groupmates when the roads or paths are quiet, rural, or more suburban. You’ll follow the itinerary detailed on the website, making stops at the landmarks and highlights listed on the tour page.

Discover iconic cities in a relaxing atmosphere

When you reach an iconic monument or area, your guide will bring you to a safe stop. You’ll park your bikes and listen whilst your guide gives you an engaging overview of the history and significance of the site, possibly throwing in a few jokes to keep you on your toes! If your tour takes you on a partial walking tour around some of the sights, your guide will either lock up your bicycles or stay with the bikes whilst you explore.

Your guide will always be happy to answer questions and take photographs for you, so don’t be afraid to pose that very particular question you’ve had brewing about the Arc du Triomphe, or pick their brain about the best place to grab a pasteis de nata - guides are a goldmine of local recommendations to help you find the best bars, restaurants, parks and beaches to maximize your time in a location.

Tour guides bring a city to life

What happens after the tour?

Your guide will lead you safely back to base, usually at the point where your tour began. In the unusual instance that your tour route ends in a different location, your guide will always have arrangements in place for getting you and your bike back to the starting point, unless you’d rather leave the bike with your guide and stay in the area. Some tour operators also let you keep the bike until their store closes, in which case, continue the adventure at your pleasure! Just make sure to bring the bikes back at the guide’s requested time.

Back at base, simply park up your bicycle, ditch your helmet, and say goodbye to your wonderful guide and fellow cyclists. If you’ve had a brilliant time, you may like to offer a tip to your tour guide, but these will never be solicited or pressurized requests.

Make sure to rehydrate, then set off into a now much more familiar city or region, acting on the recommendations of your tour guide, or simply following your own agenda - no doubt you’ve spied some neighborhoods and quarters you’d like to spend a little more time in!

A bike tour lets you discover what you love about a city

When you get back to your hotel room, or a few days later, we’d love for you to tell us how your trip went by leaving a review on our site. As well as helping us to know what we’re doing well and what you’d like improved, your review will help future day tourers know what to expect and will ensure others don’t miss out on an epic adventure!

Bring your friends, and discover sensational places together

And that’s all there is to it! Below, read our top tips for making the most of your day tour.

A family of cyclists touring Lisbon

1) Make arrangements to travel to the meeting place in advance

If you’re lucky, the meeting place might be a ten minute walk from your hotel! But in most cases, you’ll need to check bus, tram, or train schedules in advance, or plan your drive (always check if there’s parking nearby). Google Maps is your best friend!

Try to give yourself leeway in case you’re delayed en route, and aim to arrive 15–30 minutes before the tour time, or at the pre-departure time specified on the website.

Planning the adventure is half the fun

2) Only book an e-bike tour or upgrade if you've had prior experience

Electric bikes have been a real boon for the cycling community, offering cyclists a way to bike longer distances and steeper gradients with the boost of a rechargeable battery. An e-bike can make short work of the kind of slopes you'll find on the Hills of Lisbon E-Bike Tour, and its the perfect option if you’ve used one before and worry that you might fall significantly behind pace (although tours are never a race), or prefer not to break a sweat. They also make your group bike tour more accessible to any companions who might need a bit of extra pedal power.

However, e-bikes are not the same as push bikes, and if you haven’t ridden one before, we’d strongly advise gaining first-hand experience before booking an e-bike tour or e-bike upgrade. Although your guide will introduce you to the controls, it can always be a bit of "Whoo!" moment when you first zip off, and the frame tends to be a little heavier (sometimes a lot heavier) than a typical road bike.

For a full overview of e-bikes, take a look at our helpful information page here.

E-bikes make short work of steep gradients, but make sure you're confident using one

3) Dress for the weather

Don’t let your day tour lose its shine by cycling in a soaked sweatshirt! Check the weather forecast in advance and pick out your cycling outfit accordingly. Pack a raincoat in case of showers (you can usually stash one in a saddlebag), slap on some sunscreen if the temperatures are due to climb, and wear closed-toe shoes or trainers rather than sandals or flip flops. If you're taking a bike tour in chilly weather, like the Midnight Sun Tromso E-Bike Tour, be sure to bring gloves, a scarf, and a hat to protect your extremities. Biking to a beach, or taking a tour that involves donning a wetsuit? Pack your swimsuit to make the most of tours like the Tigre Delta Kayak & Bike Tour Buenos Aires. Finally, our failsafe advice is to dress in layers that can be stored in your saddlebag for taking off and putting on as you like.

Layering is a fail-safe method for ensuring you're comfortable throughout your tour

4) Don't be shy - ask your guide!

Your day tour is bound to be an unforgettable experience, creating memories to last a lifetime. So don’t forget your phone or camera! Most bikes have a basket or saddlebag for safely storing your device whilst you’re on the move. Take plenty of pictures for the family photo album in front of the world’s most iconic backdrops, and save yourself the anguish of an errant thumb blur or awkwardly framed selfie by asking your guide to take your picture. They will always be happy to assist, and they’re usually pretty nifty photographers - they’ve had a lot of practice!

Making the most of spending a few hours in an area with a guide also extends to asking as many questions as you like. This is your tour, and if you’ve always wanted to know something about the city, don’t be afraid to ask! Specifically, ask your guide for their best recommendations of places to eat, drink, sightsee and socialize - they know all the spots, and have the best insider’s secrets for those one-of-a-kind holiday stories you’ll be desperate to write home about.

Some of our day tours even involve craft workshops, cookery classes, or village visits, where locals impart their age-old traditions and recipes to you in authentic settings, like the Ho Chi Minh City Countryside Bike Tour. If you'd like to get to know these wonderful hosts better but fear the language barrier, don't hesitate in asking your guide to translate your questions (or compliments!). Your guide is always there to help you get closer to the region you're exploring.

Capitalize on the knowledge of someone who knows the area like the back of their hand

5) Take more than day one tour in a city or country

Get multiple perspectives on a city or region by taking a variety of bike tours during your holiday. Here at BikeTours.com, we have a diverse range of day tours to choose from, offering many different ways to experience a new place, from city sightseeing tours to rural rides into the surrounding countryside, food tasting tours around local markets and cafes to street art tours around a city’s murals and backstreets.

A place is made of many disparate features that come together to build diverse, ever-more-interesting identities. Day tours are generally short enough to take on successive days or during the same week, so think about booking a variety, ensuring a deep dive into a city’s multifaceted appeal, including its history, cuisine, subcultures, and natural surroundings. Keep the adventure alive!

Day tours leave you feeling like you've conquered a city in an authentic way

So, now that you’re a seasoned day tourer, get out there and scratch those cities off your map! We’re here to help you conquer the world on two wheels - wherever your sense of wonder takes you.

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