Bicycle tours offer a new way to see Prague
Prague is one of Europe's most popular travel destinations. While foot, tram and tour bus have been the traditional ways of getting around the fabled Czech capital, more visitors are turning to two-wheeled touring.
Bicycle tours and rentals – including electric bikes to make uphill climbs easier – are increasingly popular. “It’s not so busy right now but when the weather is warm, business gets better every year,” says one guide leading a group of young tourists around the city’s old town on a drizzly March day. Companies such as City Bike Prague offer several daily tours of the historic centre and the Prague Castle for 20 euro, with the option of a self-guided bike-rail tour to sites outside the city. Most bicycle tours are in English. EBike, founded two years ago, offers both electric bike and Segway tours of historic sites for around 37 Euro. Praha Bike provides guided bicycle tours for similar prices and beer garden tours for around 30 euro.
Visitors can also enjoy local hangouts such as Bajkazyl – which plugs itself as “the first point for urban cycling in Prague” – where customers can get a beer along the Vltava riverfront while having their bike serviced. Jiří Štrupl, who helps out repairing bicycles at Bajkazyl, says cycling tourism is no longer only for those riding the Czech Republic’s popular EuroVelo trails and rural greenways. Štrupl works at Cargo Bikes, a peddle-powered delivery company. “We transport by bike because it’s faster in the city, and it’s getting harder to park a delivery truck on the street,” he says, adding that the firm also rents its two-wheeled carriers.
The Czech Republic figures among the European Union’s tourist hot spots, with Prague as the top destination. Some 8.1 million non-residents spent at least one night in the country in 2014, according to the Czech Statistics Office, with Germans accounting for the largest share (20 per cent). There are no figures on how many visitors rented bikes. But judging by recent TripAdvisor reviews, the city’s bike tour operators get top marks. “Great tour with a cute local,” wrote one American tourist, while another enjoyed “an enthralling tour of the old town.” The guides were helpful, wrote another, saying “it was almost like having old friends take you around their town.”