Now saying something is “the best” is relative. I base this claim on value, guide knowledge, sites seen, and overall enjoyment. Now if you can’t ride a bike then none of this means a thing. BUT if you can, you’re in for one of the funnest city tours you’ve ever been on. Here’s my experience with La Bicicleta Verde’s Parks and Politics Tour as well as their Local Life and Markets Tour.
- very knowledgeable and professional guides
- great starting location
- have to know how to cycle
- traffic during mid day
- dogs (if you don’t like dogs)
As an advocate for solo travel I rarely recommend paid tours. Most cities around the world offer free tours or you’re better off grabbing a map and . Few however offer the value, expertise, and sheer fun factor of La Bicicleta Verde. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. You ride a bike on these tours. So if you can’t ride a bike, LEARN. It’s worth it.
La Bicicleta offers a unique experience to Santiago visitors. An opportunity to see large amounts of the city in a compact amount of time. Each tour also comes with a starter drink (bottle of water) and a snack/drink during the tour.
A guide can make or break a tour. Luckily La Bicicleta Verde hires an eclectic group of knowledgeable and helpful guides. I happened to have three different guides on my tours (one twice) and thoroughly enjoyed them all. With my huge camera and notepad, I tend to throw many guides off their game. Out of sheer curiosity I tend to ask hypothetical questions and some deeply divisive political ones. In a city ripped apart by recent political turmoil (Pinochet) I expected my guide to shy away from the subject. Surprisingly they didn’t and actually expanded on both viewpoints of recent political unrest.
Martin and Matia’s led my first tour. Parks and Politics. Martin and Loreto led our Morning Markets tour. Guides work in teams. All spoke multiple languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and a bit of German on my tours), knew the cities very well, and strove for customer safety beyond anything else. All of the guides were consummate professionals.
MODE OF TRANSPORT
OK………you ride a bike. DONE!!!! Seriously though. The bikes are surprisingly comfortable. They are wide seated cruisers. Well maintained and sturdy. My only issue was the grips. I cycle so I know how you should grip a handle. These require the exact opposite grip. And the recommended grip doesn’t lend well to usage of their safety bell (which you kind of need). After riding around for a few hours (stop and go of course) my wrist were killing me. This is when I was shown the recommended grip which in my opinion isn’t very practical. A kind of underhand basket carry type grip. I recommend you ride how you’re comfortable but be aware that you’ll need the bell. Each bike has a basket for your things as well, so feel free to bring a jacket especially for the morning tour.
Both tours offered a great variety of sites. Particularly the Parks and Politics tour.
Parks and Politics: Mapocho River, Park Provedencia, Cafe Literario, Balmaceda Park, Parque Bustamante, Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), La Vera Cruz (the real church), San Francisco and London Street, La Moneda, and ending with hot chocolate.
Weekend Markets tour: Barrio Bellavista, Patronato, La Vega Market (for shopping and lunch), Plaza de Armas Square and the Museum of Fine Arts
All of the sights were explained in amazing detail with ample time to take photos and ask questions. Nothing seemed rushed at all. Did I mention they give you a free lunch (sopapillas and fruit drink)/hot drink (cafe,chocolate,tea) on both tours?
Something you should be aware of. YOU WILL get a few dogs following you. They are harmless and just come along for the trip. They really aren’t beggar dogs. Just very friendly and oddly protective of your group. We had one black pit bull that was with us from start to finish. Once we were done he just disappeared.
There is no better way to see Santiago than with La Bicicleta Verde. They are THE premier city tour company in Santiago offering a unique way to cover a large part of the city for amazingly low prices. La Bicicleta Verde continues to offer travelers an authentic touring experience. Sure the city has “free/tip based” tours but none offer the length and site variation as La Bicicleta Verde. Not to mention the free water and mid tour snack.
And here’s the kicker. If you aren’t happy YOU DON’T PAY:
“If you are not 100% satisfied with your tour, you will not be expected to pay one peso for the tour. We believe what we do to be highly professional and of great quality, so it is not hard for us to stand behind our product”.
Local Life and Markets Tour
Price: Adults: $18.000 CLP or $36 USD Kids: $9.000 CLP or $18 USD
Schedule: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Water and small lunch included
Parks and Politics
Price: Adults: $18.000 CLP or $36 USD, Kids: $9.000 CLP or $18 USD
Schedule: 2:30pm – 5:30pm