One of the best ways to tour a city is on a bicycle. That is what La Bicicleta Verde (the Green Bicycle), a company that offers two-wheeled tours of Santiago, is banking on. This initiative recently appeared in a feature in the New York Times about the city:
“The city’s long boulevards, hillside lanes and leafy parks are a bicyclist’s paradise, especially during the weekends when the streets are thronged by spandexed bikers”, commented the U.S. newspaper about the bike rides along the Chilean capital.
La Bicicleta Verde was created in 2007 “as a way of offering a more intimate tour of Santiago to tourists, where they can take a city tour or visit vineyards in an entertaining and more familiar way”, says Joel Martínez, partner of the company. Today they rent different models of bicycles, including tandems that are ideal for couples, and also offer guided daytime and nighttime circuits from US$ 30 a time. Renting a basic bicycle for the whole day costs around US$ 24.
What are the advantages of visiting the city on a bicycle? Apart from a level of closeness that can’t be achieved from a motor vehicle, pedaling is healthy exercise that allows you to stay in shape even when you’re on holiday. Martínez adds that “we can visit places in Santiago on a bicycle that we would never be able to by bus, such as the Vega Central (market), the París-Londres neighborhood or the Parque Forestal.”
In addition, he states, clients don’t have to wait for a parking spot and can avoid traffic jams. “On our trips, we realize that there are many parks in Santiago that we can enjoy in a relaxed way on a bicycle. It is also important to stress that our tours are city-friendly in environmental terms.”
The daytime city tour begins at 9:30 am and focuses on the city neighborhoods where the “popular culture” hangs out: the bohemian Bellavista, Patronato (a sector famous for the shops of Arab and Korean immigrants), the Vega Central (a fruit and vegetable market), and then proceeds to La Moneda (the Chilean presidential palace) and the architecturally striking París-Londres neighborhood. “Our main themes are the parks and recent political history of Chile”, says Martínez.
The night tour begins at 8:00 pm and includes the Military Academy, the Bicentennial Park, Vitacura and Providencia. All safety elements required for a night tour are provided, including lights and helmet.
As wine is one of the most renowned products of Chile, the company also offers a tour along the Maipo Valley that is recognized for its wine production. The tour includes visits to three vineyards: a family-owned one, a boutique vineyard and an organic one, and ends with wine-tasting directly from the barrel.
La Bicicleta Verde
Address: Santa María Av. 227, office 12, Santiago, Chile. Telephone: (56 2) 570 9338
This post is also available in Spanish