You’re visiting Roma and want to get outside and explore the city. You could join a conventional tour, but you’re looking for a budget friendly option. You could walk, but you were hoping for a little more excitement. Don’t worry my friends, I have the answer and it checks all the boxes. Free Bike Tours Rome! A small company which offers customized, guided outings specifically tailored to each groups interests.
But is Free Bike Tours Rome really free?
Well, no. The company has a partnership with Rome for You, a bike and scooter rental shop. You’ll pay €10/person for your bike rental, but you’re able to keep the bike for 24 hours [normally €13]. The shop will provide you with lights and locks after the tour if you wish to further explore the city on your own. And there’s that small bit about tipping. You don’t pay anything directly to Free Bike Tours and your guide will be working hard for the money. This is good for you. Why? One, because it’s in their best interest to make sure you have a unique and entertaining experience [good time = good tip!]. And two, this tour will be easier on your wallet than other options. Let me put it in perspective. Bike sightseeing companies in Rome usually charge between €35-39 ‘on a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour’… [name that theme song!!]. Unless you tip €25 [which, by all means, you should if you feel it deserved], you’re setting yourself up for a more affordable adventure!
OK – it’s cheaper, but is it really that different from other bike tours?
Well, YES! With other bike tours you know what you’re getting into. There’s usually an itinerary listed when you book and a strict timeline for when you leave and return. You’ll most likely hit all the iconic stops; Colosseum, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, etc. And for some, this precise detail may be what you’re looking for. But with Free Bike Tours Rome there’s no set itinerary. Your guide will spend a few minutes gauging the interest of the intimate group and then, on the spot, put together a route highlighting the top attractions. You may embark to a couple heavy-hitting touristy sites, but I’m certain you’ll also ride to lesser-known Roman charms depending on the whims of your guide. No two trips are the same, so feel free to book again, and again, and again…
And, there are options. You can choose between an urban morning or sunset tour which is estimated to last around 3 hours. Or, maybe something a little more rural, venture outside of central Rome for the Appian Way [one of the oldest and most important of Roman roads] & City Walls tour. This leisurely jaunt will take around 4 hours and [I believe] allows for a farmers market lunch opportunity. Whatever style is best for you, count on a well-informed guide who will introduce you to hidden gems of Rome while providing an abundance of interesting history.
I’m almost there – seal the deal!
My husband and I booked a Saturday morning tour which lasted around 3.5 hours. We had Simone as a guide and his insightful knowledge of the city and sarcasm pretty much made our trip. Our group of 6 had three first time [literally, first day] visitors, so we rode to some of the more well-known venues; Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Colosseum, and Circo Massimo offering views of Trajan’s Forum. At each stop Simone took the time to inform us of the history you don’t read in the guide books. Like why the baroque Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in the Piazza Navona is more impressive than the Trevi. Yeah, I went there. Or what god did Hadrian, the emperor who rebuilt the Pantheon, worship? Clue: can be ‘found’ inside the Pantheon.
We biked up the Capitoline Hill which offered unobstructed views of the domes of Rome. Down the hill and through the Piazza del Campidoglio, a piazza designed by Michelangelo who also happens to have a little architecture work in Florence, as well. The piazza reestablished the grandeur of Rome and also changed the focus away from the ruins of the past but towards the new, developing part of the city by facing the civic center towards Papal Rome. We visited the well-hidden Santa Maria della Pace where you can see Raphael’s last fresco, ‘Four Sibyls receiving angelic instruction’. And also the Chiesa del Gesù, the first Jesuit church in Rome, whose ceiling frescoes rival [or, in the opinions of Simone and me, surpass] those of the Sistine Chapel.
Bonus Cut: head to local favorite Mercato di Campagna Amica where you can pick up Italian delicacies. Take some time to grab lunch and a drink and head out back to the lively picnic area!
Those are just the highlights. There were a smattering of other places and a healthy amount of data from Simone. If this post doesn’t seal the deal for booking, I don’t know what will. But what I do know is whether it’s your first, second, or third outing you’re guaranteed a unique and informative trip with Free Bike Tours Rome.
Happy Grid Walking! 🙂