Should I take a guided bike tour or rent a bike?

Published: June 13, 2021
Last updated: June 14, 2021
Bike ride in Ottawa with bike rentals and self-guided biking maps from Escape Tours Rentals

The ultimate question! We often get this question asked by our customers. If you have trouble deciding, here are our thoughts to consider when deciding whether to take a guided bike tour or rent a bike and tour on your own. They both have advantages – it all comes down to what works best for you!

When to take a guided bike tour instead of rent a bike?

Guided bike tours are perfect for seeing the best of Ottawa without the hassle! Our local guides will not only guide you through the safest and most interesting areas, but they will also share personal stories, local knowledge, and local history that they have learned over the years. No extra planning needed! This is a worry free option; everything is provided for you and you get to gain insiders’ knowledge and tips for the rest of your stay in Ottawa; where to eat, what to see and do next!

A guided bike tour is also more appropriate when you have limited time for a visit. We regularly have guests who are visiting Ottawa for a few short days and want to see a bit more of the city in less time.

For those in town for conferences, our guided bike tours are a popular addition to itineraries for exploring Ottawa beyond the conference room.

Our bike tours are also the perfect family activity for when you’re in Ottawa! It’s the perfect fun day trip for learning about the city, see the most scenic and picture worthy spots while pedaling outdoors.

Tour guide taking a picture of couple taking a bike tour in Ottawa

When to rent a bike?

If you have a lot of time on your hands and want more flexibility, renting a bike is the way to go.

Let’s say that you are visiting Ottawa for a few days and you want to get the lay of the land, spend time outdoors and learn a bit of its history. You could rent a bike from us at Escape to explore the city on your own, with family and/or friends. We can provide suggested routes, or choose Komoot, Ride Your Bike, or Strava rides and download them into your smartphone.

This option does take a bit more research – but it can be well worth it! You could sit down behind your laptop and read up on the city on Wikipedia, local tourist webpages, and blog posts from locals who often give you great insights into the local scene. Then, you can visit what you have read about, you can take all the time in the world to explore the city, you can stop wherever you want, sit under a tree or on a patio as long as you want, etc. The city is your oyster!

Couple taking a bike tour at Ottawa River Remic Rapid with Escape Tours Rentals

What option is best?

We can’t really tell you if one option is better than the other as it boils down to personal interest, time, and, of course, cost. Maria, the founder of Escape Tours and Rentals always goes for a guided bike tour. She has taken guided bike tours in Tulum, Hawaii, Vienna, Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, Edinburg, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and San Diego to name a few. According to Maria:

“When I am on vacation, I don’t want to think too much. I want to be taken care of by my guide and be shown the most and best of the city on a bike. A guided tour can cost more but packs a lot of fun and knowledge in a few hours, saving you time to do all the research. You will just show up and have fun!”

On the other hand, renting a bike costs less but you have to do a lot of homework to get the most out of your dollars. You don’t want to aimlessly bike around, miss important landmarks, or end up on busy roads with your kids.

Why not choose both?

This is a great third option as one option doesn’t have to exclude the other. In Ottawa, we have hundreds of kilometers of protected bike infrastructure to explore when you rent a bike!

We sometimes have guests who first take a tour to understand more of the city and get a feel for the phenomenal bike infrastructure. After the tour, they come back and rent a bike for a day or two to venture out on their own.

We’ll throw in a little bonus: we do give a 20% discount if you decide to rent a bike (or mulltiple bikes) after you did a bike tour with us. Because we really want you to see more of Ottawa! Just tell us after your tour that you are planning to come back later or the next few days to rent bike(s) from us.

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Whether you’re booking a bike tour or rent a bike, we can help!

No matter what you choose, we are happy to help you to have the best experience in our Ottawa. Start exploring our bike tours on our website and give us a call or send a text to Escape Bicycle Tours on Sparks Street. 

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