Last month The Husband had a last minute trip to Berlin, too last minute for me to tag along. Besides being bummed that I couldn’t go, I knew he would more than likely make the trip without seeing much of Berlin, at least not much outside of the conference room. When he told me he planned to go on bike tour one afternoon in-between meetings I was so proud of him (and even more proud when he actually did it). I was even more excited when I investigated the company he was touring with – Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin – which recently received the 2013 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. The Husband not only took some great shots on his bike tour of Berlin, all pictured below, but he also put me in touch with Charles Odom, director of business development at Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin. Charles was kind enough to do an email interview with me regarding all things Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin – and then some. If you’re heading out to Berlin, make sure to check them out! (Click here if you need to better understand the districts of Berlin or find places to stay.)
Touring with Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin
1. Tell me a bit about the history of Fat Tire Bike Tours. Who started it? When was it started? What was the impetus for starting it? In 2003 we started running bike tours in Berlin. Wolfgang Schoen wanted to make sure that visitors to this unique city were able to explore and experience it as they should- on a bike!
2. You have four locations – Berlin, Paris, London, Barcelona – are they all owned and operated by the same people? Each city is different, and has their own flare. We work together to make sure that our guests can expect the same great experience in each city, but each city always brings its own style to bike tours.
3. Why Berlin, Paris, London and Barcelona? Are there more locations coming? We’ll have to see. Our four cities so far are great for biking, and places that are worthy of exploration by tourists from around the world. We will have to see what comes next!
4. How are your tours different, or rather unique? We don’t want you to feel like you are just riding around or listening to a record player. We want you to be enjoying the city on a bike, with a great group of people, and having meaningful conversations with your guide. We don’t like tours were you feel like herded cattle, so we never deliver that to our guests. Rather, we take our time, see the sites, and make sure that everyone feels happy at the end of the tour.
5. You offer several different types of tours in Berlin. Can you provide a short overview, including what sites you visit and any new special/seasonal tours you’re offering? Berlin is big on history, and big on sites. So we want to make sure to have as complete a portfolio as possible. Most folks start with Our All-in-One Bike Tour as it covers a huge list of Berlin’s must-see locations, like the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag. Our additional Topic Tours go in depth in to various subject areas. Our Berlin Wall & Cold War Bike Tour visits the Eastside Gallery and traces to location of the former Berlin Wall. Our Third Reich & Nazi Germany Bike Tour visits the New Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter along with several memorials to the atrocities of the Second World War. You can check out a more modern side of the city, like Tempelhof Park, squats, and urban revitalization on our Raw Berlin Bike Tour. You can also get out of Berlin and explore the palaces and gardens of Potsdam on our Potsdam Day Tour.
6. What would you hope people would say about Fat Tire Bike Tours after having gone on a tour? We check out reviews all the time to make sure that we are delivering what we set out to do: offer a great experience to everyone who visits us, and for all of our guests to really feel the commitment we have to making sure they feel at home in Berlin, and completely happy that they have seen it all, and more!
7. Are tours family friendly? Of course. We love having families and we have bikes for folks of all ages. We have kids’ seats, trailers, and kids’ bikes, so everyone in the family is welcome. I would mention that our Raw Berlin and Third Reich Tours are heavy on content, and maybe not suitable to all ages.
8. Why should someone do a bike tour? Experience Berlin is a fun, friendly, green kind of way. Biking is fun, as so are we. We want you to have a blast and have a great time with your guide. Berlin is perfect for biking, and combined with lots of personal attention, you will love our tours.
9. Your favorite site (or sites) in Berlin? And why? I like biking through Treptower Park and around the old Spreepark. Biking through the woods is great for the soul.
10. Sites people MUST see when visiting Berlin? The variety is unbelievable. Berlin is great for biking, eating, partying, or just relaxing. During our tours we have plenty of time to chat with each guest and give personal recommendations.
Bike Tour Tips
What tips would you offer people looking to go on a bike tour, such as:
1. How to pick a tour company? What to look for when selecting a bike tour? First-timers in Berlin get a great deal out of our All-in-One Bike Tour. But, if you are really into one part of the vast history of Berlin, jump on one of our Topic Tours.
2. Things to know before you go on a bike tour? Be ready to have fun! Be sure to have a camera and some money for the lunch/dinner stop, and it’s always a good idea to have hoodie or pullover in case it gets chilly in the evenings.
3. Common mistakes people make on bike tours? Joining our tour in the last day of your stay in Berlin. Make the bike tour your first stop not only to see the sites, but soak up all the advice you can take from your guide.
The Basics for Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin
1. What language/s is the tour done in? Tours are offered in English, German, and Spanish on a regularly occurring schedule. Whenever possible, we love to offer tours in additional languages when we have folks on staff that can help out.
2. Are tours offered year-around? Everyday? From the start of March to the end of November we run tours daily. During the peak part of the season we run our All-in-One City Bike Tour twice per day as well as offer a variety of specialty tours that run on various days of the week.
3. Should people plan to make reservations for a tour? How early in advance? You can just join us at our meeting point for our All-in-One Bike Tour any day. We do recommend reservations, however, for our Topic Tours as space is limited. Reservations are needed for E-Bike Tours and Segway Tours.
4. How many people are typically on a tour? Each day is a bit different, but most of our groups are between 12-18 people. We want to make sure the group is the right size to get safely around the city, but also have meaningful discussions with the guide and the others in your group. Remember, you feel like you are amongst a group of friends and not on a massive tour.
5. How long do the tours last? How many miles are covered? Each tour is a bit different, but are between 8 and 12 miles. We take our time and stop every few minutes to talk at each of the sites. In between 4-5 hours you will cover a lot of ground but it doesn’t seem strenuous in the least.
6. Can people do a private tour and select the sites they wish to see? Of course! Families, companies, groups of friends… There are lots of different types of folks that enjoy private tours, so just get in touch. Anyone who would like to book a private tour should get in touch with us early so we can reserve a guide and bikes for you.
7. When you’re on a tour, are you also going into the location you’re at or just riding by? Our tours do not go into museums or exhibits. If we did, our tour would be way to long. We want you to learn about the city and have exposure to all that you want to take in while you are here. Our guides are happy to make recommendations on museums or attractions to come back to and explore on your own.
8. Are tours canceled due to bad weather – rain, snow? As long as we can bike safely we run our tours. We have ponchos in our shop for days that might get a little wet. During the winter months, we run tours only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and only if the roads and bike lanes are free of ice.
9. What if you haven’t ridden a bike in years? And/or you’re out of shape? Should you attempt a bike tour? Our tours are easy and great for all ages or ability levels. You do not need to be an athlete to take part. If you are rusty, or need a little confidence before joining the tour, just stop by our shop a little early and take in some practice laps in front of our shop.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Things people should know about Fat Tire Bike Tours? We are a small and dedicated group of folks that take it personally that our guests have a great time in Berlin. We work hard to make sure that our tours deliver an extraordinary experience to everyone who takes part. We are all personally committed to everyone who visits us. Our goal is to make sure that everyone feels at home when they tour with us, and know that we are keen to help in any way possible to make sure that your time in Berlin is great. Whether you do one tour or all of our tours, we want you to feel like one of the family!
Have you ever done a bike tour? What’s your favorite way to see a city?