Although Barcelona is a city that can easily be explored without owning your own set of wheels, for some of us there’s a calling to be in charge of our own journey from A to B. One exhilarating way to do it can be to
One exhilarating way to do it can be to ride a scooter in Barcelona, or a motorbike for those who like a little more grunt. These two-wheeled (and sometimes three) machines come in all shapes and sizes in Barcelona, from the beefy Harley Davidson that looks like it’s aching for a long stretch of road in the countryside through to the iconic Vespa and the romantic visions of sunny days and gelato it inspires.
So if you do decide to put yourself in the thick of Barcelona’s city traffic astride a set of two wheels, you may like to keep these pointers in mind.
Related article: Driving in Barcelona and Spain
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Take it easy if you’re a first timer
If you haven’t already attempted to ride a motorbike or a scooter in a city similar to Barcelona, then it’s highly recommended that you take the time to practice in some of the city’s quieter neighbourhoods, such as in its outskirts. It’s very different to places like in Thailand or in Indonesia where backpackers can scoot around quite easily in traffic that could be described as a little more forgiving. In Barcelona’s city traffic, the general rule is to stick to the right but do take note of the different types of lanes as some are for buses, taxis and bicycles only. And if you do make a mistake and realise you’re heading the wrong way, Barcelona’s grid street system makes it impossible to do a quick turn back – but that’s a good thing! As most experienced motorcyclists already know, you’re much more vulnerable in traffic when you’re on two wheels and there’s a lot less between you and the road when compared to a car.
Ensure you have the right licence
If you’re an EU citizen and have the appropriate licence for a motorbike, then you should already be well-equipped for up to two years with the right legal documents to hit the streets. The requirements for citizens outside of the EU are a little different and you may like to check with your embassy or consulate to be sure you’re not erring on the wrong side of the law. In some cases, you may need to obtain an International Drivers Licence from your country of residence and then if you decide you want to remain behind the handles past six months, then you’ll need to apply and obtain a Spanish driver’s licence. This is also the case for EU citizens after two years of using a licence from another EU country. But in both cases, best check with your embassy or consulate in Spain.
General road etiquette
Despite the smaller frame of your motorbike or scooter and your possible feelings of nimbleness, you can’t drive side-by-side with another person in the same lane. Imagine the reaction if we saw two Smart cars driving together (because they would fit!) just for the fun of it. And while one of the perks of riding a motorbike or scooter is to use its agility to weave in, out and between heavy traffic, you should always remember to use your indicators, look in your mirrors as well as make a head turn check to ensure the path is clear. A thank you wave doesn’t go astray either, to any other motorist letting you squeeze in the gap.
Renting a motorbike or a scooter in Barcelona
A good way to see if you’re comfortable getting around on a motorbike or scooter in Barcelona is to rent one first. There are many places offering both short-term and long-term rentals such as Mondo Rent, Barcelona Moto Rent and Best Rent a Scooter. But whether you decide to rent or to buy, the most important thing is to prepare yourself: know the road rules, ensure you can legally drive and remain considerate of all other drivers, whether they belong to another motorbike or scooter, or a car, bus or taxi. Have fun and stay safe!