Cycling in Spain

Cycling In Spain: The 7 Most Incredible Routes for Bike Touring

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As a pair of Dutch girls, I guess we can say that cycling is more or less in our blood! Our adventures have taken us around the world, and more often than not, we’ve enjoyed the sights from the saddle of our trusty bicycles. However, I’ve got to say that bike touring in Spain for a month was one of my favorite bicycle trips of all time!

Cycling in Spain is perhaps the best way to see this incredible country. The sleepy, rustic villages shouldn’t be rushed through, and riding through the beautiful sunshine through the awesome scenery is pure joy! There are a number of official bicycle tours in Spain, with well-signed routes traveling along mostly vehicle-free tracks.

Plus, the weather is almost always gorgeous, with long sunny days well into autumn. It’d be amazing to do a full bike tour of Spain if time allowed, and it’s something we’ve dreamed of! But, for something a little more manageable, the following 7 bike touring routes in Spain are absolutely spectacular.

So, saddle up and let’s find out more!

1. Ruta De La Plata (The Silver Route)

  • Total distance: 936 km (582 miles)
  • Total elevation: 20,954 m (68,750 ft)

Also known as the Way of St. James, this is an astounding route for soaking up both sunshine and a little Spanish history. Passing through breathtaking scenery, the route travels south to north, through western Spain, from Seville up to Gijón on the Bay of Biscay. It follows one of the oldest Roman trade routes in the country, taking in a number of charming, historic towns and villages.

Along the way, there are countless opportunities to spend a day out of the saddle, exploring ancient ruins, castles, churches, and amphitheaters. The route follows cycle paths for much of the way and, for the most part, avoids busy roads entirely. Passing through calm, rolling countryside with some climbing along the way, you don’t have to be super fit to complete the route. However, you’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve done a little training in advance.

With plenty of charming cities and towns to stop off at along the way, you can really take your time with this route. It can normally be completed within 9 days of around 100 km (60 miles) each, though it’s easy to break it down or speed it up. There’s a slightly different version of this trail, which converts it into a pilgrim’s route leading to Santiago rather than Gijón.

2. Camino de Santiago

  • Total distance: 336 km (210 miles)
  • Total elevation: 6,337 m (20,800 ft)

This classic pilgrim’s route is among the oldest cycling routes in Spain. Crossing the north of the country from east to west, the route starts in the beautifully Gothic León. From this stunning start point, the route winds through unspoiled countryside, taking in villages, farms, and medieval monasteries, before culminating in the legendary Santiago.

Along the way you’ll follow the iconic seashell signs as they direct you through a mixed terrain of quiet minor roads, designated cycle routes, and the occasional off-road section. The rural countryside is pretty hilly, and you’ll need a fair level of fitness to enjoy it to the max. However, it’s possible to complete the trip in 6 moderate days, averaging around 54 km (33.5 miles).

The scenery along the route is as magnificent as it is varied, taking in grassy plains, woody mountains, lush green valleys, and rolling farmlands. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the local area and enjoy the delicacies of the region, from tasty wines to moreish local cheeses.

3. Mallorca Coast to Coast

  • Total distance: 100 km (147 miles)
  • Total elevation: 1,580 m (5,183 ft)

Mallorca is a stunningly beautiful island to go cycling in Spain and perhaps best known for its luxurious sandy beaches. However, there’s much more to discover on this Paradise Island, and this cycling route takes in all of the best sights. It offers a wonderful mix of coastal areas and the inland foothills of the Tramuntana mountains.

With tons of amazing family-run hotels and guesthouses on the island, it’s easy to adapt the route to your preference, with a fantastic place to stop each night. Most of the going is flat, on quiet, tarmac routes, with the occasional off-road sections. But take care on the couple of steep climbs you pass. Most days you can enjoy around 40 km (25 miles) of leisurely cycling, with plenty of time to enjoy the sights.

The route typically starts from the airport and ends in the beautiful cap Formenta. In between, you’ll visit sleepy rural villages, tranquil beaches, and cycle through unspoiled countryside. Mountain views abound, even though there are no real climbs on this route.

More inspiration: Greatest European Bike Tours of All Times

4. The Way of El Cid

  • Total distance: 1,100 km (685 miles)
  • Total elevation: 18,740 m (61,480 ft)

You’ll be cycling in the footsteps of legends on this incredible Spanish cycle route. Rodrigo Diaz, or El Cid, was a medieval knight in the 11th century, and remains a national hero. This cycle route follows his epic journey from Burgos to Valencia, crossing through an amazingly varied landscape. 

Along the way you’ll ride through quaint, medieval villages, unspoiled countryside, mountains and valleys, and conquer hilltop fortresses. The main route takes in 1,100 km (685 miles), but there are a number of interesting side routes that are worth considering if you have time. These circular routes take in various additional historic sights and majestic landscapes, and increase the total route to around 2,000 km (1,245 miles).

There are actually 2 different routes you can take; the paved route, or the mountain bike route. Both are well signed, and avoid busy roads for the most part. Mostly the going is easy to moderate, with the occasional climb. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, and you can split the journey up as it suits you, with 5 to 6 days being the average time taken.

5. Vía Verde (de la Sierra)

  • Total distance: 36.5 km (23 miles)
  • Total elevation gain: 1,261m (4,135 ft)

Roughly translated to ‘green lanes’, the Vias Verdes stretch for more than 2,200 km in total, all across Spain. After countless failed railway projects, the old tracks were converted into 120 of these impressive routes. They’re well signed, mostly flat, and easily accessible for everyone from hikers and cyclists, to horse riders and even wheelchair users.

When cycling in Spain, they’re a fantastic place to meet fellow travelers, and offer up incredible scenery that takes in everything Spain has to offer. From medieval cities to humble rural villages, through mountain passes to lush green valleys, the green lanes guarantee an incredible adventure.

One of the best routes for cyclists is the Vía Verde de la Sierra from Olvera to Serrano. This fairly easy-going 36.5 km (23 mile) trail takes in 30 tunnels, 4 incredible viaducts, and various medieval villages. The route from Olvera is mostly flat or downhill, making it an easy trail for beginners.

Do you know the difference between bikepacking and bike touring? Check it out here!

6. Col de Puymorens

  • Total distance: 176 km (109 miles)
  • Total elevation: 4,144 m (13,595 ft)

This breathtaking looped route takes you on an adventure through the glorious Pyrenees. Winding through the gorgeous Catalonian landscape, you’ll dip briefly into France, before returning to the small Catolonian villages and towns. It’s possible to cycle on paved roads, as well as mountain bike tracks, but both are largely free of motorized traffic.

As such, it’s a peaceful and enjoyable route to cycle, and while there are inclines, there’s nothing too hard going. For the most part, the route is fairly moderate and anyone with a pretty good level of fitness should be okay.

Along the way, you’ll enjoy a wealth of charming towns and villages, and for foodies, incredible cuisine and wine (there are 18 Michelin Star restaurants in the region). The route is well-signed and open throughout the year, though spring and autumn are the best times to visit. There are also plenty of opportunities to leave the official route and explore the surroundings.

7. The Tour of Andalusia Route

  • Total distance: 267 km (166 miles)
  • Total elevation: 6,733 m (22,089 ft)

This route is fantastic for cycling in Spain and gives you the opportunity to see the treasures of Andalusia in the south of Spain. An area famed for sandy beaches, desert landscapes, gorgeous towns, and awe-inspiring sierras. The route starts in the small town of Malaga, a cultural crossroads and the southernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. After exploring Andalusia’s inland gems, you’ll return to the coast, with the route ending in another country: Gibraltar.

Along the way you’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery at almost every turn. Highlights include Ronda, an absolutely stunning mountaintop town, and epic national parks including Sierra de Grazalema. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, and incredible food and drink to enjoy.

The route is quite hard-going at times, with long, steep climbs. A good level of fitness is recommended to enjoy it to the fullest. However, it’s worth the effort, and the rewards are absolutely incredible!

Also read: What to bring on a cycling trip.

EuroVelo Cycling Routes in Spain

Besides these 7 sensational bicycle tours, Spain has plenty more to offer. In fact, 3 epic EuroVelo routes cross through the country, taking in spectacular views and surroundings:

  • The Atlantic Coast Route (1)
  • The Pilgrim Route (2)
  • The Mediterranean Route (8)

If you’re looking for an incredible adventure, cycling in Spain is a very good choice. There are routes to suit all skill and fitness levels, all boasting spectacularly varied scenery, and passing through an incredibly culturally rich, historic corner of the world. If you have a question or a great experience, please leave a comment below.

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