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Go cycling touring in Spain with a Cicerone guide

Cover of Cycle Touring in Spain
13 Feb 2013
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
No. Maps
No. Photos
1st Published
1 Jul 2003
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Cycle Touring in Spain

by Harry Dowdell
Book published by Cicerone Press

This handy pocket-sized guidebook contains detailed route descriptions for eight multi-day cycle routes in Spain. Away from the busy Costas, the routes take you through Bilbao, Madrid, Sevilla, the Sierras and even the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa. The routes vary from short, introductory tours to harder, more demanding ones for the enthusiasts.

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Spain offers some of the best cycling available in Europe. It is a country of variety and contrasts for which many claims are made, but one thing is certain: Spain offers some of the best cycling available in Europe. The cyclist’s Spain is not that of the Costas, those narrow coastal strips trapped between mountains and sea where millions head for their summer holidays, but of the country where Spaniards actually live, work and play.

This guidebook contains detailed route descriptions for eight self-contained multi-day cycling routes, described in 5-12 stages. Each stage can be done in a day by cyclists of moderate fitness. However, accommodation possibilities along the whole of each route have been given to allow the reader to tailor the ride to his/her own preferences and abilities.
The routes described extend from the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa in the north, through the Sierras of Demanda, Gredos and Guadarrama in the centre, to the Sierras of Nevada and Grazalema and the Serrania de Ronda in the south. They also visit the cities of Avila, Cordoba, Bilbao, Madrid, Malaga, San Sebastian, Segovia and Sevilla.

The routes have been designed for maximum enjoyment. The cycling is excellent, passing through the most beautiful parts of the country and visiting many historic and interesting towns and cities. Routes 1 and 2 are perfect for newcomers to cycle touring and Spain as they are relatively short and offer an excellent introduction to the country. Routes 4 and 6 pass through some of the less visited parts of Spain without encountering too much hard going. The other routes are more physically challenging, but not excessively so.

In the mountains there can be long relentless climbs that come with long descents, and ones lasting 15 or 20km are quite common. However, hard persistent pedalling uphill is amply rewarded with panoramic vistas at the col and scenic revelations during the freewheeling descents. By contrast once away from the mountains the plains can be very flat, and even when undulating allow good, fast travelling. Many stages have alternatives that provide either easier or harder options to the main route. A number of optional loop routes are described that allow further exploration of some of the more interesting parts of Spain.

  • Seasons
    Year round, depending upon how much heat you can cope with!
  • Centres
    Malaga, Ronda, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Madrid, Segovia, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Girona, Llanes
  • Difficulty
    Difficulty varies according to the terrain - so some tours have difficult sections, some may be more challenging throughout. In most cases there are suggestions for alternative routes.
  • Must See
    Discovering the ‘real’ Spain inland from the tourist centres. A world of villages, small towns and vibrant cities, wooded hills, narrow gorges, moorish palaces, Roman ruins, cave paintings, art, olives and oranges.

May 2011

Route 5 (Stages 1, 2 and 7), Route 6 (Stage 1) and Appendix 5 (Aeropuerto de Madrid)

All the above have been affected by significant changes to roads around Madrid and the opening of Terminal 4 at Barajas Airport. Route 5 Sierras de Gredos and Guadarrama Stages 1, 2 and 7. Stage 1 used originally used the M501 which has been upgraded to motorway standard and from which cyclists are banned. This has a knock on effect to Stage 2. Stage 7 used dual carriageways south of Alcobendas which have been upgraded to motorway standard and from which cyclists are banned. Have no fear that the revised routes are inferior to the originals. In fact many would consider them superior including the author. Route 6 Madrid to Bilbao Stage 1. The tunnel under the airport to Paracuellos has been rebuilt and cyclists are banned.

The following PDF file includes amended text and maps for these sections.

Download PDF of amended sections.

There are many other minor changes that will affect other areas of the guide but these should all be apparent from up-to-date commercial maps.


December 2008

Route 7 – Los Pireneos

With thanks to Gail Boehm, October 2008.

Page 231    Delete Camping Peña Oroel. Reported closed autumn 2008.
        Add Camping Aín, Camino de San Salvador (tel: 656 47 77 12)

Page 231    Add before Biescas
        Camping Valle de Tena, Ctra. N260 km 513 (tel: 974 48 09 77)
        (3) Casba, Unica, s/n (tel: 974 48 01 49)

Page 232    Add after Laspaúles
        Camping Baliera, Bonansa (tel: 974 55 40 16)

Page 233    Add after Coll de Nargó
        Camping Organyà, Calle Piscina, s/n (tel: 973 38 20 39
        (3) Dom, Ctra. de Lleida, 56 (tel: 973 38 35 13)

        Camping La Comella, Ctra. Organyà a Sant Llorenç (tel: 973 48 90 24)

Stage 5. The campsite 10 km south of Biescas is highly recommended and campers may wish to end the stage here instead of Jaca.

Stage 7. An alternative route from Campo is to take the road east through Aguascaldas, Egea and Villacarli. Then turn north through Beranuy and Bonansa. The Coll de Bonansa is 1,380m. At the N260 turn right to rejoin the main route. Recommended for its mountain scenery and canyons. There is a camp site at Bonansa

August 2006

Route 2 Sierra de Grazalema and Torcal, Andalucía

Stage 1 Álora or Málaga Airport to Carratraca
It has been confirmed that bicycles are allowed on all the local trains between Málaga and Álora.  The rule is one bicycle per platform. Unless told otherwise this may be interpreted as one bicycle per standing area adjacent to the doors. Bicycles are not allowed on trains that leave Álora before 09:30.

Bicycles are not allowed on any train between Málaga and Fuengirola. This includes the trains between the airport and Málaga.

Appendix 4 Travelling to Spain, page 273

European bike Express telephone number now 01430 422111 and fax 01430 422877. Website URL unchanged.


Holidays and Public Holidays
A Short History
Getting There
Getting Around
Passports, Visas, Health Care and Insurance
Mobile Phones
Money and Banks
Staying There
About the Bike
What to Take
Eating and Drinking en route
Coping with Extreme Weather
How to Use this Guide
Cycle Tours
Route 1 Serranía de Ronda
Stage 1 Málaga airport to Yunquera
Stage 2 Yunquera to Ronda
Stage 3 Ronda to Teba
Stage 4 Teba to Álora
Stage 5 Álora to Málaga airport
Route 2 Sierra de Grazalema and Torcal
Stage 1 Álora or Málaga airport to Carratraca
Stage 2 Carratraca to Ronda
Stage 3 Ronda to El Bosque
Stage 4 El Bosque to Zahara
Stage 5 Zahara to Teba
Stage 6 Teba to Antequera
Stage 7 Antequera to Málaga airport
Route 3 Las Alpujarras and the Sierra Nevada
Stage 1 Almería airport to Alhama de Almería
Stage 2 Alhama de Almería to Bayárcal
Stage 3 Bayárcal to Capileira
Stage 4 Capileira to Granada
Stage 5 Granada to Alhama de Granada
Stage 6 Alhama de Granada to Colmenar
Stage 7 Colmenar to Málaga airport
Option 1 Bayárcal to Granada
Option 2 Pampaneira to Alhama de Granada
Route 4 Sierra Morena
Stage 1 Sevilla to Almadén de la Plata
Stage 2 Almadén de la Plata to Cazalla de la Sierra
Stage 3 Cazalla de la Sierra to Ojuelos Altos
Stage 4 Ojuelos Altos to Hornachuelos
Stage 5 Hornachuelos to Córdoba
Stage 6 El Pedroso to Hornachuelos
Stage 7 Cazalla–El Pintado loop
Route 5 Sierras de Gredos and Guadarrama
Stage 1 Madrid–Barajas airport to Navalcarnero
Stage 2 Navalcarnero to Piedralaves
Option 1 Navalcarnero to Piedralaves via the Vía Verde del Alberche and San Martin de Valdeiglesias
Stage 3 Piedralaves to Burgohondo via the Collado de Serranillos
Stage 4 Burgohondo to Ávila
Stage 5 Ávila to Segovia
Stage 6 Segovia to Cercedilla
Stage 7 Cerceda to Madrid-Barajas airport
Route 6 Madrid to Bilbao via the Sierra de la Demanda
Stage 1 Madrid–Barajas airport to Cogolludo
Stage 2 Cogolludo to Galve de Sorbe
Stage 3 Galve de Sorbe to San Esteban
Stage 4 San Esteban to Quintanar
Stage 5 Quintanar to Anguiano
Stage 6 Anguiano to Miranda
Stage 7 Miranda to Amurrio
Stage 8 Amurrio to Bilbao
Option 1 Najerilla valley to Santo Domingo
Option 2 Sierra de la Demanda loop
Route 7 Los Pireneos
Stage 1 San Sebastián to Leitza
Stage 2 Leitza to Auritz/Burguete
Stage 3 Auritz/Burguete to Ansó
Stage 4 Ansó to Jaca
Stage 5 Jaca to Broto
Stage 6 Broto to Campo
Stage 7 Campo to Pont de Suert
Stage 8 Pont de Suert to Tremp
Stage 9 Tremp to Coll de Nargó
Stage 10 Coll de Nargó to Berga
Stage 11 Berga to Olot
Stage 12 Olot to Girona airport
Option 1 Hernani to Leitza
Option 2 Olot to Anglès
Route 8 Picos de Europa
Stage 1 Llanes to Cangas de Onis
Stage 2 Cangas de Onis to Posada de Valdeón
Stage 3 Posada de Valdeón to Potes
Stage 4 Potes to Llanes
Option 1 Puerto de Pandetrave to Potes
Option 2 Puertos de Aliva loop
Option 3 Covadonga
Further reading
Appendix 1 Temperatures and Rainfall
Appendix 2 Sunrise and Sunset Times
Appendix 3 Language Notes
Appendix 4 Travelling to Spain
Appendix 5 Spanish Airports: Routes and Maps
Appendix 6 Car Hire Companies
Appendix 7 Organised Cycle Holiday Companies
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