Cycle Touring in Spain
8 multi-day routes throughout Spain
This guidebook describes 8 multi-day cycle routes in Spain. The routes include Bilbao, Madrid, Sevilla, Serranía de Ronda, the Sierras Grazalema, Morena, Gredos and Guadarrama, Sierra Nevada, the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa. The routes vary from short, introductory tours of 3 to 7 days to demanding tours of 2-weeks for enthusiasts.
SeasonsYear round, depending upon how much heat you can cope with!
CentresMalaga, Ronda, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Madrid, Segovia, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Girona, Llanes
DifficultyDifficulty 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 SeeDiscovering 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.
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.
Holidays and Public Holidays
A Short History
Passports, Visas, Health Care and Insurance
Money and Banks
About the Bike
What to Take
Eating and Drinking en route
Coping with Extreme Weather
How to Use this Guide
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
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
The Instituto Geográfico Nacional produces two series of maps at 1:200 000. The scale and level of detail is just right for cycling: they show all roads including most forest and other major tracks, rivers, contours at 100m and most geographical features. There are two caveats: changes to the road networks are not updated very quickly, and town details can be very poor. The two series show the same level of detail but are presented differently.
The series of Mapa Provincial cover the whole of Spain on a province-by-province basis. Within each province boundary the map has all the detail listed above, but outside only the road system is continued and sometimes the contours, but not vegetation detail.
The series of Mapa Guía only covers the more popular areas, but do not suffer a drop-off in detail at provincial borders. Stanfords of Long Acre in London (020-7836 1321 or www.stanfords.co.uk) is a good stockist.
The other maps worth considering are Michelin orange 1:400 000, which show all the public roads along with some limited topographic detail. They are revised annually so try and get an up-to-date one, otherwise new roads may be missing. These maps are widely available in bookshops.
Other useful maps are detailed in the text where relevant.
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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.
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.
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
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.
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Harry Dowdell has loved cycling for as long as he can remember. His first cycle tour was around the North York Moors while still at school and he has since enjoyed touring in Ireland, France, Spain, Slovenia and Norway. He cycles regularly in Spain and at home in Yorkshire, where he pays the bills working as a fitness instructor.View Articles and Books by Harry Dowdell