Exploring Spain by cycling

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There are very few countries having the combination of natural beauty and intriguing history like Spain. The terrain makes Spain so suitable for many tourist activities, cycling is one of them. This activity should be the first thing to do for every tourists come to Spain.

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Road cycling in Spain

Northern Spain is just about as far away as you can get from Spain’s tourist hubs – and not just geographically. Opt for a cycling holiday around the Cantabria province and you will be welcomed by rich green vistas, handsome coastal towns, secluded coves and dramatic peaks.

Santander, a busy port and the capital of Cantabria, is a good place to start. From here, cycle east along the Costa Verde towards Gijon, 180km away in Asturias. The road skirts the coast and will take you through, or near to, traditional towns and villages that dot the northern reaches of Spain.

Cantabria

Stop at Santilla del Mar for a wander around its cobbled streets or a visit to the Altamira Caves (dubbed the ‘the Sistine Chapel of cave art’, it has some of the world’s most startling examples of ancient cave painting).

Call in at Comillas, just 16km or so further along the coast, for its art nouveau buildings, including Gaudi’s El Capricho, and loiter in Llanes to explore tiny beaches like the glorious cove at Villaneuva, sat at the end of a long and narrow canyon, hemmed in on either side by sheer rock.

And as you wind your way along this verdant coastline, over to the south lies the Picos de Europa National Park. With its striking peaks, deep caves, brown bears and wolves, the Picos offer a tempting, if challenging, diversion inland.

Over to the east, the city of Girona acts as either a great start/finish point for a circular route around Catalonia or, for the fit, a terrific base for daily excursions to the coast or into the hills. Head west and you’re into some serious mountain territory, used for training by some of the world’s top professional teams.

The city of Girona

Mountain biking in Spain

Andalucía is a haven for mountain bikers. There is a huge variety of riding available across a number of different ranges.

A good base for a few days is the city of Córdoba. Here trails wind their way high above the city. There is more than 1,000km of flowing track, and riders of all abilities will be able to find something to suit them.

Alternatively, stay in the area around the mountain town of Castril, in the Sierra de Castril. Rides here can be as easy or as demanding as you want them to be. From a relatively simple jaunt through the Rio Castril valley, tracking olive groves and tree plantations, to a testing 40km slog into the Sierra de Cazorla, complete with leg-burning climbs and devilish drops, anything is possible.

Further south, the Sierra Nevada National Park offers some of Europe’s southernmost serious mountain biking. There is an endless variation of mountain biking in this 860km-squared park. Follow farm tracks, cycle through forests, or scale rock-strewn desolate peaks before dropping daringly back down to earth. This is mountain biking at its most natural.

Sierra Nevada National Park

For something different, head to the Basque Country and into the western Pyrenees. Stay near San Sebastian for a good range of riding within an hour or so’s drive. Make tracks into the Pyrenees for some challenging climbing and descending on diverse trails, or cycle into the hills just behind this stunning coastline for some gentler (but no less spectacular) riding.

Cycling in Spain can have an endless number good rides, this is one of the most exciting activities in Spain. If you are a new tourist coming to Spain, you should not miss this activity.