Are you looking for a cycling holiday in Spain that’s all about the bike?
Or perhaps Spain is your usual destination for a family holiday, but this time you would really like to ride your bike whilst there?
Either way, cycling holidays in Spain are fantastic because Spain is brilliant for riding due to its diversity of terrain and climate.
We’ve written this article to help point you in the right direction of getting the most out of any Spanish cycling holidays you go on.
1. What type of Spanish cycling holiday do you want?
To help identify what type of bike trip in Spain is best for you, here are a few options from which to choose:
Are you happy to ride with the family? If you’re a reasonably competent cyclist, then it may be a touch frustrating if the others don’t match your enthusiasm for putting it into the big ring and smashing it up the hills!
That said perhaps you’re happy to sacrifice your urge to ride at your normal pace just to spend some quality time together and have some fun in the sun.
Alternatively, you could also get up very early in the morning and take advantage of the quiet roads and complete a two-hour or so loop at your own pace and still be back for breakfast.
Point to point
There are lots of cycling routes in Spain of this type and if you’re more the exploring and sight-seeing type then this may be a good choice.
Taking advantages of some of the Eurovélo routes you could for example combine plenty of exercise with a gastronomic tour on the Basque coastline or a tour of the vineyards in La Rioja.
There are plenty of different opportunities to suit most cyclotourists looking to plan bike trips in Spain. You can opt for the DIY version with panniers to carry your essentials from place to place or take the guided option of having your belongings ferried on in advance for you.
A popular pursuit for the more serious cyclist who wants to clock up some miles in the sun in order to improve fitness by bike riding in Spain.
A training camp can of course be done on a completely DIY basis, but many Spain cycling holiday companies offer specific and tailored plans to assist you to get in shape and even help improve your cycling technique.
Tackle the famous Vuelta climbs
For those who avidly watch the Vuelta a España on television each year, listening to commentators wax lyrical about the fearsome ascents, here is a great opportunity to experience some of the best road cycling in Spain.
If you’re confident in your ability and don’t mind riding in large groups then maybe a sportive or gran fondo would represent the ultimate challenge.
The gran fondo (or Marcha Cicloturista) as the Spanish call them are increasing in number each year and becoming more popular with international riders. The world famous Quebrantahuesos actually holds a lottery to allocate the 8,000 places it has each year. The perfect opportunity for combining a cycling holiday in northern Spain with a real challenge?!
Check out our article on choosing between different types of tours/training camps.
2. Which region do you want to go to during your cycling holiday in Spain?
So you’ve decided the type of holiday you’re looking for – the next question is, where’s the best place to go in Spain to find it?! Here are some ideas, using the same headings as for question 1 above:
Cycling holidays in Andalucia are a good bet if you've got kids in tow; probably due to its popularity with holiday makers, this area is set up for family bike rides. Most of the big cities in the south of Spain have safe and dedicated cycle lanes and there are a number of cycle shops who cater specifically for children in terms of rental bikes.
So, whether you need a child seat fixing to the back of your bike, or a tag-along bike or even a small 24” mountain bike you will be able to find one in the bigger towns. Most cycle shops will also give you route maps for recommended family bike rides.
The city of Seville is nationally recognised as one of the best and safest places to navigate by bike. There are miles of paved bike lanes that crisscross the city connecting the various districts better than public transport.
In the north of the country and based in the Girona area, there are a number of Vies Verdes (greenways) that link the city to the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava coast. They are disused railway lines and perfect for those wanting a safe and relaxing ride. You can find out more about these in our Girona guide.
Point to point
There are endless opportunities for point to point cycling in Spain. Routes are plentiful whether on a guided trip or otherwise.
The Basque coast, the Girona area and the Pyrenees are all extremely popular for these type of rides.
The Camino del Norte starts in the western city of Santiago de Compostela and runs for 820 kilometres along the northern coast of Spain before finishing in the town of Irun which sits on the border with France.
The very popular Raid Pyrenees is a coast to coast epic which runs from Hendaye on the Atlantic Coast to Cerbere which sits on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The route is 735 kilometres in length with an overall elevation of 12,840 metres, passing over some of the well known Pyrenean mountains such as the Tourmalet and Aubisque. If that wasn’t enough the challenge is to complete the ride in less than 100 hours!
Most cyclists opt for a training camp in the winter and spring months, either to ride in the sun or to start to ramp up their training for the new season.
Mainland Spain, together with the Balearic and Canary Islands, are the most popular choices and within easy reach of most UK airports. For those wanting a break around Christmas, the Canary Islands take some beating as their situation just off the coast of Africa means they more or less guarantee year-round sunshine.
From February onwards, the southern coast of Spain is an ideal location, with the Sierra Nevada, Costa Almeria and Calpe areas providing countless opportunities for bike holidays. Mallorca is also very popular, and you can even tailor your own camp and ride with an ex professional rider (by way of example, Mallorca Cycling often run trips with Russ Downing).
Tackle the famous Vuelta climbs
Whether it is a famed especial climb, such as the Lagos de Covadonga or the Alto de Angliru, or perhaps a gentler ascent of the well-known Coll de Rates, it doesn’t matter. There aren’t many sports where you can actually replicate exactly what the professionals do – even if it does take us a little longer!
Complete a sportive
New sportives such as the gran fondo Alberto Contador (Valencia) and the Gran Fondo Costa Almeria are growing in prominence and annually increasing in participant numbers. Girona also holds two very well supported sportives every summer – the Continental Ciclobrava Sea Otter and the Bike Breaks Girona Cycling Festival. Our list of the best granfondos in Europe to try contains more details.
Our article on the best cycling regions of Spain.
3. How much support do you want? Do you need a Spanish bike tour?
If you like riding on your own or with a friend, booking your own accommodation, downloading routes from the internet and then finding your own way around, then a self-guided cycling holiday in Spain may be the best option for you.
However, sometimes you might prefer to have an experienced and reliable tour company and guide with you, in which case a guided cycling holiday in Spain may be the answer. The operators know the roads, the climbs, the food and drink stops, the climate and are always on hand should you have a mechanical problem in the middle of the wilderness.
In between options are also available - some tour companies will collect you from the airport and take you to your cycle friendly hotel, then leave you to your own devices. So they do some of the organisation, but you aren’t bound by their itinerary start time for the day.
It really is a question of how confident you are in your own ability and resourcefulness or whether you prefer the camaraderie and peace of mind of a larger group tour.
Our article on the different kind of tours provides further details.
4. Decided on a cycling tour of Spain? Which tour company should you use?
Type of tour company
So, you’ve decided you want a cycling tour but now you need to find the right type. Do you want a one centre break so that you can ride out and back in each day on different routes to your hotel or do you want to ride from town to town on more of cross-country trek?
It’s very much a personal choice. For those that get bored with the same hotel and amenities then the explorer option is probably the better fit – riding from one end of the Pyrenees to the other over several days, for instance.
For those who simply want to unpack and unwind in one location and have more leisure time a fixed centre holiday is certainly better.
Choice of operator
The choice of operator is also very important as some are obviously better than others from a customer care perspective and then there’s always the budget to think about. Make sure you always read the small print!
How many stars has the hotel got? Are they offering half board or not? Are the advertised airport transfers completely free? Do they provide a support car for mechanical assistance or do you have to ring up for one? You’ll find more questions to ask in our article on what to check before you book a tour!
Be aware that just looking for cheap cycling holidays in Spain may not always work out as best value by the time you’ve added on all the extras.
Mallorca is awash with tour companies for example, so It is important to do your research particularly as sometimes there is a wide difference in price for broadly the same package – some organisations have bigger overheads! (Our comparison of Mallorca cycling tours may come in handy).
Girona cycling holidays and those in the Alps/Ventoux region are easy to find but areas such as the Sierra Nevada and Costa Daurada for example only have a limited offering.
- Our article on choosing between different types of tours/training camps.
- Our article comparing 10 different Mallorca cycling tours.
- Our article on the different Girona cycling tour companies.
We hope you've found our article helpful. Have you got any additional tips for picking a cycling holiday in Spain? Or for picking a Spanish bike tour? Let us know in the comments below!
If you want to spend more time browsing the cycling in different areas of Spain, head to our Spain destination page, where you'll find links to in-depth guides to loads of France's best cycling regions.
We've mentioned them above, but in case it's helpful, the following articles might be useful to you:
(AKA the Santuari de Cura Mallorca climb)