Cycling Girona is unlike cycling anywhere else in the world. It’s not just the weather, roads and architecture. It’s the fact you feel you’re wandering into the home of the professional peloton.
Girona was made famous by being Lance Armstrong’s base in the ‘90s, but that’s just the start. It’s estimated that over eighty pro cyclists live in Girona: David Millar has a house here, former Movistar rider Rory Sutherland owns a coffee shop, and so does former pro Christian Mieir (in fact he co-owns three of the coolest establishments in town, including La Fabrica Girona). Ryder Hesjedal, Sam Bewley, Luke Durbridge, Dan Martin, Michael Hepburn, Sharon Laws, Lucy Martin, Emilia Fahlin, Georgia Bronzini and Matt Brammeier all base out of Girona.
Is Girona the best road CYCLING destination in Europe?
It depends what you're after, but it's certainly one of our favourites and up there with the best.
First, Girona's cycling routes
The roads are quiet, and in good condition, drivers are courteous, and the weather is hospitable for most of the year. You may not get snow-capped peaks, but there's impressive scenery and excellent, varied riding in every direction.
Second, the town.
Girona is vibrant and beautiful.
It offers everything cyclists want: great bike hire/repair/guiding, top draw coffee shops and restaurants and a good range of decent hotels. What's best is that it’s all found in a medieval old town which is a joy to explore: thick stone walls, narrow lanes, winding staircases, restaurants whose tables spill over onto pavements and hidden squares. There’s always something going on: Mardi Gras in February, a film festival in September and the St Narcissus’ fair and festival in October. We were so impressed, we dedicated a whole article to the subject of what to do in Girona when you're not cycling!
When you join everything together, it makes cycling holidays to Girona a special experience for road cyclists. It’s also an excellent option for those looking to sneak some riding into a city break.
We’d highly recommend a visit.
tempted by a girona cycling holiday?
In this cyclist's guide to Girona, you’ll find everything you need to plan unforgettable Girona cycling holidays: detailed information on the best Girona bike routes plus where to stay, when to visit, cycling shops in Girona and where to rent a bike in Girona.
Read on and plan your next cycling adventure!
The best Girona cycling routes
Wondering where to cycle in/around Girona?
Girona’s cycling routes are excellent. The amazing Costa Brava cycling routes and coastline are about 30km away to the east, the Les Gaverres mountains are to the south and the Pyrenean border with France is to the north. Over a third of the region comprises protected areas and reserves.
The tough part is deciding which ride to do.
Cycling Costa Brava coastline (via Sant Grau) loop
- Distance: 95km
- Elevation: 1,230m
- Epic rating:
- Distance: 10km
- Elevation: 750m
- Epic rating:
Els Àngels, Girona loop
- Distance: 71km
- Elevation: 1,080m
- Epic rating:
Saint Hilari Sacalam and Susqueda dam loop
- Distance: 114km
- Elevation: 1,710m
- Epic rating:
Mare de Déu del Mont loop
- Distance: 120km
- Elevation: 2,250m
- Epic rating:
And some final tips:
EASY/Family cycling routes, Girona
There are so many good road cycling routes around Girona that if you’re travelling with older children with reasonable fitness, you should be able to find routes that cater to them too.
The Vías Verdes or ‘Greenways’ are an excellent alternative. The routes have been created from disused railway lines and turned into 125 km of family-friendly cycle routes. They are relatively flat, and the fact there are no cars is a real bonus for families. There are four stretches on the Costa Brava:
We haven’t tried them out ourselves but are told that a particularly nice section is the approx 20 km route from Llagostera to the pretty marina and beach of Sant Feliu de Guíxols.
Finally, very young children may enjoy cycling in Girona - around the Park de la Devesa in central Girona. It’s a nice place with more than 2,500 plane trees; good on a hot day. Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days.
Sportives and cycle events
If you want to race, Girona might give you that opportunity. In February social races take place on Wednesdays and Sundays. The courses are 90–100 km through rolling Catalan countryside. They are challenging and competitive races, but are accessible to racers of any level, including women and juniors.
The International Sea Otter Europe bike show is held in early June. The second edition was in 2018 and included a Gran Fondo ride. 2019's event will also include a Granfondo ride, with 100km and 145km options available.
The annual Girona Cycling Festival is held just after the International Sea Otter show, also in June, and has been running since 2014. It features three main events over the week-long event:
If you miss that, other options include:
And finally there's the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, that's held in March and is one of three World Tour stage races held in Spain.
This section includes details of hotels and villas we have either stayed in or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a booking, we may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.
When you’re planning Girona holidays, you’ve got two main choices on where to base yourself: Girona old town or the countryside. Unless you’re looking for a villa holiday (in which case, see villas near Girona below), we’d say Girona old town wins every time.
The main drawback is that you have to cycle out of Girona each day - but that's more than made up for by:
Which are the best cycling hotels in Girona’s old town?
The city centre lacks a stand-out five-star hotel. However this may be due to change with rumours of the opening of an exclusive new hotel housed in the old castle of La Fortalesa and the Casa Cacao hotel in central Girona.
The good news is that there are plenty of good four-star hotels already.
Our choice: Hotel Nord 1901
We stayed at Hotel Nord 1901. It's right in the heart of the old town, and we would recommend it to friends. It’s not a cycling hotel as such, but it’s owned by a cyclist, seems very tolerant of bikes and has been recommended by Eat Sleep Cycle and Bike Breaks Girona.
The hotel only has 18 rooms, and while we were there, it certainly seemed dominated by cyclists. We spoke with one large group of at least twenty American cyclists (bikes being stored elsewhere) and a Canadian couple about to do a three-day point to point ride with Eat Sleep Cycle. We also spotted five bike boxes and two mountain bikes in the bike storage room.
What we loved
Things to be aware of
Other choices for biking Girona
Had we not stayed at the Hotel Nord 1901, we would have tried either the Hotel Ciutat de Girona or Hotel Historic.
Official Girona cycling hotels
The Catalan Tourist Board has certified Girona as a Sports Holiday Destination. This recognises it as a location offering high-quality resources, sports facilities, lodging and specialised services.
At a practical level, it means that they have designated some hotels as Girona bike hotels. They are advertised as having the following facilities:
The Tourist Board's official list of Girona cycling hotels is below. Of these, we would pick the Gran Ultònia, which is a modern business hotel about 5 minutes walk to the old town with underground parking and a wonderful rooftop bar. It has a secure bike room with bike washing area, bike parking and tools. Hotel AC Paulau de Bellavista would be our second choice.
Villas near Girona
Where you start your Girona villa search will probably be based on the riding you want to do.
Our favourite site for villa hunting is HomeAway.
Road bike hire Girona/costa brava
As one of the best road cycling destinations in Spain, Girona’s bike rental options are also top notch.
The three main bike shops in Girona all offer slightly different bike rental and services. If you’re not sure which to go for, the comparison table below sets out what’s on offer. We hope it helps.
Bike rental Girona, SpaIn: the options
Bikes and services
Eat Sleep Cycle, Girona
Carrer del Vern, 3, 17004 Girona
Factor 02 with Shimano Di2 Ultegra, Black Ink wheels, 11-Sp.
Ridley Fenix SL Disc with Shimano Ultegra, 11-Sp. groupset
Ridley Helium X with Shimano Ultegra, 11-Sp. groupset
Ridley Fenix SL with Shimano 105, 11-Sp. groupset
Worx RA SL 105/Ultegra (Perfect for riders under 155cm)
They also rent gravel, mountain bikes, town/leisure bikes and electric bikes.
Pump, saddle bag, spare tube, patch kit and tyre levers.
Wheel upgrade: Spin on these Wheels
Prices for Fenix 105/Helium X/Fenix Disc/Factor O2/Worx
1 day: €35/€45/€50/€75/€35
3 days: €90/ €120/€135/€180/€90
7 days: €150/€215/€250/€400/€150
Extra day: €20/€25/€30/€55/€20
Bike Breaks Girona (also known as Girona Cycle Centre)
Carrer Nou 14, E-17001, Girona
Cannondale Synapse Carbon disc with Shimano 105/Ultegra group set
Cannondale System Six disc with Di2/Ultegra
Helmet, lock, repair kit (no spare tube), pump, 2 water bottles
Pedals, female seat, GPS
Prices from (based on Synapse Shimano 105):
1 day: €45
2 days: €80
3 days: €95
4 days: €115
5 days: €125
6 days: €135
7 days: €145
Additional days: €15
The Service Course
Carrer Nord, 10, 17001 Girona
From steel to custom frames and including carbon bikes too, there's unusual range at The Service Course: choose from Belle, Argonaut, Legor, Bastion, Fara, Speedvagen bikes.
Kask Protone helmet, Wahoo Element GPS, pedals, spare tube, pump, lock, nightly service, use of showers and lockers
Wheel upgrade: Enve or 3T wheels. Power meter
Day 1: 65 euros
Day 2: 125 euros
Day 3: 185 euros
Day 4: 240 euros
Day 5: 295 euros
Day 6: 350 euros
Day 7: 405 euros
Tips for Girona cycle hire:
Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this.
Looking for Girona cycling guides or a Girona bike tour? Read our article on Girona bike tours.
When to go
Girona’s weather means it is a good bet for cycling at any time of the year. Average temperature highs are always in double digits, and lows don’t dip below 2℃, even in the coldest months of December to February.
Of course, most people visit between Spring and Autumn: April to June and September and October probably represent peak cycling season.
Summers tend to be hot - you’re looking at average highs of 29℃ - but cyclists still visit, they just get out early to avoid the intense midday heat.
We’d say the absolute best months are probably June and September, as you get average temperature highs in the late 20s and average rainfall is relatively low too.
While rainfall is relatively low throughout the year, this is not the arid south of Spain, and it does rain throughout the year. The landscape is full of dense green forest, and there’s a reason for that. Statistically speaking May, October and November are the rainiest months with rainfall at about 80mm and rainy days between 11 and 12 per month.
Girona, Spain weather: an at-a-glance guide for cyclists
Winters are mild in Girona, with average highs between 13 and 17℃. You’re unlikely to find many other tourists out on Girona's cycle routes, but the pros will be out training. The beauty of Girona is that it’s a bustling town in it’s own right; its not just for tourists, so there’ll still be lots going on.
Spring arrives, and the tourists return.
It can get pretty hot in the peak summer months, but get out early and you’ll avoid the midday heat.
Temperatures come back down to the mid-20s, and it’s a great opportunity to get some sunny riding in.
Temperatures are cooling off, but it’s still a lot warmer than many European destinations.
Tips for cycling in Girona
This section includes details of products we have either used and liked or which we think look great. Full disclosure: if you click on a link and make a purchase, we will earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.
For a map of Girona town, this interactive map is quite useful and has a search function.
We love physical maps and so couldn’t resist buying a Mapa topographic de Catalunya, number 3 of Pirinieu Oriental, Girona and Costa Brava at 1:100,000. We bought it from the bike shop BikeBreaks Girona.
If you want a map of Girona before you go, this might help though it’s at 1:150,000.
In terms of guide books, we had a copy of the Marco Polo Costa Brava guide. It didn’t have a huge amount in it about Girona, but it was a reasonable starting point.
Girona is mentioned by both Millar and Wiggins in their memoirs:
Girona hosts a film festival in September each year. In 2019 it will be begin on 1 October and end on 5 October.
Its picturesque streets were used for the filming of series 6 of the hugely popular Game of Thrones.
Good to know
If you want to buy a bit of cycling memorabilia, head to the BikeBreaks Girona boutique, just opposite the rental shop. There they have Girona cycling kit, ex-pro kit you can buy and much more.
If you have a bike servicing issue, you’ll probably head to the workshop of one of the “big 3” mentioned in the bike hire section above. However, if you fancy a visiting what's reportedly a gem of a local bike shop, and are willing to head out of town, Bici Oci is worth a visit. It gets glowing reports from those that visit. (Have you been? Let us know in the comments below!)
Girona is a great option for triathletes. The GEIG complex in Girona has two 25m pools and a 50m pool. The swimming lake in Banyoles offers fantastic open water swimming.
Nearly everything in Girona shuts on Sunday. If there’s something you need to do on a Sunday, be sure to check the opening times.
Girona (officially, the province of Girona), is located within Catalunya (aka Catalonia), an autonomous community within Spain. Catalans are very proud of their unique language and culture. Catalonia is one of the most affluent regions of Spain and contains excellent public services and infrastructure.
On our flight to Barcelona at the end of September, ours was amongst at least five other bike boxes on the oversize baggage belt (belt 12). Making your box distinctive in some way is a good idea to avoid picking up someone else’s bike by accident.
How to get to Girona from Barcelona:
- - While there are many direct flights to Girona airport, Barcelona is the major hub. From Barcelona to Girona it's around 110km (and takes about 1.5 hours). Or you can get a Barcelona-Girona train, but you’ll need to get the train from the airport into Barcelona before getting a different train north to Girona.
- - If you land at Barcelona airport and are looking for the car hire desks, these are located in Terminal B.
- - Terminal C of Barcelona airport confusingly also seems to be referred to as Terminal 2.
- - To get to the car hire desks from Terminal C, follow the signs to Terminal B, past the multi-storey car park on your right. It’s less than 5 minutes by foot.
Over to you!
If you’ve found our guide to biking Girona helpful, we’d love it if you left a comment below!
Have you been cycling in Girona, Spain?
How did you find it? Did you do any of our routes?
Don’t miss our other Girona guides!
Check out our Girona cycling route guides (Costa Brava coastline, Els Angels, Mare de Deu del Mont, Rocacorba and Saint Hilari) and blog posts (things to do, cafes and coffee shops, Girona cycling tours and tips for cycling Girona) - or see the Articles section below.
Want to check out some other destinations? Search by the month you want to travel or cycling destination you want to visit, here.