Els Àngels is a classic climb, that’s part of a popular cycling loop from Girona.
The Els Àngels circuit takes in two climbs with a nice respite in the middle. The gradients are never too intense, and the first climb starts just 3 or 4 kilometres from Girona. The route was made famous by Armstrong: locals say he loved it for a short high-intensity training ride.
Riding doesn't get much better than this: peaceful, rolling roads with hardly any traffic, pretty woodland, medieval villages, and ancient churches.
Route map and profile
Distance: 71 km
Elevation Gain: 1,080 m
Max Grade: 15 %
All metrics in this guide are approximate
HIGHLIGHTS OF ELS ÀNGELS, GIRONA
A lovely winding road takes you up through the trees to the hilltop Santuari dels Àngels, the chapel where Salvador Dali got married. If you climb up the steps to the terrace by the church, you’re rewarded with fantastic panoramic views, and there’s a café too.
Once you’re on the bike again, the descent down to Monells is pretty special with wide turns and views over the plain.
1. Girona to Monells: 0-25 km
It’s a flat spin out of town to the bottom of the climb up to Santuari dels Àngels. The road meanders upwards for 11km through pretty forest at a reasonable 3.3% average gradient. It’s quite varied with long, straight sections, switchbacks, some flatter and even downwards sections; great if you’re just cruising up.
You come to the Santuari dels Àngels cross, and you’re at the top. If you fancy it, turn left and head up the extra 500m to the Sanctuary itself and enjoy views towards Girona, Baix Empordà, the Medes islands and the Pyrenees. The Santuari dels Àngels restaurant will also sort you out with a drink if you want a breather.
Or head straight on down the sweeping grey ribbon of road all the way to Monells. Don’t miss the views over to honey coloured Madremanya as you near the bottom of the descent.
2. Monells to Cassà de la Selva: 25-48 km
From Monells, the views open out as you come to the plain and it’s 8km of easy spin to the bottom of the next climb to Santa Pellaia.
It’s another nice one through the dense forest that covers the Gavarres mountain range, with a 3.4% average. Some people know it as Hincapie Hill as his name used to be sprayed on the road, but it’s long since faded now.
No café at the top this time and it’s a quick 7km descent down to Cassà de la Selva.
3. Cassà de la Selva to Girona: 48-71 km
Most people return to Girona along the C65. It’s the most direct way, but it’s one of the main roads from Girona towards the coast, so it’s busy with traffic.
We prefer to bypass it by riding a bit further along a small road that takes you through pretty villages of Sant Andreu and Fornells de la Selva. It’s a lovely quiet, flat return leg to Girona.
Restaurant Can Pol, on the way to the top of the Els Àngels climb, comes very highly recommended for traditional Catalan cooking with fantastic views towards Girona.
The Santuari dels Àngels restaurant/café is another possibility, or you could get a proper meal at the lovely squares in Madremanya or Monells. Monells also has a drinking fountain with good drinking water.
We also had an insider’s tip from Louise at Eat Sleep Cycle: she highly rates the cake in La Pera. It would require a little diversion from the loop but might be worth it? Let us know if you try it!
We stayed at Hotel Nord 1901; a lovely family-owned boutique hotel in a superb old town location in central Girona. This ride is on the doorstep.
For more suggestions, take a look at our pick of the best hotels for cyclists in Girona (and Girona province).
Check your pronunciation: it’s “els ang-els” with a “g” for goat (i.e. like angles on a triangle), rather than “Hells Angels”!
There are a few bumps on the descents so don’t take them too hard.
This ride takes you through the Les Gavarres mountains. The Gavarres are a protected nature reserve and are covered in ancient dwarf oak forest, small villages, monasteries, and farmhouses.
The Els Àngels climb is the location for the 10.4km hill climb within the annual Girona Gran Fondo.
Read our tips for cycling in Girona before you set out.
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