Cycling Holidays in Girona
Cycling in Girona is almost unrivalled in Europe. Girona is a city Northern Catalonia in Spain. It's North of Barcelona, under the Pyrenees mountains and sits about 30k inland from the coast. It's known for such sights as the Cathedral Girona (Girona Cathedral), Old City and the Cal (13th Century Jewish Quarter), and incredible museums such as Museu d'Història de Girona, and also the stunning city views. The people are fantastic, and English is a common language amongst the locals. That aside, you get fantastic food, coffee, and plenty of places to go for incredible meals.
What does Girona offer cyclists?
One of the best things about Girona is the amount of amazing scenery that the region has to offer. It could be epic views of mountains or the city's beautiful scenery and its incredible architecture. It's one of the best road cycling destinations in Europe and cycling routes in Girona are some of the best in the in the world, we can see why cycling holidays in Girona have become so popular.
What many people don't know is how incredible it is for a cycling trip. It got huge when Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie moved here around 2000 from Nice, France, and it had a significant impact on the region, and shortly after, Girona was flooded with famous cyclists. It's common to catch a few pro tour riders hanging out at the coffee shops throughout the day. Over the recent years, it has become not just a place for professional cyclists to spend time but also for recreational cyclists.
What are the roads like?
The roads are quiet, and cyclists generally get a lot of respect while riding, there are challenging climbs, and the roads are smooth and very well maintained. The region itself offers so much, from hilly mountain rides to easy flat spins to the coast. The city itself is full of bike shops and full of local cycling clubs. It's a cycling mecca to suit all riding styles. What also makes it even better is having Girona airport right in the city to fly into. What's not to like?
Our Favourite Routes in Girona
Hints & Tips for Cycling in Girona
Off the Bike
Why Love Velo?
Best Cycling Routes
Girona has endless amounts of options when it comes to cycling routes, and finding the best cycling routes in Girona can be very challenging. We have some incredible routes that we highly recommend to give you the best cycling in the region. We will give a short overview of each route. You can click through for a more detailed report if you wish to.
The Rocacorba Climb
From Girona, you will head west and towards the famous Rocacorba climb. Rocacorba is a road that was virtually unheard of until about 2006. Radio masts sit at the top, so other than a few engineers and hand gliders, nobody climbed the dirt path up to Rocacorba. Rumours abound that Lance Armstrong had the road paved, but what is true is that Girona resident David Millar formed the Velo Club Rocacorba and the influx of professional teams to Girona grew the legend of the climb.
The climb starts at the low stone bridge, which is 10.1km to the top (although there's a 3.8km drag before that). From there, it's a grind to the top averaging 6.5% but with ramps of up to 15%. The white painted line marks the end of the climb, at which point get onto Strava and check out how you compare to the who's who of cycling!
The Els Angels Loop
If you choose to ride the Els Angels route from Girona, the route is only 63.7km but manages to fit in over 1,000m of climbing, so it's a good acclimatisation ride. You will head east out of Girona before immediately starting to climb Els Angels. The climb is a category 2 climb averaging 3%, but stretching out over 10km. You will pass by the metal cross a couple of hundred metres from the summit of the climb, before dropping down on a descent towards Bisbal d'Emporda. You won't quite reach the town before looping back up towards the church at Mateu de Montnegre, which is surrounded by stunning fresh forests. From there, you will drop back towards Girona before the relatively busy road back into town.
Girona to Olot
Any ride from Girona to Olot and back is a tough day in the saddle with just under 135km with a total climb of over 2,300m. Your ride heads past Lake Banyoles and into the Garrotxa region famous for its extinct volcanoes and medieval towns. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Olot which has stunning views over the surrounding countryside if you choose to climb the Montsacopa Volcano. Enjoy a coffee in the square and refuel well as your return journey takes in the legendary Rocacorba on your way home.
Loop of Lake Banyoles
This ride is lumpy. It has no major climbs but plenty of undulations and a few tough ramps between 7% and 9%. The ride takes you on the busy road out of Girona and comes off it as soon as possible, just before Medinya, heading north towards Orfes. The route winds through the forest, popping out on flatter plains here and there but without any real flat sections. You will then loop around towards Esponella where the route climbs up to 225m, so nothing too difficult, before the ride heads south towards Banyoles and the magnificent natural lake. Take a stop by the water's edge of grab a coffee in town before another 20km through the forests and back in to Girona.
Road Cycling in Girona
There are certain things that make a cycling destination just epic, and road cycling in GironaWhy Go Road Cycling in Girona? ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to this epic checklist. We can see why so many cyclists, recreational or professional, favour Girona over other cycling destinations. Cycling routes in Girona are just on another level.
One thing that is absolutely incredible about Girona is that there's so little traffic outside the city centre. Many of the Pros say when you have got out of the city and into the small mountain roads, you can see as few as 10 cars on a long ride of about 4 hours. As cycling grows and the roads get busier many people crave to be able to cycle on quiet roads and be away from cars. You don't have to be on a mountain bike or a gravel bike to get a quiet ride in Girona.
Great Road Users
Cycling in other countries can sometimes be a very different experience from cycling at home. You never really know how locals feel about cycling, and you never know how you're going to be treated. Girona locals are incredibly respectful of cyclists, and they are known for being very patient and giving cyclists a lot of space when riding. This is such a nice feeling and gives you such a lovely sense of security.
Girona has some fantastic roads. Typically you find with roads that are pretty traffic free, and you tend not to see them as well maintained as a road that sees heavy traffic. This isn't the case in Girona. The roads are silky smooth, well looked after, and not a puncture waiting to happen. You are not riding on glass ridden cycle paths, your on beautiful smooth roads with nice grippy tarmac.
You have amazing mountain views from the top of the Rocacorba climb, the beautiful medieval towns around Lake Banyoles, and the stunning coastal riding of the Costa brava region. If there's one thing that makes cycling in Girona so special, it's everything you have to look at.
Great Food and Drink
The Spanish region where Girona sits is known for incredible gastronomy so you are spoilt for choice here. With all the calories you are burning cycling, you can go crazy and try a bit of everything. Then we have the coffee. If you are part of the espresso mafia and your cycling holiday requires excellent coffee, you're coming to the right place.
It's Not Just Road Riding
Girona isn't just road riding. It's a cycling paradise for mountain bikes and gravel bikes. As far as bike rental goes, there are many places near the city center for bike hire. We do think Girona is excellent for all types of cycling.
It's where the Pros Roam
Pro cyclists have an incredible job, and they must have many stories to tell from the road. Going to a place that is favoured by professional cyclists means there's a chance of seeing them or even bumping into them at a coffee shop. The only place you might not want to see them is on a climb. Apparently, they are very quick. A very famous resident of the region is former pro David Millar, and one of his favourite rides is the Rocacorba climb.
There's nothing like a big cycling climb. The work you have to put into fighting your way up to the top and the reward of a lovely descent on the way down. In the region of Girona, you can get above 2000m in a vertical climb. That's hours worth of climbing and some absolutely incredible descending.
The weather on a cycling holiday in Girona is incredible, and it is an all year round cycling destination. It's not too cold in winter to cycle, and it doesn't get too hot in summer. If you want to escape for some great weather, Girona is typically always good enough for cycling. The lowest you will find the temperature is about 10 degrees, the highest about 30 degrees.
Tips For Cycling in Girona
Cycling in Girona is terrific, and like with any kind of travel, you face different challenges, and there are different rules and etiquette when it comes to the road. What are some top tips for cycling in Girona?
Follow the law
Spain has quite tight rules on road safety, and here's what you need to know for cycling in Spain.
- Never cycle against the flow of traffic
- Never cycle over 30kph in a cycle lane
- Do not cycle in a bus lane
- Do not use your phone when cycling
- Don't use headphones while cycling
- If cycling between dusk and dawn, you require lights
- Don't go over the speed limit
Making sure that you stick to these rules will help keep you safe and abiding by the Spanish regulations.
On a cycling holiday in Girona on the back roads, you can find yourself not finding a considerable amount of places for food and water at certain times of the day. I always recommend carrying plenty of food and water to ensure that you are adequately fuelled at all times. Also, having electrolytes with you will help when it gets hot.
Spain gives us beautiful weather, but you have to make sure you're protected from it. Carrying a small bottle of sunscreen goes a long way to stopping yourself get burnt. We all know when it comes to cycling, you catch the sun much faster than if you're walking around the city.
Carry Plenty of Spares
Although Girona is full of fantastic bike shops and you will find spares everywhere, you might struggle in the smaller villages. Make sure you have an essential spares kit to ensure that you will be able to continue if you have any issues. This is what we recommend;
- Tyre Levers
- Inner Tubes
- Gear Hanger
Learn some basic bicycle mechanics
Learning some basic mechanics will help so much when you're away cycling. Small jobs like changing an inner tube and taking the wheel on and off will go a long way in helping you while on the roads.
Always take cash and a card
It's always good to carry cash and a card around with you to ensure if you need anything, you will be able to get it. Some shops you might need don't have card machines in the smaller villages and will require cash, so we recommend taking both.
Things To Do Off the Bike in Girona
Cycling holidays don't have to be just eat sleep cycle repeat, you might want a rest day. It's about taking in the local culture and seeing some of the amazing sights the places you go have to offer. Girona has some incredible places to visit, and while bike breaks Girona are fun, we highly recommend visiting these places.
Girona Old Town
The old town is a beautiful place in Girona. Small razor sharp streets where historic buildings with so much charm surround you. It's easy to get lost as no path is straight, but that is what makes the old town so unique. It recently became very famous for the Escales de Sant Marti stairs in front of the Girona Cathedral that have been made very famous by the popular Game of Throne hit show.
How can you visit Girona without going to the legendary Girona Cathedral? As the case with quite a few churches in Spain, it would have been converted into a mosque when the Islamic Conquest happened and then returned to normal again later. The Cathedral is from the 11th century and features Gothic, Baroque, and Romanesque elements to it. If you're lucky enough to be there when it is open, you're in for a treat as it's beautiful inside and well worth a visit.
The Old City Walls
If you quite like a walk and want to see something spectacular, take a walk out to the old city walls. If you go to the Passeig de la Muralla, you will find a walkway there where you can walk on the walls, and you will get incredible views of the city and the mountains in the distance. It almost takes you back in time, and it can be a great way of just getting to grips with how the city is laid out and the magnitude of how beautiful this city is.
Museu del Cinema
One of the most famous museums in Girona is the museum of cinema. Here you can experience how films came to what they are today. From moving images to shadow theatre to eventually the cinemas we have today. It is a great way to spend a couple of hours and doesn't involve as much walking as the other attractions on this list.
Why Love Velo
Here at Love Velo, we aim to make it easy for you. When it comes to going away, cycling is challenging. You have so much more to think about than just your typical holiday. Here's why Love Velo can make it easy for you.
In all of our destinations we offer unrivalled bike rental, which is much easier to organise than bringing your own bike. Having a bike ready for you makes cycling holidays much more straightforward and it is how typically many cyclists tend to go now. All our road bikes are full carbon with Shimano Ultegra, but we can upgrade you to disc brakes and Di2 electronic gearing if required. We also offer e-bikes for both hybrid bikes and road bikes.
Not only will you be able to rent a bike, but we will provide you with spares so you are able to go out riding knowing that if you have any issues, they can be fixed with the goods you have in your pocket. This saves you having to source them in Girona or bring them out on the plane with you, although we recommend bringing a multi tool.
When it comes to accommodation, you should be comfortable and have an excellent place to stay. Unlike many other cycling holidays providers, we can provide pretty much any type of accommodation you require. From large hotels to boutique hotels, from countryside lodges to city centre hotels, we can offer whatever you require. All our hotels are bike friendly, and it will make the recovery after those epic rides easy.
With us here at Love Velo, we will give you the best routes of the local area around Girona so you can go and explore in confidence and know that you're getting some of the best roads available to you. These can be used on your phone, Garmin, and Wahoo Device. Not only do you get this, but we also advise you about great cafes to stop at along the way. It will give you a description of what to expect from the ride and great places to visit while in the area. You will be able to view this before you travel, so you can pick the routes beforehand and enjoy them when you get there.
Make An Enquiry
We hope you found our guide to cycling in Girona helpful. If you're looking to book your next Girona cycling holiday, make an enquiry with us today.