Guides to Cycling in Spain & Southern France

On this page you can find links to several detailed guides that we have written about cycling in Spain and Southern France. This is just some of the information that we have learned during our many years of running cycling holidays in the region - which is undoubtedly one of the best for riding in the world!

Browse through the list below, or click on the quick links if you want to see what we have written about a particular region.




Basque Country & Rioja

The Best Spanish Wine Regions for Cycling

Spain is a fine country for many things; but near to the top of the list have to be cycling and wine. Here we take a look at how you can best combine these two great things to make for a great cycling holiday through wine country!

We highlight Spain's best wine regions for cycling and give an example route through each of them.

Whether the Cava countryside of Catalonia, the Sherry region of Andalucia and the rolling roads of Rioja, there are great rides to be found throughout Spain's vineyards.

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Rioja Vineyards

Complete Guide to Cycling in Rioja

The Rioja region in northern Spain has long been known for excellent wines, particularly its aged reds. In the last few years, similarly to many other of Europe's great wine regions, such as Tuscany or Provence, Rioja has also been transforming itself into a boutique tourist destination.

And like similar regions in France and Italy, there is a focus not only on wine tastings, but also on highlighting the diverse history of the region and the opportunities for active tourism.

One of the great things about Rioja is that it offers fantastic options for travellers, but is still relatively quiet and does not suffer at all from the effects of over-tourism.

Find out more about the best cycling routes, the vineyards and the rich culture of the region in our guide for cyclists.

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Complete Guide to Cycling in Rioja

Cycling in the Basque Country

The Basque Country is arguably the best region for cycling in Spain. It has something for everybody; beautiful countryside, interesting towns and arguably the finest gastronomy in the world.

The region is mostly situated in Northern Spain and forms a triangle around its three largest cities - Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is the traditional heartland of cycling in Spain; home to the famous bike manufacturers Orbea and BH, as well as the Tour of the Basque Country professional race. The region is largely hilly, but a cyclist can easily choose between gently rolling routes and more challenging climbs.

This is an indepth guide to cycling in the region, with information about the terrain, the best towns, Basque culture and some of the finest cycling routes.

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Basque Country Cycling

Mallorca

The Best Cycling Routes in Mallorca

Mallorca is well known as one of the best destinations in the world for road cycling. Its perfect road surfaces, variable terrain and warm year round weather has attracted many cyclists. For those of you who are thinking about going, or perhaps have just arrived in Mallorca, here are what we consider to be the ten best rides on the island. As a cycling company that has organized many cycling tours around various parts of the island, we would like to share our favourites. A little knowledge and preparation is vital before a cycling trip to Mallorca, as the roads in some areas are busy and not so enjoyable for cycling. There are routes here to suit cyclists of all different levels.

Here we look at ten of the best cycling routes on the island, including some of the most famous as well as some lesser known routes for you to discover.

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Best Cycling Routes in Mallorca

Mallorca's Lesser Known Cycling Routes

Following on from our review of the The Best Cycling Routes in Mallorca, we would like to offer a further ten great rides which explore lesser known parts of the island. Many cyclists come back to Mallorca several times, lured by its superb cycling terrain, quiet roads and good year-round weather. However, rather than cycling Sa Calobra or Cap de Formentor for the fifth time (enjoyable as it is!), why not consider one of these excellent alternative rides?

Likewise, if you are the kind of rider who likes to go away from the (cycling) crowd, you may be more tempted to try these relatively undiscovered rides, rather than the more famous routes. Several of these routes are used on our Mountains of Mallorca and Rural Mallorca cycling holidays, and they have been proved to be extremely popular options.

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Mallorca Secret Routes

A Cyclists Guide to the Villages of Mallorca

Mallorca is an island with several faces. Many people know it as a land of package holidays and beach resorts or for the marina and history of Palma - the capital. Cyclists and walkers may be familiar with the beautiful Tramuntana Mountains in the north of the island - one of the finest destinations for a hilly cycling holiday in all of Europe.

However, lesser known are the historic villages of inland Mallorca. In many ways these represent traditional Mallorca and it is a shame in some ways that they are over-looked by the vast majority of visitors to the island. However, on the other side the relative lack of visitors allows them to retain a sense of isolation and history which makes them so enthralling.

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A Cyclists Guide to the Villages of Mallorca

Sa Calobra - The Toughest Climb in Mallorca

Mallorca is home to several superb mountainous routes. From the undulating Cap de Formentor, to the technical Coll de Soller, it is a dream for cyclists that enjoy climbing and wish to test themselves.

There is, however, one climb which stands above the rest (the painfully steep but poorly surfaced Sobremunt notwithstanding). For both its beauty and the challenge that it poses, the climb from Sa Calobra into the heart of the Tramuntana mountains is rightfully the most revered in Mallorca. Find out why it is such a beautiful climb and why it is so popular with cyclists from around the world...

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Sa Calobra - The Toughest Climb in Mallorca

When to Visit Mallorca for a Cycling Holiday

The weather in Mallorca is suitable for cycling throughout the year and many cyclists do visit in every month. Here we look at what to expect in each season:

Winter is when the professionals come to Mallorca to get in their base miles and do some warm weather training before the start of their season. If you come in January and February you will see large groups of kitted out professionals zipping along the great roads surfaces...

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When to Visit Mallorca for a Cycling Holiday

The Best and Worst Bases in Mallorca for a Cycling Holiday

If you have never been to Mallorca, you may be vaguely aware of its rather unfair reputation as a cheap and cheerless package holiday destination. While there are indeed several bloated resort towns dotted around the coast, there are also some of the most charming villages and most spectacular cycling scenery in all of Europe.

Mallorca was ahead of its time as a holiday destination, attracting northern Europeans to its shores for their summer holiday well before all inclusive overseas holidays had become common place. Today, however, these resort towns are somewhat tired and almost feel like a different country from the rest of the island, which boasts fantastic natural landscapes and a culture that is noticeable unique from mainland Spain.

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Mallorca Best Cycling Bases

The French Pyrenees

The Top 20 Cycling Climbs in the Pyrenees

There are literally hundreds of excellent cycling climbs in the Pyrenees. So trying to narrow it down to just the top 20 is a pretty thankless task. However, we have done just that to provide our definitive guide to the best climbs in the Pyrenees

Take a look at the climbs that we have chosen, and let us know if you agree, or if you think there is something more deserving of a place on the list!

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Best Climbs in the Pyrenees

The Best Places for Cycling in The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are a vast mountain range, stretching over 400km from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea and spanning three countries. Because of their size it can be quite daunting when planning a cycling holiday to the area. Without knowledge of the area, it can be difficult to know where to base yourself, where the best climbs are and which areas are generally the most enjoyable for cycling.

It may come as somewhat of a surprise for us to say this, as a Spanish based company, but the French Pyrenees are by far the best for cycling. In France there are more climbs, less traffic, the most famous cols and better facilities for cyclists than in the Spanish Pyrenees. That is not to say that the Spanish Pyrenees and Andorra are bad for cycling - because they're not, they are amazing - but the French Pyrenees are just even better.

Here you can find our analysis of all the main road cycling areas for all three countries:

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The Best Places for Cycling in The Pyrenees

Cycling Luz Ardiden - The Beautiful Climb

Luz Ardiden is, without doubt, one of the most spectacular climbs in the Pyrenees. It is a favourite of cyclists due to its picturesque scenery and excellent location towering above the village of Luz Saint Sauveur.

Somewhat surprisingly given its reputation, Luz Ardiden is a relative newcomer to the Tour de France, having first been ridden in 1985. Since then it has been ridden a further seven times, with the most recent being Samuel Sanchez's impressive stage win in 2011.

Unlike the famous cols in the area, notably Aubisque and Tourmlaet, Luz Ardiden is a dead end, so is always the finish to a stage. It is an 'hors categorie' climb, ranking it alongside the most difficult in the Tour; although, having ridden it several times, it certainly is not as punishing as neighbouring Tourmalet or Hautacam...

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Luz Ardiden

Col du Tourmalet - Cycling the Legendary Climb

The anticipation rises as you turn left into Luz-Saint Sauveur. The beautiful Luz Ardiden looms imperiously to your right, but it will have to wait - you have bigger things on your mind. You pass the congregation of cyclists in the town square - an excited chattering of different languages about to converge on their Mecca.

As you loop to your left you catch a glimpse of the small white sign detailing the 19km that stand between you and the greats of cycling. The kilometres begin to fly by; the excitement and adrenaline in following in the tracks of Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx act like a strong tailwind ushering you along the tree lined lanes....

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Col du Tourmalet

Col d'Aubisque - One of Cycling's Great Climbs

Tourmalet is generally recognised as the star of the Pyrenees and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of our cycling holiday to the region. It is the highest pass, arguably the toughest climb and has been featured in more Tour de France stages than any other mountain.

However, situated across the Gave de Pau valley is probably, at the same time, the most beautiful and the most inhospitable climb in the Pyrenees - the Col d'Aubisque. Unlike Tourmalet and the other notorious climbs in this part of the Pyrenees, such as Luz Ardiden and Hautacam, the Aubisque is rarely a decisive part of the Tour de France route.

It has been featured over sixty times, yet is nearly always a transition from the western to the central Pyrenees. For a touring cyclist, however, it offers arguably the finest views in the Pyrenees and is, without doubt, one of the most satisfying mountains to climb.

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Col d'Aubisque

Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago - A Guide to Cycling the Camino Frances

The Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) is one of the most popular routes for walking and cycling in Europe. It attracts pilgrims, those wishing to challenge themselves, and people who just want to admire the fantastic scenery that Spain has to offer.

There are many resources where you can find details about the Camino de Santiago: the history of the different routes, the places of interest and detailed route descriptions. In this section, therefore, we will not repeat all of this information; rather, we will offer our personal recommendations and opinion about the different routes.

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Camino de Santiago Guide

Cycling in Leon, Spain

Leon was founded as a military town by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. It is the capital of the Leon province in the north of Spain, and is one of the most important cities in this region.

The most identifiable part of Leon is the vast Gothic cathedral that overlooks the centre. However, there is a wide variety of other historical architecture in the city; from the Medieval wall that rings part of the centre, to the neogothic Casa de Botines - an intriguing building designed by Antoni Gaudi...

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Leon Plaza Mayor Cycling Routes

Tenerife

The Best Places to Cycle in Tenerife



Tenerife is also popular for people who just enjoy cycling, and do not want to go on a training holiday. It has perfect temperatures for cycling throughout the year, relatively low traffic on many roads, and, most importantly of all, magnificent scenery throughout the island.

Here we look at our favourite places for cycling on Tenerife.

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Tenerife Best Cycling Routes

Tenerife - A Winter Cycling Paradise

In recent years Tenerife has become the most popular destination for the best professional cyclists to train during the winter. The best GC contenders in the world, including Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali have spent several weeks on the island in the past couple of years, taking advantage of the unique conditions that the island provides.

You don't have to be a professional cyclist though to reap the benefits of cycling in Tenerife. It is a cycling paradise for riders of all levels; the sub-tropical climate, the perfect road surfaces, high number of excellent climbs and the ability to ride for extended periods at high altitude throughout the winter, all make it an excellent training destination. In addition, Tenerife has beautiful scenery, largely centered around Mount Teide - a 3,700m high volcano that forms the centre point of the island...

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Tenerife Winter Cycling Guide

The Costa Blanca & Valencia

The Best Cycling Routes around the Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca and Alicante region is a great place for cycling and is a popular training base for professional cycling teams in the winter. It has a sunny and warm climate throughout the year and has superb mountains for cycling, offering a wide range of climbs of differing lengths and gradients.

The road surfaces are almost all fantastic and if you go to the right areas you will encounter very little traffic. In addition, the region is served by Alicante airport, which is linked to many European destinations.

A cycling holiday to this region does, however, take some planning and knowledge of the region as there are some areas that are less than ideal for riding. In this article you will find five of the best cycling routes, and also details of some of the areas that are best to avoid.

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Best Cycling Routes Costa Blanca

Segorbe - In The Heart Of Valencia's Cycling Country

Segorbe is a fairly small town situated around 70km to the north-west of Valencia in between two mountain ranges - the Sierra de Espadan to the north and the Sierra Calderona to the south.

It is one of the most historically important places in the Valencia region. Segorbe is believed to have first been inhabited in the Palaeolithic Age, and became an important town during the Visigoth rule of Spain. In the centuries since, Segorbe has been greatly influenced by different cultures which have left their mark on the town until today.

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Segorbe Cycling Routes

Rest of Spain

The 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Spain

This is the list of what we believe are the 100 best road cycling climbs in Spain. The climbs have been chosen based on a number of factors, including: scenery, difficulty, cycling history, amount of traffic and road surface.

The list has evaluated all climbs on the mainland as well as those in the popular cycling holiday destinations of Mallorca and Tenerife. Click on the name of the climb to see the profile and more details, and let us know whether you agree with our choices in the comments.

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The 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs in Spain

The Best Spanish Wine Regions for Cycling

Spain is a fine country for many things; but near to the top of the list have to be cycling and wine. Here we take a look at how you can best combine these two great things to make for a great cycling holiday through wine country!

We highlight Spain's best wine regions for cycling and give an example route through each of them.

Whether the Cava countryside of Catalonia, the Sherry region of Andalucia and the rolling roads of Rioja, there are great rides to be found throughout Spain's vineyards.

Click here to read more
Rioja Vineyards

The Winds of Spain: A Cyclist's Guide

Very little can make us more dispirited on a cycle tour than battling a head wind all day. The slow going, the noise and the discomfort can sap the motivation of the most hardy rider.

Conversely, there is very little more exhilarated than being carried along by a tail wind; particularly on flatter or rolling routes. Wind, for good and for bad, is a part of cycling and we have to deal with it all at some point, but if offered the choice, you would take the tail wind, wouldn't you?

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Predominant Wind Cycling in Spain

Cycling in the Picos de Europa Mountains

The Picos de Europa mountain range, situated in the Asturias and Cantabria regions in the north of Spain, is a designated National Park, a status which reflects both the natural beauty of the region and the diverse wildlife in the region. It is accessible from major cities including Gijón, Bilbao and Oviedo - all of which are also well connected to Madrid - making it quite convenient to get to despite how remote it can feel in parts of the park.

While the Pyrenees and the Alps are understandably among the most popular destinations for cyclists looking for a holiday in the mountains; the Picos de Europa deserves to be mentioned alongside the two great ranges as an excellent destination for cyclists...

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Picos de Europa

Almería - Spain's Secret Winter Cycling Destination

Spain is a great country for cycling during the winter months, with many professionals and amateurs enjoying the warm climate and excellent variety of terrain. Mallorca and Tenerife are rightly regarded as the standout regions, offering everything a cyclist could want.

However, the Almería is a great alternative for cyclists that wish to try something new - especially if you wish to avoid the mountainous areas of the islands.

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Almeria Winter Cycling

Alto del Angliru - The Toughest Climb in Spain

Angliru is one of the climbs that all cycling aficionados have to do. Along with the likes of Alpe d'Huez, Tourmalet and Passo Pordoi it has a mystique and reputation that stretches further than the mountain itself.

Angliru's infamy is based on the numerous steep ramps that you encounter on the final six kilometres of the climb. However, the incredible, almost unique scenery, and the near complete lack of cars makes it one of the most enjoyable as well as one of the most challenging of ascents.

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Angliru

Cycling in Salamanca, Spain

Salamanca is a city of around 200,000 people in the Castile y Leon region of the country. It came to prominence in Roman times and, by the 12th century, had become one of the most important cities on the Iberian peninsula. Around this time the old cathedral was built as well as the University of Salamanca, which soon became one of the most important universities in Europe.

Modern day Salamanca still boasts many of the historical buildings from this time, and the Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amongst the most impressive structures are several of the original university buildings, as well as many churches and convents of differing architectural styles.

The city is well known for its impressive historical sites; however, in this article we are more interested in the best cycle routes around the Salamanca region...

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Salamanca Cycling Guide
For further reading, check out our articles about the History and the Culture of Spain and Southern France. We also have some general guides to Cycle Touring.

And if you would like to visit some of these places in person without the stress of organising your own trip, we would be delighted if you would join us on one of our Cycle Holidays.