Girona gets you hooked. The cultural richness of the capital, the charm of several of its villages, the symbiosis between artists and landscape, with Figueres, Cadaqués and Dalí as key roles, the tranquility that one breathes, the quality of the cuisine... the sports outdoors. Girona has become a region particularly suitable to welcoming many cyclists and triathletes who have fallen in love with its waters, its roads and its paths, ideal for swimming, cycling and running according to taste. Are you curious about this cycling destination?
There are so many reasons to choose Girona as a cycling destination that you could almost write a book about it. A large number of athletes have passed through this Catalan province, which has some of the most complete routes, with sea and mountain landscapes that have captivated more than one professional. From triathlete Jan Frodeno to ousted Lance Armstrong, hundreds of professional athletes have lived or still live in Girona, bewitched of the endless sport possibilities, with a particular focus on cycling and triathlon.
The roads in good condition, the excellent connectivity, the variety of climbs, the heritage value, the beauty of the landscapes of Empordà, Gavarres or the Catalan Pyrenees, the power of the sea of the Costa Brava, the select gastronomy in the extreme care of the product, cafeterias with a cycling atmosphere or accommodations certified for cyclists are just some of the many reasons why it is worth visiting Girona to discover some of its great routes, by bike on road, gravel or MTB.
March to May and October to November are generally the best months for cycling in Girona. Likewise, if we enter the Pyrenean section of the province, its temperature also allows us to cycle during the months of June and September.
The quantity and quality of possible routes in Girona make it difficult to recommend a specific area where to stay and cycle. It is clear that Girona is home to a growing cycling culture, as evidenced by the various town center accommodations, bike cafes and bike shops that are popping up in the area. In addition, from the center of Girona you will find a few kilometers with climbs very frequented by cyclists and roads to enjoy a multitude of routes. If high mountains is your thing, and you venture into the Pyrenees area of Girona, then the iconic climbs like Vallter 2000 are definitely yours. And if you want to enjoy your cycling holidays surrounded by a landscape of sea and mountains, the Costa Brava is home to some sites linked to iconic ascents in the Catalan province. This is the information, yours are the conclusions.
Located in Palfrugell, the Aparthotel Arrels d'Empordà**** owns 49 apartments with a max capacity of up to 6 people. They offer large spaces with a kitchen-living-dining room, with everything you need to prepare a great breakfast before starting our bike route. In addition, its own Cycling Center with video surveillance, where guests can store, clean and repair bikes with the greatest of comforts.
It also has a cozy pool on the first floor, and its cafeteria service is open from 8:00 am to 11.30 pm, with half board and picnic service.
Hotel Ciutat de Girona, located in the center, is a specialized hotel for cyclists with the Cycling Friendly Silver certificate. It is an ideal hotel for those who want to discover Girona by bike while enjoying the urban atmosphere of this historic city. It owns a gym, a tool shop and ample bicycle parking. They also offer laundry service for sportswear, a virtual spinning room with directed classes, recovery massages and exclusive menus for athletes at the Blanco Restaurant.
Mas de Torrent Hotel & Spa is a country house with history. Dating from the 18th century, this five-star boutique hotel breathes tranquility on all four sides. Its 39 suites and its location in Torrent, on the Costa Brava, leads us to enjoy the extensive gardens and the majestic views of the Empordà. The restaurant is run by the well-known chef Ramón Freixa, where we can taste anything from sticky Pals rice to duck cannelloni with roasted garlic and mushroom bechamel. Whatever you ask for, nothing will leave you indifferent.
It also has a Spa with heated pool, 4 treatment rooms, dry sauna and hammam, water circuit, fitness and rooms for many activities. And of course, it has its own cycling center to get your bike ready.
Located in the heart of the Costa Brava North, by the sea and facing Canyelles Petites beach, Hotel Canyelles Platja has spacious rooms equipped with everything you need. They also have a pool, a gym and a small Cycling Center to prepare the bike. From here we can make routes to emblematic places such as Sant Pere de Rodes, the Darnius reservoir or the Coll de Banyuls.
Hotel Carlemany, a large hotel opened in 1994, is located in the heart of Girona. It has a Cycling Center for up to 40 bicycles, with repair tools and a washing station. The hotel has 90 spacious rooms in an avant-garde style. It also has two restaurants and a cafeteria. One of the hotel's restaurants, Pati Verd, is listed in the Michelin guide as a recommended restaurant.
If you are looking for a coastal hotel to start your cycling routes in Girona, the Hotel GHT Neptuno is a budget option for everyone. It is located in Tossa de Mar, very close to the beach and the ruins of the Roman village of Los Ametllers, dated between the 1st and 5th centuries AD. It has a large garden with pool and hot water jacuzzi. In addition a Cycling Center with capacity for 15 bikes, to get the bike tuned up.
Lloret de Mar gave birth in 2021 to l'Azure Hotel, a perfect hotel for cyclists and triathletes, certified by the Catalan Tourism Agency and with our Cycling Friendly Silver seal, with a perfect bike station to store the bicycle, as well as lockers and a washing station. Inside the hotel, in addition to its comfortable rooms, there is a spa, heated pool and a pool located on the hotel terrace to enjoy panorama views of the Mediterranean Bay. From l'Azure Hotel we start routes through les Gavarres, la Bisbal de l'Empordà or even take the opportunity to sign up for the Gran Fondo Lloret-Costa Brava, starting in the same town.
If you are one of those who prefer to enjoy a holiday in a more intimate place to stay, you can find several holiday homes in Girona.
One of the best options available is on the Costa Brava, between Lloret and Tossa de Mar, where you will find different apartments in El Trull. Availability of vacation homes for ciclistas such as Villa els Avis, Villa Montané or Villa s'Ermita, all of them equipped with a private pool, large gardens, space for bicycle storage and maintenance, and the possibility of staying at any time of the year, whether for short, medium or long term rentals.
If you are looking for an accommodation option closer to the capital, you can find your ideal place to stay in MasFerran. It is a typical Catalan farmhouse located on an estate that guarantees an almost spiritual tranquillity. Located in Sant Gregori, just 4 km from the capital of Girona, and connected to a multitude of MTB and road routes. This farmhouse has 10 en-suite double bedrooms, lounches, dining room, equipped kitchen, laundry room, terrace, pool and even a tennis court (in case your bike rides aren't enough). It also has a small gym with sauna and a workshop to store and repair the bicycle.
It is recommended to do this route in two stages, but if you are daring and have the legs of a professional peloton runner, one stage may be enough.
It is a very Dalinian route, in a first stage of 93 km from Figueres, through the Aiguamolls Natural Park. With climbs that are not too demanding, but with constant ascents and descents. Once past this section, we head towards Cadaqués and on to Cap de Creus, from which we can contemplate the vastness of the Costa Brava.
The great challenge of the first stage will be the ascent to Sant Pere de Rodes from Port de la Selva, a point where we can enjoy amazing panoramic views. Once saved this view in our minds, it's time to descend towards Vilajuïga and then on to Llançà, from where we finish our first day of the route.
On the second day, we will return to Figueres, but on a different route, 114 km long and with a drop of 2,303 m. Many perfect short climbs that are usually used for training and the most demanding, Banyuls, will involve facing some slopes over 20%. We will enjoy our passage through the interior of the province of Girona, through the Jonquera lakes, the Vajol slopes and the Bassegoda summit shining in the landscape of the route. The final part of the route will allow us to enjoy the Alta Garrotxa before turning to the Empordà in the direction of Figueres.
If we want to do a route of medium difficulty, one of the proposals we make is the one from Ardenya to the Gavarres area. 132 km of well-paved roads with a positive slope of 2,471 meters. Apart from the section of the busy Sant Grau climb, the route does not have highly demanding slopes. We can also enjoy the charm of the ascent to Santa Pellaia through Cassa de la Selva, a 4.5 km climb and an average of 4.3%.
If you love adding kilometers, it is a great route!
Do you dare to climb Vallter? It is one of the most demanding and unmissable climbs in Girona. Part of Volta a Catalunya on several occasions. The last one was for Adam Yates, who crowned this high peak in 2021.
On this route we propose a circular route starting from Castellfollit de la Roca. 120 km with a slope of 2,518 km on a fairly demanding stage.
We leave towards Oix, with a first climb, up to Beget, short but demanding, where we will find this charming town. From here we move towards the Coll de Rocabruna to then reach Camprodón. Once in Camprodón we take the GIV5264 towards Setcases, from which we will have to face the demanding ascent towards Vallter: 12 km at 7.2% average and 1,100 m of altimetry.
If you pass this demanding test, it will be time to go down the same route to Campródón and then to Sant Pau de Segúries. We will pass by the Coll de Capsacosta, from where we will begin a long descent towards Olot before returning to our starting point: Castellfollit de la Roca.
If you already get dizzy reading this, better try another more affordable route.
This is another high altitude route. 102 km with two of the most iconic climbs in Girona: Mare de Déu del Món and Rocacorba. Two first-class climbs, the first of 18 km at 5.2% average and the second of 13 km at 6% average. However, the spectacular nature of both climbs makes them a worthwhile route if you have the legs and motivation of a climber.
Since we've mentioned Rocacorba before, we couldn't resist adding it to the climbs in Girona. This climb at Banyoles has become one of the most popular among cyclists. That figures like Jan Frodeno, Rohan Dennis or Cameron Wurf have been there more than once is a good indicator. This climb takes its name from the sanctuary located just before the summit. As we mentioned before, 13 km with a drop of 798 m and an average of 6%, with maximum gradients of 15% and with two kilometers in particular slightly more difficult than the rest, with an average of 10%.
Apart from being an uncrowded mountain pass, the popularity of the climb lies in its proximity to the center of Girona, just 20km north of the capital. Although at first it may seem like a bit of a long climb, it must be said that the first 3 kilometers have practically no slope, and many people attribute this third kilometer as the starting point of the ascent.
The ascent is very well marked, with indications every km, which is rather unusual. Although the road is narrow and there are some cracked sections in the last mile, it is not one of the most wheel-catching terrains. The summit has 360º views of those one would love to contemplate for hours.
Although it is not a hard climb at first glance if we look at the numbers, it does have a fairly tough first part. In fact, until we reach km 6 of the 8.8 km, the average is 7%. However, once you have passed this part, the last few kilometres are a mere formality. At the top of Sant Pere de Rodes you will come across one of the most emblematic Benedictine-Romanesque monasteries in the Alt Empordà, a real architectural treasure.
Mare de Deú del Mont is a climb that should not be laughed at. Very technical sections and starting from Hostal d'en Vilar, more than 18 km and a positive slope of 957 m. The average 5% incline may not be scary, but the length of the climb will make your legs feel heavy. The advantage is that it is clearly divisible into two sections. The first section up to the eighth km is a very gentle climb, with an average gradient of around 3.5%. From there, the fun is over (or begins, depending on how you look at it).
Between km 8 and 14 there is an average slope of 8% that will put us to the test. With our legs about to explode we will pass km 14 and we will think that everything is done, but NO. There is still a powerful finish from km 16 onwards, with averages 8.9% and 9.6% respectively. A finish that will leave us breathless and for which we will need a good dose of coffee at the bar at the top. And to breathe fresh air. Enjoying some views that we will have earned ...
Another of Girona's must-do climbs is Turó de l'Home. It is also a long ascent: leaving from Arbúcies, 25.6 km and a positive slope of 1,495 m. The average slope is 5.9% and in some sections there are ramps of around 15%. The last 6 kilometers are the hardest, averaging around 7%. It must be said that the state of the road is not in the best conditions in some sections, something that makes the ascent very hard and the descent should be taken with great caution.
We have previously recommended a route that ascended to Vallter 2000, so it was time to include this climb among the recommended ones. Its characteristic stamp with the horseshoe curves in the final kilometers makes it a very photographed climb. Reminder: it is not for everyone.
Leaving from Setcases we must face 12 km with an average of 12% and a slope of 1,100 m. A mountain pass without pause or respite, with the lowest average km at 6.3%, which in itself is a clear reflection of the challenge that its ascent entails. Its summit is located at more than 2,100 m, a height to be well equipped if you dare to climb it in the winter months. The road, unlike Turó de l'Home, is in fairly good condition.
When it comes to top cycling events, the Pirinexus Challenge is definitely one of them. With a time limit set at 18 hours, participants wishing to take up this challenge will have to face 340 km with more than 3,000 m positive slope. A challenge in which they will cross the counties of Girona, following the Ter route to the Colomers dam, from which they will start the ascent to les Gavarres, with unique views of the Gironès and the Empordà.
Marxa 3 Nacions cycling tour is one of the longest in Girona. Sponsored by the famous cyclist José Hermida, This event created in 1979 has over 40 years of history. An event in which, as the name suggests, covers 3 nations in about 140 km: Spain, France and Andorra. It is a unique way of getting to know the Pyrenees, passing through Puigcerdà, Alp, la Seu, Encamp, Andorra la Vella, Coll Puymorent or Tour de Carol. A circular route very well put together and well organized.
The Girona MTB Challenge is one of the great Catalan MTB festivals. 3 days of pure MTB during which enthusiasts of this discipline cycle through some of the most spectacular terrain. Nearly 200 km of exciting routes in which participants accumulate nearly 4,000 m of positive slope.
During the month of September, what can be considered the great bicycle event in Spain, usually takes place each year: the Sea Otter Europe. For several days, events, activities and companies from the cycling sector meets to create a small micro-world full of cycling lovers in Girona.
Within the Sea Otter Europe, the Continental Ciclobrava is usually held, a cycling event with 3 distances (70, 100 and 140 km respectively) that serves as the climax of this festival. The route usually starts at the gates of the Sea Otter, on the Paseo de la Devesa, through climbs such as Sant Grau d'Ardenya, Romanyà, Ganga or Montjuic.
A new event that will certainly grow in the coming years, the Ciclovolta, a cycling event that was born under the wings of the centenary of the Volta a Catalunya in 2021. This 157 km route starts in Camprodón and ends in Vallter, past towns as Ripoll, Coll de Canes, Castellfollit de la Roca, Port d'Oix, Por de Rocabruna or Setcases. Highlighting Vallter, which we have already told you about, reminds us of the victories achieved by most of the pros in some editions of both the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta a España.
La Fábrica, a spot born from the love of Amber and Christian Meier (former professional cyclist) for Girona and coffee. A space with a cycling atmosphere and attention to detail that offers quality products in the preparation of coffee. Offering a range of juices, toast, bagels, waffles and other sweet treats, with a highly recommended brunch.
Espresso Mafia also emerged from the creators of La Fábrica, another very welcoming spot located in the historic center of the city of Girona whose objective is to offer excellent quality coffee. This is where the coffee served at both Espresso Mafia and La Fábrica is roasted. For great gourmets.
La Comuna, owned by triathlete couple Emma Snowsill and Jan Frodeno, could not be missing from the group of recommended cafés. With its interior design by Lara Pujol, this space is made up of four naves linked by vaulted terracotta ceilings and thick stone walls and regularly welcomes cyclists staying in the centre of Girona. It offers an interesting range of healthy food, a 10-star coffee and a welcoming atmosphere.
Eat, Sleep, Cycle has a bicycle shop in the heart of Girona. One fine day they felt that it was not enough and they also wanted to set up a cafeteria, for which they created crowdfunding which raised just over 30,000 euros. The result: a restaurant-cafeteria with a varied menu and very complete breakfast options. Of course, high quality coffee, even if it is not home brewed as is the case with the Factory and Espresso Mafia.
We finish the list of recommended coffee shops with the Federal Café, a place combining Australian and Catalan culture in its gastronomy. This spot, designed by former Movistar cyclist Rory Sutherland together with his partner Charles Harris-Inman, offers breakfast and brunch, ideal to start our cycling route.
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