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With its rugged mountain passes, spectacular scenery and rich cultural and natural heritage, one of the best ways to explore Andorra is on two wheels. The country has a superb cycle network, with 200km of cycle routes and dedicated mountain trails, including 20 mountain passes – some nearly 2,500m above sea level.

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cyclotourisme andorralavella engolasters

As part of the country’s bike-friendly attitude all the passes are well signposted with helpful information as you climb, such as how many vertical metres to the top and the gradient for the next kilometre.

Log on to the Visit Andorra website for a guide to the 20 different itineraries that includes level of difficulty, length and the climb involved. Alternatively, download the free ‘Active Andorra’ app to have the routes on your phone.

If you prefer a little more flat – or if you fancy a blast along forested tracks – head for the beautiful Cortals Valley. A flat track halfway up the valley leads to the wonderfully scenic Engolasters Lake, from where a demanding 3km tarmac ascent from Engolasters follows part of the Vuelta Espana route, and climbs to mountain meadows where horse and cattle graze. At the top of the valley, there’s a rope-suspended bridge and an off-road descent followed by an exhilarating on-road switch-back descent to Encamp – a total of over 800m.

In the spring, the two main ski areas – Grandvalira and Vallnord – are transformed to offer thrilling downhill MTB routes, adventure and freeride circuits. Andorra’s two world-famous bike parks, Vallnord Bike Park and Bike Park Soldeu have miles of mountain bike routes at different levels. For bike-friendly places to stay, look out for the cycling symbol. As well as good-value accommodation you get secure bike storage, as well as a cleaning area and cycle-friendly picnics.

 

Park Life

Vallnord Bike Park

Location: Vallnord

Open: Jun-Sept

Bike rental: Yes

Trails: 13 - Easy 1 Moderate 5 Difficult 4 Pro 3

Family-friendly Vallnord Bike Park is a benchmark in the south of Europe for the quality of its facilities and circuits, with trails and descents for everyone from beginner to expert. With more than 1,000 metres of height difference, and 40 km of exhilarating downhill tracks, it regularly hosts international pro events.

The Park has downhill circuits, a wood park, cross country and four cross, in addition to a children’s wood park (from 6 to 10 years of age) and a bike trial area. It also has an excellent Mountain Bike school.

Vallnord Bike Park is in the Pal sector in Vallnord, accessible from La Massana on the cable car, or by highway CG-4 to Pal and then the CS420 to La Caubella.

vallnord.com

 

Bike Park Soldeu

Location: Soldeu, Grandvalira

Open: late Jun-Sept

Bike rental: Yes

Trails: 13 - Easy 3 Moderate 4 Difficult 3 Pro 3

The biggest bike park in the Pyrenees, Bike Park Soldeu has 13 downhill routes. These have a maximum length of 3km and range from an altitude of 2,450m to 1,800m, giving all bikers an experience suited to their level. The descents include the mythical Avet, the stage of the women’s alpine skiing world cup in 2012. There’s a mountain bike school with instructors and specialised guides to help you get the most out of the descents. The Bike Park has also different trails and levels of cross country, as well as a slopestyle track and a module circuit. There are two restaurants, a bike rental shop and a bike wash and repair point.

Bike Park Soldeu is in the Soldeu sector of Grandvalira, with access on the Soldeu cable car and the la Solana chairlift.

Soldeu Bike Park map

 

Five Cycle Routes

Andorra has 20 cycle routes graded from moderate to very difficult. All offer spectacular scenery, fascinating glimpses of the country’s heritage and some fantastic climbs made famous by the great cycle races of the Tour de France, Vuelta Espana and the Volta a Catalunya. Here are five to whet your appetite, for more detailed routes see the cycle touring and MTB section under ‘what to do’ on visitandorra.com.

 

Canillo – El Forn
Distance: 5.2km Elevation: 388m
Average gradient: 7.5% Difficulty: Moderate

One to get you warmed up, Andorra’s cycle route 1, starts in the centre of Canillo with a gentle gradient of 6.2%, and peaks at 9.9%. The route passes the pretty Romanesque church of St Miquel de Prats – a typical example of rural Andorran architecture – and ends in the El Forn sector of the Grandvalira ski resort.

 

Anyós - Collada de Beixalís
Distance: 8.7km Elevation: 594m
Average gradient: 6.8% Difficulty: Difficult

Cycle route 5 starts in humble surroundings on the roundabout on the CG-3 towards La Massana, which connects with the CS-310 to Anyos. It ends at the Collada de Beixalis. En route you pass the 12th century Church of Sant Cristofol d’Anyos and if the mood takes you, pop inside to see the gothic and Baroque murals.

 

El Serrat – Arcalís
Distance: 10.5km Elevation: 724m
Average gradient: 6.9% Difficulty: Very difficult

Andorra cycle route 7 starts at the Hotel Niunit in the village of El Serrat, and ends at the service area in Arcalís (2,229 metres). If that sounds less than inspiring, don’t be fooled. This is one of the most thrilling climbs in Andorra and its end point is a famous stage finish in the Tour de France, Vuelta Espana and the Volta a Catalunya. Before then check out the beautiful frescoes in Andorra’s largest Romanesque church of Sant Martí.

 

Sant Julia de Loria - La Peguera
Distance: 13.9km Elevation: 911m
Average gradient: 7.1% Difficulty: Difficult

Cycle route 13 starts with a testing gradient of 10%, but levels out to 6%. The route passes through the pretty village of Aixirivall and takes in the bordas of the forest of La Peguera. These old, traditional, Andorran houses were once used to store grain and livestock. These days, many of them have been turned into restaurants.

 

Pas de la Casa - Port d’Envalira
Distance: 4.9km Elevation: 319m
Average gradient: 6.5% Difficulty: Moderate

The last of the 20 routes starts in the centre of Pas de la Casa at 2,089 metres and climbs to Port d’Envalira (2,408 metres) along the CG-2. This mountain pass has been a stage in the big three cycle races, and it also wends its way through the ski resort area of Grandvalira – a big summer centre for mountain activities.