Bicycle touring is a brilliant way to discover Catalonia at your own pace. In recent decades, the number of routes has multiplied hugely and cycling experiences in the region continue to grow.
The network of cycle routes and secondary roads is so vast that on a single trip you can discover small bays on the Costa Brava, medieval villages and also travel along Pyrenean trails.
In particular, Catalonia’s ViesVerdes, or Greenways, offer an idyllic opportunity for everyone including those with reduced mobility or special requirements.
Greenways are disused transport infrastructures that have been redeveloped as cycling and walking trails for tourists. Most are former railway lines, and preserve original elements such as tunnels, bridges, tracks and stations. They are traffic-free, usually fairly flat and easily accessible, blending in with their natural surroundings.
What all have in common is that they are an unbeatable way to make the most of Catalonia’s nature, foo and wine and rich cultural heritage.
Greenways Costa Brava
There are plenty of places to explore on the Costa Brava and in the Pyrenees. The network of greenways goes through five comarques, or districts, some 30 towns and unique natural spaces such as the Pyrenees, the volcanic area of the Garrotxa, the Vall del Ter, the Deveses of Salt and Girona, the land near Les Gavarres and the Mediterranean coast. The 125km of greenways are divided into four stretches: The Iron and Coal Route from Ripoll to Olot, that carries echoes of the region’s industrial heritage, two old Narrow-Gauge Railway Routes – one from Olot-Girona, the other from Girona-Sant Feliu de Guíxols – and the Little Train Route from Palamós-Palafrugell. Pack your tent or stay in the tourist accommodation you’ll find along the way. You can do your own thing or go on an organised tour, with a support vehicle.
The Middle Ages by bike
This 103km route is an enthralling journey into Catalonia’s past. Starting from the centre of Girona, you ride through Les Gavarres with your sights set on the Baix Empordà Plain and its mediaeval villages such as Púbol, La Pera, Monells or Peratallada. Here time seems to stand still and you will want to enjoy the more gentle pedalling and soak up the atmosphere, before the route finishes back in Girona.
Greenways Terres de L’Ebre
Terres de l’Ebre, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2013, is a relatively small area but is criss-crossed by more than 1,000km of backroads, lanes and paths. The 150km ‘Via Verda de la Val de Zafán’ is ideal for families to cycle together. The same can be said for parts of the Camí Natural de l’Ebre. Themed rides include excursions to orchards and vineyards.
Delta de l’Ebre
The Ebre Delta Protected Area has cycle routes galore, covering more than 200 km of the most important wetland in the Med. This is the perfect place for family cycle rides, even with very small children. It is one of the loveliest areas in Catalonia, and is a paradise for wildlife – you don’t need to be a birdwatcher to be impressed by the sight of flamingos in the wild.
Penedes 360 (Costa Barcelona)
Penedès is a wine-making area, famous for its cava (sparkling wines) with beautiful scenery, and trails for all levels. These can be combined with gastronomic pit-stops, wine tours or visits to cultural sites. The Penedes 360 are three circular routes, with the easiest called the Slow Bike route. This is laid-back cycling, through seas of vineyards.
For more info, go to catalunya.com