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A cyclist’s guide to the Costa Brava

In association with
8 Sep 2021

From the beautiful landscapes of the Pyrenees to Girona's cafe culture

The perfect combination of facilities, weather and terrain makes the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees region one of the best destinations for cycling. Here are some of the highlights of the region’s cycling landscape, key cycling events for amateur and pro cyclists alike, and places to visit and stay on your travels.

The cycling landscape

With year-round temperate weather, diverse terrain and beautiful scenery, the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees region provides a stunning backdrop for the cycling enthusiast. In just one ride you can explore vastly different landscapes, with culturally rich medieval Mediterranean towns nestled between quiet coves, imposing volcanoes and high-mountain passes in the Pyrenees.

Whatever your discipline and ability – road racer, casual cyclist or intrepid mountain biker – there’s a route for you. For a stunning coastal ride, where you can take in views of the breathtaking blue Mediterranean, you have the road route from Lloret-Tossa de Mar to Sant Feliu de Guíxols. For traffic-free cycling, there are more than 140 kilometres of greenways, passing through around thirty towns in the region.

These were once the train tracks that connected towns and industries in the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees. There’s plenty to offer by way of gravel riding too. The Pirinexus cycle loop spans 353 kilometres of greenways, rural tracks and quiet local roads, taking you through the Spanish and French Pyrenees in the Catalan region.

Girona’s cycling culture 

Girona has fast become one of the cycling capitals of the world. It’s a unique setting for bicycle aficionados that pairs the authenticity of local culture and historical roads, squares and alleyways to explore with a growing cycling community and sporting atmosphere. In many ways, enthusiast cycling culture and Girona’s local culture are inseparable, with many pro cyclists, including David Millar, Hannah and Alice Barnes and Kasia Niewiadoma, training in and making Girona their home, and many locals being brought up with a passion for cycling. 

One of the most famous and much-loved aspects of Girona’s cycling culture is its abundance of cycling cafes, many of which are run by professional cyclists from around the world. For example, specialty coffee shop La Fábrica and Girona's only in-house coffee roastery, Espresso Mafia, were set up by former pro-cyclist Christian Meier and his wife Amber. Federal Café in Girona’s old town is owned by Australian former professional road racer Rory Sutherland, and Hors Catégorie is owned by Dutch cyclist Robert Gesink. The La Comuna cafe and hotel is run by the triathlete couple Emma and Jan Frodeno, who both won triathlon gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Key cycling events around the Costa Brava

Whether you’re a pro or amateur enthusiast, you won’t be disappointed by the cycling events the Costa Brava region has to offer. Here are some of the top events in the calendar:

  • Sea Otter Europe Costa Brava-Girona Bike Festival – Launched in 2017 as an extension of one of the world's biggest bike festivals, California’s Sea Otter Classic, the Sea Otter Europe is one of the fastest-growing and most exciting events in Europe’s cycling calendar. The 2019 Sea Otter Europe saw 60,000 visitors, featured 190 stands from 500 brands, and boasted 6,100 participants in its races from 50 countries. The 2021 festival will run from 24-26 September.
  • The Traka Gravel series – With its combination of greenways, roads and rural tracks, Girona has a lot to offer gravel riding enthusiasts. And The Traka celebrates just that, with a weekend dedicated to racing on the best gravel routes in the region.
  • The Volta a Catalunya – The Volta a Catalunya is an annual road bike race and one of three World Tour stage races in Spain. The route starts at the coast on the Costa Brava and includes mountain sections in the Pyrenees.
  • La Tramun and Banyoles XCO Copa Catalana Internacional – If you want to experience something a little different, there are also plenty of mountain biking events that show off Girona’s impressive mountain biking territory. These include La Tramun Singletrack Marathon, which is an official test of the UCI MTB Marathon Series, and Banyoles XCO Copa Catalana Internacional, the event that starts the XCO's international calendar.
  • Catalunya Bike Race – This three-day individual mountain bike stage race is held in the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees. The 194km route winds its way through the stunning mountains, beginning and ending in historic Puigcerdà. The fourth Catalunya Bike Race will take place on 1-3 October 2021.

Planning your trip

Whether you’re planning a personal bike holiday or travelling as part of a club training camp, the popularity of cycling in the region means you’re not short of companies to help make your trip as easy as possible.

Many incoming travel agencies use the very best local knowledge and highly specialised services to come up with plans for cycling holidays for all levels of difficulty. Some of the top holiday companies include: Catalonia Bike Tours, Centre Biker Girona, Cicloturisme Tours, Eat Sleep Cycle, Girona Pro Sport, Trek and Ride and Zona BTT Pirineu Girona.

You can also enjoy accommodation designed specifically for cycling groups and individuals, with all the facilities and services to cater to the special needs of cyclists. For example specific garages for storing your bike, laundry services designed to protect specialist gear and access to physiotherapists and sports treatments.

As the world starts to open up, the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees region is a must-visit destination that should be on the bucket list for any cycling enthusiast. Get yourself back on your bike with a backdrop of beautiful coastline and mountains, and discover what one of the world’s cycling capitals has to offer.

Explore cycling in the Costa Brava