Home > Catalonia Bike and Beach
Costa Brava translates literally to "Wild Coast", which is exactly what you can expect from Catalonia's extraordinary rugged coastline. From traversing pristine sandy beaches to exploring small rocky coves, traveling over mountains, across plains, and through forests, this week you’ll discover the diverse terrain that Catalonia has to offer. Never farther than 40 km (25 miles) from the coast, this region provides the luxury of a dry and warm-to-hot climate where you can cycle year-round.
Catalonia is filled with natural parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, medieval villages, monasteries, castles, and scenery that have inspired some of the most talented artists and patrons throughout history. Catalonia’s most notable (relatively) recent admirers include Salvador Dalí, the surrealist painter whose house in Cadaques is open to visitors, Ferran Adrià, the acclaimed chef who opened the world-famous El Bulli, and several outstanding pro-cyclists, who have used this area as their training playground.
With history, art, natural wonders, and beaches, this trip has something for everyone! Once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why the area is so captivating. Even if you do decide to return home after our week-long trip, be assured you’ll want to take as much of it with you as possible!
For travel and cycling tips to Catalonia, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Located in Spain’s northeast corner, just an hour north of Barcelona and about 30 km (19 miles) from the coast, Girona is easily accessible by train, plane or car. Besides its accessibility, Girona makes an ideal city to start your tour because it typifies the regional diversity like no other city. Walking along the Roman ramparts, exploring the narrow cobblestone streets of the old Jewish Quarter, shopping the modern stores of the commercial streets, and marvelling at 12th century Moorish architecture, you’ll get a feel for mixed heritage that has influenced Catalonia throughout the ages. Your hotel is conveniently located in the incredibly well preserved downtown, near all major attractions including the Arab Baths, the Rambla de la Llibertat and the Cathedral.
Head southwest out of Girona to start your journey to the Mediterranean. The beginning of today’s route takes you over the Las Gavarres Mountains via the Els Angels pass, site of the mountain top monastery where Dalí was married. As you can see from the elevation profile below, it never gets very steep — it can be managed slowly and steadily at a low gear. Your efforts will be rewarded ten-fold with a beautiful panorama at the top and a smattering of pretty villages as you coast toward the sea. After rolling down the mountains, you make your way through many medieval villages, like Ullastret and Palau Sator. The route then winds through Empordà, finishing in the exclusive fishing village of Calella de Palafugell. Here, you can relax and enjoy a stroll between the Mediterranean Sea and the whitewashed houses of fishermen.
After enjoying breakfast, you will begin a ride that takes you north before cutting inland through one of the most unique settings in Europe. Ride through landscapes littered with ancient stone houses and castles, one of which was bought by Dalí for his beloved wife Gala. Along the way, visit the medieval town of Pals and its beautifully restored Gothic Quarter, explore ancient Iberian ruins in the historic village of Ullastret, and enjoy pedaling among the tranquil fields, orchards, and charming villages that make up the Catalan countryside! You’ll wind up in Torroella de Montgri, in the shadows of the looming Montgri Massif. After you’ve refreshed at your hotel, we highly recommend visiting the Museum of the Mediterranean in town, where you can learn about the natural and cultural heritage of this fascinating area.
On today’s ride you will travel north through Empordà and cross into the northern part of the county, called Alt Empordà, a region famous for its wine production. Pedalling through sunny countryside and villages, you’ll reach the seaside by L’Escala, a fishing village famous for its anchovies. It's a great place to stop for lunch and enjoy the beautiful views. From here you are in a perfect location to check out the archaeological site of Empúries or relax for a while on the beach. A little further on, the scenic coastal town of Sant Pere Pescador and its 7 km (4.5 miles) of pristine beach will help steer (or perhaps distract!) you towards your destination at Castello d’Empuries. After the Girona Cathedral, its 13th-century Gothic Santa Maria Basilica is the second largest building in the Costa Brava.
Say goodbye to the Mediterranean and head inland to Figueres. You will ride through many idyllic small towns like Peralada and Espolla. Most of your ride takes place in the Spanish Denominación de Origen of Empordà (a destination of origin used to identify specific regions where wine is grown), and we recommend that you stop at the Estate Terra Remota (www.terraremota.com) in Sant Climent Sescebes for a visit and wine tasting. Once you reach Espolla at the foot of the Great Pyrenees, the rest of your journey is downhill! You’ll have to work your brakes as you coast down to Figueres. This historic town is the birthplace of the king of surrealism, the one and only Salvador Dalí. The Dalí Theatre-Museum, designed by Dalí himself, is a must-see for art lovers. Although it is centuries older, the quirky personality of Figueres mirrors that of its most imaginative resident.
Make the long journey south to return to the regional capital of Girona. Today’s route will be just as stunning as the rest of your trip. It will lead you through the rolling hills, vineyards, and numerous quintessentially Catalan towns. Throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a tasting of local flavours and marvel at the splendid mountain vistas. Your tour concludes in the medieval old town of Girona, a fitting end to your tour of Catalonia.
Following breakfast, you may depart at a time of your choosing.
3 nights in 4-star hotels, 2 nights in 3-star hotels, and 1 night in a 2-star hotel