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This is one of those rare bike tours that combine beaches and mountains, making it easy to understand why so many professional riders make this region their home base. Over the span of eight days, you’ll skirt the clear, lapping waters of the Mediterranean Sea along Spain’s famed Costa Brava. You’ll pedal through the jagged reaches of the Pyrenees Mountains while crisscrossing the border of Spain and France and visiting tiny medieval villages.
You’ll sample wines from world-class vineyards, wheel through thick forests dotted with castles and even pass dormant volcanoes. You’ll see firsthand the dramatic settings that inspired such artistic heavyweights as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. In between, you’ll stay in hotels with three and four-star ratings, and every morning your luggage will be shuttled to your next destination, so it will be waiting for you when you pedal into town and check into your hotel.
Information kits will be handed out before the tour begins and will detail everything you’ll need to know about the trip, including notable attractions and just-in-case contact numbers. So all you have to focus on is riding and snapping photos to e-mail to your jealous friends. And as an added bonus, Girona, the tour’s starting city, enjoys easy access via plane or train from most major European cities. To get more details, check out our blog.
Note that we offer easier tours in Catalonia. If you feel "Green and Blue" is too challenging, try our "Pedal and Pamper" tour.
Located in Spain’s northeast corner, Girona has become a bicycling Mecca over the last decade. The city of Girona is thought of so highly that many professional cyclists make it their training base — it’s even home to the Garmin-Slipstream Pro Cycling Team. Before cycling became popular, Girona was home to many diverse inhabitants who are responsible for the city’s rich history. Narrow cobblestone streets wind past ancient buildings dating back to the 12th century. Your “base” is conveniently located downtown, near all major attractions, including the Arab Baths, the Rambla de la Llibertat and the Cathedral.
Following breakfast, one of our local representatives will go over your itinerary in step-by-step detail. Leaving Girona, you will follow rivers inland on a loop ride, escaping into the gorgeous natural landscapes just beyond the city. For the first half of the day, you’ll pedal mostly uphill on quiet roads, surrounded by lush greenery and woods. The impressive Guilleries Massif marks the halfway point, where you’ll be awed by looming mountain views around every bend and curve. Here, we recommend a stop at Sant Hilari Sacalm, the “town of the one hundred fountains”, famous for its natural sources and mineral water. When you’re feeling refreshed and replenished, enjoy a leisurely return to Girona through fields and groves.
Today, you will steer for the coast and the Mediterranean Sea, with fields and tiny villages dotting your way out of Girona. At around 18 km (11 miles), take a pause in Caldes de Malavella, a small town famous for its thermal springs. The most exciting and challenging part of the day comes soon after, as you enter the mountainous Massís de Cadiretes area. You’ll climb over the mountain of Sant Grau (part of the 2009 Tour de France stage from Girona to Barcelona), enjoying views of the beautiful Mediterranean as your reward. The final stretch of today’s ride goes along the coast, on a magical route lined with picturesque seaside towns including Sant Feliu de Guixols, Platja d'Aro, Palamos, and Calella de Palafrugell, where you’ll spend the night.
Continuing north along the coast you’ll pass through an area famous for its incredibly well-preserved medieval villages including Peratallada and Ullastret, the site of a Pre-Roman settlement. Further north, you’ll wheel into Torroella de Montrgrí, another breathtaking medieval town, and cross the plain to reach Sant Martí d’Empuries, site of the largest Greco-Roman ruins outside of Rome itself: the ancient city of Emporion! Spend some time exploring and then relaxing on the beaches of nearby Sant Pere Pescador, before pedalling into your destination at Castello d’Empuries. Having been an 11th century economic center and capital of the county, today the town center combines the best of quiet rural charms with magnificent medieval architecture.
Today’s adventure will have you cycling in both Spain and France! Heading east out of Castello, you will reach the coast and the town of El Port de la Selva. Tucked back in a bay along the Costa Brava, the town is wedged between the Cap de Creus and Serra de Rhodes natural parks. From here, you’ll pedal north along Catalonia’s curvy, mountainous coast, passing tiny coves bedecked in immaculate white, comma-shaped beaches and glittering Mediterranean water...leading you all the way across the French border! Take in spectacular views at Cap Cerbere, before rolling into Banyuls-sur-Mer -- a great place for lunch, a wine tasting, or to cool off with a quick ocean dip. The return journey south is mostly downhill, so you’ll coast your way towards Figueres, the birthplace of the father of Surrealism, Salvador Dalí. Be sure to visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum, which he actually designed. Much like Dali’s work, Figueres is quirky and has a unique personality all of its own.
If yesterday’s peek into France wasn’t enough for you, you’ll get another chance on today’s leg-burning ride. The climbing starts right from the get-go, as you take the scenic route through the Pyrenees, passing through charming mountain towns like Maçanet de Cabrenys and Prats-de-Mollo. The latter is a fortified village of only 1,100 residents, and features a maze of narrow, cobbled streets that snake past rows of medieval structures, making it feel like the calendar is locked in the year 1561. Take some time to explore, but save some energy for the final challenge of the day-- the climb up Col d’Ares! This mountain pass reaches 1,513 meters (4,963 feet) and serves as the border between France and Spain.
You’ll enjoy more descents than climbs today, a reward well-earned after yesterday’s intense ride. Let gravity pull you down into Camprodon, and then into the Garrotxa Province. Eventually, you’ll reach Olot, located in the heart of the Garrotxa Volcanic Natural Park. This off-the-beaten-path village, which the New York Times championed for its restaurants and surrounding “austere beauty,” blends old with new, highlighted by the Carmelite Cloisters, which date back to the Renaissance. From Olot you will head south and pass numerous volcanoes that formed the gorgeous terrain of this region. Although none of the 40 or so volcanoes are still active, the area still experiences occasional seismic activity. Pedalling along lush fertile fields and wooded areas with the sloping peaks in the distance, you’ll make your return to Girona, challenges conquered and another adventure under your belt.
After breakfast, depart at the time of your choice. If needed, we can arrange for your transfer to Barcelona.
6 nights in 3-star hotels and 1 night in 2-star hotels
5 nights in 4-star hotels and 2 night in 3-star hotels