Girona has all the vibes you need for a fantastic weekend away. A compact city filled with stunning Gothic architecture, its narrow twisting streets overflowing with bars and restaurants all oozing laid back Catalan charm.
The river splits the medieval old town from the glossy, shining new commercial district with its shops and hotels. Spanning the river, old cobbled bridges offer picturesque views of the often ramshackle riverside mansions and their coloured reflections. With a diverse nightlife and a passion for food and wine this, a lively and fun city to visit and its compact nature, means it is all accessible on foot or by bike.
So far, a city break, but what is in it for the cyclist? Girona has a vibrant and thriving ex-pat cycling community. It was popularized by the many English speaking professional riders from America, Australia and the UK who have made it their home, and in many ways, it is a cyclist’s paradise.
Never too cold in winter, or hot in summer, it has a year-round cycling climate with minimal rainfall and a network of quiet, smooth training roads. The combination of fantastic roads and great climbing all within pedalling distance of an interesting cultural city makes it a great weekend destination, the only problem is you will feel so at home, you won’t want to leave.
How to get there
Girona airport is 12.5km from the city centre and there are regular buses that take around 20 minutes. RyanAir and TUI Airways fly to Girona from most UK airports including London, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Glasgow and Newcastle. Prices can be as low as £30 in spring, rising in the summer months.
Spring and Autumn offer perfect cycling conditions with average daytime temperatures in May, June and September, October around 20-25 degrees centigrade. You may get some rain showers but temperatures will be warmer than the UK. Mid-summer is hotter and drier with temperatures often in the 30’s.
Eat Sleep Cycle in the old town of Girona is run by three passionate British riders; Lee, Louise and Brian. They offer a range of indispensable services for the visiting cyclist including a range of hire bikes starting at €35 a day for an entry level carbon bike equipped with Shimano 105. If your long weekend includes Monday morning join them for their ‘Lazy Lunes’ shop ride.
A super cool bike friendly spot in the heart of the old town is Bravissimo apartments where you can create a (possibly slightly trendier than your own) home from home. For a luxurious boutique experience check out nord1901 own by Luis, a keen cyclist.
Where to ride
You don’t have to pedal far from the city walls to be on quiet roads. As you leave Girona behind you will pass through increasingly sparse small villages as you head into the hills. There are so many options it is hard to name a specific route, you have the choice of easy scenic rides or leg and lung-busting all-day epics.
If you are spending the weekend in Girona then the ‘must-do’ climb is that of Rocacorba, a favourite testing ground for local amateurs and pros alike. It’s a brutal climb, as you would expect, but it also has stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges. If you can see past the red mist and sweat it is a beautiful climb in its own right, probably more enjoyable if you choose to tackle it in a sedate way. Starting from the town of Banyoles the full distance is 6.6 miles and the QOM is Ashleigh Moolman Pasio in 36:14.
"Views from the top are spectacular and the roller-coaster of a decent is a thrilling reward for your climbing efforts"
However, don’t get fixated on finding the super hard climbs because there is far more to the area around Girona than just Rocacorba. The road between Angles to Sant Hilari Sacalm traces the edge of a dramatic gorge, a twisting, winding road that rises steadily, gently, but continuously for nearly 25km. Expect to see few cars but many cyclists.
For a longer ride aim for Mare de Deu del Mont as your destination, a long and challenging climb the views from the top are spectacular and the roller-coaster of a decent is a thrilling reward for your climbing efforts.
Girona has a number of boutique café bars dedicated to good healthy food and the best coffee. Former Orica Green Edge professional cyclist Christian Meier and wife Amber began their coffee empire in Girona with La Fabrica specializing in roasting their own coffee in small batches every week, they have a simple menu of super tasty food, perfect for before or after your ride. You can even pick up some La Fabrica cycling kit. They have since expanded to keep up with the demand for freshly ground coffee and Espresso Mafia now supplies many other cafes in Girona and around the world. Espresso Mafia have in C/ de la Cort Reial. Louise from Eat Sleep Cycle says, ‘I love the bars on Placa Independencia and watching the world go by with coffee and ice cream, or tapas and a beer.’
Post-Ride hang out
The new ESC Hub will have a chillout space, massage room, coffee, cold beers and a big screen to watch the cycling. Expect to find loads of English speaking ex-pats and the occasional pro rider popping in for a chat.
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