Gravel riding in Spain
As one of the most exciting off-road cycling activities surges in popularity, there’s never been a better time for a gravel bike ride in Spain.
Heart-racing gravel tracks and courses are plentiful across the country’s lush, spectacular landscapes, and cyclists of all stripes are flocking to make the most of them.
As one of the most exciting off-road cycling activities surges in popularity, there’s never been a better time for a gravel bike ride in Spain. Gravel routes can vary from light, dusty paths to very rough, rocky trails, and they combine the fun and adventure of off-road cycling with the speed and stability of regular bike lanes.
It’s one of the hottest trends in the cycling of the past decade or so, particularly among younger, more active riders. So what are you waiting for? In this guide, we’ll give you a rundown of the best spots to visit in Spain, and we’ll also help you pick out a bike that’s ideally suited to gravel riding.
Which Bike is Best for gravel rides?
Before you head out on your gravel bike tour of Spain, you’ll want to make sure that you have a bike perfectly suited to your needs (check our buyer’s guide for gravel bikes to find out more).
Cycling along gravel tracks is a different ride from regular roads, cycle paths, or mountain trails. The popularity of this activity has seen several bikes released tailored towards the specific demands of gravelling.
One of the main differences between gravel bikes and other models is their wheelbase. Road Bikes have a shorter distance between wheels to enable tight cornering and fast riding along smooth surfaces.
Mountain bikes, on the other hand, have a long wheelbase to provide improved stability. Bikes for gravelling are situated right in between these two extremes. They are generally regarded as a jack-of-all-trades; they also combine the dropped handlebars of a sportier ride with wider tyres and lower gearing. The best gravel bikes have frames made of aluminium or carbon, which offer a good level of stiffness and durability, but without any excess weight.
Canyon offers a wide variety of gravel bikes to help you enjoy your off-road cycling as much as possible. Depending on the specific terrain you’re likely to traverse, we have a few different categories. For easier paths, pick out a model from our high-performance Grail range.
If you’re likely to tackle the most demanding trails with heavy gravel, you’ll want to check out one of the models in our Grizl range. Check out our buyer’s guide for gravel bikes, and find out exactly which model is suitable for you.
Gravel Bike Routes in Spain
Spain is a global cycling hub, offering a wide variety of routes for all types of two-wheeled action, and gravel rides are no exception. Heart-racing dusty tracks and rocky trails are plentiful across the country’s lush, spectacular landscapes, and cyclists of all stripes are flocking to make the most of them. Let’s take a look at some of the best.
As you might expect from this cycling Mecca, Girona is an excellent place for a gravel bike tour. It has established a massive reputation as one of the world’s top cycling destinations. The city and its surrounding area offer countless cycling routes with great quality roads – winding up and down hills and along the beautiful coastline. They’re ideal for testing your abilities, and the weather is welcoming all year round.
Over 30 professionals use the region to train for competitions, and motorists here are very used to the heavy bike traffic, so it’s a safe and friendly place to explore on two wheels. Several routes take you away from the roads, allowing you to escape the traffic and head out on an adventure into some wild, thrilling terrain.
A great place to start gravel riding in Spain would be the Emporda route, north of Girona, which takes miles of vineyards and farmland dotted with charming cottages and chalets. To the south of town, you’ll also find gravel tracks across flat land down to the Medieval castle of Brunolya, and you can head to the top for a great panorama of the surrounding countryside. The Volc de la Crosa is also a prehistoric volcano not far from this.
If you want a day out that will challenge your fitness and cycling prowess, it’s hard to beat the Three Peaks route. Featuring many gravel-lined paths, roads, and cycle lanes, this takes you up and down the three mountains of Els Àngels, Puig Cornador & Rocacorba, with some truly demanding climbs that will push you to your limits. Just stay focused on those spectacular views from the top!
The Sierra Nevada is one of the most breathtaking destinations, and it’s home to some of the best gravel bike routes Spain has to offer. Located in the region of Andalusia, it’s a national park centred around an awe-inspiring mountain range, and you can expect to find some daunting climbs here.
The weather is as reliable as it gets in Europe, with even less rain and better temperatures than sunny Girona. As soon as you head outside built-up areas, you’re immediately surrounded by a sprawling desert landscape as far as the eye can see. Heading off towards the imposing peaks in the distance, you’ll find rocky, rugged paths, just demanding that you mount up and take your gravel bike up them.
The Sierra de Lujar is just one of the many thrilling summits you can scale on two wheels. Starting at Orgiva, you’ll be ascending with an average gradient of 6% for over 28 km, with the snow-capped peaks gradually getting closer. The dusty gravel tracks on this route are mostly very narrow, so you’ll have to keep your wits about you. Your reward will be an unforgettable vista at the top, particularly if you time it right for the setting sun.
The Alcazar route is shorter and easier to accomplish but no less thrilling. You will usually start from the town of Torvizcon and climb up some steep, sandy gravel paths after an initial 2km or so of tarmac. This trail is truly picturesque, with hundreds of almond trees, rustic churches, and farmhouses lining your path through Alcazar and towards Haza del Lino.
This historic Spanish region is an excellent spot for families or novice cyclists to enjoy a more relaxing break while experiencing memorable gravel bike routes. It’s most famous for its association with Cervantes’ early Modern novel Don Quixote, and the windmills of Campo de Criptana are well worth a visit. There’s also the town of Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage site that brings together the traditional architectural styles of Christian, Jewish and Islamic cultures.
For an easy ride across some gentle gravel paths, you can explore the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park in Castile La Mancha, passing by dozens of idyllic lagoons and the occasional spectacular waterfall and rugged rocky outcrop.
Gravel Riding Spain: What You Need to Know
One of the best global destinations for off-road cycling, with courses varying from dusty paths to challenging rocky trails.
Girona and the Sierra Nevada are the two best spots in the country, with challenging hill climbs and spectacular scenery.
The Three Peaks route is a real test for the most experienced riders.
Make sure you pick out the right gravel bike – Canyon’s Grail and Grizl ranges offer a number of different models suited to varying types of terrain.