Spain Andalusia Bike
Andalusia is quintessential Spain. Dramatic landscapes of olive groves and craggy mountain ranges spread out before you, as white-washed Moorish villages sit perched on rocky pinnacles. By day, village squares laze in the warm sun, while by night they hum with vitality as the cafes, wine bodegas and tapas bars spring to life. It is also home to some of Europe’s finest architectural achievements, like Seville’s medieval cathedral, Cordoba’s massive mosque/church complex (the “Mesquita”), and Granada’s Alhambra Palace. We also visit a number of “Pueblos Blancos” (white villages), take in a Flamenco show, and sample plenty of tapas and local “vino tinto” (red wine) along the way. Most tour companies don’t take you to all four of the “queens of Andalusia,” but we do: Seville, Ronda, Cordoba and Granada, thus including 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites during the week. This 9-day itinerary will show you why Andalusia is one of the premier destinations in Europe.
Spain Andalusia Bike itinerary
Make your way independently to Seville and check into our hotel in the heart of the old city. We stay at an elegant boutique hotel, the Hotel Rey Alfonso X, with a private terrace with swimming pool on the roof overlooking the city’s church spires and ornate rooftops. Meet your group at 7 p.m. for drinks followed by dinner. Overnight Seville. Hotel and dinner included.
We have an hour-long shuttle out of the city this morning followed by a bike fitting and then our first ride. We’ll stop for lunch in the beautiful “pueblo blanco” (white village) of Zahara, and then continue to the El Tajo gorge and the historic hilltop village of Ronda. The city has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and was then settled by the Celts in the 6th century BC. The Romans later founded a city there which eventually passed into the hands of the Byzantines, Visigoths, and finally the Arabs, who controlled all of Spain for hundreds of years. Our hotel, the Catalonia Ronda, is right next to the famous bullring and also has a rooftop pool. The Ride: 53 km of rolling and hilly terrain. Overnight Ronda. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
Climb from Ronda into the hills south of town for dramatic views over the mountains and as far as the sea, and even Africa. We pass through a handful of villages on our way to lunch, and ride through pine and chestnut forests which contrast nicely with the scenery of the rest of the week. A thrilling downhill takes you back to Ronda, and we then have time to explore the streets of this historic city. The Ride: 48 km of very hilly riding with several extended climbs. Overnight Ronda. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We head east today and attack the “Puerto del Viento” pass, a 7 km climb with a gentle slope (avg. %4). From there you enjoy a 13 km descent to El Burgo for a coffee break before carrying on to El Chorro, a small town located at the mouth of the Gaitanes gorge and one of the most popular rock-climbing sites in Spain. Our hotel, La Garganta, has a swimming pool and views over the lake and steep limestone peaks beyond. The Ride: 61 kms, with one major climb (300 m elev. gain) and rolling terrain. Overnight El Chorro. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We cut through some lovely countryside this morning, winding through farmland and past tiny hamlets to the south of the massive limestone peak of “El Torcal.” The ride is sometimes challenging, but takes us up to a surreal landscape of rounded stone discs, towers and shapes formed by Nature’s own hand. Our hotel in Antequera, the Coso Viejo, is in an 18th century manor house in the heart of this beautiful baroque city. With nearly 100 churches, the city is famous throughout Spain, and also has an Arab fort perched on a hill in the center of town. The Ride: 53 kms, with some short steep hills in the morning followed by a longer sustained climb in the afternoon. Overnight Antequera. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We have a 30-min train ride this morning to Cordoba for a guided visit of the “mesquita” (mosque), a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most impressive religious buildings in the world. We will also have time to wander the city’s colorful streets and visit some of its famous “patios,” or flowered inner courtyards. Some of the houses open their patios only in May, so we may be lucky enough to see some of the city’s rare gems. We return to Antequera by train and then have a “free night” dinner, so you can splash out and go big or just sample a few “tapas” at the bar next door. The Ride: no biking. Overnight Antequera. Hotel and breakfast included. Dinner not included.
We head east again this morning and ride through some gorgeous countryside full of olive trees and oak forests. We stop for lunch along the way and then continue to Alhama de Granada, famous for its thermal baths. Our hotel, La Seguiriya, is in a beautiful renovated 18th century house and has dramatic views over the gorge below and the snow-capped peaks of the Siera Nevada mountains in the distance. What’s more, the owner is a former Flamenco singer so I’m sure we’ll find a way to put on a show this evening! The Ride: 61 km with rolling terrain and some short hills. Overnight Alhama de Granada. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
We bike through vast fields of olives this morning to approach Granada from the southwest. After lunch you can choose to ride another 19 km or we’ll shuttle you directly into town. Change into your city clothes for a guided visit of the Alhambra, former residence of the Arab Caliphs who ruled over Spain for centuries. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most amazing palaces in the world. Our hotel, the Hotel Zaguan del Darro, is in a renovated noble house from 1563, located in the heart of the old town. The Ride: 35 km over rolling and hilly terrain. Overnight Granada. Hotel, breakfast and dinner included.
There’s an airport in Granada, or else it’s an easy train ride back to Seville or even down to Malaga. Several low-cost airlines service all three cities (like Ryan Air, for example). Breakfast included.
Activity Rating: 4 out of 5. Rolling terrain with only occasional flat stretches. Frequent hills, some being up to 7 kms long, so good bike-handling skills are required. Daily activity is 4 to 5 hours. Max distance up to 75kms.
Trip Cost Includes: 8 nights accommodation; 8 breakfasts and 7 dinners; hybrid bicycle rental; two bilingual guides, full van support and luggage transfer throughout the trip; and all visits as noted in the itinerary. All departures are accompanied by two guides.
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Getting There: the trip starts in Seville, which is easily accessible by air via most European hubs or by train from other cities in Spain.
Air: most trans-continental flights into Spain arrive in Madrid or Barcelona, but Seville is well connected with European hubs like London, Paris, Rome, Frankfut, etc. Be sure to check out the low-cost airline options like Vueling and Ryan Air as well as the major carriers. See the airport's website for the latest schedules.
Rail: trains from Madrid to Seville on the high-speed AVE service take under 3 hours. For more information, see the Spanish train service (RENFE) website.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends in Granada after breakfast on Sunday morning. There is a small airport in Granada with connections to Madrid and Barcelona, plus the occasional connection to London and Paris. See their website for current schedules. You can also take a bus to Seville (3 hrs), Madrid (5 hrs) or Malaga (2 hrs). See this site for details on bus schedules.
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