We think that Spain is the best country in the world to ride your bike, whether you’re a mountain biker, gravel biker or road rider.

Here are the five features of Spain that make it such a cycling paradise. And one that doesn’t.

1. Climate

Spain is famous for its benign climate. In the southern half of the mainland, you can rely on sunny weather most of the year. Of course it rains sometimes, but you rarely get two rainy days in a row. Autumn/fall, winter and spring are perfect for mountain bike and gravel biking trips in the south; whereas high summer is too hot. Check out the current weather forecast for Pure Mountains. How does that compare with the weather where you are right now? Drop us a message on WhatsApp, using the icon at the foot of the page!

Generally, the northern half of Spain has a much cooler, wetter climate and the best time to ride is late spring through to early autumn. But there’s much more to Spain than the weather…

2. Geography

Mainland Spain and Portugal make up the Iberian Peninsula, which is separated from the rest of Europe by The Pyrenees mountain range. Spain is Europe’s second most mountainous country (after Switzerland). There are hills and mountains everywhere you look (except on the vast plateau of the meseta central in the centre of the country). The most famous mountain ranges, or sierras, are the Sierra Nevada (our mountains!), The Pyrenees and The Picos de Europa, but there are many, many more.

Mountains mean livestock farming, leading to the creation of endless droving trails, which make perfect mountain bike trails. Access roads for farmers and foresters make perfect gravel roads. Mountains also lead to sparse populations, so you are unlikely to come across other trail users, away from the most popular spots.

The variety of landscapes throughout Spain is astounding, too, from the pastoral to the truly wild.

3. Population Density

Spain has a population of 47 million people. It has an area of 506 thousand square kilometres. The population density is 94 people per square kilometre. In contrast, the UK has 280 per square kilometre and The Netherlands 521. 80% of Spain’s population lives in the large, urban centres. This means that when you are cycling in the Spanish countryside, you won’t see many people. This has its pros and cons, of course. If you have an accident or you get lost, you’ll be waiting a long time for a passer-by to help out. That’s why we recommend a guided trip. On the other hand, there are no traffic problems on the trails and you have a wonderful feeling of escaping from the world.

4. Culture and Cycling Culture

Due to its geographical (and previous political) isolation, Spain is surprisingly different from other European countries and has a very strong cultural identity.

As a visiting cyclist, you will encounter enthusiasm and friendliness from Spaniards you meet on the trail, be they on foot, bike, horse or mule. They are delighted to see you. On the roads, too, motorists will wait to overtake cyclists and give them plenty of room (1.5 metres is the minimum legal passing distance). In rural areas, the locals will be genuinely pleased to see bike riders, though they may be mystified by your choice of tricky trails or meandering gravel roads over the asphalt alternative.

5. Bars, Food and Fountains

Spain has the highest number of bars per capita in the European Union, at one bar per 169 residents. Almost unbelievably, the autonomous community of Andalucía (where you’ll find Pure Mountains) has as many bars as Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Norway combined. This means that on your mountain biking or gravel biking tour, you are never far from food and drink. The prices are very reasonable, too. Even better, Andaluciá’s Granada province (that’s our province!) is famous for providing a free tapa with every alcoholic drink.

For mountain bikers and gravel riders alike, another boon is the ubiquitous drinking water fountain. There is at least one in even the smallest mountain village.

 

So, what’s the feature that counts against Spain in the cycling paradise stakes?

Spanish Mapping

There’s no polite way to say this: Spanish maps and signage are lamentable. The digital trailbases and apps, like Trailforks and Komoot, have barely scrathched the surface of the amazing riding that’s out there, if you know where to look. This makes planning and a mountain bike or gravel bike tour in Spain yourself a frustrating experience. Worse, when you arrive, you’re going to spend a lot of time getting lost, scrambling through undergrowth and over fences and generally losing your flow.

That’s where Pure Mountains comes in! Check out our programme of mountain bike holidays and gravel bike holidays and tours. They include expert guiding on the best routes, accommodation, all meals and airport transfers,  Get in touch using the WhatsApp or phone buttons below, or via our contact form, to book or to find out more. We are very happy to answer any questions you may have, big or small.