Although others may take a different view, in our opinion there are actually better road cycling destinations out there (think South of France, Mallorca etc). However, one thing however Girona certainly offers is a great gravel scene and it’s easy to spend a fun and challenging few days cross crossing the area’s trails. The city also has numerous bike rentals with a wide selection of both gravel and road bikes available. We hired from Eat Sleep Cycle which offered a smooth service and relatively good value (rentals are fairly expensive in Girona).
With gravel routes (consider the two below) uploaded to your bike computer it's simple to get around those without any major navigation issues. It’s worth noting that on rides there can be relatively few opportunities to stop for food or drink so it’s better to carry a little more than you may elsewhere.
Girona's compact historic centre is particularly attractive and offers a great choice of bars, eateries and coffee shops all within a short walk of each other. Just as a few suggestions for places to check out:
- For tasty and good value Argentine steak look into the tiny El Carrito restaurant. They also have delicious empanadas which are ideal for taking on your next ride
- If you like your meal with a heavy side of cycling memorabilia then Hors Categorie may just be the place for you, pro rider Robert Gesink is the owner so you'll see a lot of Jumbo jerseys
- If you are looking for a hearty take-away then Chicanitos offers great burritos and the like
- There are numerous good bakeries dotted around town, Casamoner has several branches and has delicious breads and cakes and also serves coffees
- If you want your coffee super hip then check out either Espresso Mafia or Oniria, which is opposite The Service Course shop.
Depending on your travel plans Girona can be a little time consuming to reach so if possible consider the two fastest options being (1) direct flight to nearby Girona airport if possible or (2) if flying to Girona isn't convenient and you're in a group then consider a taxi from Barcelona which may be better than the slightly convoluted trip via train which includes walking at each end plus at least two trains, note that there are both fast and also very slow train options from Barcelona Sants station to Girona.
In terms of Gravel riding we set out below a couple of different routes. Neither are particularly “technical” if you are an experienced rider on roads but the second one does have some steep climbs and a few short sections with larger rocks to negotiate a little more carefully.
Route 1. 74km and 800 altitude metres
Part of this route traces the “Via Verda” so you’ll helpfully see green arrows indicating the turns.
The route passes through rolling agricultural fields and you’ll face a multitude of small climbs rather than any that are particularly challenging in isolation.
After reaching Banyoles lake you’ll have options to refuel in that town or a little later in the village of Serinya. Soon after Serinya you’ll cross and then ride along the very pretty Riu Fluvia (see image below) before climbing out of the valley. After this you’ll enjoy a lovely flowing descent on perfect tarmac and then predominantly pleasant gravel trails to take you back close to Girona centre.
Route 2. 94km and 700 altitude metres
After a few kilometres on the road you’ll soon be on gravel and passing through long sections of attractive silver birch plantations.
The section around Gualta features some of the steeper and more technical sections these don’t last for long. Soon after that you’ll come through the pretty town of Pals which offers a good option for a stop. The restaurant La Vila offers delicious plates and a sunny terrace. Not too long after Pals the town of Peratallada provides another chance to stop for food or drink.
The remainder of the route includes a painful ramp on tarmac followed by a much more fun flowing gravel climb and descent and the backend of the route home is then mostly on roads, including some of the larger roads you'll encounter but we found the drivers considerate and there was a wide hard shoulder.
While the gravel routes above generally include about 20-30% of your time on roads it’s worth noting that you can easily add in a more road focussed day or part of a ride. Unless you’re trying to challenge KOMs then these are fine ridden on gravel bikes. In terms of notable climbs then very close to the city there is Els Angels which offers a picturesque and fairly gentle ascent from the Girona side. The far side has less attractive views and steeper percentages. A little further from the city but still part of an attractive ride you can tackle the one way climb to the summit of Rocacorba. The excellent views from the top (see image below) make up for the rather uninteresting climb and final 5km which averages a challenging 9%.