The province of Girona is a paradise for road cycling fans. Its winding roads conceal great routes for exploring the entire area from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees. Many of them are used as a training ground by the triathlete from Olot, Nan Oliveras. Here are five ideal routes for advanced cyclists, which you’re bound to remember: put on your cycling kit and pedal your way through the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees!

Credit: The Col Collective

1. Cycling inland from the coast

If you fancy both sea and inland views, this is just the route for you! Starting in Lloret de Mar it winds its way through the Ardenya and Gavarres massifs. The first few kilometres are along one of the most stunning coastal roads on the Costa Brava. They’re gentle riding and will be a good warm-up to get your legs ready for what’s to come next. The road suddenly veers inland towards the first mountain pass on the route, the Coll de Sant Grau, with gradients of up to 14%. The next pass is Santa Pellaia and it is a steadier climb that will give you the chance to get your breath back and finish up with the Coll de Romanyà de la Selva, the easiest of the three. It goes without saying that you then still have a few ups and downs to ride before you get back to Lloret de Mar, where there’ll be a well-deserved cold drink with sea views waiting for you!

Difficulty: hard

Distance: 137 km

Total ascent: 1850 m

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2. The Middle Ages on wheels

This is the ideal route to travel back eight centuries in time as you cycle through various medieval villages, without of course forgetting the highly popular mountain pass of the sanctuary of Mare de Déu dels Àngels. It is right at the beginning of the route and covers 10 kilometres of moderate gradient that will make you feel just like a pro. From here on it’s all downhill and you’ll cycle through picturesque villages like Púbol, La Pera, Monells and Peratallada, where time seems to have stood still. It’s the perfect route for training resistance and working on pace, with the start and finish in the city of Girona, the capital of cycling paradise.

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 103 km

Total ascent: 900 m

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Credit: The Col Collective

3. The Alt Empordà in two acts

Here is a two-part route through the Alt Empordà to really test you to the limit. The first leg starts in Figueres and ends in Llancà, passing through Roses, where the mountain climb to Cadaqués starts, and the easternmost point of Catalonia, Cap de Creus. Don’t be put off by the steep climbs and the strong wind blowing here, the breathtaking views are well worth the effort! From El Port de la Selva you’ll pedal up to the famous monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes and then turn downhill to Llançà. The second leg back to Figueres leaves from here, by way of the coast and a brief incursion into France. This is an area of short mountain passes between one village and another, though in Banyuls the gradients reach almost 20%. After this, you still have the climb to La Vajol ahead of you and then it is all easy cycling to your destination. This route has something for everyone, with easy flat terrain, challenging mountain climbs and technical descents … guaranteed fun!

Difficulty: moderate – hard

Distance: 95 km/115 km

Total ascent: 1300 m/1650 m

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4. Climbing two landmarks from Banyoles

Don’t be taken in by the gentle start from Banyoles because you’ll soon notice your legs aching as you start the climb to the sanctuary of Mare de Déu del Mont, with an ascent of nearly a thousand metres over just 19 kilometres and 10 more with steep walls of up to 15%. Once you’ve sweated your way up, it’s back down towards Banyoles to tackle the second climb to the sanctuary of Mare de Déu de Rocacorba, with more very tough gradients, right up to the telecommunications mast, which marks the end of the ascent. Then it’s time to go back the way you came and go straight to Banyoles for a well-deserved refreshing dip in the lake.

Difficulty: hard

Distance: 105 km

Total ascent: 2050 m

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5. A tour of Romanesque villages

As you leave Olot get ready to feel your legs burning and your heart thumping like mad. This is one of the toughest routes with a total ascent of 2,100 m, where fans of mountain passes will be in their element, covering 42 kilometres to ride three passes with gradients of up to 12%, namely Bucs, Burgarès and Canes. You’ll cycle through Beget, Camprodon, Ogassa and Ripoll, perfect places to take a break and stock up on calories. From Ripoll back to Olot there are 15 relaxing kilometres that your legs will be grateful for after all the effort. If you really want to test yourself just do it!

Difficulty: hard

Distance: 115 km

Total ascent: 2100 m

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Credit: Pere Duran

Accommodation and bike hire

If you don’t feel up to doing a whole route you can always divide it up into various suitable stages or if you want to do several different ones you can stay at a wide range of places specially catering for cyclists, including campsites, hotels, apartments and country guesthouses. You can check them out here!

If you don’t have your own bike you can always hire one from any of these firms, where professionals will help you to choose the best one for you. And here you can see the range of routes and excursions adapted to your level. There’s no excuse – get out there and enjoy Girona’s roads!