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Ten of the most amazing bike routes in Spain

Here are some of the greatest and most beautiful cycling routes across Spain for avid cyclists, from Don Quijote territory to the green north. Saddle up everyone!

Ten of the most amazing bike routes in Spain
The view from Santander in northern Spain. Here are some of the best bike routes in Spain. Photo: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos/Unsplash

Spain is a great country for cycling, so great in fact that it even has several dedicated cycling routes across the country called vías verdes or greenways.

These greenways were built along old disused railway lines and have now become an environmentally friendly way to explore the country (here is a map showing all the greenways).

But there are other cycling routes around Spain that are just as impressive and can be completed by avid low to mid-level cyclists.

Here are ten bike routes in Spain that will take your breath away (at times in both senses of the word).

The TransAndalus, Andalusia

The TransAndalus trail is a 2,000km (1,240 miles) long circuit specifically designed for mountain bikes. It goes through the eight provinces of Andalusia and gives experienced riders a chance to pass through incredible natural sites, such as the Sierra Nevada, Doñana and Cabo de Gata national parks. There are a total of 23 stages, meaning that you can pick and choose which one or ones you do, without having to complete the entire trail. Less experienced cyclists can choose a specific shorter section. Stage one starts in Seville and is a mostly downhill ride to Chiclana de la Frontera.

The TransAndalus passing through some of the region’s most spectacular scenery. Photo: jbdodane / Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Vía Verde de Ojos Negros, Aragon and Valencia

Running from the town of Ojos Negros, in the province of Teruel to Sagunto, on the Valencian coast, this is Spain’s longest greenway at 160km. It has been divided into two sections, so you can just choose to do one or the other if the whole route is too long. The first part follows the line of the Sierra Menera mining railway, in the Palancia river valley, while the second part descends towards the Valencian orange groves, on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Cycling along the Vía Verde de Ojos Negros. Photo: Pacopac / Wikimedia Commons

Ruta Don Quijote, Castilla-La Mancha 

Lovers of literature, Cervantes and Don Quijote will enjoy this route following in the unlikely hero’s footsteps. The whole route covers 2,500km (1553.4 miles) and runs through all five of the region’s provinces, but it’s split up into 10 sections, making it easy to select which one you want to do. Declared a European Cultural Route, it travels through two National Parks, six natural parks and six nature reserves, running along a combination of cattle trails, historic paths, riverbanks and disused railway lines. 

Windmills Castilla-La Mancha

See the famous windmills of Consuegra along this cycle route. Photo: JamesHose / Pixabay

Vía Verde del Val del Zafán, Aragon and Catalonia

This spectacular route travels alongside the azure blue channels which eventually end up joining the grand Ebro River. It passes through the regions of Bajo Martín, Bajo Aragón, Matarraña, Terra Alta and Baix Ebre. Punctuated by viaducts, tunnels and protected natural spaces, it’s a pretty straight and easy greenway to follow, with some final twists and turns when you reach the Catalan coast at Tortosa near the Ebro Delta at the end. 

Ebro Delta

This route follows parts of the grand Ebro River. Photo: Future75 / Wikimedia Commons

READ ALSO: Cycling in Spain -12 fines you need to watch out for

Camino de Santiago 

Pilgrims on foot are not the only ones who can enjoy this world-famous voyage. Cyclists can choose whether to complete the full 800km (500 miles) French Way or do the minimum 200km required to obtain the precious Pilgrimage Certificate.

READ ALSO: Top tips to safely enjoy Spain’s Camino de Santiago on foot or by bike

Camino de Santiago

You can also do the Camino de Santiago by bike. Photo: Burkard Meyendriesch / Pixabay

Vía Verde del Carrilet, Catalonia

This route runs for 57km (35.4 miles), linking the town of Olot and the Garrotxa Volcanic Naural park with the city of Girona. Following the banks of the Ter, Brugent and Fluvià rivers, it winds its way between fields, forests and bridges, with the towering ancient volcanoes as your backdrop. The route is well signposted and is also suitable for hikers. 

Via verde Olot to Girona

This route begins at the otherworldly Garrotxa volcanic natural park. Photo: Peremagria / Wikimedia Commons

Vía Verde Tajuna, Madrid

This spectacular bike path offers city dwellers the chance to escape the hustle and bustle without planning ahead. Simply get off at the last stop on Metro line 9 (Arganda del Rey) and hop on to your bici. The route runs along the river of the same name and runs for a total of 49km (30.4), passing through the quaint towns of Carabaña, Ambite, Oruco, Tielmes or Perales de Tajuna and Morata. This cycle path is also equipped for hiking and for people with disabilities or reduced mobility.

Via Verde Tajuna Madrid

You can see the ruins of the old station of Tajuna along the way. Photo: Malopez 21 / Wikimedia Commons

Vía Verde de la Sierra, Cádiz, Andalusia 

This 37km (22 mile) vía verde runs from the village of Puerto Serrano in the province of Cádiz to Olvera, a small village north-east of Ronda. It passes through no less than 30 tunnels and over four viaducts, as well as valleys and river banks. Free of traffic and a relatively easy ride overall, it’s ideal for a family day trip – and if the little ones are too tired, taxis with bicycle racks are available for the return journey.

Via Verde Cádiz

The Vía Verde de la Sierra is ideal for the whole family. Photo: El Pantera / Wikimedia Commons.

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote, Canary Islands 

Go for a ride through the land of volcanoes in Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park. Ideal for mountain bikers, there is even an 8km (5 mile) downhill track through the island’s unique landscapes and lava fields. The archipelago’s mild climate makes it a biking paradise throughout the year.

Lanzarote

Ride through the volcanic landscapes of Timanfaya National Park. Photo: Manfred Zajac / Pixabay

Vía Verde del Plazaola, Navarra and the Basque Country

One of the most beautiful greenways is the 66.5km (41.3 miles) Vía Verde del Plazaola, traversing through the regions of Navarra and the Basque Country, passing through an array of forests and meadows. 41.9km of the route passes through Navarra and 24.6km through Gipuzkoa, so you can choose which section to do. The route also takes you through many tunnels, including the longest tunnel you can cycle through in Spain. The trail takes its name from the abandoned Plazaola mines, you’ll pass along the way. 

Plazaola cycle route

The Vía Verde del Plazaola takes you through many tunnels. Photo: Cherubino / Wikimedia Commons

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HEALTH

Reader question: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

Vitamins as well as cold and flu medication can be more expensive in Spain, and some brands of medicine that visitors use back home aren't available in Spanish pharmacies. So what are the rules on bringing medicines in from outside the country?

Reader question: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

Many people have their particular preferred brands of medications they use when they feel unwell or vitamins to keep up their immunity.

Whether you’re just travelling to Spain or you’re living here and want to keep your stocks of pharmaceuticals up, ‘just in case’, you’ll want to know what you’re allowed to bring in. 

What medicines can you bring into Spain from abroad?

Some pharmaceuticals can cost considerably more in Spain than in countries like the US or the UK. While over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are relatively cheap in Spain, bottles of vitamins and cold and flu medications can set you back significantly.

For example, 10 sachets of cold and flu medicine in Spain will cost you around €9.68, while in the UK it costs £3.49 or €4.05.

The main difference is that in Spain you cannot buy medicines or even just painkillers from a supermarket or other shop specialising in health and beauty products. There’s no equivalent of Boots in the UK or Walgreens in the US.

Here, you have to go to a pharmacy or farmàcia, where you’ll have to ask for the medications you want. You won’t simply be able to browse and choose like you can in some other countries. 

If you get a prescription (receta) from a public health doctor here, then you’ll find that the medications are much cheaper than if you simply buy them without, as they’re subsidised by the state. 

Sometimes you may just want to bring medicines from your home country because you know the brand, you know those pills work for you and how they affect you.

So what are the rules on bringing pharmaceuticals into Spain?

The rules on bringing medicines into Spain from abroad are set out in Artículo 74 of the Royal Legislative Decree or BOE. 

The Spanish government states that “Spanish law allows you to carry your own personal medication for treatments of up to three months, as long as it is accompanied by a medical prescription”.

“If you are transporting narcotics and/or psychotropic medication into the country you must get a permit issued by the Spanish health authorities. In this case, you must request e-mail permission from your local Spanish consulate, providing the medical prescription and the following information:

  • Doctor’s information and collegiate number
  • Telephone and e-mail contact
  • Plus all your personal details such as name, address, passport number, date of birth etc.

For example, the UK government website advises those travelling from Britain that “You need a letter to prove your medicine is prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. You may need to show this at the border when you’re entering or leaving the UK and Spain.

Medicines that don’t require a prescription and are not ‘controlled’ can be brought either in your suitcase or hand luggage. Be aware though, some drugs that don’t require a prescription back in your home country may require a prescription in Spain.

It’s best to check beforehand, depending on what you plan to bring in.

Even if the pharmaceuticals you’re bringing in don’t require a prescription, it’s advisable not to bring more than a three month’s supply.

If you’re coming from outside the EU, there may be certain medicines that you won’t be allowed to bring in from the UK. The UK government website states: “You cannot take some products prescribed for health conditions with you into the EU. These include special food required for medical reasons containing meat or dairy”. This could include certain brands of probiotics. 

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