touring in Spain

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DavidWC
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touring in Spain

Postby DavidWC » 4 Dec 2012, 12:39pm

I am cycling from Santander going south to Murcia - has anyone got any suggestions regarding routes and/or accommodation plus any 'must sees' and 'must avoids'
thanks
David

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IanSmitton
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby IanSmitton » 4 Dec 2012, 3:16pm

Hi David,

I think the route depends on the time of year; if you go in winter, it is better to head directly south on to the Meseta, because some of the roads (and there aren't many!) in the Basque Country are closed for much of winter. Personally, I would recommend something like the following route:

If you're not going in winter, start by going along the coast to San Sebastian, before dropping through the Urbasa Park and on to Pamplona. It's pretty hilly, but nothing too daunting, and the scenery is superb (the food is the best in Spain around here as well). From there you could head towards Huesca (if you like mountains) or Zaragoza if you prefer something a bit flatter. Then from there, I would head south towards Teruel; this section is not the most interesting, and if you are not bothered about saying you have cycled the whole length, you could spend a bit extra in the north and catch the train to Teruel.

From Teruel you can take the via verdes almost all of the way into Valencia, which makes a nice change. Although there are also a couple of natural parks (Calderona and Espada) which are worth detouring through. From Valencia you could head inland towards Bunol, cutting through the Caza Muela de Cortes park, and continue south to Murcia (although it is also nice to drop in at the Costa Blanca around Javea/Alicante if you have time).

The other option is to go through Castilla La Mancha (Don Quijote country) - e.g. Cuenca, Albacete. This is classic rural Spain and is nice for cycling, but without the sights that the other route offers. Regarding accommodation; Basque Country is expensive (though you can find hostels and casa rurales that are fairly cheap); Aragon and Comunidad Valenciana are very easy to find a wide range of accommodation - most of it cheap. Unless you visit during the festivals (San Fermin / Fallas etc.) or to San Sebastian in August, you won't have to book in advance anywhere along the route.

Regarding 'must avoids', I would say Madrid. It is a fantastic city, but is not cycling friendly and it sprawls quite a long way, so it is not easy to enter or leave. Better to leave it as a city break than something for a cycling holiday.

burroc
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby burroc » 4 Dec 2012, 4:24pm

Don't hesitate to take advantage of the very cheap rail service which - from my experience - is entirely relaxed over bikes on trains. The two tours I have done in Spain have been the Picos (excellent scenery, wet at times) and Catalunia (took the train north to escape Barcelona). B+B was amazingly cheap in both areas. Don't expect to find many English speakers away from tourist areas. Some motorbike repair type places also stock bike tyres and other basics.

MarkF
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby MarkF » 5 Dec 2012, 7:54am

Roads on the meseta were practically deserted in June, everything is coerced onto the autovias, via some creative government signage. Spain is a super safe and relaxing place to cycle.

Water is available in just about every village.

Rooms are as cheap for 2 sharing as camping IMO. On your own, then you'll pay 15eu (if lucky) - to 30eu (if desperate) and there is always somewhere to stay. If you don't see somewhere, then ask. Weigh up whether the room above above a bar is really such a good deal at 10eu cheaper than the hotel where you can eat as much as you want for breakfast and pilfer enough for lunch too!

DavidWC
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby DavidWC » 5 Dec 2012, 9:25am

Many many thanks for your suggestions - I have no doubt that we will be acting on them
regards
David

andymiller
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby andymiller » 5 Dec 2012, 11:07am

burroc wrote:Don't hesitate to take advantage of the very cheap rail service which - from my experience - is entirely relaxed over bikes on trains.


It depends - local and regional trains are fine - but for the more modern trains you need to get a (free) reservation ticket. Bikes aren't allowed on the long distance trains - whether you've put them in a bag or not.

Unfortunately the RENFE website doesn't tell you which trains take bikes (unless you research the specific train type). The only reliable source is the salidas poster at station entrances.

for the parts of spain that aren't well served by the railways there's an excellent long-distance coach network.
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CJ
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby CJ » 5 Dec 2012, 3:55pm

burroc wrote:Don't hesitate to take advantage of the very cheap rail service which - from my experience - is entirely relaxed over bikes on trains. The two tours I have done in Spain have been the Picos (excellent scenery, wet at times) and Catalunia (took the train north to escape Barcelona).

Local trains yes, with the Basque and Catalan regional transport authorities particularly accommondating. Long-distance is a completely different game - no bikes at all on AVE and Avant. The long-distance buses are often a better bet.
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Paul Smith SRCC
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 7 Dec 2012, 8:22pm

burroc wrote:Don't hesitate to take advantage of the very cheap rail service which - from my experience - is entirely relaxed over bikes on trains. The two tours I have done in Spain have been the Picos (excellent scenery, wet at times) and Catalunia (took the train north to escape Barcelona). B+B was amazingly cheap in both areas. Don't expect to find many English speakers away from tourist areas. Some motorbike repair type places also stock bike tyres and other basics.

Can second the Picos de Europa, the ride along the gorge from Panes-Potes and along to Fuente Dé is stunning; I haven't ridden in in over twenty years but I dare say it hasn't changed much! Have to say it's a bit off route but an amazing day's ride and well worth the detour.

If you do that route on the way there is a little picture postcard village called Santillana Del Mar about 20 miles out of Santander that's well worth a visit as well. Paul
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Route from Santader to Murcia via Picos de Europa

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smith4188
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Re: touring in Spain

Postby smith4188 » 9 Dec 2012, 4:19pm

IanSmitton wrote:Regarding 'must avoids', I would say Madrid. It is a fantastic city, but is not cycling friendly and it sprawls quite a long way, so it is not easy to enter or leave.


If you did want to include Madrid, I'm not sure about entering it from the north but entering from the south was a challenge. Escaping eastwards towards Guadalajara on the other hand was a doddle.
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