Cycling the Vias Verdes in Catalonia
You may have heard of the Vias Verdes in Costa Brava. You may have heard other cyclists talking about them with affection, and now you want to know what all the fuss is about. Is a Vias Verdes cycling tour something you should do? What’s the big attraction? Where will they take you?
What are the Vias Verdes?
The Vias Verdes are cycling greenway routes that have been created from former railway lines. In Catalonia, these form part of a larger cycling route called the Pirinexus, which crosses over the French border and stretches for 366km.
Why Cycle the Vias Verdes?
The Vias Verdes offer an enjoyable and environmentally friendly way of exploring the Costa Brava, its landscape and culture. They are extremely popular with cyclists because you won’t find a single motor vehicle on them. Predominantly rural routes, when in the saddle along them you’ll be surrounded by peaceful, scenic nature.
However, there are also interesting stops scattered along the tracks such as cafes, bike and gift shops, and accommodation. The information boards and signposts along the Vias Verdes will keep you updated about interesting locations and landscapes.
The routes are dotted with tunnels offering some protection from the elements (though the temperate climate in Catalonia also makes this a great place to take a cycle tour), and the climbs are always gradual, with no gradient greater than 2%. (If you want to give your legs a real workout, read our article ‘The Best Mountain Climbs in Catalonia’.)
The Five Vias Verdes of the Costa Brava
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the five Vias Verdes of the Costa Brava.
1. Carrilet Olot – Girona Greenway
Until the sixties, the Girona-Olot railway was the main transport route for the rural districts. A modest narrow-gauge railway, known as a ‘carrilet’, at 54kms long it runs along the banks of the rivers Ter, Bruguent, and Fluvià in the shadow of the La Garrotxa volcanoes. It is now a cyclist’s haven offering views that stretch as far as the eye can see.
2. Carrilet Girona – Sant Feliu de Guixols Greenway
For many years, the people of Girona used the Sant Feliu de Guíxols carrilet to get to the beaches of Sant Feliu. Today the route of the disused railway gives tourists the chance to discover Mediterranean landscapes of extraordinary beauty.
At the city of Girona this greenway links with the Carrilet Olot Greenway, and in the near future it will also connect with the Camí de Ferro Greenway. This will make it possible to travel on greenways from the Upper Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Costa Brava coast, a distance of nearly 135km.
3. Ferro i del Carbon Greenway ─ Girona
The ‘iron and coal’ route is 12km of what used to be industrial railway, now transformed into the perfect cycle path for a ride through the industrial heritage of this area. The greenway also runs alongside the Ter river, which travels through several areas of Girona from the steepest slopes of the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava.
4. Terra Alta Greenway – Tarragona
Terra Alta is a rural area of Cataluña dotted with almond and pine groves through which a few trains used to run until 1973. The greenway travels through the spectacular countryside around the Sierra de Pandols ridge and the Beceite heights. A journey through tunnels and over viaducts will take you from Aragon to the Ebro.
5. Baix Ebra Greenway – Tarragona
The third stage of the former La Val de Zafán railway is a greenway which starts in La Puebla de Híjar in the province of Teruel. The route is accompanied by the River Ebro for most of its journey and also has the privilege of running between two natural parks.
The rural district of Baix Ebre is situated in the province of Tarragona and has Tortosa as its capital city. It is an eclectic mix of contrasting terrains, linking inland mountains to the sea.
This stretch of greenway has something for everyone; running for kilometres through impressive mountain landscapes in the Els Ports Natural Park, before entering meadowland drenched with orange blossom and dotted with rows of fruit trees. Finally it travels along the Ebro Nature Trail on its way to the Ebro Delta Natural Park.
Be Guided by Experience Through the Via Verdes
Travelling the Vias Verdes can be confusing. Choosing the best sections and weaving them together without any local knowledge can be difficult. At Bicilona Tours, we offer bespoke cycling breaks focussing on the greenways of the Costa Brava.
Established in 2015, Bicilona offers the best road-biking holidays and day tours all year round for all levels of cyclists in Barcelona, Girona, the Costa Brava, and the Pyrenees of Catalonia. We use our local knowledge and experience to create a short tour or cycling holidays to meet the needs of you and your companions.
We can create and accompany your cycling tour to ensure you make the most of every minute of your cycling holiday and have the experience of a lifetime.
Contact Bicilona Tours now to discuss cycling the Vias Verdes.