SUPERB week. Wonderfully planned out ahead of arrival and, from start to end, Kev & Katia could not do more to ensure every day / every evening ran smoothly. I know how much work goes on behind the scenes to ensure a perfectly-niggle-free experience - so HUGE THANKS to the Marmot team!
With its temperate climate, laid-back Catalan culture and a huge variety of traffic-free mountain roads to train on, Girona has steadily become Spain’s epicentre of all things cycling – so is it any wonder so many current pros hail from the region?
As with all of our Classic Cols style holidays, we have crafted a flexible itinerary catering for a range of fitness levels and aspirations that takes in the best that this ‘hidden gem’ of a region has to offer. You’ll climb on mostly mellow gradients, traverse lush green valleys and enjoy sweeping descents on smooth tarmac through a range of breathtaking scenery, staying in quality hotels each night.
The climate in Catalonia makes this cycling holiday an ideal spring and autumn destination. We have designed a ‘Classic’ route which, compared to our other Classic Cols holidays is more manageable and achievable. However, if you are looking for more of an early season personal training week, or opportunity to test your end of season fitness, then you will find solace in our ‘Challenge’ route. Whatever your aspiration, this holiday has something for everyone…
For more tantalising details, please read our Trip Notes and for the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts on the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included airport transfers (a journey of 30mins) at scheduled times during the day from Girona Airport to our start hotel in the lakeside town of Banyoles.
Transfers from and to Barcelona are also available at a small extra cost.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.
Depending on your arrival time, you can wander into the historic town center or head out on the bike to loosen the legs and check all is well. The beautiful climb up towards the 12th century Santuari de Rocacorba (960m) is too close to be ignored… Used as a ‘benchmark’ climb to test their form by many of the pros that live and train in the area, a quick nip up this quiet yet surprisingly challenging 14km climb is likely to have you rubbing shoulders with a pro or two. On a clear day, you can see the Pyrenees to the North, which is the direction we head tomorrow…
Optional warm-up ride to Rocacorba [29km, 850m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 1: Banyoles to Setcases
You leave Banyoles behind today and head into the Catalan Pyrenees and the volcanic national park of the Garrotxa, twisting and turning your way up favourable gradients on the quiet and bike-friendly roads that this region is so famous for. The diminutive Coll de Caselles (623m) is first on the menu today, delivering you suitably satisfied into the town of Olot for some welcome refreshment. From here on you’re off into the amazing black volcanic rock landscape, riding between the (thankfully now dormant) volcanos and over Coll de Capsacosta (870m).
Your destination for the day is the mountain hamlet of Setcases, located conveniently at the base of the famous Vallter 2000 (2156m) – our optional extra for the day. Vallter 2000 has featured in both the Vuelta a España and Volta a Catalunya and claims the title of ‘the highest road climb in Catalonia’. Now there’s a feather for your casquette!
Classic route: Coll de Caselles + Coll de Capsacosta
[72km, 1530m ascent] [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Coll de Caselles + Vallter 2000
[105 km, 2900m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 2: Setcases to Ripoll
Being so close to the French border, it would be rude not to give those with the energy the opportunity to pop over for a visit, and all that stands in your way is the true-pass of Col d’Ares (1513m).
Our ‘Classic’ route today bypasses the Col d’Ares and undulates over Oix-Beget (1092m) with a downhill bias along to the municipality of Castellfollit de la Roca, famous for its basalt cliffs and rock formations formed by centuries-old volcanic lava.
You head West from here, skirting the town of Olot as you go, climbing on gentle gradients up the side of the valley to the summit of Col de Canes (1121m). Having featured in both the Vuelta a España and Volta a Catalunya, this road is favored by local riders for its lack of cars and good surface.
A flowing descent through lush green countryside leads you down to your hotel in Ripoll, a quiet Pyrenean town most famous for its Benedictine monastery and historic iron and coal mines. We recommend enjoying a relaxing afternoon by the hotel swimming pool.
Classic route: Oix-Beget + Col de Canes
[96km, 1500m ascent] [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Col d’Ares + Oix-Beget + Col de Canes
[126 km, 2000m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 3: Ripoll to Vic
Leaving Ripoll behind you, you head out to our furthest easterly point of the week this morning, on mountain roads that get quieter and quieter as you go. Our ‘Classic’ route takes you over the unassuming Coll de Merolla (1100m) and down its sweeping tree-lined descent, before you turn left and head south again onto roads that seem to have been built especially for cyclists.
‘Undulations’ are the order of the day as you make your way along to Alto de Sobremunt (889m) and on to yet another jaw-dropping descent down onto the plains of Vic, a large depression formed over thousands of years by the river Ter and its tributaries running off the surrounding mountains.
Our ‘Challenge’ option today takes an early northernly detour to the summit of Coll de la Creueta (1935m) before re-joining the ‘Classic’ route.
You stay in the center of the ancient Roman town of Vic for the night where we enjoy the serenity of our historic hotel, formally a theological college.
Classic route: Coll de Merolla + Alto de Sobremunt
[93km, 1350m ascent] [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Coll de la Creueta + Alto de Sobremunt
[126 km, 2300m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 4: Massif del Montseny
Your destination for the day is Girona, famous for its medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter (Barri Vell) and the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress. Oh, and it’s popular with cyclists too, and today you’ll see just why…
You head southeast in the morning towards the Massif Montseny on tree-lined roads, the Classic route taking in the Collada de Vilar (780m) and Coll de Gomara (891m), with the Challenge route splitting off early to take on Coll Formic (1144m) and Alto de Santa Fe (1324m) before rejoining the Classic route.
After stopping for refreshments in the pretty town of Sant Hilari Sacalm, you move into the Guilleries Massif to enjoy twisting and winding forested roads that follow a downhill bias all the way to our 4-star hotel in the center of Girona.
There are many route options today, allowing you the flexibility to choose between time on the bike or an earlier finish. Girona is a beautiful place with a rich cycling culture, so why not head out on foot and explore the back streets, bike cafes and monuments – it’s not ALL about the bike!
Classic route: Collada de Vilar + Coll de Gomara
[100km, 1350m ascent] [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Collada de Vilar + Coll Formic + Alto de Santa Fe [135km, 2400m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 5: Day Ride from Girona
There are many great rides to be done from Girona, which is why the city has become such a prime cycling destination. Arguably the best climb in the region, today you have the opportunity to take on the gradients of the Mare de Deu del Mont (1095m). It is a narrow, but beautiful road through the forest to the highest point around, which has been adorned with a church and the views are well worth the effort of getting there.
On the way back via Banyoles, those wanting a really tough day could detour up to the Santuari de Rocacorba (960m) if you did not get to do it on the arrival day.
The other option is to take a much-deserved day off the bike and explore the historic city or chill in one of the famous cycling cafés. Tonight’s dinner is not included, so that you can enjoy one of the many fine restaurants in town.
Classic route: First half of Mare de Deu del Mont
[112km, 1500m ascent] [Ride profile]
Harder route: Mare de Deu del Mont
[128km, 2000m ascent]
Challenge route: Mare de Deu del Mont + Rocacorba
[148km, 2800m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 6: Girona to Tossa de Mar
Cliff-hugging roads, a cool sea breeze and views that stretch for miles are all on the agenda today. You leave Girona on a road ridden by almost every cyclist in the region, to the summit of a climb that is equally popular with both amateur and professional cyclists alike, Els Angels (475m). It is a steady climb, nestled in the trees for the majority, terminating at a chapel that commands dramatic panoramic views for miles around.
From here you’re bound for the coast, but as always there are options. Those of you who want a slightly less challenging afternoon can choose to follow the coast road along to Tossa de Mar, whereas for the rest of you there are some spectacular climbs left to sample.
Following the Classic or Challenge routes will take you up to and over the diminutive Romanyà de la Selva (323m) before delivering you back to sea-level for refreshments. What lies ahead of you from here is said to be one of the prettiest stretches of coast road that the region has to offer – what better way to round off your adventure.
Those following the Challenge route head inland again from here to tick off a final two ‘hills’ before descending back down to take on the spectacular coast road for the final time. All that is left to do now is relax, wine, dine and share stories of a fantastic week on the bike.
Classic route: Els Angels + Romanyà de la Selva
[95km, 1400m ascent] [Ride profile]
Challenge route: Els Angels + Romanyà de la Selva + Llagostera [139km, 2100m ascent] [Ride profile]
Day 7: Travel Day
All good things have to come to an end. We offer transfers back to Girona (45min) and Barcelona (1hr 45min) airports at specified times. Please check our Trip Notes for more details.