Spain is a destination endlessly popular with cyclists. Its excellent climate, beautiful natural landscapes, and bike-friendly cities make it the perfect holiday location for travel hungry cycling nuts all around the world. For a truly special two-wheeled tour, though, head to the south east of Spain and the hip, hot and happening coastal regions of Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia.
And donâ€™t worry: with some careful planning, you wonâ€™t have to go through the rigmarole of hiring once youâ€™re there. Pack smart and you can take your own bike with you on your epic Spanish odyssey.
Packing your Bike for a Flight
First things first: read the small print. Even if an airline is offering cheap flights, they may charge you a high fee to check your bike, so itâ€™s worth shopping around for the best deals. Though it can be tempting to box up your bike and claim itâ€™s just a regular old piece of luggage, this will prevent you from claiming any insurance if the bike is damaged during transit.
As for the actual packaging, it comes down to three options. Firstly, you could choose a soft bike case or plastic bag. Bags are cheap and flexible but donâ€™t offer much protection from overenthusiastic baggage handlers.
Secondly, you could invest in a sturdy rigid case. This will definitely keep your bike safe, but is also the most expensive option and difficult to transport once youâ€™re off the plane.
Your third option is a cardboard box, which strikes a happy medium between the other two, giving adequate protection to your bike without being too expensive. Best of all, you can maintain your green credentials by recycling it once you get to your destination!
Some of the best cycling to be found in this part of the world is in Murcia. This university city boasts numerous cycling trails and fascinating sights in the centre of town, including an ornate cathedral, a large botanical garden and park, and a spectacular world-famous casino in the Sociedad Casino of Murcia.
Further south from Murcia, the coastal cities of Almeria and Cartagena provide ample opportunities for cycling. The notoriously dry Almeria is particularly pleasant for tranquil bike rides during the cooler autumn months. Meanwhile, Cartagena is the place to be if youâ€™re into your historic architecture. The city is home to an ancient Roman theatre, the ruins of a cathedral destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, and a number of striking Art Nouveau buildings.
Cycling Disused Railway Tracks
Around the south east of Spain, there are numerous disused railway tracks, which have been converted into cycling paths. Known as â€œgreenwaysâ€ or via verdes to the locals, these paths are a secluded and truly unique way of travelling through Spainâ€™s natural landscapes.
If youâ€™re headed for Valencia, take a train down to Gandia and hop on the Safor Greenway, a long straight cycling path that takes you past orange groves, canals and rural villages. From Murcia, you can head west inland on the Greenway of the Northwest, a 78 km line that links Murcia with Caravaca de la Cruz, one of the Holy Cities of the Catholic Church and a place famous for its spectacular 15th century castle.
Coastal Bicycle Paths
For cyclists who want to make the most of Spainâ€™s sandy beaches and warm waters, there are plenty of coastal routes to choose from. If youâ€™re feeling particularly adventurous, fly into Valencia and then make your way down the coast to Malaga. Youâ€™ll pass through the beach resort towns of Benidorm and Alicante (where you can get your sunbathing and clubbing fix) before reaching the Murcian towns of San Javier, Cartagena and Aguilas.
Once in Andalusia, head south along the coast to spots such as Carboneras, home of the famous Playa de los Muertos beach. Move on through the fishing village of San Jose, before finishing up in Almeria. Trust us â€“ the journey will be tough on the legs but easy on the eyes!
The real beauty of taking a cycling tour of south east Spain is that itâ€™s very easy to get budget flight deals, particularly if you travel off-peak. If you take your bike as well, your travel costs once you arrive will be dramatically reduced, which means more money for sightseeing, tapas and lots of cold Spanish beers.