I can’t help thinking of Spain as the little black dress of motorcycle tours; its old faithful, you know what you’re getting, no matter what you do it’s a safe bet for a good time and you can’t really go wrong with it. The country is so accessible and diverse that it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the 100th time visiting you will fall in love over and over again. Long, sultry summers ensure you’re guaranteed nice weather, even in the shoulder seasons – making it the perfect destination for some winter sun. Traffic free roads mean you can cruise along at your own pace for the most part uninterrupted. Mountain ranges that are among some of the most beautiful on the continent guarantee jaw dropping scenery every day. Medieval, cobbled old towns and cities perched on hilltops wrap you up and put you under their romantic spell. Mouthwatering cuisine at prices so low, you’ll think you’re robbing people blind ensures you experience an important part of Spanish culture, even on a small budget. Twisty, hairpin riddled roads that take you up and over mountain passes, alongside lush vineyards, past serene lakes and over ancient cobbles in walled towns make for day after day of thrilling seat time on the bike. This all adds up to make Spain unrivalled on the leaderboard of the best countries to ride in, you can’t help but get swept up in the passion and beauty of this country – life is a fiesta and you’re all invited. For this reason it remains a firm favourite in the biking community. So whether you’re discovering Spain or revisiting, Magellan as always, has you covered no matter what the requirements. 

With many different tours available both guided and self guided, going to Spain has never been so easy. From weekend breaks in Catalunya and Malaga through to 8 day holidays around the Picos and Pyrenees, all the way up to 12 day adventures across multiple regions on the spectacular Grand Tour, Magellan has it covered. We’ve picked out some of our favourite highlights from our Grand Tour and Picos itineraries to get you dusting off your bike and ready for the new season ahead. 

Salamanca

With a history dating back to the Celtic era, Salamanca, in northwestern Spain is one of the country’s most beautiful cities; it’s elegant architecture, air of magic and fascinating history offers visitors much to discover within its sandstone walls. Despite only being 2 hours outside of Spain’s largest city Madrid, The UNESCO World Heritage site feels like worlds away from the Capitals’ energetic hustle and bustle. 

With a day off in Salamanca on the Grand Tour there’s lots of options available for discovery off the bikes. The city is drenched in history, its university being one of the oldest and best in Europe, a visit here will surely have you thinking your dream of landing at Hogwarts has finally come true. Since the 13th century it has been forging a legacy hosting historical and literary giants such as Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and Miguel de Cervantes; widely regarded as the greatest spanish writer.  A tour will see you taking in the beautiful Renaissance architecture and climbing the 200 steps to the top of the university tower for the best panoramic views of the city. 

Catedral Vieja, the old cathedral of Salamanca is well worth a visit. The 12th century Romanesque structure has a clock tower 110 metres tall, which you can climb for stunning views of the old town. The main altar has one of Europe’s oldest organs and over 50 paintings of biblical scenes dating back to the 15th century. The city’s new cathedral is well worth a peak too, see if you can spot some of its more unique carvings such as a mythical half human-half goat faun eating an ice cream and an astronaut complete with boots, helmet and breathing kit, which was added in 1992.

By this point you will probably be ready for a well earned rest and where better to stick your feet up and soak up the delightful spanish culture than the Plaza Mayor. One of Spain’s most beautiful and lively plazas, the Plaza Mayor was built by the wealthy Churrigueras family in 1755 and was initially used as an arena for bullfighting. Now, it is home to boutique shops, bustling bars and a varied selection of restaurants, it being a popular gathering area, especially at night when the square is illuminated until midnight creating a very magical atmosphere. 

If it’s more bike time you’re craving, not to worry as we’ve planned a great ride out with a visit to the classic motorcycle museum in Hervas, a ride under the 600 ft peak at Pena Negra and a cruise through the stunning Jerte Valley and over the Honduras pass. 

Granada

Sprawled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain’s Andalusia region, Granada proudly sits as the last stronghold of the Spanish Moors. The city was known as Libyr in the prehistoric period and after the Romans colonised southern Spain, the Arabs invaded in the 8th century and gave it its current name. Granada was the last muslim city to fall in 1492 at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile. 

We have a day off the bikes to explore, and it really is worth it as this city is the jewel in the crown on Magellan’s grand tour. Granada leaves a long lasting impression, especially with its magnificent hilltop fortress of the Alhambra. With the backdrop of the looming Sierra Nevada mountains it overlooks the city below and within it encompasses royal palaces, beautiful gardens, grand patios and reflecting pools from the Nazari Dynasty. A visit to the Alhambra is only possible if tickets are booked weeks in advance – as Granada’s top attraction it can see up to as many 6000 visitors a day who come to marvel at one of the finest islamic buildings in Europe. 

A fantastic way to see the sights of the city is by segway, which has proved to be very popular on our tours. For 35 euros you can go on a 2 hour tour zipping your way through the narrow streets and up winding hills to visit the Arab district of Albayzin, the gypsy quatre and over the cobbled stones through the heart of Granada. 

The Granada rest day also happens to have one of the best rideouts featured on the Grand Tour, which may tip the scales in the bikes favour again. A 200km route will take you on a loop around the Sierra Nevada on incredible twisties, single track passes and fast, sweeping bends that eventually drop you back in to Granada for a well deserved beer. 

Whatever you decide to do you can’t help but get swept up by the beauty of this area and the energy of Granada’s streets lined with bars, restaurants, cafes and flamenco clubs. It’s this coupled with the traditional sights and bohemian atmosphere that make Granada imprint on your mind. 

Picos mountains and the N621  

Extending for only 20km the Picos de Europa in the north of Spain while not vast, have within their uniquely jagged peaks a great number of natural wonders. Not only are they a dramatically beautiful combination of geological magnificence with their limestone massifs and lush green vegetation, they also contain many of the world’s deepest caves including Torca del Cerro –  the sixth deepest in the world and are home to a vast selection of wildlife including Cantabrian brown bears and wolves. More importantly though, the mountain passes that wind their way through the belly of this region are among some of the finest in the world. These mountains along with the thrilling passes they harbour have long been known to bikers; having that all important magic formula of fabulous empty twisty roads and breathtaking scenery. 

The N621, commonly known as the ‘pots and pans’ route goes through the heart of the Picos national park and is one of three roads around the park that form the ‘Golden Triangle’ of the Picos. On both the Grand Tour and Picos 8 day we have lunch by the stunning Lake Riano with its impressive bridge in the south before hopping on the bikes to follow mountain valleys with impressive canyons, deep valleys and more bends than you can shake a stick at to arrive, clinging on for dear life in Panes in the north east. 

Santiago de Compostela

Rich in cultural heritage Santiago de Compostela with its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, is one of the world’s most beautiful urban areas. The World Heritage and famous pilgrimage site in north-west Spain became a symbol for the Spanish Christians’ struggle against Islam after it was destroyed at the end of the 10th century. It was completely rebuilt in the following century and now, it is the final pit stop for 300,000 Caminos and many thousands of others each year on their journey on the Camino de Santiago. The many paths that span across Europe join and lead to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where it is said his remains are buried. Typically travellers will begin their spiritual journey in Saint Jean Pied de Port, France and travel 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, culminating at the Cathedral. The stunning Romanesque building has been a place of pilgrimage since the early middle ages and is also one of only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus, the other two being in Vatican City and Chennai, India. 

Magellan ride into Santiago after playing in the Picos mountains all day on the Picos 8 day tour. We have an evening to explore with visits to the old town and cathedral being a very popular after dinner activity. With its dimly lit back streets, cobbles and mighty cathedral basking in all of its glory under the night sky, you can’t help but be blown away by this town laced with millenniums worth of journeys and faith. 

Historic city of Zamora

Ringed by defensive walls and gates the small, quiet town of Zamora sprawls over a rocky hill in the northwest of Spain, close to the Portugese border. The city preserves in its old town the highest concentration of Romanesque art and architecture in Europe, being dubbed as a ‘Romanesque Museum’. Its architectural treasures include 24 churches – 14 of which are in the old town, an impressive 12th century cathedral and a middle age fortress surrounded by serene gardens, medieval defensive walls, a bridge and two palaces. With its seat on the banks of the Duero River and right on the silver road; used as the southern route by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela, its medieval importance has left its astonishing mark in the shape of its walls, palaces and churches. 

Zamora is the embodiment of ‘Relax, you’re in Spain’ and Magellan ride in on the Picos 8 day tour for an evening’s stay in the beautiful old town. We arrive in time to take in the sights including the castle and cathedral, and with numerous eye catching vantage points within the old town you’re sure to be blown away by the spectacular views. We also strongly recommend heading down to the riverbank and crossing the bridge to see Zamora in all of its panoramic glory. After an hour or two exploring we then take it easy and wine and dine spanish style in the square with the old town and its magnificent sights illuminated against the backdrop of the night sky. 

Cuenca 

Like many Spanish cities on approach, Cuenca looks fairly bland and modern however, if you look a little deeper you find an area so beautiful you’re sure to feel like you’ve been transported to another world entirely. This World Heritage site is by far one of the country’s most memorable cities. Through the town and up the hill you are suddenly thrust onto a stage surrounded by medieval walls full of buildings painted in bright colours, narrow, steep cobbled streets, castle ruins and hanging houses cantilevered over the gorge clinging to the limestone cliff face hanging above the Jucar and Huecar rivers. Built by the Moors as a defensive post at the heart of the muslim state of Caliphate of Cordoba the fortified city was conquered by the Castillians in the 12th century. It became a royal town and contains many important buildings such as Spain’s first gothic Cathedral and the famous hanging houses (casas colgadas) suspended from the cliffs. 

Magellan stay in Cuenca in a converted monastery perched on a limestone cliff for an experience like no other overlooking the gorge and river. Before dinner we take a walk on the medieval streets crossing the suspended San Pablo Bridge and entering the city under those famous hanging houses. 

This only scratches the surface of the wonders that can be found in Spain. When you ride in this beautiful country it’s about far more than sublime empty roads – of which there are many, it’s a discovery of culture and history; one that will stay with you forever. The Spanish are passionate and devoted to living the good life and as soon as you ride your bike off the ferry you can’t help but get swept up in that. 

So why not make Spain your next biking destination? Escape the rat race for some fun under the sun on a selection of tours constructed with different experiences in mind. From weekends away riding around rolling vineyards going from one hilltop monastery to another to 8 and 12 day adventures taking in walled cities, national parks and the absolute best of what Spain has to offer both on and off the bike. But don’t just take our word for it….. 

‘From mountains, lakes and scenery to cultural cities like Salamanca and Granada, this tour was one of the things I had wanted to do for a very long time and I was certainly not disappointed!’

Jeremy F 

‘Riding the Picos Mountains is a firm favourite for me. I have ridden them a few times but I was looking for something different, that still allowed me to ride them and help me explore more of Spain while keeping the trip to about a week long. I’m so glad I found Magellan’s website as this trip was just what I needed. Brilliant, thank you.’

Gary H

‘This area of Spain is so special – I think it’s a combination of the magical setting, the world class roads and riding on offer and the fact it’s untouched by tourism. I have ridden in many countries but very few places have touched me as much as here. It’s truly beautiful.’

Naomi

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