Cycling holidays in Valencia

There’s a knack to planning a cycling trip in Valencia, you’ve got to act a bit like a river heading towards the sea. “We start inland, and we take advantage of the valleys to make the route as easy as we can,” Xavier Sanz Delgado de Molina, at our specialist Valencia cycling company, Lazypedals, explained. Since the year 2000, he has honed his routes to get the perfect cycling itinerary, one that follows the natural course of the land. It’s a route that will appeal if you’re into leisurely, rather than lycra-clad, adventures.
There’s another advantage to starting inland: no one else is there. Most people only visit the edge of the Valencia region – the crumbly, sandy bit where all the resorts are. So infamous are places like Benidorm, friends might express surprise that you’re packing lycra and a bike helmet, not kaftans and your swimming costume.
Most trips don’t actually run in high summer. Not only is it far too hot, but you need to visit out of season to get the most out of the coast. Take Cullera. “We visit Cullera on the coast on the day before we go to Valencia City,” Xavi explains, “Cullera is a touristy city in July and August, but this is the low season for cycling trips. The rest of the year, when we visit, it is a quiet city.”
As you descend from the high Sierra de Mariola plateau by bike, the landscape eventually levels out into coastal plains. Irrigation systems, dug by hand centuries ago, slice into equally old rice paddies. Both the rice and the irrigation were introduced to Spain during 500 years of Moorish rule, and they are the basis of Valencia’s most famous dish. “Try the paella at least two times on your trip,” Xavi continues, “try it once inland, and then try it a second time on the coast. Inland it’s made with meat, on the coast it’s made with seafood.” As if we needed an excuse to gorge. Of course, the more you pedal, the more paella you can pile on your plate at the end of the day.

In fact, regional specialities are a huge draw. In Xàtiva, order Arnadí a dessert made with sugar, almonds and pumpkin. In El Palmar, just above Valencia City, you have to order seafood. Among the empanadas and rice dishes, look out for seasonal treats made to celebrate different festivals. In this old, traditionally-minded region of Spain the bakeries can be a revolving door of changing pastry specialities. Stop at a farm for samples: it’s time you tasted just-pressed orange juice (Valencia is the county’s biggest citrus producer), and formed an opinion on fresh almonds. It’s clear: spend time on the back roads and in return, Valencia will give up its secrets.

What do cycling holidays in
Valencia entail?

A week of cycling gives you a really good taste of Valencia. In seven days you can cycle from Biar, at the foot of the high Serra de Mariola mountain range, to Valencia City on the coast. The best places to stay are charming casas Rurales – simple countryside cottages, but there are also hotels (and pools) at the end of some rides. With a sat nav, and detailed trip notes, you can go on a self guided trip with ease. Some days you’ll have the choice between a shorter and longer route, depending on whether you want to give your quads a break, or push on. The cycling is moderate going: you’ll cycle for between three and five hours a day.
You’ll cycle on quiet and traffic free roads, and Via Verdes. These cycle paths follow old railway lines, they’re sometimes paved, but often gravel, and have very scenic sections – “The seventh day of our trip includes 10km along a Via Verde,” Xavi says. “It’s very pretty; you pass through a dramatic gorge, following the river. For many people it’s the part of the trip they like the most.”
The hybrid bikes provided can tackle road and off-road, and are well-suited to both gravel tracks and tarmac. Electric bikes, an optional extra, are a fantastic way to make your trip a little bit easier. An electric motor kicks in when you start pedalling. You’ll sweat less – a blessing on a hot afternoon in southern Spain, especially in the vineyards, where it’s a bit more hilly.
Even without an e-bike, you don’t need particularly serious cycling gear for a gentle week-long trip, but sports gear and your own helmet are best. Take plenty of sun protection, but also bring a waterproof. “People think it never rains here,” Xavi explains, “but you don’t want to have to buy a coat from a shop because you got caught out, like some of our guests.”

Best time to go

Go in spring – when there are orchids in the valleys, fireworks in the streets for Valencia’s Fallas festival, and balmy temperatures, and you’ll be surprised at how vivid green the rice paddies can be. In May, Valencia’s average daily high is 23°C and the rice paddies turn bright green. Temperatures rise through summer, no cycling tours run in August as it can be 37°C or 38°C. You could also wait until autumn. The landscape is less green but, by September, temperatures have eased off slightly and the sea is lovely and warm.

Our top Valencia Holiday

Cycling holiday in Valencia region, Spain

Cycling holiday in Valencia region, Spain

Experience Valencia's best on this self guided tour

From €730 to €800 7 days ex flights
Tailor made:
The tour is available all year round (except from 01.08 until 28.08), with departures on Sunday
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Valencia or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Map and highlights

By bike you can really dig into Valencia’s varied landscapes. You’ll start among pine forests around Biar, but soon you can climb into the rocky limestone mountains of the Sierra Mariola. Descend from this plateau into valleys full of vineyards and Valencia’s ubiquitous orange groves. As you cycle along you’ll see the vestiges of snow pits, ice houses, irrigation channels and water mills – all the ways the area has adapted to its small water supply. Eventually you’ll come to Valencia’s coastal plains, a patchwork of marshlands and paddy fields that make for easy cycling at the end of your trip, when you need the break the most.
Cullera

1. Cullera

The coastal resort of Cullera has a 10th-century castle thanks to 500 years of Moorish rule in the region. Now that there are no longer pirate invasions (those wrapped up in the 16th century), you can relax on the town’s many sandy beaches, and enjoy flat cycling around the irrigation channels that thread through groves of carob and orange trees.
Els Alforins

2. Els Alforins

The flat valley floor of Els Alforins is a quilt of small fields and vineyards, all slowly changing colour through the year with kaleidoscopic rotation. It’s called the ‘Valencian Tuscany’, a lazy moniker which disregards the fertile area’s special Spanish-ness. Cycle through sunflowers, poppies, and reddening vines and drop in on the ‘eleven cellars’ which make up the wine region.
Sierra de Mariola

3. Sierra de Mariola

The foothills of this rugged limestone mountain range provide pretty cycling. The nearby towns are interesting: Alcoi was once a major textile producer, which helped fund its pretty Art Nouveau architecture. Bocairent, on the other side of the Sierra Mariola, has unusual Moorish architecture, including over 50 cave dwellings cut straight into vertical cliffs above the town.
Parque Natural de la Albufera

4. Parque Natural de la Albufera

The best way to see Albufera, Spain’s largest lake, is by boat. That way, you can support local boatmen, whilst also resting your feet. The lake is fringed by important reed beds – important because they provide a vital home for migratory birds from early spring. Grasses wobble with reed warblers and the shallows are picked over by egrets. El Palmar, the nearby town, is delightfully waterlogged, with plenty of canal-side dining.
Xativa

5. Xativa

Also known by Jàtiva, its Spanish name, Xàtiva (in Valencian) is a strategically-placed, castle-topped city, once second only in importance to Valencia itself. Stand on its city walls and look out over the plains of orange groves and market gardens below, on a clear day you can see as far as the Mediterranean. Europe’s first paper mill was built here, making its wares from a mix of straw and rice. The city’s main draw today is great local delicacies.
Valencia

6. Valencia

The capital of the Valencian region, Valencia has a pleasant busy city buzz to it, but never gets as crowded as Barcelona. It’s a seaside city that knows how to live well. Residents flock to the city restaurants late into the night. End a cycling trip here with a paella pan bigger than a bike wheel – after all, the dish was invented in the region.

Practicalities

There’s local assistance on hand if you have any problems (though you’ll need to know how to fix a basic puncture yourself). Your luggage gets transported for you, so you’ll just need a day pack. You’ll get breakfasts, but lunches are best bought on the hoof. E-bikes are subject to availability, and you’ll have to pay a supplement. Because they’re heavier, and motorised, they’re not suitable for children.
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Joe Calhoun] [Topbox: Heather Cowper] [Biar: Jesus Alenda] [Cullera: Frayle] [Els Alforins: Enrique Iniguez Rodriguez] [Sierra de Mariola: Manel] [Parque Natural de la Albufera: Marcela Escandell] [Xativa: Roxy] [Valencia: travelnow.or.crylater]
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