Saddle Up For Spain This Summer

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Spain has so many draws, from world class cities to some of the planet’s finest cuisine and from marvellous weather to stunning countryside scenery. However, for many people Spain is synonymous with the beach holiday, being the original overseas package holiday destination for many British sun seekers.

Whilst two weeks on a beach undoubtedly has the potential to be a relaxing and enjoyable break, all too often it can turn into a fortnight of excess, which can leave the body and mind feeling bloated at best, or exhausted and degenerated if you really didn’t hold back on the sangria. With so much to discover in Spain – and its delights made it the fourth most visited country in the world in 2012 – why not take a more adventurous option and consider a cycling holiday in Spain this summer?

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Not only will such a vacation enable you to get closer to the “real” Spain – its culture, nature, people and history – but it will also mean you are far more likely to return feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, rather than tired and in need of another holiday! The combination of a modicum of exercise coupled with plenty of fresh air and some awe-inspiring scenery is sure to get the endorphins flowing. Of course, a cycling holiday needn’t mean an ascetic one, and a cold beer or glass of wine tastes even better when it’s been well-earned, as does a fine meal.

And nowhere is food done better than in Spain, with the famous El Bulli a former winner of the Best Restaurant in the World accolade, whilst the current number one, El Celler de Can Roca is located in Girona and well worth a visit… if you can get a table! At www.headwater.com you will find an excellent selection of Spanish cycling breaks, many of which visit some of Spain’s finest culinary centres.

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Catalonia, where both El Bulli (although no longer open) and El Celler are located, is a wonderful option to discover on two wheels. Taking in both the coast and the countryside of the interior, such a break will see you pass through olive groves and peach orchards, through flower-filled fields of yellow, white and gold and along quiet coastal trails. The routes are very flat and by and large free of traffic, making such a break ideal for families, beginners or those simply looking for some leisurely, rather than challenging, cycling. Numerous medieval towns and hamlets punctuate the journey and make for a bewitching distraction from the majestic natural scenery and are also fine places to stop for lunch. Peratallada, 22km east of Girona is one such option and is a prosperous town that is particularly joyous in August when the annual Festa Major takes place.

A Catalan adventure can be easily combined with a visit to Barcelona and this also makes the area very easy to reach from almost anywhere in Europe. Of course, Spain has much more besides Catalonia and the famous Camino de Santiago, the Way of St James, will appeal in equal measure to those of a religious nature and those with an interest in history or simply anyone who enjoys cycling past fine Gothic cathedrals, through yet more colorful fields of flowers and through picturesque Galician villages. Culminating in the magnificent cathedral at Santiago de Compostela this route is a real joy, and the sense of history that pervades the ancient trail is almost tangible.

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Wherever you go in Spain you are sure to have a great holiday in this marvellous country. But if beaches are where you normally spend your breaks, why not consider something different this year?

Photo credits: jafsegal  Jacobo Canady  Paco CT   jl.cernadas