Escaping months of growing Covid frustration, I have hit the road this first (of many?) bike and couchsurfing trip in Southern Spain.
Beautiful coastlines, lush valleys, breathtaking mountains, stunning canyons, quiet lakes, seas and oceans alike have been my delight and companions in what have been the discovery of some of the most rich and various region I have ever visited.
Despite the pandemic, I was hosted 75% of the trip, and had the chance to share conversation, food, thoughts and stories with some truly amazing and inspiring people.
The route, built following advice from friends, locals and the irreplaceable planning app Komoot, brings you across cities, seaside and countryside, hitting all major urban and natural sights of the region and guaranteeing a very balanced combination of landscapes ─ a necessary requirement to keep away any potential boredom of long term solo-pedalling. A truly wonderful bike trip that I just couldn’t recommend high enough!
Komoot, electrolytes and vitamin supplements, multi-position handlebars, sunscreen!!!
Finding couchsurfing hosts in smaller towns
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Both food and water are very easy to find. I think there are no stretches of the trip where you would have troubles finding a bar or restaurant to have a snack or refill your bottles. I was self-sufficient in my cycling days and found out that 1.8 lt of water were enough for my needs. If you plan on cooking though, you obviously need more.
As I planned to do my trip during the Covid pandemic, I had doubts about my accommodation plans. An overly positive response to some requests I’ve sent around before the beginning of the trip have convinced me that the Couchsurfing community was as welcoming as ever.
I have therefore decided to travel as light as possible and not carry around a tent, and have ended up being hosted 75% of the time, the remaining 25% choosing the cheapest hotel or Airbnb option.
I had plenty of options because of the peculiar moment I was travelling, but do always ask if you can bring inside your bike. 95% of hotels/Airbnbs are accommodating, but you don’t want to accidentally find yourself booking one the remaining 5% at the end of a long day of cycling.
An interesting thing I have found out during this trip is that, although you are not allowed with your bike on motorways (and rightly so), in Spain alongside each motorways are the “Vias de servicio”, which are paved or gravel service roads running parallel to each way. Although cars are allowed riding on the vias de servicio, I have seen by far more cyclists than cars on them.
They are not ideal for a quiet and relaxing pedalling, but they are very good if you have to get straight to your destination. Should you want or need to bring your bike on a train, bear in mind that only the “Media Distancia” or the Cercania trains allows you to bring your bike without having to dismantle it. Have a look to this page for details of how you can travel in Spain with your bike.
Hopefully we should be back on a “normal” lifestyle soon, but if you are hesitating hitting the road because of any regional or provincial travelling restrictions, bear in mind that I have never been stopped and questioned by the police in the full 2.5 months my trip has lasted.
I’m not encouraging breaking the law, but bear in mind that this sort of trip where you spend most of your time by yourself or in the nature is much safer than staying in a city, no matter how anti-social you might consider yourself.
THINGS TO SEE ALONG THE ROUTE
Valencia & Parc natural de l’Albufera
Cabo de Gata & Playa de Monsul (detour)
Desierto de Tabernas (detour)
Caminito del rey (Ardales)
Playa de Bolonia & conjunto arqueologico Baelo Claudia
Vejer de la Frontera (detour)
Parque nacional de Doñana
This trip was far and beyond my highest expectations, especially in the weird times I have ended up travelling.
In southern Spain, and in Andalucia in particular, I have found anything a traveller would hope for, including mouthwatering (and cheap!) food, welcoming and generous people, an impressively rich culture, fascinating traditions alongside gorgeous vestiges of the past, and, maybe most important of all, an outrageously beautiful landscape.
And the list is far from being exhaustive. So what are you waiting for to hit the road yourself? 😉
A self-proclaimed urban explorer, Alessandra has an endless thirst for people’s stories and a boundless passion for travelling. After several years developing the left side of her brain, she eventually quit her scientific job to fully dedicate herself to her wanderlust and her artistic and creative passions.
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