When it comes to road cycling, the Costa Daurada is a little known gem. We think it’s one of the best cycling destinations in Europe – but no one has heard of it!

Everyone knows about other Spanish cycling meccas like Girona, on the Costa Brava, and Calpe, on the Costa Blanca: Costa Daurada is for those who like to get ahead of the cycling masses.

It’s been a well kept secret – but for how much longer?

Where is the Costa Daurada?

The Costa Daurada’s 216km of coastline is in southern Catalonia, within the province of Tarragona. About an hour’s drive to the north is Barcelona (and above that Girona and the Costa Brava). To the south is Valencia (and below that, Calpe and the Costa Blanca).

Map showing Costa Brava (top), Costa Daurada (middle), Costa Blanca (bottom)

What’s cycling Costa Daurada like?

As you leave Barcelona airport, heading south towards Tarragona, the appeal of cycling the Costa Daurada is not immediately apparent. You appear to be stuck in a spiral of motorways, slip roads and urban sprawl.

But don’t let this put you off. There’s a reason pro cycling teams train on the Costa Daurada (in 2018, both UAE Team Emirates and Bahrain-Merida trained here) and the whisperings of “Costa Daurada” and “cycling paradise” are growing louder.

As soon as you turn your handlebars inland, away from the busy coastline, a network of finely crafted Spanish roads opens up. You can’t help but be wowed by the rolling countryside, the long climbs of the Prades mountains, hills covered in almond and olive groves, the Priorat vineyards, Montsant National Park, UNESCO protected 12th Century monasteries and dramatic, deserted villages.

Did we mention the climate? Reports of 330 days of sunshine a year are music to the ears of those battling northern Europe’s winter and looking for a winter training camp destination. Costa Daurada lies south of Girona and the Costa Brava, allowing it a fantastic climate that makes cycling in shorts possible for all but a few months of the year.

Cyclist with spectacular backdrop to seaViews on our El Vendrell route – see below
Cyclist entering Santa Creus monastery building complexSanta Creus Monastery – see our route below
Cycling Costa DauradaQuiet roads and fantastic scenery

Cycling holidays on Costa Daurada – bring the family!

The main bases for cyclists exploring the Costa Daurada are Cambrils and Salou (more on these towns below). In both you’ll find plenty of hotels catering to cyclists, bike shops, bars and restaurants. If you’re with family, the vast glittering, golden sand beaches of Cambrils and Salou (responsible for giving Costa Daurada (the “golden one”) its name) are a big draw. But, from Universal’s PortAventura Theme Park and water parks to Roman amphitheatres and fascinating festivals, it’s not all about the beach. There really is loads to do here.

We’ve got lots more info in the Tips section below, our FAQ article on cycling Costa Daurada and our article on things to do in Costa Daurada.

Want to cycle Costa Daurada?

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan an unforgettable Costa Daurada cycling holiday: detailed information on the best cycle routes plus where to stay, when to visit and bike rental/hire in Salou and Cambrils.

Read on and plan your next cycling adventure.

Costa Daurada cycle routes

Overview of cycling Costa Daurada

Look at a map and you’ll soon see that the coastal roads that run north and south from Cambrils/Salou are not ideal for cycling: the E-15 motorway runs down the coast and many of the remaining north-south roads are busy and traffic filled, serving the hotel and apartment blocks that line the beaches.

But the good news is that you can easily avoid these by leaving the coastal strip behind you and heading inland. There you’ll find a network of quiet roads that start out wide and relatively flat for about 20-30km until you hit the hills. Then the roads swiftly become narrower and more windy as they start to point upwards. But the good news is that the gradients aren’t aggressively steep – you’ll find more easy going gradual ascents than Pyrenean or Dolomiti style vertical torture!

On the Costa Daurada, climbs between 3 and 10 kilometers long with steady gradients between 3% and 6% are most common. The highest passes sit at around 1,000m above sea level. Pick your roads right and you find long enjoyable climbs with fantastic views over the plains below, past ancient hilltop towns and rolling vineyards. It’s gorgeous.

Accessing the rides

We were based in Cambrils, and from here you get out of the really urban areas within a few kilometres and into the hills a bit after – they’re 30 kilometres or so from the coast.

We visited Costa Daurada with the Tourist Board and they were keen to show us the fantastic riding across the region. Only one of our loops was accessible direct from Cambrils/Salou (assuming you’re not up for a 150km+ type ride – we note where you can amend the route to ride from Cambrils/Salou in the relevant guides). We used a car to get to the start of the rides that were further away.

But just because we drove to the start of most of our rides, don’t assume you’ll need to. The Tourist Board has created lots of routes that start from different parts of the Costa Daurada – we just didn’t do all of them on this trip.

  • The excellent map you can find on this page (scroll down) produced by the Tourist Board shows there are easily enough cycle routes from Cambrils to keep you entertained if you don’t have a car. 
  • They’ve also developed five cycling routes from Salou, here
  • There are downloadable routes all over the region, here.

Our Costa Daurada cycling routes

Here’s a map showing the route we rode. We’ve written guides to each route, which you’ll find below the map.

Here are the in-depth guides we’ve written to each of the routes – hover on the photo to get some basic statistics for the ride and click through to get to the guide itself. Each guide contains a GPX route, photos and lots more.

And finally – we’ve put together a list of our best tips for riding the Costa Daurada. Read them before you go!

Family cycle routes on the Costa Daurada

The Cambrils-Salou bike path along the front between runs for around 18km and is perfect for pootling along with young kids. It’s probably do-able on a road bike but be aware that in places it’s pretty narrow and it can get busy, so don’t expect to be able to ride fast.

Cambrils-Salou Tourist Board has also developed four family friendly rides. They range from 18 to 58 km long and the shorter ones are mainly on bike paths.  You can pick up a map from a Tourist Information board or look on costadaurada.bike on your mobile and you’ll find all four routes (the site doesn’t work on desktop).

Cycling events on the Costa Daurada

The Volta Catalunya often goes through the Costa Daurada – there are also a number of amateur cycling events in the area that you might like to take part in:

Granfondo Mussara Reus: mussaracycling.com/eventos/mussara-reus – offers three different routes: 95km, 135km, 188km.

Challenge Salou: challenge-salou.com/en/ – a middle distance triathlon which will be held at the end of March 2020.

Clàssica Penedès: classicapenedes.com/ a sportive held in Vilafranca del Penedès in June. In 2019 it will be held on 9 June 2019.

 

Triathlon facilities on the Costa Daurada

  • Salou and Cambrils both have a public 25m swimming pool (some hotels also have great pool facilities, eg Cambrils Park Resort and Playa Eldorado)
  • Cambrils has two running trails: more info here, but note this is only available to view on a mobile phone.

Accommodation

Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.

About the Costa Daurada’s resorts

Cambrils and Salou are two (technically) adjacent towns a few kilometres south of Tarragona (when you’re there, at times it’s difficult to know whether you’re in Cambrils or Salou since they’ve grown together). Both towns have Sports Tourism and Family Tourism certification which highlights that they both have facilities and services for cyclists and families.

Cambrils and Salou are a good choice for anyone wanting a wide choice of accommodation and a seaside base from which to explore the hills of the Costa Daurada by bike.

Bike path in Cambrils, Costa DauradaBike path along the Cambrils-Salou coastline
Coastline viewed from Salou, Costa DauradaCoastline at dusk from Salou looking back to Cambrils
Beach at Cambrils, Costa DauradaBeautiful sandy beaches at Cambrils and Salou

1. Salou

Salou is known for its beaches – there are nine that make up the resort’s coastline and they vary from long, wide, sandy beaches (like Platja de Llevant) to small coves (like Cala Llenguadets). It’s also got lively nightlife and lots of bars and restaurants along the seafront. The fountains on Passeig Jaume 1 are also a highlight.

If you’re with family and they’re keen to visit PortAventura and the water parks, these are closer to Salou than Cambrils.

Salou sign, Costa DauradaSalou sign
View from restaurant over Salou bayView from our restaurant over Salou bay
Local food from SalouLocal speciality starter at Restaurant Les Barques in Salou

2. Cambrils

Cambrils is a town for foodies: it is considered the gastronomic capital of the Costa Daurada, and has around 200 restaurants, two with Michelin stars. The meal we had at Cal Tendre restaurant was divine.

The town has an impressive marina, full of white yachts, power boats and traditional fishing boats too. Every afternoon from 4:30/5pm (other than in May and June), you can see the boats come in with their catch, followed by hundreds of seagulls.

The town boasts the beautiful, recently renovated Sama Park, a site of Cultural Interest, just five kilometres outside Cambrils. There’s also the Pescardor Park and Pinaret Park in the town itself.

Cambrils’ beaches are also very good. There are nine kilometres of blue flag beaches – and you’ll find showers, playgrounds and toilets.

Restaurant in Cambrils, Costa DauradaDelicios tuna fish with wasabi cream at restaurant Cal Tendre, Cambrils
Beach at CambrilsBeach at Cambrils
Goats cheese starter, Cambrils restuarntVegetarian terrine at Restuaurant Cal Tendre, Cambrils

3. Activity heaven

If you’re with family that like activities, the Cambrils-Salou coastline has a huge amount to offer. For example, water based sports including catamaran trips, sailing courses, diving, paddleboarding and fishing. There’s also a heated public swimming pool, high ropes courses, paintballing, tennis, horse riding, golf and children’s park activities such as trampolining, mini golf and carousel.

There’s more information on things to do with kids around Cambrils/Salou, below.

Our choice: Estival Eldorado Resort, Cambrils

The Estival Eldorado resort is a 346 bedroom hotel just a few kilometres from the centre of Cambrils (there’s even a bike path so you don’t need to get in a car to get there!).

For a large hotel, it’s been sympathetically designed: no high rise monstrosities here. Rather, a collection of two storey, whitewashed buildings set around well cared for green lawns. The best rooms have balconies overlooking the sea and unrestricted views along the coast.

Swimming pool at Estival EldoradoMain pool, with lane swimming towards the rear
Sign for the Estival EldoradoEntrance to the hotel
View from balcony room at Estival Eldorado resort Costa DauaradaPart of the hotel’s beach frontage

What we loved

  • Superb sea views from the hotel
  • The hotel is right on the bike path that takes you into Cambrils. This would be great with young kids that like to cycle.
  • The gym and spa were built in 2016 and are very nicely done. The spa area includes an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and hammam. The gym is spacious and well-equipped with everything from spin bikes to weights. There’s also a studio for classes, including spin class. It’s a nice touch that access to the gym, classes and spa are included within the price, even for those on a B&B rate rather than all inclusive. The manager mentioned that they may start making a nominal charge for use of these facilities.
  • There are four pools, all of which are attractive.  Three of these are outdoor pools (including a 25m pool with six lanes). The kids pool is great – there’s a splash pool for very young kids, a climbing frame and slides.
  • In the summer hotel guests can use the sun loungers and parasols on the beach free of charge. There’s also a beach bar and a pool bar at the kids pool.
  • With all this talk of kids, it’s nice that there’s also an adults only pool area with some nice seating around it.
  • Ample car parking, behind a big gate.
  • Road bike rental available from the hotel (via their partner Ertzinger, who provide group cycling tours, and have a stand-alone bike facility – more info below).
  • Option to join a guided ride on a daily rate.
  • Flexible meal options – you can stay on a B&B, half board, full board or fully inclusive basis.
Gym at Hotel Estival Eldorado, Costa DauradaGym at the hotel
Kids pool at Estival Eldorado resort, Cambrils, Costa DauradaKids pool area
Bike storage at Hotel Estival EldoradoErtzinger bike storage

Things to be aware of

  • We were advised that bikes should either be kept in the Ertzinger bike store. This is alarmed when locked and we were told storage was 4 euros per night and access was between 9am-midday and 4-6pm. Alternatively we were told we could keep our bike in the hotel’s luggage store. We opted to keep our bike in our car.
  • Expect a canteen style buffet breakfast.
  • The outdoor pools are not heated. We were told the kids pool generally opens in May; the exact date depends on the weather.
  • While the spa complex and pools were elegant, we felt the décor in our room was less smart, though we did love the balcony with its sea views.

Conclusion

The Estival Eldorado is well-placed for getting out into the best bike rides of the region. It’s a particularly nice touch that you can join an Ertzinger group ride for just a day or two, even if you’re not on one of their tours. Overall we think the hotel is a good bet for anyone wanting a resort style holiday that combines cycling with time away with their other half or kids. There’s lots to do within the hotel itself, and if you get itchy feet, the beach activities of Cambrils are close at hand as well as the plethora of water and theme parks at Salou.

Cyclist's buffet at Hotel Estival EldoradoCyclists staying with Ertzinger can use this area to make their own packed lunch
View from Estival Eldorado over the sea at CambrilsView from our room’s balcony
Hotel room at Hotel Estival Eldorado, Cambrils, Costa DauradaOur hotel room

Other Costa Daurada sports/cycling hotels

The Tourist boards have a list of hotels in Cambrils and Salou that they’ve designated as meeting certain bike hotel requirements. Their requirements are:

  • Flexibility on serving meal times
  • Possibility to prepare picnics/snacks
  • A workshop for the cyclists to be able to make basic repairs
  • A safe area where bikes can be kept
  • An area where bikes can be cleaned

The hotels meeting those requirements are found here: Cambrils and Salou.

We should give a special mention to Cambrils Park Resort, which often plays hosts to professional teams and is where Nibali and the Bahrain-Merida team trained for the 2019 cycling season.  The resort has three themed areas of accommodation, four swimming pools, two restaurants, a fully gym and spa area, supermarket, bakery and laundry. It also has renowned football facilities and holds training camps throughout the year.

Bike hire: Costa Daurada

Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.

Road bike hire in Cambrils and Salou should be straightforward as there are a number of bike hire outlets on this stretch of coast. We haven’t visited the places listed below, but hope the information is useful. The listings concentrate on establishments that offer road bike hire. There are additional outlets (not listed here) that offer leisure bikes and kids bikes.

Bike hire: Salou and Cambrils
Bike rental Cambrils and Salou

Cycling Costa Daurada

Camí del Mas de Clariana, S / N

Cambrils 43850

 

 

Argon bikes with carbon frames with Shimano Ultegra compact 50-34.

They offer delivery and collection of bikes to where you’re staying, daily guided tours starting at Cambrils Park Resort and loan of helmets, shoes and pedals

1 day: 46 euros

2-5 days: 36 euros/day

6+ days: 26 euros/day

Rodabike

Carrer Pau Casals

59 local 3

43850 Cambrils

 

 

Specialized road bikes.

Includes helmet, pedals and lock

Also offer

Guide € 120 / day, maximum groups of 15 people

Support van € 140 / day

They have a workshop and can carry out repairs.

33 euros/day

Discounts available for multiple day hire.

Insurance payable on top of these prices.

Marine Bicicletes

Pg. Sant Joan Baptista la Salle, 15

43850 Cambrils (Tarragona)

 

 

Carbon frame with Shimano Ultegra 11s DISK group and Shimano 105 11s

Includes repair kit, pump and speedometer.

Bring your own helmet and pedals.

33 euros/day

Discounts available for multiple day hire.

In addition to this there is:

50 euro deposit

10 euro insurance in case of accident (optional)

Eitzinger

Carrer Ganssen, 43850 Cambril

You can rent anything from a high quality road bike to a kids bike here. You can also join their guided rides on a daily basis. The cost is 30 euros per ride. From 10 euros/day or 50 euros/week.

Bike Cambrils

Avenida Diputación 185 in Cambrils

 

 

 

Offer road bike hire with a range of models. Please contact them for more information.

Tips:

  • Book your bike in advance, particularly in peak season.
  • Remember to bring your own pedals, shoes and helmet. This packing list may help!
  • Check which way around your brakes are set before you ride away (i.e. whether the front brakes are on the right hand (as is usual in the UK) or on the left (as is usual elsewhere in Europe)). Also take a look at our list of things to check before hiring a bike.

Undecided on whether to hire a bike or bring your own? Read this now.

Best time to visit Costa Daurada

The Costa Daurada has a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters with little rain. Average temperatures range from around 12℃  in winter to between 23℃  and 29℃  in summer. However, it is worth noting the contrast between the coastal and mountain areas, where the average temperatures are generally 2℃  to 4℃ lower than on the coast.

Rainfall is mainly in autumn and spring, although short and heavy showers are common in summer.

High season in terms of cycling, doesn’t completely fit in with the best time to visit in terms of weather. High season for cycling the Costa Daurada runs from April to the end of May, to tie in with pre-season training, and then the end of September to end of October, for those looking to finish their season in style! It’s worth noting that October rainfall statistics (below) are not ideal, so you’d want to pack a rain jacket if you visited then.

Costa Daurada events

As a side note, it’s worth knowing that this is a region that loves a reason to celebrate, and if you enjoy seeing and taking part in local festivals, you could consider timing your visit accordingly. We’d love to time another visit to see the Castells, or human towers, which can reach up to a maximum of ten storeys! Peak season starts in April and runs until the beginning of October.

Another interesting event, (and one which you might be able to use to persuade your family to allow you to visit this region?!) is the Setmana Medieval de Montblanc. For fifteen days allows travelling in time and knowing how the people from Montblanc lived in the Middle Ages, when the Ducal village was the country’s seventh most important town. We chanced upon a festival in Montblanc, with adults and children in Medieval costume and a market in the town centre. It was very atmospheric, so we assume the fifteen day festival is a sight to behold!

 

January A mild winter with average monthly temperatures hovering around 10℃. Rainfall in March is statistically quite a lot higher than January and February (42mm compared with 22mm for January and 12mm for February)

  • Average highs: 13-19℃
  • Rainfall: 12-42mm
February
March
April Spring bursts in with largely warm, sunny skies and minimal rainfall. This is a great time to ride on the Costa Daurada.

  • Average highs: 20-29℃
  • Rainfall: 10-15mm
May
June
July July and August can get a bit hot for cycling. There’s often a breeze on the coast, but inland can be a bit oppressive. However, head out early and you’ll escape the worst of it!

  • Average highs: 29℃
  • Rainfall: 11-25mm
August
September Often a beautiful month on the Costa Daurada, with great temperatures though there’s an increasing chance of rain.

  • Average highs: 26℃ 
  • Rainfall: 38mm
October Average temperatures start to cool off a bit, and October is statistically the wettest month of the year, but with an average of over 300 sunny days each year, odds are it’s probably more sunny here than many places.

  • Average highs: 15-24℃ 
  • Rainfall: 5-62mm (5mm in December, 62 in October)
November
December

(Weather information taken from Cambrils tourist information guide)

Tips

Books

There aren’t many guidebooks to the Costa Daurada. We bought the Hispa-Guide to Costa Azahar and Costa Daurada but weren’t overly impressed.

Good to know

Getting here

For those arriving by plane, Barcelona is the most commonly used airport. It’s around 100km to the north. Reus Airport is even closer, at just 12km from Cambrils, and offers direct flights from a few destinations in the UK at certain times of the year.

If you are wondering about train connections, there’s a railway station at Cambrils which connects to the Valencia-Barcelona line. The high speed train in Tarragona is only 32km from Cambrils.

Barcelona airport is located only one hundred away kilometres from the Costa Daurada.

Things to do around Cambrils-Salou with kids

If you’re looking to entertain the kids, look no further than PortAventura World near Salou. In 2017 it added Ferrari Land and next door to it is PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park, reputedly one of the best water parks in Europe. There are also waterparks at Platja de la Pineda and Vila-seca.

On top of these, other big days out include Electric Karting Salou, Karting Salou (meant to be one of the best karting complexes in Europe), Bosc Aventura in Salou (with more than 8,000 square metres of green area including zip wires and paintball) and Parc Sama in Cambrils, an architect designed zoo.

For those looking for more educational fun, check out the Roman amphitheatre and Part Alta (high part) of Tarragona, the cave paintings at Capcanes, Poblet monastery (which is the largest Cistercian monastery in Europe), the medieval village of Montblanc and the caves of l’Espluga de Francoli.

One of the areas main draws for families are the beaches. There are apparently sixty beaches along 92 kilometres of coastline, from long beaches with fine, golden sand to small coves surrounded by cliffs. Most of the beaches are good for swimming – the sand slopes gently into the calm Mediterranean sea. They’re also clean with many sporting the Blue Flag designation.

Finally, don’t miss our FAQs on cycling in the Costa Daurada, there are more ideas for things to do off the bike within that. Likewise, our article on things to do in the Costa Daurada has lots of ideas whether you’re with kids or not.

Enjoyed our guide?

We’d love to hear from you – comment below or drop us a line.

Want more? Don’t miss our guides to the best Costa Daurada cycling routes below (or go direct, via these links: MussaraPoblet/Mont BlancEl Vendrell/Santa Creus, Priorat/Montsant).

Want to compare the Costa Daurada with the Costa Brava or Costa Blanca? Fortunately we have guides to both, here: Girona and Costa Brava and Calpe and Costa Blanca.

Want to explore Barcelona while you’re there? Read this guide to the Barcelona region.

Want to check out some other destinations? Check out our pick of the best cycling destinations in Spain here. Alternatively you can browse all our guides, here.

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

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