When web searches for “mountain biking” and “Spain” repeatedly turned up Granada, we abandoned our original plan to go to Barcelona and came here instead.
How do I get there?
Where can I rent bikes?
A robust bike rental service has yet to evolve in Granada but it may just be a matter of time before good quality bikes are available to rent here. Meanwhile Granada’s Tourism office has published info (unfortunately only in Spanish right now) about bike rentals in Granada on its website http://www.turgranada.es/cicloturismo
Step 1: Click on link and hit “Entrar”
Step 2: Select the tab “Servicios”
Step 3: Check the box “Alquiler de BTT” and click “Buscar”
Alternatively, at time of writing, a friend and former coworker had just launched http://bicialquiler.com, which is an online service to search for and rent bikes depending upon your destination. Unfortunately there’s nothing for Granada yet but that could change as more shops learn about the service.
Where can I stay?
Since we live here, we don’t have many opinions on area hotels BUT we do feel pretty strongly about the zones that are suitable for cyclists. We recommend finding a place to stay with easy access to the city center, either by foot or by bus because trying to park downtown is more of a pain than it’s worth. We also recommend staying somewhere down low since you hardly want to end every ride with a hill climb. That said, Realejo checks all the boxes for its location just below the Alhambra, with convenient access by foot to the center, but just enough clicks away from the mania to offer a little peace and quiet. If however, you thrive on chaos then find a place in the Albaicin, just make it somewhere between the Darro river and the Calle San Juan de los Reyes, otherwise you will end every ride with a climb.
We live in Cenes de la Vega, which is about 5km/3mi east of Granada in the direction of the Sierra Nevadas and can be accessed by the SN1 city bus (or taxi after hours). The Hotel Calderón there has an awesome backyard bar, shaded by trees and plenty of space to park your bike while you relax with a post-ride beverage and tapa. Beyond that, we don’t have much else to offer in terms of the hotel’s quality.
Is English widely spoken there?
No — at least not consistently. It varies and most people know just enough English to carry out business transactions but not enough to sustain a conversation. You should be fine if you speak slowly and clearly, and maybe pepper your words with some animated hand gestures.
Is the water from fountains drinkable?
Yes but due to a regulation put in place sometime between 2015 and 2016 that required public water to be treated, signs saying “Agua no potable” went up at a few of our regular fountains. It’s the same water as before, what’s different is the new regulation but we take our chances and proceed as before. We’ll make every effort to mark our route maps with fountains that we frequent.
Is tipping required?
It is customary to leave behind any loose change that’s under 1€ once you’ve paid your bar tab. You can choose to tip more if you go out to a restaurant and if you do, for sure you’ll be invited back.
Is cycling here safe?
Keep in mind that Hicham and I were bike messengers in San Francisco (read “Our Tale“) so “safe” with respect to traffic and urban riding is subjective. There are however, a few unique features to watch out for as a cyclist in Granada.
WAX During Semana Santa, the processions are often mounted with burning and more importantly, dripping candles. The wax that lands on the streets transforms them into gigantic urban Slip ‘n Slides so staying upright becomes tenuous. Add in a little characteristic Semana Santa rain and it’s the Ice Follies…if the Ice Follies were produced by Rob Dyrdek.
BUSES Granada’s main streets are narrow by US standards so don’t even think of crossing the center line because an oncoming bus has nowhere to go except straight for you. Stay in your lane, if you want respect you’ve got to give it so follow the rules.
DOGS While they rarely make contact, sometimes they do bark and chase, which still freaks me out a bit (Hicham, not so much). They are trained to defend whatever they deem their property/territory, how that gets defined seems to be up to them.
Is Granada safe?
Yes, except for some petty crime (mostly pickpocketing and swindling) that’s common in tourist areas. We definitely wouldn’t leave bikes unguarded if we stop somewhere, which is why we always try to go to places with outside seating.
If I crash on my bike and need medical care, what do I do?
112 is the emergency phone number for Spain; know your coordinates before you call. South of Granada is the main hospital, Hospital Campus de la Salud (see map), which handles trauma cases so if you can get yourself there, that’s your best bet for urgent care.
For cuts and scrapes, there seems to be no shortage of pharmacies in Granada and if one is closed, you won’t have to look far to find another one. They are identifiable by the large green crosses that usually hang over the door.