Let’s be honest: we have a love-hate relationship with the Spanish Vias Verdes or “green ways.” We have personally explored many of these converted old railways, now bike/walking paths, with varying degrees of success and enjoyment – there have been times where we have cycled beautifully, and other times when we have thought to ourselves, “what in god’s name are we doing here?”
This sentiment pretty much sums up the Vias Verdes in a nutshell: there are well-kept vias verdes with old train stations converted into lovely meeting points, and there are poorly maintained vias full of dust and loose gravel. Therefore, our advice in this regard is to do your research before you begin cycling the Vias Verdes, by reading others’ experiences with those trails for example. Seeking advice from local Spaniards themselves may not be as valuable in this case, however, as we have noticed that they are a bit overly enthusiastic about the only car-free bike paths in the country.
While cycling the Vias Verdes, we came up with a list of five pros and cons about this experience.
1) You can cycle through car-free and nature-filled roads
2) Always gradual climbing and descending (max 2%)
3) Cycling through mountainous areas without intensely steep elevation gains
4) Fun and interesting stops along the route (terraces, bike shops, sleep accommodations)
5) You bike regularly through tunnels and between railway passages making the ride nice and sheltered
1) The Vias Verdes do sometimes bypass these nice little spanish towns
2) Some vias verdes are very short and stop abruptly
3) You cannot ride in a circle while on the vias verdes (just as the train does not drive in circles)
4) Some vias verdes are poorly maintained
5) If you have to cycle through a town or city, you sometimes lose the route
The maintenance of the Vias Verdes is the responsibility of the local municipalities, therefore, the upkeep of each one varies greatly – some are well kept, and others are quite rough.
Overall, we think the Vias Verdes are a great initiative with a lot of touristic potential. At the same time, however, a lot of work is still necessary to get all of the 2,500 kilometers of the paths up to par and maintain them properly.
Nice Vias Verdes:
Via Verde de Ojos Negros
Via Verde El Carillet (Catalonie)
Via Verde de la Jara
Via Verde del Zafan, Tierra Alta y Baix Ebro (Zuid-Catalonie)
Via Verde de la Sierra de Alcazar
Via Verde del Aceite y la Subbetica
Via Verde de la Sierra
Via Verde del Tajuna y del Tren de los 40 dias
Via Verde de la Demanda
Via Verde del Vasco Navarro,
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