There are a hundred reasons why you should try Mountain bike riding in the stunning region of Galicia. The biking routes are littered with waterfalls, monasteries, spectacular landscapes, and wineries. There is also the stunning Sil Canyon which you can cycle above, taking in the views.
The network of routes varies in distance, difficulty and scenery. They are also well mapped with graphical maps, technical information, and signposted. In the morning you can mountain bike before partaking in one of the many actives in the afternoon, like wine tasting.
I had been mountain riding before in Les Gets and Morzine but I had never gone on a mountain bike adventure holiday before. When I was approached about exploring the MTB Centres on an eco mountain bike, I jumped at the chance.
Once I figured out how to use the two sets of gears correctly, I really enjoyed it a lot. So much so that I am already planning my next Eco bike trip next month.
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Mountain Bike Riding in Galicia Spain
Mountain bike riding in Galicia allows you to connect with Spanish nature, go on an adventure while having fun, not to mention it is great for your health and wellbeing. I cycled parts of the MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra and O Salnes in the Galicia over two days.
In the afternoons we would do other activities like wine tasting, taking a boat down the Sil River and hiking around Fábrica de la Luz.
MTB Centres were created by BTT Galicia as environmentally friendly tourism through Mountain Bike Riding. It is a network of centres with designated routes that offer a different range in degrees of difficulty and distance. They are centred around enabling riders to discover the stunning rural landscapes and sites, at their own pace.
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What is an Eco Bike ( Electric/E-bike)
An Eco Bike (also known as an Electric or E-bike) is an integrated electric motor that works with the gears on your bike to assist and give you more power when pushing forward. It is like having an extra pair of legs that does all the hard work for you when pedalling. Making your life easier especially when going up a hill.
Apart from being great fun to ride, Eco Bikes are good for the environment, compared to motorcycles and cars. You still get the benefits of exercise when using an Eco Bike but if you want to work harder and get your heart pumping, then all you do is turn off the motor and you’ve got yourself a regular mountain bike.
⇒ Read about my experience Eco mountain bike riding in the summer resort of Morzine France
About MTB Centres
There are 6 MTB centres with each having combined routes that make up a total of 100 kms. All routes are graded by colour with black being very hard, red is for hard and blue for the easiest, just like skiing. The routes are also marked in different colours on the maps to help identify them more easily.
At each Welcome Point there are bicycle services and tourist information, as well as washing points, toilets and showers. There is also bicycle rental available at these points if you decided to not take your own. At the start of each route, parking and technical information are available.
Routes are Sign Posted
In addition to the information boards in the parking area, all the routes are clearly signposted as well. Everything has been thought through to make sure that you don’t get lost and that you have a safe and pleasurable time. If you want peace of mind think about getting a portable bike GPS navigation like the Mio Cyclo GPS with Touchscreen.
What it was like to mountain bike ride in Galicia
Over the course of the adventure trip we rode two different sections of the MTB Centres, Centre of O Salnes & Centre of Ribeira Sacra. Both were very different experiences with completely different scenery. The MTB Centre of O Salnes was lush beautiful green forest, waterfalls and steep sections. The MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra was across open spaces atop the mountains overlooking the Sil Canyon.
Overview MTB Centre of O Salnes
MTB Centre in Salnes consists of 10 biking routes, 4 Very hard, 3 hard and 3 easy. You can see the details and information of the different Centre in Salnes routes here for your GPS with GPX. Highlights are the O Castro Recreational Area, Armenteira (Santa María) and the little man made village called Muínos.
Overview MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra
There are 5 routes that make up the MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra, 2 Very hard, 2 hard and 1 easy. You can see the full details and all relevant information on the Centre of Ribeira Sacra site for GPS with GPX.
You can take a guided tour from Santiago de Compostela to Ribeira Sacra to see all the main highlights if you don’t feel like riding.
First day of mountain bike riding
We only completed a small section (only 8klms) of the MTB Centre of O Salnes route on the first day due to weather. When we woke, there were thunderstorms, lighting and it was pouring with rain. Not good conditions for mountain bike riding even on an eco bike.
As the weather cleared the guides had a discussion and comprised a new route. We set off on a flat path (also shared with pedestrians) through the forest along a stream. Before stopping at Muíno which is now used as a picnic area with a small waterfall.
Falling and steep sections
Then it was time for the hard part, as we climbed 6 (or maybe more) steep sections with our eco mountain bikes. At one point I fell off and straight into the mud, as I was still trying to work the electric gears with the normal gears. I ended up putting the bike in walk mode and pushed the bike up the steep sections with one of the guides assistants.
After this, it was back to flatter ground through a village and past a winery, before finishing at the Mosteiro de Santa María da Armenteira. We were picked up and taken to the golf course to shower (one of the services offered at the MTB Centres) before our wine tour at Mar de Frades Vineyard.
Mix up your trip and think about booking a full day private tour to three different wine regions in Galicia.
Second day mountain bike riding
On the second day, we completed some of the MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra section. We covered over 35kms in open wide spaces up above the Sil River Canyon and through villages. We rode through some spectacular landscapes and had some stunning views, which at some points remind me a little of the Fjords in Norway, especially from the viewing point.
We started our route from the famous converted monastery Parador de Santo Estevo. From there it was all uphill through the forest but not overly steep like the day before. I was struggling a little and I could not think why as I had worked out how to use the gears correctly.
As we got into the open spaces, the guide realised that I had a punctured tire, once fixed, it was all uphill from there (no pun intended). Make sure to carry a puncture repair kit with you for those unexpected situations.
Stop off at the Sil Canyon viewing point
We passed the wind turbines and made out way to the viewing point to overlook the Sil Canyon. We stopped for a small break to take pictures of the amazing views. From there, we made our way back down to the meeting point where the Van was waiting.
Going down the mountain
I thought coming down a mountain on a bike would be much easier than going up but I was wrong. It took more concentration and control not to put the brakes too much and flip the backend out. For a second, I forgot how powerful these mountain bikes were with the electric gears and I flipped right off into a puddle.
This did not discourage me though and I was back on the bike, continuing my ride down the mountain to our pick up spot. Before we changed our clothes and head out on the boat through Sil Canyon Galicia.
Where to fly into Galicia
Galicia, an autonomous community is located in the north-west part of Spain and sits on the Atlantic coastline. There are 3 international airports, Santiago de Compostela airport, La Coruna Airport and Vigo airport that service the region.
London is roughly 2hrs to any of these airports, making it super easy for a weekend adventure. Flights from Santiago de Compostela airport are more regular than the other two and usually cheaper. You also have more options in regards of car hire from this airport too.
If you want to take your own Eco mountain bike from London to Galicia by plane you can. Airlines like EasyJet offer this service for an additional fee under sports equipment.
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Tip for mountain bike riding in Galicia
- You can download the cycle routes and make your own itinerary
- It is compulsory to wear a helmet, which can be hired if you don’t have one.
- Select the appropriate routes based on your physical and technical abilities. Not only will it make it more enjoyable for you but it is less risk of getting into trouble.
- Just like when you go hiking, let someone know what route you’re going to take and roughly how long it will take.
Take a water bottle or water bladder
Take a water bottle (preferably reusable) or a water bladder to stay hydrated while mountain bike riding in Galicia. Especially in the warmer months of summer and spring when the Spanish sun gets very hot. There are drinking fountains in some of the villagers that you go through when riding but they are few and far between.
I used my reusable water bottle but I wished I had taken my water bladder instead for two reasons. One, I ran out of water as I was drinking more going up the steep bits, lucky though as we went past a drinking fountain soon after. Second, it was a pain stopping and starting to have a drink instead of being able to have water on the go.
Take a day backpack mountain bike riding
Make sure to take a day backpack for mountain bike riding in Galicia, to carry all your relevant items like a puncture repair kit. As well as your water (preferably in a reusable water bottle) to keep you hydrated. You can also put your money in there and GoPro.
I use a women’s backpack from the Osprey range, which is spacious and comfortable to wear. I highly recommend the brand, as their backpacks are specifically made for outdoor adventures. Here are some other good day backpacks, all are reasonably priced.
What to carry in your backpack for mountain bike ridging
Here are some suggestions on what to pack in your day backpack for biking and a useful checklist:
- Puncture repair kit for fixing your mountain Eco bike
- A copy of your travel insurance
- Reusable water bottle to keep hydrated
- Small first aid kit for any accidents
- Sweets and Nuts to keep fuelled in a reusable food storage bag.
- Make sure to take a change of clothes and leave them in the car for after your bike ride.
Where to stay in Galicia
Due to the vast area covered in Galicia, we stayed in two different hotels while eco mountain bike riding. We used Hotel Quinta de San Amaro as our base for the MTB Osalné route and Parador Santo Estevo de Rivas for the MTB Ribeira Sacra route. Both were beautiful hotels and unique in their own ways.
Check availability and types of accommodation in the Galicia Spain
Hotel Quinta de San Amaro – MTB Osalné route
Hotel Quinta de San Amaro was charming and had amazing views of rural surroundings and a nice infinity pool. If you want to take a break from riding, the hotel offers a free trip to a winery that produces Albariño white wine and a tasting session.
Parador Santo Estevo de Rivas – MTB Ribeira Sacra route
Parador Santo Estevo de Rivas is a converted 10th century monastery that has a beautiful courtyard that looks stunning lit up at night. The hotel also boasts a fantastic spa, a 5 start restaurant and some amazing views over the surrounding countryside.
Other things to do in Galicia after mountain bike riding
If you have the time, here are a few suggestions of top things you can do in Galicia Spain.
- If you have time, spend a few days in the capital of Galicia, Santiago before or after your bike trip.
- Take one of the boat tours along the River Sil and River Mino canyons to discover incredible scenery. This is especially good if you are doing one of the routes in the MTB Centre of Ribeira Sacra
- Visit one of the many wineries in the region, like Mar de Frades Vineyard. Recommended if you are only doing a half day mountain bike riding in the morning.
- Stay at Parador Santo Estevo and wander around the beautiful Monasterio. It is truly a beautiful place overlooking the mountains.
Would I recommend doing mountain bike riding in Galicia
I read a quote once from Sacred Rides founder, Mike Brcic that said: “A bad day on a mountain bike always beats a good day in the office.” Mountain Bike riding isn’t just a sport or hobby to many it is a way of life and after my trip to Galicia Spain, I completely understand why.
If you love mountain bike riding or want an environmentally friendly adventure then Galicia Spain MTB Centres should be on your list. Especially as they have been created so you do them all year round. If you want to try electric biking riding before doing mountain bike riding then, I suggest somewhere like Vercors Massif France.
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Thank you for reading my article on eco mountain bike riding in Galicia Spain. For more information, please feel free to visit Galicia Spain Website
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Have you been Mountain Bike riding in Galicia before?. I would love to hear your experience in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Even though I was invited by the Spanish Tourism Office. All views are my own and based on my own experience.
62 thoughts on “Why Mountain Bike Riding in Galicia Spain should be on your list”
I have really learned a lot from reading this post. Like you, I do not have a lot of experience when it comes to riding a bike out in this type of terrain or over long distances. The thought of tackling roads with steep hills is not something that thrills me. However, I also haven’t yet tried using an eco-bike and these sound like a really great way to explore some beautiful landscapes. Definitely worth a go and I just love Galicia as a destination and the photos you shared just show how lovely this place is.
Eco-bike were a lot of fun and think they are great for people, who don’t usually go bike riding. In regards to Galicia, I thought it was stunning too and I would love to go back.
Great post! I like that you really took your time and didn’t push to hard each day. The scenery is worth slowing down for I say! Also, I now undertstand what an ebike is, and can totally get why people would want to use them (uphill cycling is not my fave!!!)
I would mind getting an eco-bike myself especially to use around London. I love fact the motor gives you that push when you need it. Galicia is such a beautiful place and definitely was worth the visit.
I’m so intrigued by the eco bike! I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a child and have been too intimidated to try a bike ride while traveling. But, now I’m wondering if an eco bike might be the solution for me!
I have to admit I was a little intimidated by big bikes too but once I was on it and learnt how to use everything correctly. I realised that it was a lot of fun and there was nothing to worry about.
I feel like mountain biking wouldn’t be complete without a little tumble into some mud. And at least it wasn’t into rocks haha. I’ve never been inclined to mountain bike mostly due to the tumbles, but you do make it sound interesting.
I thought the same thing that I was lucky it was not in the rubble. Both falls were into the mountain, afterwards, I look like a little kid who had been rolling around in mud. 🙂 The eco bikes were a lot of fun and definitely great for going up the hills and taking that hard work away.
This is a great place to do mountain bike riding. The adventure is enhanced because of the incredibly lovely terrain and the spectacular views on the way. I can see that you had a geat experience. Hope to do this some day.
Galicia is general is beautiful and I was blown away by its beauty. I hope that you get mountain bike ride in Galicia to some day.
I love the idea of the eco bikes, and Galicia looks so picturesque. Sounds like a great way to see the scenery. Nice that you got to sample the local wine too
You would love these eco bikes, I reckon they would be great to use through the villages through in England. I do love the fact that you can stop off at any point and take pictures.
The view of Sil Canyon from Galicia viewpoint is incredible. Also the monastery and nearby surrounding area is so beautiful. I would like to ride eco bike.
The views were stunning especially from the top, I think the pictures did not do it justice how beautiful it was. I stayed in that monastery and all I can say is wow… Definitely, recommend both.
To ride through these beautiful mountains and villages sounds like a dream. Bicycling is a perfect option, at least for me. Walking is too slow, driving too fast. I have wanted to try out an E-bike for years. Hills kill me.
I concur, walking is too slow and driving is too fast. Galicia is definitely a beautiful place.
That canyon looks really stunning, what a beautiful area to cycle. Actually I wanted to buy an electric bike before and everybody was laughing because it was for elderly people. You just took it to a whole new level, literally!
The bike ride up to the Canyon was definitely worth it. It was so stunning, definitely keen to head back to Galicia
We’ve never been mountain biking before but it’s definitely something we’d love to try – the views from your post look fantastic, especially from Galicia viewpoint wow! Never heard of an E-bike before so thanks for sharing some information on that!
I am now a fan of e-bikes and I want to get one myself. The ride up was definitely worth it.
Incredible views. I would certainly love to try it after seeing your pictures and hearing about it in this article. I am going to Spain next week actually!
I didn’t realise how beautiful Galicia was until I was there. The Sil Canyon reminded me of the fjords in Norway.
Wow, you’ve convinced me! I have never done mountain biking but I am willing to try it so I can see those views! Biking seems like the perfect pace to take it all in!
I think eco-bike riding is the perfect introduction to mountain bike riding, especially as it helps going up the hill.
Wow so going to add this to my To Do List for Spain. Look the idea of the Eco bikes to!
Can see the beautiful sites and great vineyards along the way. Sold
I definitely recommend it especially if you love being outdoors 🙂 I also recommend the wine
While I’m not a mountain biker, this article just put Galicia, Spain on my radar! What an incredibly beautiful area to explore deeper, and so very different from the main touristic towns that attract most visitors to Spain. Would love to visit!
I was really impressed on how beautiful Galicia was especially the Sil Canyon. When we were on a boat cursing down the river it reminded me of Fjords, Norway.
I have always wanted to try the electric bike and this would be the perfect place to do it! The scenery is magnificent and although it would be my first-time mountain biking, I’m sure I would love it 🙂
Once I figured out how to use the electric gears with the normal gears, I really enjoyed it a lot. There was all different types of routes depending on your ability, so you would not have a problem.
I have always wanted to try mountain biking, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’m in shape enough to truly enjoy this. Even though it looks so stunning! I love that stone bridge through the forest. It looks like magic!
If I can ride the eco-bikes then anyone can. I don’t think I would have been able to get up the mountain if I didn’t have te electric motor.
I am not in great shape at all and have never tried mountain biking, but this looks like an amazing experience! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous and that one part of the route does indeed look similar to the Norwegian fjords! Wow. I already love visiting Spain, and this would be a completely new way for me to explore the country – and I’d see so much that I wouldn’t otherwise see. Beautiful sites, landmarks, vineyards, you got the whole package there!
I really enjoyed the eco-bikes and I think they are great for everyone because the electric gears are there to give you a boost up the mountains and to help in hard sections. I never realised that Galicia was so beautiful until I was there.
What a nice journey! I live in Copenhagen so I love biking. However, I haven’t biked really long distance to travel. This area is so beautiful to discover, so I will put it in my bucket list so I can explore it some days.
I love Copenhagen you guys love bikes. I really enjoyed using an eco bike for mountain bike riding, I don’t think I would have made it up the hill otherwise.
Did you rent a mountain bike when you arrived in Spain? Or did you bring your own? The bike in the picture looks pretty advanced so I would assume it is your own. The bike trails are really beautiful. I think if I was on it I would have wanted to stop every few feet to take another picture!
I was on a press trip, so the bikes were sorted for us when we got there. You can hire them when you are there though. I ended up being behind because I was taking pictures.
My other half loves cycling and I know that this would be his dream type of holiday! The scenery looks beautiful too! Thank you for sharing 🙂
You could do this trip with him Gingey 🙂 Those electric bikes were a lot of fun to ride.
I will visit Galicia, Spain later this year so it’s perfect to read a little about the area, I’ll probably stop in Santiago de Compostela. The bike routes look well sign posted with useful maps. Would they be easy to take without the guide? It looks like a good workout, even more so with a flat tyre, good job the guide saw it. The electronic gears sound interesting, I’m old and have never ridden a bike with electronic gears so would take time to work them out.
You will love Galicia, especially Santiago de Compostela it is such a beautiful place. I think it would be easy without a guide and you can download the map to your phone, to keep track of where you are going.
Oh this sounds super interesting, and a unique way to explore a new area. I love that the bikes have motors to help you out and that their are clear tracks so you can’t get lost. What a fantastic way to explore a beautiful area. I would love to do this one day.
Once I figured out those gears I really really enjoyed it. I would definitely do it again especially in a city. I think its a great way to see a city and take pictures.
Galicia is such a beautiful place to do mountain biking and it is wonderful they have different routes suiting for people with different degree of mentality and physically, so everyone in Galicia has a chance to discover its beauty through the biking trip. The scenery on the road is beautiful as well and the view of the Sil River Cayon isso green and peaceful. Parador de Santo Estevo Cathedral in Galicia has some amazing architecture, and because of it I will definitely visit the capital.
I loved Galicia is was such a beautiful place and I so surprise by natural beauty. I highly recommend the place
Sounds like an awesome things to do! Its been ages since I went on cycling! Good to know about the Electric Bike! I’ve known of Electric cars but now bikes! Taking the bike and riding it in your own pace, enjoying such a beautiful landscape in a stunning terrain – its just perfect!
The electric bike was a lot of fun to use and I would love to use one around London. I think it is a great way to explore a place.
Wow! This is definitely another way to see a new place. And even if I was in your position, all those failed attempts at biking won’t break my spirit especially if a whole new experience was waiting for me. Putting this on my bucket list for when I visit spain someday 🙂
This was so much fun to do and I love been able to stop and take pictures of things at my own pace.
I tell you what – I like the sound of the wine tour 😉 but I’ve gotta say – that scenery is so beautiful, even I would consider hiring an eco bike. Looks like you had a lotta fun Mel
The eco bike was a lot of fun once I figure out how to use the gears. The wine tour well, it was pretty good too!!!!
I would love to do it. I love cycling and this trail seems to have all sorts of epic sights. Cycling uphill of course is hard but rolling down has its own pleasures!
Don’t worry the electric bikes help you go right up the hill 🙂
Being very very lazy I love the idea of the ECO bike!! I would really enjoy this sort of thing especially if I didn’t have to work too hard!!
I really would love to see more of Spain so it was great to find out about Galicia not a region I was at all familiar with!
You still have to work but it is so nice to have a bike that takes away a lot of the pressure. I was not familiar with Galicia either but it is beautiful, I was impressed.
This is a great post – super helpful! I’m definitely adding this to my list of future places to visit. I love the opportunity to be active when exploring a new place.
Thank you so much, Susan, I really appreciate it. Galicia is definitely a stunning place and I look forward to the day I return too.
Looks like an awesome experience, Mel! Would like to do a similar thing one day
It was a lot of fun especially as the electric bike done all the hard wor 🙂
I am soooo not one to mountain bike, I can barely ride a bike to be honest, but this adventure sounds like so much fun! Is there a 4X4 option with champagne included? 😉
You had me at champagne 🙂 I reckon that you could have champagne at the top
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