Supporters and detractors of the boom in cycling tourism in Girona

GironaThe increase in tourism related to cycling in the city of Girona is generally well received, especially because it has nothing to do with the dreaded drunken tourism. Cyclists are praised for their calm and unobtrusive nature, the boost they bring to the local economy and the fact that they help de-seasonalise tourism, as they are in the city all year round. But this type of tourism also has a less friendly face, which is shown especially in the Old Quarter, where cyclists are accommodated and where the services intended for them are concentrated. The price of houses and premises in the area has skyrocketed and the Neighborhood Association complains that this is driving away long-term tenants, including students.

A favor


Educated and silent

A tourism opposite to that of “drunkenness”

“It is a group that leads a healthy life, focused on sport, and they are generally extremely polite and not fond of partying, nothing to do with certain drunken tourism that floods other Catalan tourist areas”, says Roser Recasens, from the souvenir shop Remember, located on Carrer de la Força, in the middle of the Old Quarter and right next to the building that cyclist Lance Armstrong had when he lived in the city. As the presence of cyclists in the city has grown, the establishment has increased the sale of souvenirs related to this sport. “They are very good customers and, what’s more, they are there all year round”, says Jordi Font, who is also in charge of the store. Most residents of the Old Quarter, including the journalist and writer Josep Pastells, agree that cyclists “are polite and respectful”, although they also criticize them for losing these virtues when they cycle through the neighborhood.


Quality tourism

The most desired type of visitor

For Gabriel Pernau, who in 2014 created the electric bike rental and sales establishment in Girona, tourism linked to cycling “is the type of quality tourism that we have been looking for for many years: that does not disturb , who moves money, who is respectful”.


Impulse in sport

They have helped to generalize the practice of cycling

Many indigenous people have joined in playing sports. They participate in cycling races but also in other sporting events.

Gabriel Pernau emphasizes that the rise of cycling in Girona has had a lot to do with the growth and consolidation of “a first-rate festival like the Sea Otter, which in its last edition has gathered 60,000 visitors”.


Economic injection

Numerous bicycle-related establishments have been created

They have founded shops, bars and other establishments. It shows that quality tourism can help the economy. “They tend to have good purchasing power and are good customers of many establishments in Girona, although it is true that all of this must be concentrated in the Old Quarter”, says Josep Pastells.


They contribute to deseasonalizing tourism

Its presence in the city is maintained throughout the year

They have generated a population movement that has contributed to de-seasonalizing the tourist phenomenon in Girona. Some occupy tourist flats, but others stay in hotels or guesthouses. There are also those that sell in motorhomes




They tend to relate exclusively to each other and are little integrated into the life of the city

There are not a few who accuse certain groups of foreign cyclists of a lack of integration and even of sectarianism. There are very closed circles, in which the language of communication is English, which relate to bars run by members of the collective. “It is becoming more and more difficult to hear Catalan spoken in the Old Quarter, either by them or by the tourists,” says Pastells. “It’s true that they all frequent the same cafes, or the same restaurants, but that’s because it allows them to contact other cyclists”, says Gabriel Pernau.


Housing price increase

They pay huge sums for flats in the Old Quarter and this has sent prices skyrocketing

The vast majority of foreign cyclists who settle in Girona to live there, either permanently or for certain periods of the year, do so by renting or buying flats in the Old Quarter, which has led to a considerable increase in housing price in this area of ​​the city. “They are customers with purchasing power and can easily accept prices that for many people here are prohibitive”, says Gabriel Pernau, who adds: “It is up to the institutions to try to contain prices and avoid gentrification”.


Loss of neighboring tissue

The price of housing has driven away tenants for life

The president of the Barri Vell Neighbors’ Association, Magalí Pons, regrets that the “indecent” housing prices in the Old Quarter have driven out lifelong tenants. “Thus, the neighborhood loses its neighborhood fabric”, says Pons, who assures that some cyclists buy entire “buildings” in the neighborhood to rent them to other cyclists at exorbitant prices.



Students no longer find apartments in the city center

The pressure from the cycling community attacks the university city model, where many young people who studied in the old town could find relatively affordable flats near the UdG. “The fact that they are somehow appropriating the neighborhood is not directly attributable to them, but to supply and demand, or perhaps to municipal regulation. They simply go to a place that seems attractive to them to practice their sport”, points out Pastells.


Bad “drivers” through the city center

Many residents complain that they drive on the sidewalk and in the opposite direction

Although he admits that they are “educated and do not disturb the way the so-called drunken tourism does”, Magalí Pons criticizes cyclists who do not respect the rules of bicycle traffic. “Many go in the opposite direction or ride on the pavement and endanger pedestrians”, says the president of the Association of Neighbors, who announces that the organization has commissioned a guide to good cycling practices, which she will present publicly in the next few days The neighbor Josep Pastells expresses himself in the same way: “You have to be more careful not to be run over and try to give way to them, since when they leave or arrive from their routes they have to pass through very narrow streets where sometimes a lot of people gather. Since they often go in groups, they occupy a large part of the streets.”


01. Dave Welch, on his knees, is a mountain bike downhill professional and has opened a shop in Girona.  02. Image of the Girona Gran Fondo, a competition that has already held two editions.

Chronology of the cycling boom in Girona: from Johnny Weltz to becoming a tourist mecca


The Comuna Cafè & Residence opened in 2021 despite the pandemic.  It is a block of tourist apartments for cyclists, especially groups of professionals who come to stay in Girona.

Tours at 4,000 euros a week and bikes from 8,000 euros

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