Route of Don Quixote
The nicest tour through a unique Spanish region
If you don’t need to climb mountains or join the crowds in a busy destination, this is a tour you’ll enjoy very much. There are peaceful country roads, friendly villages, nice overnight addresses, tasty food and wine… lots of wine.
Starting from the great historic city of Toledo, you’ll ride through a unique part of Spain, untouched by mass tourism. This is the legendary ‘La Mancha’, the wide plains through which Don Quixote rode in search of adventures. These plains actually vary from flat to undulating and hilly but in general, it’s easier cycling terrain than just about anywhere else in Spain.
Together with the route description, you’ll receive a brief summary of the book Don Quixote and, en route, you’ll see many of the main places mentioned in the book. However, the tour is above anything about enjoying the quiet roads, countryside and nature around you; and about pleasant afternoons-evenings in nice surroundings and fine accommodations.
Monumental, atmospheric Toledo
Peaceful roads and countryside
Follow one of literature's classic stories
Discover the beautiful Ruidera lakes
Cycle through the world's biggest vineyard
Enjoy manchego cheese, cooking and wine
Each Sunday (day 1 in itinerary) of April to June and end August to October
Mostly flat and undulating. Some hills
Good hotels in towns, a village house and a finca in the countryside. All with en suite facilities
- 160km (100 miles) Tarmac
- 35Km (22 miles) Unpaved gravel/dirt roads and paths
Start in Toledo
Toledo is easy to reach from Madrid airport: first it’s about forty minutes by metro to the Madrid-Atocha railway station; from there, there is a high-speed train each hour to Toledo, 33 minutes travel time. See metromadrid.es and renfe.com
If you have the time, it is of course a good idea to arrive a day or two before. Toledo is known as the city of the three cultures. In the middle ages, Christians, Muslims and Jewish lived here peacefully next to each other, exchanging their knowledge in arts and sciences. There is plenty to see, as several former synagogues and mosques, the cathedral or the church of Santo Tomé, featuring el Greco’s masterpiece ‘the burial of the Count of Orgaz’ But just having some drinks and tapas at the many bars in the winding alleys or in the evening at the terraces by the Tagus river is very enjoyable.
Transfer and cycling 26 miles/42 km 180↑m to Consuegra – Argamasilla de Alba
A taxi will take you from the hotel to the spot where the cycling starts. The first stretch on the bike is one of the most iconic imaginable anywhere, as you ride up to the castle and hilltop row of windmills of Consuegra. Just as Don Quixote jousted those ‘giants’ you can ‘defeat’ them on your bike.You then pedal on through peaceful countryside to the village of Puerto Lápice, where Don Quixote was knighted and a good place for lunch.
From Puerto Lápice, the second and last transfer until the end of the tour takes you to near the riverbed of the Guadiana for a varied bit of cycling to Argamasilla, front runner to the title ‘birthplace of Don Quixote’ and a nice, unassuming place to spend a relaxed evening among locals or in your village house.
30 miles/49 km 400↑m to the lakes of Ruidera
Start early to make the most of this great day of discovery! You first ride on a very quiet road shaded by pines and following a meandering little channel. On one side there is a valley with crops and vineyards and on the other bushy hills.
There are then some hills to climb before reaching the beautiful Ruidera lakes: a string of fiftien lakes in the valley of the Guadiana river. During weekends many people come to enjoy this great natural environment, but midweek, you’ll see very few other visitors.
The finca with garden and swimming pool where you stay lies in a secluded corner of the lakes. Maybe you feel like having a walk in the afternoon, along two of the lakes, or late in the evening/night, a short walk up the hill to the cave of Montesinos, the scene of one of Don Quixote’s most famous adventures.
34 miles/55 km 270↑m to Tomelloso
Today’s stage leads first along the upper Ruidera lakes. The quiet tarmac road becomes smaller and smaller until it becomes a narrow path weaving its way through groves and reeds in a splendid and remote valley. You reach the tarmac again near the village of Ossa de Montiel, well-placed for provisions or lunch. Beyond Ossa, there comes a different sort of landscape: undulating to hilly plateau with original, low and dense forest of juniper and holm oak. The kilometers roll easily all the way to the first houses of Tomelloso, a friendly, lively town without tourists. Tomelloso is a huge wine producer and in the afternoon-evening we recommend our guided visit to a couple of the cellars, including of course a tasting.
34 miles/54 km 230↑m to El Toboso and transfer to Alcázar de San Juan
You had already seen plenty of vineyards, but today comes the real thing: just out of Tomelloso the little road starts crossing what is considered the world’s biggest vineyard. It is 25 km south-north as you cycle and 40 km east-west, growing mostly airén for whites and tempranillo for reds, interrupted only now and then by a field with melons or pistachio trees.
Just past the half of the stage you reach Campo de Criptana, a white-washed village on a hill and a good place for lunch and maybe a little walk through its old quarter.
The last stretch to El Toboso is on undulating terrain through a kind of summary of the landscape of la Mancha. Along grain fields and olive groves you reach the village of Don Quixote’s beloved Dulcinea, a pleasant, quiet village to explore on your bike. After a pause in one of its bar terraces, a visit to the house-museum of Dulcinea is nice and a very interesting example of how people lived here in the 16th century.
Our van-taxi will join you by the museum and take you to nearbij Alcázar de San Juan, to enjoy the evening in a comfortable hotel and a lively little town. An enthusiast can alternatively cycle the extra 29 km from El Toboso to Alcázar.
Depart. Train to Madrid or Alicante
From Alcázar there are several trains a day to Madrid and Alicante, for example just before and after 11:00 hrs. A taxi from our hotel to the station costs € 9 (or half an hour walking) If having included the tickets in your booking, you’ll already have them from us.
Price per person, on double room basis: € 590
- 5 nights hotel accommodation
- 4 x breakfast
- Route description in English, maps and GPS tracks. All sent digitally to your e-mail address
- Luggage transport
- Transfers on days 2 and 5
- Telephone assistance
Excluded: all items not mentioned in ‘included’ above
Options and supplements
- Rental bicycle, trekking hybrid……………………. € 90
- Rental e-bike ……………………………………………… € 190
- Supplement for single room …………………….. € 190
- Guided visit wine cellars Tomelloso ……….. € 20 p.p.
- Train ticket Alcázar- Madrid/Alicante ……€ 18/35
- Extra nights quoted upon request
Rental bikes delivered with one panier, one small handlebar bag, repair set, pump and lock. If not bringing your own, a helmet can be hired for € 20
This offer is covered by the STO Garant guarantee.
You can find the conditions for this guarantee scheme on STO Garant’s website (www.sto-garant.nl/en/downloads)