A hundred years of meticulous planning, hard work and battling against all the elements – that was the price paid for the titanic civil engineering work of the Canal de Castilla.
The idea was to link the centre of the Iberian Peninsula to the ocean by a series of river canals. As a result, the flour and grain produced in abundance in the heart of the country could be easily transported. Instead of taking the rough and sometimes steep roads through the Cantabrian mountain range, goods were taken by barge to the sea to be traded overseas.
The canal’s construction began in July 1753 and was completed in December 1849.
Now a property of cultural interest, it extends over three main branches that form a large inverted ‘Y’ (if you look at the map the right way round, that is) through the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Valladolid.
For this cycling trip, I suggest you follow the classic route and ride two of the branches, which will take you from Alar del Rey in the north, to the city of Valladolid in the south.
This makes a total of 150 kilometres (93 mi) with only 210 metres (690 ft) of elevation gain divided into three comfortable stages. Spectacular locks, bridges, construction sites and flour mills greet you as you pass. You cycle under the shade of large poplars, planted along many sections, and the villages you pass through provide you with food and water to help you meet the challenge.
I recommend undertaking this adventure in spring or autumn, when the temperatures are pleasant. The weather can be wetter at these times though, making the route more difficult in some places, so check the forecast. It’s usually very hot in summer and very cold in winter.
One of the great advantages of this trip is that you can organise it using the TGV. You start cycling from Alar del Rey station and finish in Valladolid. Always book your tickets in advance as the number of bikes per carriage is often limited.
As you’ll see on the map, depending on your time and strength, you can do the route in one day, in two (with an overnight stay in Frómista), in three (as I suggest here) or in four stages (highly recommended for families, with stops in Osorno, Frómista and Palencia).
Enjoy the Castilla Canal by bike!
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: September 21, 2022
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The journey begins. You have three beautiful stages ahead of you with hardly any unevenness, although of a certain length.
Exit the FF.CC station. Alar del Rey, adjust and check the bike and go straight to meet the channel. If you want to visit it, right where it separates from the Pisuerga River, there…
After a well-deserved rest, it's time to get going to face the second day of the trip: 43 kilometers along the placid tracks along the canal that will lead you to the beautiful city of Palencia.
After leaving the town, just as you take the paths of the canal, you arrive at one of the most outstanding…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Third and last stage of our trip.
Do you feel like savoring the last 53 kilometers that separate you from Valladolid? After a good breakfast, leave Palencia and take the canal paths again.
On today's tour you are going to visit the famous lock number 33, next to the town of Villamuriel de Cerrato, where…
Bike Touring Collection by Tobias
Bike Touring Collection by Tobias
Bike Touring Collection by Hannah
Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore