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Córdoba by bicycle: The Subbética Cordobesa Rail Trail

Turismo Industrial Locomotora en estación de Cabra de Córdoba.jpg

If you like hiking routes or if you are one of those who take your bicycle everywhere, Rail Trails are a good way to combine sport and nature while enjoying the scenery.

What they call Rail Trails are abandoned railway tracks that have been refurbished to be used for the enjoyment of cyclists and hikers.

There are a number of them in the province of Córdoba and they run over viaducts and through olive groves. Do they sound interesting? Here is one in the Subbética Cordobesa. Not to be missed!

The Subbética Cordobesa Rail Trail

The level of difficulty is low, because the average gradient is 3% and this Rail Trail follows the route of what was called the "Olive Oil Train" that ran from Jaén, through the province of Córdoba and on to Málaga, transporting the traditional products from the area, especially olive oil.

Along the route you will see railway buildings, wagons and railway engines and you will go over viaducts and through tunnels that have been preserved and restored.

If you take this route from start to finish, a distance of 57.3 Km you cross the municipalities of Luque, Zuheros, Doña Mencía, Cabra and Lucena.

We will start at the Laguna del Conde, an officially declared Nature Reserve and the largest of the lagoons in the south of the province of Córdoba. Those who enjoy birdwatching should not forget their binoculars.

You can make the first stop in Luque, where there are the remains of the Hisn Lukk Nasrid fortress, where part of the city walls and two defensive towers remain intact which is most unusual in Andalusia. While you are there can go to the Olive Oil Visitor Centre located in the old railway station and where you can enjoy a tasting.

In the old railway station there are still remains of its recent past, including a goods van which is often used as the terrace bar.

After an enjoyable visit to regain your strength it's time to continue. The next stop is in Zuheros, just 5.5 km away.

Zuheros is one of the prettiest towns in Andalusia: It is in the middle of a dreamlike natural environment and you will enjoy the winding streets and spectacular lookout points. The whitewashed buildings feature a 9th century Moorish castle.

4 km from there, it is well worth taking a diversion to visit one of the most important Neolithic sites in Europe: The "Cueva de los Murciélagos" (Bat Cave). The grotto is full of stalactites and stalagmites and it is decorated with very well preserved cave paintings.

The cave is especially important as an archaeological site and it is a refuge for an extraordinary colony of bats. You should not forget to bring some warm clothing!

After leaving the cave you can take a walk around the Ecomuseum, which is right next to it and climb up to the Bailón River Canyon Lookout Point, following the path that starts in front of the rail trail viaduct. The views from the top are quite incredible. If you would like to extend the visit a bit longer, the castle and the Museum of Customs and Popular Arts are other points of interest to be found in Zuheros.

There are a number of companies in the area that rent bicycles, as well as organising birdwatching tours and hikes up the Zuheros . 

After Zuheros, the trail continues on towards Doña Mecía, where next to the old railway station, you can hire pedal cars and bicycles or if you are already on two wheels, the area is perfect for stopping along the way and cooling off on hot days. Remember that this is Córdoba where the temperatures can really be quite high!

In the rest area there is a fountain and a place to park your bike. Subbética Bike's Friends also organise tours of the Nature Reserve starting in this area.

The next 16 km section takes you to Cabra.

It is well worth stopping at the old railway station and having an a real miller's breakfast (bread with olive oil, tomato and ham and a cup of coffee) or if it is lunch time, a menu based on Cordovan "salmorejo" (similar to gazpacho) which is truly delicious.

After a short rest, a visit that should not be missed: a collection of trains from all the different eras in the Olive Oil Railway Visitor Centre which you will find right there.

You should not forget your camera as you can take some fantastic photos here. 

Turismo Industrial Locomotora en estación de Cabra de Córdoba.jpg

In Cabra they organise gastronomic workshops, such as for cheese making and observing nature. The best thing about these workshops is that you get to eat afterwards! Mmmm....

13 kilometres after leaving Cabra, you come to Lucena where the importance of the Jewish community can be seen in the layout of the streets and from Lucena, the Rail Trail coincides with the rout of the old Mozarabic Way of Santiago

In Lucena you can visit the Castle of El Moral and try some Sephardic confectionery that can still be found here.

Does that sound interesting?

Córdoba by bicycle: The Subbética Cordobesa Rail Trail
Cabra, Doña Mencía, Lucena, Luque, Zuheros (Córdoba)