Greatest Spanish Climbs to Cycle

Here are 5 of the Best and some of the Hardest Must Ride Climbs to Bike in Spain

Road Cyclist?  Thinking of Cycling in Spain?  Climb some Hills?  Want a Challenge? Try these top 5 cycling climbs to ride when you visit Spain.

Read time: 6 min
Let’s countdown our top 5 must ride cycling climbs on our Spanish Road bike tours.
Favourite Spanish Summits, Peña Cabarga

5 / PEÑA CABARGA | CANTABRÍA

“Naughty and not nice North Climb”.

At only 6km long, this climb is a short sharp shock!

From sea level to a height of 566 meters it soon ramps up. With a small downhill at before the 4km marker, the final 1km averages 15%.

The finish is always explosive for the pros (maybe not for us!). Views out to the seashore at the top are 2nd to none, making a great backdrop for any summit.

It is a nail biter if you can pry your hands off your handlebars!

Tough Times don’t Last, Tough People Do.

Best Challenging Cycling Climbs in Spain
Top 5 Best Climbs in Spain, The Pandera

4 / LA PANDERA | Jaén, Andalucia

“Al-Andalus’ Agonizing Ascent”

La Pandera is one of the toughest climbs in Spain.

Winding your way up a road closed to traffic, the sense of loneliness hits you most on the 15% gradient. Your only company may be the names of famous cyclists painted on the tarmac as you celebrate at the summit with towering radio masts as company and tiny olive trees dotting the landscape far below.

Steep and unshaded, it is not to be missed in the summer sun for those who like a challenge…and heat stroke.

Spain's Top Cycle Climbs, Covadonga

3 / LAGOS DE COVADONGA | Picos de Europa

“Warrior Rise”

One of the most epic top 5 cycling climbs in Spain is this beauty in the Picos. Many a past La Vuelta a España has been fought here and often given the honour of Etapa Reina (Queen Stage).

This twisting climb begins by the basilica Cathedral of Covadonga, and rises to the dramatic glacial lake of Enol.

A longer ascent with an average of almost 7%, it flattens out the last 2 km with even a slight dip downhill as a… “treat”.

However, the hardest part midway being a muscle shrieking 700m grind with an average 15% gradient. This is nicknamed, “La Huesera” or “The Boneyard” for good reason.

Seriously, you’ll be praying it ends at some stage.

Top Climbs - Cycling the Sierra Nevada

2/ PICO DE VELETA | Sierra Nevada, Andalucia

“Go Higher in Spain”

The climb to the Sierra Nevada (25 kilometres and 9% average gradient to a height of 2,500 metres) is one of the great climbs in world cycling.

Don´t stop there, keep going and reach 3,380 meters at the top of the highest paved road in Europe

We say “paved” with a pinch of salt as the road is in incredibly rough condition over 2500m.

Weather conditions only allow this if there has been no snow in late Spring.

Rewarding climb, amazing views, Bring your oxygen mask!

1/ THE ANGLIRU | Asturias, North Spain

“Not for the Nervous”

La Vuelta organisers wanted something in the national race to rival the famed mountains of Le Tour (Alpe d´Huez and Ventoux).

They certainly found a hill to be reckoned with.

And painful it certainly is, the climb is only 12.5km long with the first half of the climb not too demanding.

The first 5kms are at an average gradient of 7.6%, the 6th km is 2.1% (that feels like a downhill!) before the incredible last 6kms are an average of 13%, with a ramp at almost 24% at the Alto de El Angliru…….gulp!

Sorry, we can not sugar coat this one.

It is an absolute beast and David Millar, after riding it, didn’t throw his bike into a gutter for nothing.

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Try these top 5 Must Do climbs on your next road cycling trip to Spain