We have documented the 10 hardest bike rides in Spain. On this page and the individual climb page you will find detailed summaries, epic photographs and statistics for these climbs.
Spain has the fifth most Top 100 World Bike climbs (9) of any other country, behind Italy (16), Austria (12) ,Saudi Arabia (12), and Switzerland (10). Spain’s Top road bike climbs are spread out further than in any other country: Llano de las Animas (Spain #1, World #5) is on La Palma, Canary Islands, Pico Veleta (Spain #2, World #14) is in southern Spain; Alto de Gamoniteiro is in the north; and Roque de Los Muchacho, Teide, Puerto de la Cruz, and Pico de Las Nieves are all situated in the Canary Islands.
THE HARDEST BIKE CLIMB IN SPAIN
Ride 15.6 kilometers (9.7 miles) gaining 2,000 meters (6,560’) at 12.6% average grade.
The name of this climb derives from the name of the plateau we climb to - ironically, llano means “flat” in Spanish. This is the second-steepest 10 kilometers of tarmac in the world at 15.2% (just behind Al Jaadah Pass, Saudi Arabia at 15.4%).
Start of the concrete.
Remaining: 2.9 km at 18%.
Treating overheated brakes during our descent.
PJAMM’s Profile Tool: Two kilometers average 20.8%, 500 meters average 23.4%, and 200 meters 29.4%.
The gradient profile for this climb says it all: there are several segments of extraordinary steepness. Add the length and altitude of this climb and you have the legitimate World Top 10 bike climb behind: (1) Mauna Kea (Hawaii), (2) Al Jaadah (Saudi Arabia), (3) Babusar Pass (Pakistan), (4) Apagua (Ecuador), and (6) Baniamr Pass (Saudi Arabia).
SPAIN #2 - HARDEST BIKE CLIMB ON THE MAINLAND OF SPAIN
The number fourteen most difficult climb in the world. It is not often that we are blessed to climb “The” of anything, whether it be the “hardest,” the “longest,” the “steepest,” or, in this case the “highest.” Yet we can honestly claim that Pico is a “The” climb: The highest paved road in all of Europe -- now that’s saying something! And it’s not just high, it’s H A R D! The greatest bike climb in Spain is Pico de Veleta. This climb has it all -- it’s incredibly steep (almost impossibly so in places), it’s scenic, has hairpins, a unique summit, a ski resort, is situated partially along a private road, has a spiritual overlay, and more. PJAMM Cycling rode the hardest route to the top on our first day in Granada and took the longer route our second.
Sign at the start -- first KM is 12% (max 22%).
Virgen de Las Nieves -- peak above altar (21 km).
View from the top
Marker at Pico Veleta.
SPAIN’S THIRD HARDEST BIKE CLIMB
ONE OF THE MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS IN THE WORLD
Cycling Roque de los Muchachos from the west (Canary Islands, Spain)
Ride 17.7 miles gaining 7,465’ at 7.4% average grade (9.7% climb only)
This is one of the most epic climbs in the world and ranked World #27 in difficulty. We made the two hour ferry ride from Tenerife and stayed two days just for this climb and Llano de las Animas (world #6). However, we feel like a solid five days riding on the island is justified.
Roque de los Muchachos is truly one of the best bike climbs in the entire world.
Roque de Los Muchacho means “Rock of the Boys” and is a rocky mound at the highest point on the Island of La Palma. Also at the top of this climb are several observatories, with some of the largest telescopes in the world, constructed there because the altitude and dry climate provide for excellent observing conditions.
SPAIN’S FOURTH HARDEST BIKE CLIMB
This is an easier route to Pico Veleta, but still an exceptional climb ranked in the Top World 50 at 27 miles, gaining 8,300’ at 5.7% average grade.
SPAIN’S FIFTH HARDEST BIKE CLIMB
Cycling the mighty Angliru -- ride 13.1 kilometers (8.2 miles), gaining 1,220 meters (4,005’), at 9.2% average grade.
This may be the most popular Big Climb in Spain, even more so than Pico Veleta. The climb is very scenic and VERY HARD! On the face of it, 9.2% seems tough, but manageable. However, what separates Angliru from most Spanish bike climbs is its extremely steep segments that go well beyond 9%. There is an entire half-kilometer that averages nearly 20% (beginning about three kilometers from the top) and there are several briefer segments at 15%+.
This challenging bike climb has been made famous by the Vuelta a España.
SPAIN #6 HARDEST BIKE CLIMB
Cycling Mount Teide from Puerto de la Cruz, Spain
Ride 47 kilometers gaining 2,429 meters at 5% average grade.
This is one of several climbs that end at the trailhead to the path to the top of Mt Teide and the highest paved road in Tenerife. Additionally, at 63 kilometers (39.2 miles), cycling from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to the high point at the Sendero de Montaña Blanca trail (beginning of the hike to Teide Peak at 3,718 meters/12,198’) is the longest bike climb in the Canary Islands, Spain, and Europe, and #11 in the entire world! One of the great Bike-Hikes in Europe is Santa Cruz to Montaña Blanca and then from Montaña Blanca hike 8.3 kilometers gaining an incredible 1,188 meters to Mount Teide Peak.
Cycling Mount Teide from Las Cristianos, Spain
Ride 33.2 kilometers gaining 2,109 meters at 6.4% average grade.
This is one of the most popular routes to the top of the most popular destination in the Canary Islands: Mount Teide. This route ranks #73 in the world and ends at the Teide National Park Sign, but do continue past the sign to the Visitor Center and paved high point of the road and island - this is the most scenic part of the climb and takes you in view of Mount Teide and its unique volcanic formations.
Along with photos with Mount Teide in the background, this is the top photo opp location on the mountain.
SPAIN #8 OVERALL
Ride 14.5 kilometers gaining 1,408 meters at 9.8% average grade.
This is a Top 100 World Climb located in northern Spain and just south of Angliru. It appears that this climb has been included in the Vuelta a Espana at least once, in 2016: “Today is the turn of the sixteenth stage, the second in Asturias. Short stage of just 118 kilometers between Avilés and Alto del Gamoniteiro’s unprecedented summit in the Vuelta a España” (Sexto Anillo).
#9 HARDEST BIKE CLIMB IN SPAIN
Cycling Roque de los Muchachos East
Ride 41 kilometers gaining 2,473 meters at 5.6% average grade (7.7% climb only)
This climb begins in Santa Cruza de la Palma on the Canary Island of La Palma. Roque de Los Muchacho means “Rock of the Boys” and is a rocky mound at the highest point on the Island of La Palma. Also at the top of this climb are several observatories, with some of the largest telescopes in the world, constructed there because the altitude and dry climate provide for excellent observing conditions.
Ranked #84 world and #8 in Spain.
#10 HARDEST BIKE CLIMB IN SPAIN
Cycling Pico de las Nieves from Telde, Las Palmas, Canary Islands.
Ride 26.6 kilometers from 175m to 1933m gaining 1785m at 6.6% average grade.
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