La Pandera (Los Villares)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Los Villares 1,830m 1,202m 23.0 km 5.2% 1,129 *****

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Climb Description

La Pandera is one of Andalucía's great cycling climbs. It is one of those rare and beautiful beasts which has a road running right to the very top, affording the road cyclist an unusual 360 degree panorama from its summit. The road was constructed to provide access to a military base, which is now no longer in use. But, fortunately, the road remains open and it is possible to ride right up to the radar which marks the summit.

La Pandera has occasionally been described as southern Spain's answer to Mont Ventoux because of the challenging gradients, and the similarities in the respective appearances towards the summit. However, there are some significant differences between the two. Firstly, La Pandera is not as isolated as Ventoux.

Like Ventoux, it is the highest peak for a long way around, but the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains are clearly visible from the summit, as well as numerous smaller mountains. La Pandera does not quite have that same 'isolated giant' feel. Secondly, the character is slightly different than Ventoux, which is notable for its consistently steep gradient of around 10% on the toughest part of the most famous Bedoin side. By contrast, La Pandera is very inconsistent on its upper slopes; the challenge comes in a more anaerobic form - punching up the sustained ramps of around 15%, rather than grinding for nearly an hour as is the most efficient strategy on Ventoux.

What can be said about both Ventoux and La Pandera however, is that they are both tough climbs which offer an irresistable challenge for cyclists.

The climb from Los Villares is slightly watered down compared with the ascent form Valdepeñas, largely because of the long false flat before the final 8km. However, in the hot Andalucian sun, the extra length on this side can be a real leg sapper.

La Pandera has been used several times in the Vuelta a España, with stage winners including Miguel Angel Lopez, Roberto Heras and Alejandro Valverde.

La Pandera is nominally open throughout the year, although sporadic closures in winter are common during periods of snowfall. These rarely last long however, and it is one of the few non-ski resorts in Europe that allows a road cyclist to climb to such high altitude in the heart of winter.

View from La Pandera

There are fine views in all directions

Roads & Traffic

The road is in very good condition throughout most of the climb. On some sections of the upper slopes it is broken in places, and in the final kilometre there is some loose gravel on the road. Overall though, it still no problem to ride on a road bike.

There is very little traffic on the climb.

La Pandera (Los Villares) -  Cycling Climb in Andalucia

Signs warn you of the upcoming steep sections

Alternative Routes

La Pandera can also be climbed from the town of Valdepeñas de Jaén.

Nearby Climbs

Pico Almadén


La Alfaguara

Pico Veleta

Cueva de los Murciélagos

Cycling Holidays

Our Seville to Granada cycling holiday can be extended to include the climb to La Pandera and other ascents nearby.

Below you can find links to this and some of the other mountainous tours that we run.

We can also arrange customized tours in the Sierra Nevada mountains and surrounding area. If you would be interested in this, please contact us to discuss the options.

Andalucia Sunflower Fields
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,590 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Lagos de Covadonga
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: from €1,490 EUR
Tramuntana Mountains - Mallorca
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,420 EUR