Pico Veleta (Monachil)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Monachil 3,392m 2,662m 46.6 km 5.7% 2,012 *****

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Climb Description

Pico Veleta is the highest paved road in Europe by quite a distance. Situated in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, it has an elevation gain of a massive 2,500m, making it an extremely challenging and rewarding climb.

The climb from Monachil is the second most challenging of the four routes to climb to Veleta, largely thanks to its steep gradients in the few kilometres after leaving Monachil. This section, which is also known as El Purche, is enough to seriously tire the legs. From El Purche there is still 30km to the top of the climb, with most of it hovering around a testing 7% gradient.

This is truly one of cycling's great climbs, for the scenery as well as the difficulty. The climb from Monachil is really beautiful, with spectacular views throughout the first 15km. The second half of the climb is also beautiful, as you head deeper into the Sierra Nevada National Park, with the imposing peaks of Veleta and Mulhacen gradually getting closer. By the time you are over half way up, the city of Granada looks tiny way back down in the valley.

One thing to bear in mind when climbing Veleta from any side is the weather. It tends to be very hot at the foot of the climb and can be very cold at the top - which isn't surprising when you consider the elevation difference, but it does mean that you have to dress for a variety of conditions. Don't forget that the descent back down to the bottom will take many riders the best part of an hour - so don't leave the wind jacket behind!

The name Veleta means 'weather-vane' in Spanish and gives a clue to another of the difficulties on the climb - the wind. The last few kilometres are very exposed and it is not uncommon for there to be gusts of winds of around 100km/h.

Pico Veleta is open as far as a barrier at 2600m all year. Beyond this the snow is not cleared regularly and the climb is often only fully open between June and mid September. However, it's also usually possibly to climb to over 3,000m in May and October.

Pico Veleta (Monachil) -  Cycling Climb in Andalucia

The section after leaving Monachil has beautiful scenery

Roads & Traffic

Until the barrier at 2,600m the road is in excellent condition. After the barrier the surface is mixed, with some sections have been damaged by ice and snow. Sometimes it is perfectly fine, and it is pretty much always rideable on a road bike, but it is a bit more broken places. The last 200m to the summit of the climb are not passable on a road bike, so you will have to walk there if you wish to reach the very top.

The road in the first few kilometres carries some traffic, but it is slow moving and not too bothersome. After Monachil the road becomes very quiet all the way until the Collado de las Sabinas.

From there until the top, you join the main road for a section and it is slightly busier, but, unless you ride in the middle of the ski season, there are still very few cars here. After the barrier at 2,600m it is just walkers and bicycles, as motorized vehicles are not allowed on this section.

Snow on Pico Veleta

Snow has slightly damaged the road in places

Alternative Routes

Pico Veleta can also be climbed from Pinos Genil as well as via Haza Llanas and Guejar Sierra.

Nearby Climbs

El Purche

Alto de Haza Llanas

El Alguacil

Collado de Quentar

La Zubia

Puerto Lobo

Cycling Holidays

Our Seville to Granada cycling holiday can be extended to include the climb to Pico Veleta 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. 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
Mount Teide
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,390 EUR