Pico Veleta (Pinos Genil)

Start Town Altitude Elevation Gain Length Gradient Difficulty Rating
Pinos Genil 3,392m 2,610m 41.5 km 6.3% 1,576 ***

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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 Pinos Genil is the easiest route to Veleta and the one most often used in the Vuelta a España, but, in our opinion, it is also the least enjoyable side to ride. The gradients are very consistent throughout, hovering between 5% and 8% for nearly the entire climb, with very few steep or gentle sections. Of course, it still climbs to 3,000m, so it is certainly not a walk in the park, and it will take even strong riders at least three hours! However, this side doesn't have the very steep sections on the lower slopes that characterize the other three routes to the top.

The downside is that this climb is basically the main road from Granada to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. If you ride outside of the ski season (which is November - early May), the road is not very busy, but it also lacks the charm and scenery of the other routes. It is wide and largely in forest until you get above 2,000m; and the views are just slightly lacking. On the other hand, this is a great option for the descent, as it is a fast, wide road with great sweeping bends.

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 (Pinos Genil) -  Cycling Climb in Andalucia

The climb from this side is the main road from Granada into the Sierra Nevada National Park

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.

This is the busiest road in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is the one that over 90% of cars will use to head into the National Park. We don't recommend cycling along here during the ski season - especially on weekends - but during the rest of the year it is not really that busy. You will probably get passed by a car once every minute or so on average, but the road is easily wide enough for them to overtake with no problems.

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 Monachil as well as via Haza Llanas and Guejar Sierra.

Nearby Climbs

Alto de Haza Llanas

El Alguacil

Collado de Quentar

El Purche

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