Cycling Climbs in Central Spain

Climb Town Altitude (m) Length (km) Gradient (%) Difficulty Rating
Abantos San Lorenzo de El Escorial 1640 11.5 5.4 745 ***
Alto del León Guadarrama 1511 8.3 6.4 301 *
Bola del Mundo Collado Villalba 2257 21.8 6.2 1540 **
Cotos El Paular Monastery 1830 14 4.6 340 ***
La Morcuera Miraflores de la Sierra 1796 9.2 6.8 510 ***
La Morcuera Rascafría 1796 13.4 4.7 360 ***
Navacerrada Collado Villalba 1860 18.4 5.2 742 **
Navafria Lozoya 1778 11.6 5.5 477 ***
Cruz de la Demanda Posadas 1855 15.6 5.7 875 ***
La Rasa River Iregua (N-111) 1390 9.7 6.2 567 ***
La Rasa Jalón de Cameros 1390 9.9 5.3 430 ****
Moncalvillo Medrano (LR-137) 1475 14.5 6.5 978 ***
Peña Hincada River Najerilla (LR-113) 1422 13.6 4.9 645 ****
Peña Hincada Villanueva de Cameros 1422 12.6 4.1 355 ***
Puerto de Montenegro Venta de Goyo (LR-113) 1583 19 3.8 424 ***
Puerto de Piqueras Villanueva de Cameros 1710 19.4 3.6 311 ***
Valdezcaray Ezcaray 1570 14.2 5 524 ****
Alto de Rivas San Vicente de la Sonsierra 960 9.9 4.3 111 ***
Alto de Rivas Labastida 960 10.2 4.1 114 ***
Javalambre Puebla de Valverde 1850 22.2 3.3 342 ***
Moncayo Tarazona 1565 24.4 4.5 522 ***
Moncayo Vera de Moncayo 1565 24.6 3.7 376 ***
Valdelinares Mora de Rubielos 1984 27.4 3.5 622 ***
Alto Rey Villares de Jadraque 1765 17 4.7 527 ***
La Quesera Majaelrayo 1740 28 2 745 ****
Lagunas de Neila Villavelayo (La Rioja) 1872 19.7 4.8 799 ****
Lagunas de Neila Quintanar de la Sierra 1872 14.8 5.3 767 ****
Laguna de los Peces Sanabria 1725 16.8 4.2 327 ****
Abantos Aceña River 1640 21.8 2.8 320 ***
Alto del León San Rafael 1511 5.7 4.9 124 *
El Peñon Doney de la Requejada 1840 10.7 7.4 1024 **
El Peñon Truchas 1840 14.4 5 743 ***
La Covatilla Béjar 1962 19.7 5.6 974 ***
La Quesera Riaza 1740 13.5 4 400 ***
Navacerrada La Granja 1860 11.4 5.5 409 **
Navafria Navafría 1778 10.9 5.3 365 ***
Puerto de Montenegro Montenegro de Cameros 1583 6.2 5.9 141 ***
Puerto de Piqueras Póveda de Soria 1710 9.6 4.5 167 ***


Central Spain is sometimes referred to misleadingly as being the meseta (table top). This is due to a large plateau that expands over part of the interior of the Iberian peninsula.

But don't be fooled, Central Spain is still nearly as mountainous as the rest of the country. The Sierra de Guadarrama mountains near to Madrid, the Sierra de la Demanda in La Rioja, and the Sierra de Gredos in Extremadura are just a few of the mountain chains in the region. And there are some excellent cycling climbs to be found amongst them!

Bola del Mundo

Bola del Mundo is the highest road climb in Central Spain


It is fair to say that Central Spain is not the most scenic region in Spain. There is no coast and the mountains tend to be dry during much of the year. Even the Guadarrama mountains, while pleasant, are largely covered in thick forest and offer few spectacular views - at least not on a road bike.

But it is not all bad, there are some fantastic views to be had in places, and the wildlife is often excellent, with vultures and eagles regularly accompanying you on the climbs.


The roads are of mixed quality. Central Spain covers several autonomous communities and the road surfaces vary considerably both within and between the various provinces. Madrid generally has good surfaces, whilst those in Rioja often leave a bit to be desired. It's worth checking the climb page for more information, because there are some very bumpy climbs here.

Traffic is also mixed. As you would expect, around Madrid, the climbs can be quite busy on weekends and in the height of summer. But in most of the rest of Central Spain, the roads are very quiet.

Getting There

Madrid is right in the center of Spain, so it is easy to get there. To get from Madrid to some of the other regions can be tricky without a car, particularly if you are going into remote mountains. However, there are good bus and train connections from Madrid to all provincial capitals (for example, Salamanca, León and Logroñ)


Central Spain is best for climbing in spring and autumn. Summer can get very hot, while it can get cold in winter. Many of the higher climbs are also ski resorts, and so are kept open over winter, but they are cold. We recommend April to June and September to November to get the best weather.

Cycling Holidays

We have several cycling holidays that visit Central Spain. Our Rioja Guided and Self-Guided tours are more leisurely rides, but there is the option to extend the routes to include some climbs - including Valdezcaray.

Our Salmanca to Segovia and Valencia & Aragón cycling holidays also cross parts of Central Spain, but are focused more on the history and culture of the region, rather than tackling the high mountains.

Our Camino de Santiago route from León to Santiago crosses some of the mountains on the edge of Central Spain and is a good choice for cyclists who like to ride medium routes, rather than high mountains.

You can find out more details about these and some of our other more mountainous holidays below.

French FlagFrance

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Challenging-Hard
Price: €1,630 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
Picos de Europa National Park
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,490 EUR
Historic Center - Segorbe
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: from €1,440 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Rioja Vineyards
Basque Flag Spanish FlagSpain

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: €1,640 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Hospital de Orbigo Bridge
Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium to Challenging
Price: from €1,690 EUR