Gran Canaria is truly a cyclist’s paradise. The largest of the Canary Islands looks like it was designed by road cyclists for road cyclists with its smooth tarmac, quiet roads, minimal rainfall and temperatures in the mid twenties year-round. The island is only 100km West of Morrocco and on the same latitude as the Sahara, but while there are sandy beaches in the South it’s no desert, Gran Canaria’s landscape is extremely diverse, from volcanic and barren to green vegetation depending on where you are on the island. It may not be home to the biggest, hardest or most iconic climbs but Gran Canaria has a lot to offer and certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to riding uphill (a compact is essential).
So why should your next European cycling holiday be in Gran Canaria? Take a look at our highlights and Gran Canaria cycle routes and see for yourself!
The Valley of the Tears
The most revered climb on the island is colloquially known as The Valley of the Tears, and you would be forgiven for turning on the waterworks after one glance at the stats: The climb is 11.8km long with an average gradient of 8% (bear in mind that this includes sections of descent), the maximum gradient is 25% and it’s likely to take the average punter at least one hour to complete. VOTT starts tough, with 25% gradients; so don’t attack the bottom too hard – you will need that power later on!
Pico de Las Nieves
The highest point on Gran Canaria and most commonly attacked from the town of Maspalomas on the GC60, the climb up to Pico de las Nieves is a long one: 40 km to be precise with an average gradient of 4.7%. The trick to getting through it is to break it up; the road lends itself to this as there are short descents interspersed throughout. With 11 km to go after joining the GC600 comes the hardest part of the climb, the gradients steepen drastically. At this point you will have the top and the Roque Nublo (rock in the clouds),an ancient sacred monument, in sight.
There are several routes to the top of the island, each offering different views and a sizable challenge. The toughest ascent is via the village of La Pasadilla – it’s a tough climb and it’s rare you’ll have the company of another cyclist. Just what we like!
The climb up the GC65 through the village of Santa Lucia offers a steady ascent with great views and plenty of cafe stops. As all roads do in Gran Canaria the climb takes the rider to the centre of the island, via the village of San Bartolome (where riders on a shorter day can descend back to the coast) or continue on up to Ayacate where all cyclists congregate before attempting the final kms to the Pico de Las Nieves.
This is a beautiful climb connecting the coastal town of Arguineguin to the Tauro pass. With plenty of switchbacks the road begins with a smooth surface and gets a little rougher towards the top. A sharp left at the top takes the climber away from the village of Soria on a steep, broken & very beautiful road to the Tauro pass, where the cyclist can take a left and descend to Porto de Mogan or take a right and keep on climbing.
One of the prettiest climbs on the island this pass begins in Mogan. The views unfold as you climb the valley, with switchbacks galore and plenty of cyclists make for a friendly atmosphere of suffering as cyclists of all shapes and sizes & all types of bikes haul themselves up the road.
Tenerife & Mount Teide
For an ultimate day out consider taking the ferry to Tenerife & take on the tarmac to the summit of Mount Teide. At 3,718 m the volcano is the highest point in Spain & a mecca for pro & amateur cyclists from around the world. There are 5 routes up from sea-level, each one offering delightful 40 km routes through lunar landscapes & rock formations.
Whilst some riders choose to base themselves entirely on Tenerife, Gran Canaria offers more variety & options, especially if you have the flexibility to explore the north of the island. Check out our Gran Canaria & Tenerife Experience for the ultimate Canary island exploration.
Where to Stay
The popular resort of Maspalomas has an eclectic feel, with golfers, an LGBT community, families, sun-worshipers & cyclists from all over the world all choosing Maspalomas as their base. In terms of cycling the resort offers the best location for riding unsupported with access to the widest variety of routes. There are good quality cyclist-friendly hotels offering spotless rooms and good customer service and is overall the best place to stay for a DIY cycling holiday.
Porto de Mogán (above right)
Porto de Mogan, known as the “little Venice of Gran Canaria”, is a fishing port home to many hotels and restaurants and of course, the beach! Take some well-deserved post-ride recovery time on the beach followed by dinner with a sea view. This is an idyllic spot and with only one road in and out makes for a tranquil spot to enjoy when not cycling. There are some great rides from Porto de Mogan but from a cyclist-perspective only 2 or 3 days worth of routes without taking a transfer or hiring a car to ride from a different spot.
Agaete (above left)
A lovely coast-side town in the northwest of the island, Agaete offers a peaceful place to stay away from the masses on the south. There is a volcanic beach and incredible saltwater rock pools which people bathe in all year around. The cycling from here is varied and there are lots of options. The north of the island typically experiences cooler weather than in the south with the chance of rain a little higher. But if you’re the type of cyclist looking for more of a tranquil retreat this is a great option for a base.
The captial of the island is packed with history and culture and well worth visiting for a couple of days. There are some cycling routes in and out of the city but traffic is fairly heavy and so staying in Las Palmas if you’re purely looking for a cycling trip is not to be advised. Local cyclists tend to drive a few kms out of town to the coast and ride from there.
Cruz de Tejeda (above centre)
For a completely different experience stay for a night or two in the mountains in the centre of the island where there’s a Parador hotel. The hotel offers an amazing spa, infinity pool into the mountains an truly spectacular views. The variety of riding from this spot is second to none but pretty much every road starts downhill from the hotel which could make for a chilly start each morning. The temperatures are also cooler away from the beaches but could be well worth the sacrifice for the ultimate experience in relaxing places to stay.
A Perfect Winter Cycling Destination
Gran Canaria offers so many hidden gems and is simply somewhere that you must experience for yourself to believe. Deep winter is the perfect time to visit, when Northern Europe freezes dig out the summer bib shorts and basque in the wall-to-wall sun and perfect temperatures! Check out some top European winter cycling destinations here!
Gran Canaria Cycling Vacation
If Gran Canaria sounds like your next European cycling vacation then take a look at our Gran Canaria Ride Camp tour. Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online to find out more about a cycling tour to Gran Canaria!
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