Guide to Málaga road cycling

Málaga road

Málaga’s hills are alive with the unmistakeable sounds of smooth gear shifts, singing freehubs and rubber on tarmac…

With iconic climbs just minutes from the city centre, and long stretches of national road that cling to the azure Mediterranean shores, unperturbed by the sinuating tos and fros of the coastline, Malaga has everything that you may want for your next cycling trip.

This growing Andalucian hub of art, culture and good vibes is fast becoming a haven for road cyclists looking for somewhere to ride under the Mediterranean sun.

With an international airport just 20 minutes away and a train station offering connections to most major cities in Spain, Málaga is the new favourite destination among road cyclists across Europe and beyond.

Málaga Road Cycling Routes

The Málaga region boasts a wealth of cycling routes for riders of all ages and abilities.

El Puerto de Léon

One of Málaga’s most frequented local climbs is El Puerto del León (part of our Classic Climbs of Málaga cycling tour). The climb begins just ten minutes north of the city centre, and at 16 km in length and with an average gradient of 5.5%, it presents the ideal warm-up climb before heading out into the heart of the region or along the coast. This climb offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the impressive mountains behind the city.

Also known locally as “La Reina” (the Queen), there are two routes to the top. The first takes you through the Montes de Málaga Natural Park. The wide, asphalted road, in very good condition, winds its way up the mountain surrounded almost continuously by pine trees before descending down the other side with some tight twists and turns, bringing you out on the coast just to the east of Málaga.

The second route is simply this first route in reverse. It offers a slightly tougher climb that gains elevation quickly given the steeper gradients, but saves the best ‘til last with a dreamy descent down the wide pine-flanked road, with open curves and stunning views over the nearby countryside carpeted in hills and small mountains.

If you feel the call to explore slightly further afield, Málaga’s surrounding towns and villages (and everything in between) also have plenty to offer in the way of bike-worthy roads.

The El Torcal loop

One spectacular Málaga road cycling route that heads inland, northbound and away from the coast, is the El Torcal loop. The El Torcal Natural Park is located around 50 km from Málaga city centre. It is home to a unique natural phenomenon in the form of millennia-year-old rock formations that at one point formed part of the sea bed. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016.

Topping out at around 100 km and 2,000 m in elevation, this demanding but incredibly rewarding ride will take you up to the entrance to the Park, passing through a primarily agricultural landscape and offering views as far as the eye can see across the surrounding rolling countryside. The Park marks the midway point, with a visitor centre and café to fuel up before setting off for the return journey, which sweeps back down towards Málaga along a slightly different route.

The El Chorro loop

Another stunning ride that starts and ends in the centre of Málaga is the El Chorro loop. Known primarily as the home of El Caminito del Rey (translated as “The King’s Pathway”, a narrow wooden walkway that clings to the sheer cliffs and rock faces of the El Chorro Gorge), it is also a haven for rock climbers, hikers and cyclists.

At around 138 km from start to finish, expect to gain a surprisingly modest 620 m of elevation in total. Heading west out of the city centre, the route gently bears north as you ride in the direction of the towns of Pizarra, Álora and eventually the village of El Chorro.

The route snakes its way through a predominantly agricultural landscape, with orange, lemon and olive groves offering inevitably Mediterranean views. The village of El Chorro marks the more-or-less halfway point, a chance to sit in a café for a drink and snack before reaching the gorge.

Nerja, the N-340 and beyond

If one day you just don’t have the legs for climbing, you’ve still got options. Málaga is more than hills! For a flatter ride, the “old” national road (N-340) that runs through the centre of Málaga and out towards the east. It hugs the coastline and passes through the towns of El Rincón de la Victoria, Torre del Mar, Maro, Nerja and Almuñecar, offering the chance for a solid 150 km spin beside the sparkling Mediterranean.

To keep the ride to a round 100 km, aim for Nerja and enjoy a snack, ice cream or a spot of lunch at the Balcón de Europa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, before heading back home to Málaga. 50 km out, 50 km back. Being a coastal route, the wind tends to pick up on either the outbound or inbound journey, so prepare to battle a breeze one way or another.

Sierra de Mijas

The coastal towns and landscapes to the west of Málaga also offer plenty of Instagram- worthy road routes. Similar to the rides along the eastern coast of Málaga, these routes combine flat stretches and respectable climbs into the Sierra de Mijas mountain range behind the towns of Benalmadena and Fuengirola.

Bear in mind when heading west that the coastal road cuts off just before the airport. You will need to circumvent the area by passing through Campanillas and back down towards the coast and Torremolinos.

From here, you have several options: The first is to ride out to Fuengirola along the coast, then simply turn back and retrace your steps; another option is to head inland from Benalmadena, climb towards Alhaurín el Grande before descending back towards Torremolinos and soon after, Málaga; or finally, to continue along the coast until you reach Fuengirola, at which point turn inland, head up to Mijas Pueblo and loop around the Sierra de Mijas before descending back down towards the coast.

These loops vary in distance but are generally rides of under 100 km. The elevation on the other hand can increase rapidly and with rides that accumulate almost 2,000 m from a single loop (unless you stick to the coastal roads). It goes without saying the photo opportunities are endless, especially if you time your ride for dusk and sunset.

The Eat Sleep Cycle Cycling Hub, Málaga

Málaga is also the home of our Malaga Cycling Hub. This city is a gateway to popular Eat Sleep Cycle tour locations like Andalucia and Portugal. It is also our home for culture, food, good vibes and amazing riding.

For us, Málaga is the place to be, it’s a buzzing city that’s full of life and we’re proud to be part of Málaga road cycling’s journey as an up-and-coming cycling destination.

Come and see us, grab a coffee and let’s talk cycling!

Book Your Place on a Málaga Cycling Tour

If this has got you inspired to travel to Málaga, then why not view our cycling tours in Málaga and check out the trips and packages we have available. If you’re planning to travel here and don’t want to worry about bringing a bike, get in touch with our Málaga Hub and talk to us about our Málaga Bike Hire service to rent top-quality, fully-serviced road, gravel and mountain bikes.

If you’ve any questions about your possible cycling tour in Málaga give us a call now on +34 951 01 48 08 or contact us online for more info!

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