The quintessential Spain, Andalusia is famous for flamenco, fiestas, bulls and “pueblos blancos”. But it’s also home to some of the most stunning rides and challenging climbs in Europe - including Pico Veleta - the highest paved road in Europe at almost 3400m!
** This trip is only open to previous Thomson VIP guests and their friends **
After the huge success of Catalonia in 2018 we decided to stay in Spain for our 2019 VIP destination - and head south to the remote mountains and whitewashed villages of Andalusia. The region ticks all the boxes for a Thomson trip - stunningly beautiful rides, challenging climbs (including the toughest climb in Europe), luxury hotels, traffic-free roads and the best weather in Europe.
Our journey starts at the luxury Royal Hideaway La Bobadilla 5-star Hotel, travels westwards through the ancient city of Antequera and concludes in Ronda, the most spectacular of all Andalusian towns. Along the way we’ll conquer the climb to Pico Veleta, at 3400m, the highest paved road in Europe and considered by many to be the toughest climb in Europe. Other highlights include the final day Queen Stage with 2 of our all-time favourite HC climbs - the Puerto de las Palmas and the Puerto del Boyar, the “pueblos blancos” route on Day 6, the classic Vuelta a España climb to El Torcal with it’s dramatic limestone formations and the route through the El Chorro gorge which hosts the world-famous Caminito del Rey.
Join us and experience the essence of Southern Spain on this challenging and spectacular ride from Granada to Ronda!
Welcome to Andalusia
Our trip starts at Malaga Airport where our staff will be there to welcome you. After the transfer to the luxury La Bobadilla Hotel we’ll have lunch, orientation meeting and bike build-up before heading out for our first ride in Andalusia.
Our warm-up ride takes us into the vast olive groves that cover this part of Andalusia. The first 15km or so are rolling, followed by a 10km descent to the town of Villanueva de Algaidas. Of course, what goes down must come back up, and a few km later we start the 8km climb to El Dormio. The olive grove landscapes are quite unique and have been added to the tentative list of Unesco cultural landscapes.
Meeting Time and Place Our guides will meet you at 9:00am - either at Malaga Airport or at the Malaga Hilton Garden Inn
At 3400m, Pico Veleta is the highest paved road in Europe and is also considered to be Europe’s toughest climb. Today is your chance to challenge yourself on this legendary climb.
We’ll start the day with a short van transfer to Granada where we’ll jump on the bikes for this famous ride. As a “warm-up” we’ve included the Alto de Monachil climb which is often used as an alternative route up to Veleta. After Monachil we descend to Pinos Genil where the climb to Veleta begins. The summit lies 40km up the road at an elevation of 3400m. Enjoy!
Today’s ride features a beautiful loop through the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park. Heading north from the hotel, we’ll ride through vast olive groves until we reach the white village of Iznajar. From Iznajar we start the 10km climb that takes us high into the Subbética mountains.
The next 70km feature a magnificent ride through the Natural Park that covers these Sierras. Enjoy traffic-free roads and stunning mountain vistas before we eventually drop back down to the lake at Iznajar. We’ll cross the bridge over the lake then take a typical Thomson single-track road (with a few wee bumps) back to the hotel.
We leave behind the luxury of La Bobadilla and head westwards to the ancient city of Antequera. We also leave behind the vast olive groves that surround La Bobadilla and head into a more rugged, mountainous landscape.
First up is the Puerto de Alazores followed closely by the Puerto del Sol which leads to a really spectacular, multi-switchback 10km descent into Mondron. Another short climb leads us to a series of ups and downs before we eventually arrive in Villanueva de la Concepcion. Get the grannie gear ready in Villanueva as the road kicks up signalling the start of the climb to El Torcal which last featured in La Vuelta a España in 2017. As you’re climbing El Torcal don’t forget to look around and admire the limestone scenery which is recognised as some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe.
Caminito del Rey
Our journey across Andalusia continues with a stunningly beautiful ride to Ronda. Leaving Antequera we’re quickly out of the city and onto the road that leads to the first landmark - the Valle de Abdalajis “pueblo blanco”. A short descent takes us to El Chorro Gorge and the Caminito del Rey, one of the world’s most spectacular walkways. We’ll ride through this amazing gorge - don’t forget to look up at the gorge walls where you’ll see the incredible walkway clinging to the side of the rocks several hundred metres up.
After El Chorro the riding gets serious with 3 puertos in quick succession through the Sierra de las Nieves. Once over the final climb, the Puerto del Viento, enjoy the 15km descent to our hotel in Ronda.
Puerto de Peñas Blancas
Quintessential Andalusia today with this spectacular ride through the Andalusian white villages. The ride also features one of the most demanding climbs in Andalusia, the HC Puerto de Peñas Blancas. In true Thomson style, when we reach the summit of the Puerto de Peñas Blancas, we’ll continue upwards on a spectacular single-track road that continues to climb for an additional 5km to Los Reales viewpoint. Enjoy the incredible vistas of the Mediterranean coast, 40km off in the distance. From Los Reales we head back through Genalguacil to complete the “puertos blancos” loop then back to Ronda over the HC Puerto de las Encinas Borrachas.
The Queen Stage
An absolutely stunning ride today through the Sierra de Grazalema! 2 x HC climbs, the Puerto de las Palomas and the Puerto del Boyar, magnificent mountain scenery throughout the ride, some of Andalusia’s most beautiful white villages and very little traffic. One of our Top 5 rides of the year. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, our trip must come to an end. Our shuttle will take you to Malaga Airport, arriving at approximately 9:30am.