Feb 25, 2024
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Pico Veleta, the Highest Road in Spain and Europe

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Pico Veleta stands as a majestic symbol of Spain’s natural beauty, boasting the title of the highest road in Spain and Europe. With an altitude of 3,395 meters above sea level, no alpine or Pyrenean pass has a greater height and offers adventurers and nature enthusiasts an unforgettable experience amidst the rugged landscapes of the Sierra Nevada. The Veleta Peak is the second highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range after Mulhacén, which rises to 3,481 meters, and the fourth highest in Spain, after Teide, Mulhacén, and Aneto.

LocationAndalusia, Spain
RangeSierra Nevada
Elevation3,395 mt (11,135 ft)
Elevation change2,657 mt (8,723 ft)
Medium gradient5,5%
Maximun gradient14%
Lenght50 kilómetros (From Granada)

Pio Veleta Location

From the city of Granada, taking the A-395 road, Pico Veleta is about 50 kilometers away, gaining an elevation of more than 2,500 meters. The ascent is continuous, except for the sections of the Muerto pass (1,492 meters) and the Sabinas pass (2,173 meters), where the incline gives a break. After this second rest, the final stretch of 17 kilometers begins, where there is no respite, and the climb maintains a constant gradient of 10% to 13%.

The route follows a paved road up to 3,200 meters and can be done by bus or car to almost the same peak of Pico Veleta. It is best to start this 50-kilometer journey early in the morning to avoid driving under direct sunlight, especially in the summer months. A surprising characteristic of the route is the contrast between the lush landscape of the southern region of the Vega de Granada and the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Warm clothing is recommended due to the wind and cold at the top.

Points of Interest:

  • Observatory IRAM: Nestled on the slopes of Pico Veleta is the IRAM Observatory, providing astronomers and researchers with an ideal vantage point for studying the cosmos.
  • Sierra Nevada Ski Resort: At the base of Pico Veleta lies the renowned Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, attracting winter sports enthusiasts from around the world with its pristine slopes and world-class amenities.
  • Village of Pradollano: Located at an elevation of 2,100 meters, the charming village of Pradollano offers visitors a glimpse into traditional Andalusian culture, serving as a gateway to the wonders of Pico Veleta.

Travel Tips:

  • Seasonal Considerations: Due to its high altitude, it’s essential to consider seasonal variations and weather conditions when planning a trip to Pico Veleta. Summer months offer ideal weather for road trips and outdoor activities, while winter brings snowfall and colder temperatures.
  • Road Conditions: While the road leading to Pico Veleta offers stunning views, travelers should be prepared for narrow passages, steep inclines, and challenging driving conditions, particularly in higher elevations.
  • Safety Precautions: Visitors to Pico Veleta should exercise caution and come prepared with suitable clothing, provisions, and navigation tools to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Vuelta and Vuelta a España

Pico Veleta has never been climbed in the Vuelta a España. If it were, it would surpass Col de la Bonette (2,715 meters) as the highest point climbed in one of the three Grand Tours. However, although there is a debate on whether it should be climbed or not, the limited space at the summit and the condition of the asphalt at the upper part currently make this historic moment impossible.


In 1920, William Davenhil, a passionate mountaineer, met Madrid engineer Juan José Santa Cruz at the top of Pico Veleta. “How can we offer this magnificent spectacle to everyone?” asked William. “By building a road,” replied Juan José. Fifteen years later, in 1935, the first car reached the summit of Veleta. Juan José, the architect of the construction, was executed in 1936 by the nationalist side.

After five decades, the environmental footprint in the area increased, and thus, in 1999, Sierra Nevada was declared a national park. Since then, vehicle access has been limited by a guarded barrier, about ten kilometers from the summit. According to locals who want to preserve the area, more cars mean more pollution, so promoting this place should attract athletes, hikers, cyclists, and mountain bikers from around the world.

Europe · Spain

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