….10 of the best you’ve probably never heard about

Portugal has some of the toughest cycling climbs in Europe. Here’s our list of 10 of the best cycling climbs in Portugal.

1.  Col’ de Manteigas –  Elev Diff 589m | Distance 15kms | Avg Grade 4% | CAT 2

The multiple switchbacks of this climb in the centre of the Serra da Estrela National Park, will take you from the sleepy village of Manteigas to the observatory at the summit at 1,400 metres.

From here you can appreciate the stunning view over the glacial valley. This is one of the favourite climbs of the Grand Mountain Tour


2.  Col’ de Bigorne – Elev Diff 874m | Distance 31kms | Avg Grade 2.5%

One of the more substantial climbs from the N2 Challenge. Col’ de Bigorne introduces the rider to the stunning scenery of the Douro Valley – a UNESCO  World Heritage Site.

Generally this is a low gradient climb. However, with cobbled sections at 20%, this is a challenging climb for even the most accomplished of cyclists.


3.  Col’ de Gois – Elev Diff 525m | Distance 15km | Avg Grade 4%

Another great climb from the N2 Challenge.

This peaceful and picturesque climb is from Stage 2 of the Challenge. It’s a long climb and not one to be pushed too hard at the beginning.


4.  Montejunto – Elev Diff 548m | Distance 11 km | Avg Grade 5% | HC 2

The iconic climb of Montejunto was home turf to the legendary Portuguese cyclist ‘The Bull’ – Joaquim Agostinho.

As you crest the summit you’ll find the ghostly ruins of the 12th Century Convent and can enjoy far reaching views to the Atlantic Ocean.

The final 2 kms snake up to the summit at 15%!



5.  The Glacier Climb of Col’ de Zezere – Elev Diff 803m | Distance 13kms | Avg Grade 6.5% | HC

From 780m to 1,590m in only 13kms, the ‘Glacier Climb’ has earned a well deserved reputation for being a relentless leg burner.

Best climbed in early spring because the cascades and waterfalls from the melting snow are in full flow. One of our favourite (and very rapid) descents on the Grand Mountain Tour

Glacier Climb


6.  Arnaso to Calcedonia – Elev Diff 347 m | Length 6 km | Avg Grade 6%

Reason to go? Just go….. it’s stunning!



7.  Col’ de Covilha – Elev Diff 1,390m | Distance 20km | Avg Grade 6%

A punishing climb that starts on the steep, cobbled gradients of Covilha. The first 6kms are winding and frequently in double figure gradients!

There is a brief relief from the relentless climbing as you pass our selected hotel from the Grand Mountain Tour.

This climb also features regularly in the famous Volta Portugal.


8.  Col’ de Santo Antonio – Elev Diff 860m | Distance 14kms | Avg Grade 6% | HC

This remote and little known climb from the Grand Mountain Tour is not for the feint hearted. This is a brutal climb with many eye-wateringly steep segments.

The road is easily missed if you don’t know the area!

9.  Col’ de Seia – Elev Diff 1,443 m | Length 28.4 km | Avg Grade 5%.

The famous climb that has punished even top professional riders in the Volta Portugal.

The challenging 10% gradients have to be tackled if you want to reach the reservoir at the midpoint of this climb.

10. Col’ de Cabeca –  Elev Diff 1,640m | Distance 31kms | Avg Grade 5.5% | HC

Looking for a challenge? Then try this epic climb located in the National Park of Serra da Estrela. We consider this to be the toughest of the 10 Best Cycling Climbs in Portugal.

The route starts in the picturesque mountain village of Vide. You will have to conquer three well known Cols: Castelo, Sao Bento and Rodelo Grande.  Finally,  you’ll reach the final climb and crest the summit at Torres.

Any rider who conquers this climb on the Grand Mountain Tour earns great respect from their peers and Pro Riders alike.

Remember, ride the descents carefully and on the higher altitude climbs, always carry a base layer or a gilet to wear on the descent.

Adriano Placidi

Team Director at Volta Pro Tours