• Distance 155 km
  • Elevation gain 3350m
  • Difficulty
  • Epic rating

This is probably our favourite ride in the Costa Blanca region.

It’s a long, hard day out that starts inauspiciously…but what comes next is world class: Puerto de Tudons, the Confrides – Guadelest area, Tàrbena, the back road up Coll de Rates and the stunning Coll de Rates secret summit.

It’s a ride you won’t easily forget.

Watch our video to get a real sense of the Coll de Rates climb, then read on for all the details!

All metrics in this article are approximate.

Highlights

Everything from Finestrat to Parcent is solid gold. To be more specific:

  • The Puerto de Tudons climb from the gorgeous town of Sella and the descent to Benassau;
  • The scenery on the climb to Tàrbena;
  • The long, quiet valley road up the back side of the Coll de Rates;
  • The little-known path to the very top of the Coll de Rates.
Cyclist on a switchback up Puerto de Tudons, Calpe, Costa Blanca, SpainClimbing the Puerto de Tudons; near the summit
Cyclist admiring the view on the climb to Tarbena, Costa Blanca, SpainThe views on the climb to Tàrbena are impressive
Cyclist cycling Coll de Rates from Tàrbena, Costa Blanca, SpainThe long, quiet road from Tàrbena to the summit of the Coll de Rates. For the views from the secret summit, see the banner photo.

Route notes

1. Calpe to Benassau (including Puerto de Tudons (via Sella)): 0-67 km

The first 23 km of this ride are the low point of the ride: the N-332 takes you south, and it’s a busy road through urban areas.

It’s quickly forgotten when you hit the CV-758 that climbs up to Finnestrat and on towards Sella and the popular Puerto de Tudons climb. It’s a favourite with pro riders and has featured in the Vuelta a España a number of times.

In total, the climb is around 17 km long with a 4.5% average gradient. Gradients are gentle in the opening few kilometres but get steeper around Sella. Sella sits in a dramatic location with a vertical mountain backdrop. It’s probably a good point for a cafe/bar stop – some of the places on the main street have great views from the balconies. This area has the best scenery on the climb with views of the spectacular Puig Campana mountain. As you leave Sella behind you, the gradients steepen, and the views become obscured by trees.

At the top of the Puerto de Tudons pass are fabulous views over hills and valleys. You may also notice a turn up on the righthand side: this is to a military base and is usually not open to the public.

You’ve got a choice whether to take the direct route down to Benassau on the CV-770 via Alocoleja or take the longer route on the C-785. We like the longer route as it’s a small quiet road through the forest before it opens up into fields and a series of switchbacks.

View over the pretty village of Sella, Costa Blanca, SpainView down over Sella from road to Puerto de Tudons
Cyclist passing the Puerto de Tudons summit signSummit of Puerto de Tudons

2. Benassau to Callosa (including Guadelest AND climb to Tàrbena): 67-98 km

From Benassau you’re on the beautiful CV-70 all the way to Castell de Guadelest (known as simply Guadelest). If you’ve done our Guadelest and Vall d’Ebo ride, you’ll recognise this section which you rode the other way on that ride. You climb up to the Puerto Confrides, before heading down the twisty narrow mountain gorge to Confrides village. Almond groves and pretty villages all the way to magnificent Guadelest, set high up on a pinnacle and carved out of a mountain top.

Descend to Callosa d’en Sarrià (known as Callosa) before taking the CV-715 to head up to Tàrbena. It’s around 9 km on a classic twisty mountain road with far-reaching mountain views (4.8% average gradient). Tàrbena is a great place to stop for a rest. There are some bars with good views over the valley, and you’re (very nearly) at the top of the ascent.

Cyclist climbing mountain road Costa BlancaOn the climb to Tàrbena
View of Tàrbena, Costa BlancaView up to Tàrbena

3. Coll de Rates to Calpe (including the secret path to the hidden summit of Coll de Rates): 98-155 km

From Tàrbena, you’re in for a treat. The CV-715 takes you 7 km along the side of a valley, up to the top of the Coll de Rates. There’s some up and down, but it’s all pretty mellow.

At the top is the famous Coll de Rates restaurant.

If you’re feeling good and fancy a further climb, we’d highly recommend checking out the narrow asphalt path that runs around 3 km and rises 300 m (so a 10.5% average gradient!) to the real summit.  It’s a little-known gem that’s a treat of an uphill. A narrow asphalt road with strange yellow lines down the middle of it (odd since only one car could ever fit on the path/road) takes you up to the sky. There are lots of turns at the beginning, but it then straightens out into long runs. At the top, the views are out of this world: a 360 panorama that makes you feel you’re on the roof of the world. The fact it’s unguarded makes it feel even more of a buzz!

Enjoy the descent back down the path and then onto the standard route down the Coll de Rates and to Parcent. What a ride!

From Parcent it’s an easy 25 km back home. A good warm down after a full-on ride.

Bike hanging on road sign on road to Coll de Rates from TàrbenaThe quiet road to the summit of Coll de Rates (from Tàrbena)
Views down mountain road, Costa BlancaViews down the Coll de Rates
Bike path to secret summit of Coll de RatesPath to the summit of Coll de Rates’ “secret summit”. Banner photo has the view from the top!

Café stops

Despite this ride being predominantly in the mountains, there are a good number of places to refuel. It’s still worth thinking about before you set out though. Also, bear in mind the likely time of day and day of the week as this will dictate whether the restaurants/bars you’re heading for are likely to be open.

The main villages on this ride with restaurants/bars are Finestrat, Sella, Benasau, Confrides, Guadelest, Callosa, Tàrbena and Parcent. On the road back from Parcent to Calpe, there are lots of small towns/villages including Jalón (aka Xaló), and there’s also a supermarket just off route near Bonaire.

Accommodation

We rode this route from the four-star Sol y Mar hotel on Calpe’s seafront. We had a comfortable stay with easy access to restaurants and bike hire. It also allowed us to access the region’s best rides as Calpe is centrally located on the coastline. You can find out more about what we thought, here.

If you’d rather stay in a different resort or inland, we have more accommodation suggestions in our article on where to stay in/around Calpe for cyclists.

Tips

Read our tips for cycling in Calpe and Costa Blanca before you set out.

Guadelest is one of the most visited towns in Spain; the town of 200 inhabitants receives around 2 million visitors a year. Depending on when you visit, expect to come across some traffic in this section of the ride (though fortunately most of it gets there via the CV-70 rather than the CV-755 in our route).

This ride lends itself to being tailored. For example

  • If you want to make it shorter or into two loops, you could use the CV-755 from Callosa to Altea la Vella to cut it into two.
  • If a 155 km ride just isn’t long enough, how about cycling around the Guadalest reservoir? We’ve not done it, but it looks beautiful. Try taking the CV-757 through Beniardà, around the far side of the lake and then back on Calle de la Era to the CV-755.
  • Alternatively, you could add in our Port de Bèrnia loop, so cutting out the CV-745 between Jalón (aka Xaló) and Benissa. You’d climb up to the Port de Bèrnia from Jalón and descend to Benissa. But make sure you’ve got enough in the tank before you add this on!

We did this ride on a Sunday, and there were lots of motorbikes around, particularly on the Puerto de Tudons and the climb up to Tàrbena.

Found this guide useful?

We’d love to hear from you – comment below or drop us a line.

Don’t miss our other ride guides on the Costa Blanca: see the related rides section above.

Check out our ultimate guide to cycling Calpe and the Costa Blanca and other articles, below.

Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a road cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com to help make it easy for road cyclists to explore new places by bike.

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