• Distance 9.5 km
  • Elevation gain 670m
  • Difficulty
  • Epic rating

The Sa Calobra climb is Mallorca’s most famous, spectacular and, arguably, toughest cycling climb.

Sheer limestone cliff faces reach down to the turquoise sea. Weaving through the craggy lunar landscape, a feat of engineering and a work of art: a looping grey squiggle of silver tarmac that entices cyclists from across the globe.

The Sa Calobra road balances beauty with brawn. It’s one of the most picturesque routes in Europe, but it demands serious mental toughness since you have to ride all the way down it before you ride up it. Once you’re at the hamlet by the sea, there’s no alternative to the long climb back up (unless you catch a boat or hitch a lift…).

While the out and back nature of the Sa Calobra Mallorca cycling route means it doesn’t have historical race pedigree, it’s not without its famous fans: Sir Bradley Wiggins trained here in preparation for his 2012 Tour de France victory.

Want to get a taste of Sa Calobra on Youtube? Check out our video:

All metrics in this article are approximate.

Sa Calobra climb highlights

When cycling Sa Calobra, the unforgettable first view of the famous 270° loop-the-loop turn and the endless hairpins snaking down to the sea.

Steady gradients allow sinewy climbing types to build good rhythm and pace on this, Mallorca’s iconic cycling climb.


Cyclist viewing the twists of the Sa CalobraFamous twists of the Sa Calobra
270 degree bend on Sa Calobra road270 bend near the top of the Sa Calobra (credit: reyjunk/Shutterstock.com)
Cycling climbing Sa Calobra Mallorca by bikeSa Calobra: one of the best cycle routes in Majorca?

Sa Calobra, Mallorca: route notes

So, how hard is the Sa Calobra cycle route? Read on to find out!

1. Sa Calobra descent

Just before the rock walls you’ll ride through at the top of the pass, there’s a brown sign that marks the top of the Coll dels Reis pass. From here, it’s a 9.5km descent down to the village at Port de Sa Calobra, and Mallorca Sa Calobra beach.

Around 26 hairpin bends and 600m of descent creates a white knuckle ride for anyone not used to Alpine-style downhill.

Enjoy the hairpins, but be warned. If you have time to think about anything other than the road ahead, it’s likely to be “wow, amazing views” – but also “ahhh, it’s going to be a hard slog getting back up!”

Cyclist enjoying the speed on the Sa Calobra descent!Enjoy the speed!
Cyclist cycling down Sa Calobra's twists and turnsView down this iconic Mallorcan cycling climb
Fast descent by bike down Sa Calobra MallorcaIt’s fast!

2. Sa Calobra climb, part 1 (0-5km)

We’d suggest taking a look at the Sa Calobra climb profile in the “route map and profile” box above before reading on – our description will make more sense that way! 

The official start when you ride Sa Calobra is at the “Salida/Start” sign beyond the car park. So if you’re going for a time, don’t hammer if before reaching that!

The first kilometre is relaxed, but it soon ramps up to 6-8%. In the first 5 km you’re largely hairpin free, though there are a few nasties on the Sa Calobra bike ride. One at about 2 km takes you up to 14%.

The opening kilometres of the climb are quite sheltered, as you’re riding through the trees. You also pass under the dramatic rock arch (see the photo below). The gradient steepens as you do so, though it settles back down again quite quickly.

Ignore the turning off to the right (about 1.5 km in) – unless you fancy taking a side trip to the lovely beach at Cala Tuent.

Rock arch on way up Sa Calobra climb MallorcaThe famous rock arch on the Sa Calobra (credit: Allard One/Shutterstock.com)
Massive rock walls support the Sa Calobra routeSa Calobra is a massive feat of engineering
Climbing the Sa Calobra by bikeKeep spinning!

 

3. Sa Calobra climb, part 2 (5-10km)

The hairpins start in earnest at around 5 km, and it’s a mixture of hairpins and straight sections all the way to the top. They tend to average around 7 – 8%, with the inside of each hairpin offering the shortest – but steepest – line.

The scenery is at its most dramatic through these hairpins – it’s all bare rock and sinewy road weaving up the mountain like a giant scaletrix set.

In the last few kilometres, gradients ramp up to 9-10% and immediately after the most famous hairpin of them all – the 270° degree hairpin under the arch – your bike computer may hit readings of 12-4%… Save something for these last few hundred metres! You’ll need something left in the tank for this – and for the ride home.

The top of the Sa Calobra profile is marked by the Coll dels Reis summit. From here, you loop back down the Coll dels Reis pass and then back to the viaduct.

View down onto cyclist from bridge on Mallorca Sa Caobra roadView down from the bridge at the 270 degree bend
Cyclist coming through arch on Mallorca's iconic Sa Calobra climbUnder the bridge for the final push to the top
Top of the Coll dels ReisBefore descending the Sa Calobra, you have to climb to the top of the Coll dels Reis

Café stops

If you cycle to Sa Calobra via the Col de sa Batalla, you’ll pass the well-known Repsol petrol station at the top of the Col. It sells lots of sugary snacks, gels etc. There’s also a café next door which does a mean cake.

At the Sa Calobra turn off, near the aqueduct, there is a small café (nicknamed the OJ shack by many). It’s open March to October.

There’s a café at the 270° section of road which bends under itself. It was closed whenever we’ve visited (early and late season), but we’ve read it does decent coffee and cakes.

At the bottom of the descent, there are a few (not very inspiring) restaurants.

For more coffee stop ideas, take a look at our post on Mallorca’s top cafés for cyclists.

OJ shack cafe at start of Sa Calobra MallorcaSa Calobra OJ Shack
Espresso before the ride down to Sa Calobra beachEnergy inducing espresso before tackling Sa Calobra!

Accommodation

We rode Sa Calobra from Port de Pollença on two of our four trips to Mallorca. Most recently we stayed at Hotel Illa d’Or and would recommend it to friends. It’s a good-looking hotel that will appeal to both cyclists and non-cyclists, particularly if you’re not with kids.

If you’re not sure about Port de Pollença and are wondering which town is best for you, our best towns for cyclists article should help you narrow things down.

You’ll also find more accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to Mallorca for cyclists.

Tips

The Sa Calobra cycling climb might not be as hardcore as some of Europe’s other famous climbs, but it is worthy of any Mallorca climbing guide. So don’t underestimate it! Before you cycle Sa Calobra, read these tips:

  • Summit: The last 3 kilometres of the climb are some of the steepest and most exposed. It can get windy up there, so do prepare accordingly.
  • Tunnel: Towards the bottom, there’s a narrow precipice tunnel where two cliffs almost meet overhead. It’s steep as you go through, and be ready to put on your brakes if there’s a car/coach coming in the opposite direction.
  • Traffic: Sa Calobra is famous with cyclists and general tourists. Watch out for other vehicles, from cars to coaches and from individual cyclists to groups of cyclists on training camps. The road is narrow with limited passing places. This is a particular issue towards the bottom where corners are shaded and hidden. Be very careful not to obstruct cyclists/vehicles coming in the opposite direction, especially on righthand turns. We also suggest getting to Sa Calobra as early as possible – best to plan to leave by 11am. If you’re visiting in the height of summer this is particularly important, as otherwise you’re likely to have a hellish time grinding in, surrounded by coaches and cars.
  • Sa Calobra weather: Rain: If you’re unlucky enough to encounter rain, consider postponing as it’s unlikely to be pleasant. Heat: From May until October, temperatures can be in excess of 30℃ and sometimes much hotter. Fill up your water bottle at the bottom, as there’s nowhere to fill up until the top.
  • Decide your strategy before you set off: there are tempting viewpoints all the way down/up the climb and, depending on your appetite for photos vs. times, you might want to stop. Also, on such an iconic climb, it’s easy to get excited and hit it too hard at the bottom – remember it’s a long way up!
  • Want a Sa Calobra bike photo? In high season, enterprising photographers are usually in position, ready to take photos of you on your way up and down.  You can visit their website to buy the photo later if you want to.
  • Check our tips for cycling in Mallorca before you set out.

Getting there

Unless you get a boat from Port Soller to Port de Sa Calobra (and they’re seasonal), the Sa Calobra elevation means you’ll need to do some decent climbing on the road up. If you’re coming from the south, that may involve Puig Major or, from the north, Col de sa Batalla or Col de Femenia… Check our other ride guides for more details.

Once you see the aqueduct spanning the road (with a coffee shop underneath), you’re nearly there – but do keep going! You’re not at the top of the Sa Calobra yet. The start of the descent is at the summit of the Coll dels Reis, 2.5km away (with an average gradient of 6%), where the road goes between two rock walls.

Want to climb Sa Calobra on one of our Mallorca cycle routes?

If you wan to add to the Sa Xalobra cycle route, take a look at our Sa Batalla loop.

If you’re looking for a truly epic day, you could tack the Sa Calobra on to our classic Mallorca cycling climbs loop. You would be approaching Sa Batalla from the south, heading north, and so would have the Puig Major climb (as well as Coll de Soller and Coll d’Orient) in your legs before tackling Sa Calobra. This is not for the faint-hearted!

Or there’s the Big Daddy Challenge ride which sees you tackle Sa Calobra at the end of a very long day in the saddle!

Interested in the Sa Calobra Strava leaderboard?

The Sa Calobra Strava segment is here: Sa Calobra – Coll dels Reis (official).

At the time of writing, the record is held by Sebastian Gomez. He completed the climb in January 2016 in an impressive 24’54, knocking 5 seconds off David Lopez (of Team Sky fame). They’re the only two riders to be under the 25 minute mark.

Queen of the Climb is Emma Pooley, at 30:52 and 11.4mph.

What next?

We’d love to hear from you – so please do comment below !

Don’t miss our other related ride guides on Mallorca: see the related rides section above as well as a few of our many articles on Mallorca, below.

Check out our ultimate guide to cycling Mallorca and other articles on Mallorca, below. 

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

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4 Responses to “Sa Calobra climb,
Mallorca”

  1. Really enjoyable article. I’ve been to Mallorca numerous times and there are always a ton of cyclers. It’s not an easy place to ride, but it sure is beautiful.

    • Thanks so much! Mallorca is a fantastic place to ride and the Sa Calobra is one of the absolute best climbs there is!

  2. Thanks for the tips – heading to Majorca this weekend and will be tackling Sa Calobra next week some time.