Road Altea (Coll de Rates)


etapa de carretera

Altea - Castell de Guadalest

This route from Altea is quite a demanding one, consisting of a distance of 130 kilometres and a cumulative elevation gain of over 2600 metres. We'll get to know the ascent to Coll de Rates (Category 2 mountain pass) on its more classic side, but before that we'll go into some of the inland areas of the region, which will allow us to see its diverse landscape and enjoy never-ending uphill slopes.

We'll start our route from Altea's Town Hall. The road goes up right from the start, so we recommend you take it easy during the first kilometres. We take Avenida de La Nucía onto the CV-760 road, which we won't leave until we get to La Nucía. From this town, we'll take the CV-715 road on the way to the town of Polop. This road goes around the town and leads to Callosa d´En Sarrià.

At this point, we'll start a 25-kilometre ascent up to the Alto de Confrides mountain (960 m, category 3 mountain pass).  Before getting here, we'll go through the Valley of the Guadalest river, which we'll have to follow up to the beautiful town of Castell de Guadalest. We recommend stopping there for a bit to have a cup of coffee on one of its terraces. If we do stop, and as soon as we go past the arch that gives access to San Jose Castle, we'll realise that this is a town full of history, due to its privileged location, which made it a target for many different civilizations.  

Castell de Guadalest - Parcent

We'll resume our route on the CV-755 road towards Benimantell, from where we'll take the CV-70 road, which we won't leave until we arrive at Benilloba. This is quite a hard section of the route, but the views it offers are unbelievable. From this part of the road, we will be able to see the magnificent Sierra de Aitana rocky mountain range and a kind of vegetation that differs completely from that found at the beginning of the route. We'll go across the towns of Benifato and Confrides to get to the last kilometres of this first ascent to the Alto de Confrides. We'll then start the descent to the town of Benilloba, going through Benasau first.

Just before reaching Benilloba, we'll take the CV-710 road to get to Gorga and face the second ascent straight away. This ascent will lead us to the village of Famorca through Cuatretondeta and Facheca. From this point, we'll start a long descent that covers a distance of 25 km and that will take us to Parcent, after crossing Castell de Castells and Benichembla.

Parcent is a well-known meeting point for bikers who visit the area because it's the starting point of the classic ascent to Coll de Rates and it's also on the way to many other routes that are very popular amongst touring cyclists. This could be a good spot to regain our strength before facing the third and last ascent of the day: Coll de Rates

Parcent - Coll de Rates - Altea

This mountain pass, despite not being one of the hardest in the area (Category 2), is very famous due to the fact that the Vuelta a España has gone through it several times. It's also quite widely known amongst touring cyclists because of how hard it is, but also because it provides bikers with amazing views of the Vall del Pop during the ascent, of the western side of the Sierra de Bernia  mountain range until arriving at Bolulla, and of the Guadalest valley during the descent to Callosa d´En Sarrià.

We'll leave Parcent to start the ascent to Coll de Rates. It's a 6.8 kilometre long mountain pass, with an average gradient of 5%. Even though it's quite consistent, it sometimes reaches a gradient of up to 8% or even 10%. As you can see on the route's profile, though, this is a very tricky section. Once we get to the top of the mountain pass, we'll still have to face a last ascent before we find Tárbena.

After that, we can say that we have virtually finished going up for the day, except for the last uphill section, which covers about 2 kilometres before arriving at Callosa d´En Sarrià once we pass the Algar riverbed. If you're interested in more than just doing some exercise, we recommend you stop for a while at the Algar waterfalls. These waterfalls make up a natural reserve where the ecological wealth is in a high level of preservation, while offering a range of tourist and environmental education services. Apart from the beauty of the reserve, the area is full of loquat fields. This fruit is used to make a variety of products, such as jam, honey, liquors, etc.

We'll start the last descent of the day from Callosa d´En Sarrià to the town of Altea, considered one of the architectural gems of the region and a good example of purely Mediterranean architecture, thanks to the preservation status of its old town.


What to see

Guadalest's old town.

Altea's old town. 

"Les Fonts de l´Algar" in Callosa d´En Sarrià (Algar Waterfalls)

What to eat

Apart from a wide variety of rice and fish dishes, as it's customary all along Alicante's coastline, one of the towns on this route, Tárbena, offers visitors the chance to try some Majorcan-style delicacies, such as sobrassada (a cured, raw sausage), ensaimadas (spiral-shaped pastries) and different kinds of cured meat.

We should also point out that loquats are grown all over the area. This fruit is used in a countless amount of recipes and by-products, such as: Loquat honey, loquat jam and liquors, different types of loquats in syrup, and one of the last additions to the team, loquat beer, a reflection of the interest of local producers around the Guadalest valley in staying ahead of the latest food trends. It's not for nothing that "Nísperos de Callosa d'En Sarrià" (Callosa d'En Sarrià's loquats) is a certified Protected Designation of Origin.

The town of Altea and some of the surrounding areas, such as Alfàs del Pí, produce some of the most renowned wines with the Vinos de Alicante Designation of Origin.

Did you know?

Tárbena's language and traditions come from the Majorcan settlers that first arrived at this town. But why is that? It turns out that, back in 1609, due to the Moriscos being expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, Tárbena (a town that had been populated mainly by Arabs) ended up almost empty and its crops were spoilt, so they turned to Majorca to find "pagesos" (farmers) who would repopulate this fertile land. Many families came from the town of Santa Margalida and their descendants still live in the region of Alicante, influencing local traditions with their own cultural traits.

50% of all loquats currently used in Europe come from the Guadalest valley.