Alpe Du Zwift Route 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Hitting the Alpe

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Written By James Quilter

Passionate cyclist and content creator

Thinking about doing the toughest climb in Watopia? Looking to get a better time? Then you should take a look at our Alpe du Zwift route guide. 

Here is a brief overview of ‘the Alpe’, including its location, strategies, and rewards at the summit.

The route is based on Alpe d’Huez in the French alps. However, it’s a little shorter than the ride the pros do in the Tour de France. 

Compared to Alpe D’Huez – my opinion

While I’ve ridden the Zwift climb plenty of times, I’ve only done Alpe D’Huez once. That was at the Etape du Tour 2022, which had previous gone up the Galibier and the Crois de la Fer.

It was the Tour de France stage Tom Pidcock won.

Alpe_dHuez Alpe Du Zwift Route 101: A Beginner's Guide to Hitting the Alpe

The previous climb of the Crois de la Fer, was in the middle of the day and completely wasted me if truth be told. So by the time I got to the bottom of the Alpe I was feeling it badly and knew it would be a long day.

The first thing you hit is the ramp up and the long road before the first switchback. Like the whole thing, it was really familar when compared to the virtual climb. The only different was the heat – especially reflecting of the white rock on the side.

One nice touch on the actual climb is there are little natural fountains in the wall. You can top up your bidon and dowse yourself. The switchbacks are bigger too. On this occasion they were filled with people sitting around and unable to continue.

In short, it felt weirdly familar riding it, yet totally different. My time? I took an hour longer than my best Zwift time of 53 mins. However, the other climbs really took it out of me.

Interested in more? Check out the video below.

YouTube video

Alpe du Zwift – distance, height, and gradients

You will ride a total distance is 12.24 km. But this doesn’t include getting there. In terms of height, you will climb a touch over 1000 metres. Or an elevation gain of 1,052 metres if you want to be precise.

However, it’s not the biggest climb in Zwift – that goes to Ven-top in the France guest world. 

Alpe du Zwift is a 21 hair-pinned climb. The sections at the lower end are longer. 

The steepest section is in the first half, where the gradient kicks up to a max of 14%. But there are plenty of 10% parts as well. 

The average gradient is around 8%. 

Things get a little easier in the second half, especially as you get near the top. 

How to get to the route 

As things stand, you need to be Level 10 or above to do the Alpe. That said, you can do it if you are riding in a group or with another rider who is over 10. 

There are a number of routes that take in Alpe du Zwift. For example, there’s the Tour of Fire and Ice, which takes in all the mountains. Even a decent rider will take around 3 hours to complete. 

The Four Horsemen, takes in several climbs, including the Volcano. 

road-to-sky Alpe Du Zwift Route 101: A Beginner's Guide to Hitting the Alpe
Road to Sky – Shortest Route to the Alpe

But the shortest route to the Alpe is Road to Sky. It features a short 15-minute ride through the jungle before you get turned to hit the first climb. 

You can ride it any time as it’s in Watopia and. It is not part of the guest world calendar. 

Prizes for riding the climb

Powerups are littered along the course. However, reach them before they expire. But there is something better waiting at the top. 

Stick out the ride and you see the Wheel of Fortune. Prizes range from the mundane like socks, to experience points.

The best prize of all is the set of ultra lightweight Meilenstein wheels. 

Meilensteins are the best wheels in Zwift and this is the only place you will find them. 

meilenstein-wheels Alpe Du Zwift Route 101: A Beginner's Guide to Hitting the Alpe

Of course, there is also the Tron Bike to aim for. 

Or, on the way down, switch to the Tour of Italy challenge. You can get the extra miles by going into a tuck and rolling. You also get the XP points. 

What sort of time should I aim for? 

A decent time is under an hour. Some of the fastest times are under 40 minutes. 

One consistently great thing about the route is that people struggle to get under the hour mark. 

Tactically, the only way to ride it is to pace yourself through to the last corners.Just find a decent gear you can grind out and keep going. 

At around 5 to 4 the course levels out and its time to stick it in the big ring and throw everything in. 

Sorry, there’s no science to it. 

That said, if you want to can amend your trainer difficulty in Zwift. This regulates how fast the change in gradient comes on. 

Looking for more

Feel like that was easy? Then look at trying Ven-Top in the France guest world. It is based on Mont Ventoux and is over 1,500 metres.


How long is Alpe du Zwift?

Alpe du Zwift is 12.24 kilometers long. It has a maximum gradient of 14%. 

How to tackle the Alpe du Zwift for the first time

Pick a gear you can hold and keep going. Keep going until corner 4 and the route levels off a little. Also, adjust the trainer difficulty if it is too hard.

What do you get for completing the mountain?

XP points, meters for the Tron Bike, and best of all, the chance to win a set of Meilenstein wheels. 

What is the quickest way to Alpe du Zwift?

The quickest route to get to Alpe du Zwift is Road to Sky. 

Is Alpe d’Huez the same as Alpe du Zwift?

Zwift uses the GPS data from Alpe d’Huez to create Alpe du Zwift. However it is around 200 meters shorter than the route the professionals ride.