As we approach the holidays or that long weekend we’ve been looking forward to, we start to wonder, “Where should I take my mountain bike this time?” As you know, practicing your favorite sport in new and beautiful places always brings real emotion and satisfaction, especially if you’re in the right company.
If you have the opportunity to spend a few nights away from home, there is nothing better than touring Europe with your own bike, or even renting one, to enjoy the trails in some of the best-known spots. And you’ll often come across nice surprises, places far from the main bike parks marked on the map that nevertheless offer fantastic trails and amazing scenery.
Dainese has put together ten of the best mountain bike resorts in Europe, combining some of the most famous ones with some less well-known names that are equally evocative and worth a visit.
Considered by many to be the European mecca of mountain biking, Finale Ligure offers a dense network of trails for all tastes, from the NATO base flow to the DH Men white rock overlooking the sea, a classic special stage in the Enduro World Series. Hotel facilities abound in the Ligurian town, as do the inevitable bike shuttle services. Its privileged position, overlooking the Ligurian Sea, allows you to combine days of epic riding with delicious dinners by the water. What more could you ask for in life?
Or the 3-Länder Enduro, as it's known here. Ever thought about crossing three different countries on your mountain bike in one day? Riding around Reschenpass and the lake of the same name, the one with the bell tower rising out of the water, you enter Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The trails are perfect for lovers of alpine environments, with soft undergrowth, roots and stones. Feasible with trail or enduro bikes, they are not ideal for cross country bikes unless you are really experienced. It’s impossible to try all the trails in one day, so take it easy and book for an entire weekend.
© Matt Cherubino
On the trails of the Enduro World Series in a breathtaking location. With lush green mountains overlooking the ocean, over 200 kilometers of trails and an incredible variety of terrain, it takes at least a whole week to try them all. The island's trail network is managed and kept in perfect condition by a full-time trail building team. There are no permanent lift facilities, but you can easily make up for this with the numerous bike shuttle services.
Les Gets (France)
A legendary location that needs no introduction, it has been the scene of unforgettable World Cup downhill races since the 1990s. Complete with 22 ski lifts, almost 100 km of trails, 17 downhill or enduro bike trails and a further 6 trail and cross country routes. Numbers that classify Les Gets as one of those places in which to ride at least once in a lifetime. All in a fairytale location in the middle of the Alps, a stone's throw from Switzerland and Italy.
© Keno Photographie
Bad Kleinkirchheim (Austria)
Bad Kleinkirchheim boasts the longest flow trail in Europe. The beauty of a 15-km stretch descending from the 2,100 meters of the mountain station on the Kaiserburg to the 1,200 meters of the valley floor. Flow Country Trail is always kept in perfect working order, with its parabolic banks, humps and jumps suitable for riders of all levels. The area of Bad Kleinkirchheim offers many other nature trails, too, of course. For those who want to improve their technique, Feld am See has a large area with a pump track and a path with North Shore-style wooden walkways. If the weather is at its best, a swim in the nearby Brennsee lake is the best way to end a great day of riding.
© BRM - Mathias Praegant
Laugavegur Route (Iceland)
Ever dreamt of taking a trip to the moon? Well, while the moon might be hard to reach, there is a place on Earth that looks just like it. With its rugged, desolate moors, Iceland truly offers an otherworldly landscape. The Laugavegur Route is one to be tackled over several days, immersed in an inhospitable but beautiful setting, complete with several shelters. Geysers, mountains of colored rock, and expanses of solidified lava are just some of the wonders that can be observed in this area. The Laugavegur Route is a 3-hour drive from Reykjavik and about 90 km in length, with just over 2,300 meters of positive altitude difference. It can be safely tackled over three or four days.
Slovenia is one of those countries that offers a spectacular variety of landscapes, from mountain peaks to the sea. And with Trans Slovenia 01, which starts in Kranjska Gora and runs as far as Trieste, everything can be reached by mountain bike. The route can vary between 300 and 380 kms, with a total positive difference in altitude between 6,000 and 10,300 meters, depending on the route you choose. It takes seven days to cover the entire distance and your destination has a surprise in store, or rather a dip in the sea and a fish supper.
© Uroš Švigelj - Visit Goodplace
Arduous mountains, an alpine setting and spectacular views of the Norwegian fjords. It’s a seven-hour drive from Oslo to the summit of Mefjellet, one of the most beautiful mountain bike spots in northern Europe, near the village of Valldal. For those who want to pedal and love technical trails, this corner of Norway boasts the perfect, coveted combination of trail quality and breathtaking views.
Sella Group, Dolomites (Italy)
Take your trail or enduro bike to the trails around the Sella massif and you won't be disappointed. Whether you decide to ride the entire Sellaronda (clockwise for downhill lovers, counter-clockwise for climbers), or concentrate on just one area (bike parks in Val di Fassa and Val Gardena), enjoyment is guaranteed. Here you will find the very best of alpine paths, breathtaking landscapes, and fresh air as an escape from the summer heat. And combining a day of riding with an evening out to enjoy some typical South Tyrolean dishes is just priceless.
Fort William (UK)
Scottish Fort Bill, to its friends, should need no introduction. It is one of the most prestigious locations of the Downhill World Cup, held here since 2002. The Scottish Highlands offer a unique environment, mountainous, sparsely populated and dotted with lakes, which include the famous Loch Ness, less than an hour's drive from Fort William. Here, in addition to the infamous World Cup Downhill track, there is an extensive network of trails to suit all tastes, from cross-country to enduro, served by lifts or to ride up, which cover the entire surrounding area, known as the Nevis Range.
The only legitimate question at this point is how many days to spend away from home. Some of these destinations, also due to their distance from the continent, lend themselves to vacations of a week or more, while many others can be enjoyed over a single weekend. Pack up your mountain bike in its bag, or hire a rental, as the most beautiful trails in Europe await you.
cover photo © Andreas Mierswa