Escape the winter blues by heading over to one of these top 5 road bike winter destinations sure to inspire you to hop on and ride!
Love long climbs on pristine roads or café-hopping along the coast? No matter your fancy, it can all be done on the road bike in winter…and under sun-drenched skies.
While riding the road bike in winter can be enjoyed on any of the Mediterranean’s four main Balearic Islands, the two standouts are Mallorca and Ibiza. Both of these islands have hundreds of kilometers of well-marked cycling routes, with Mallorca catering more to climbers and Ibiza for all cycling levels.
Mallorca (AKA Majorca) is the largest of the Balearic Islands, and certainly one of the most popular road bike winter destinations for serious athletes who are in search of that ultimate winter training camp location. Its home to some of the longest, most challenging rides in Europe. For recovery rides, you also have many options such as cruising along the Bay of Palma coast from Palma to S’Arenal beach, or head inland in the direction of the picturesque town of Santa Maria del Camí (AKA Santa Maria) located in Mallorca’s central flat plain.
One ride that should be on your list is certainly the Cap de Formentor route (AKA Cap de Formentor lighthouse ride), located on the northeast of the island. Covering 35km (22mi) and 1000 meters (3280 feet) of altitude, it is the most famous – and one of the trickiest – of all the cycling routes in Mallorca. Not only is the sight of the lighthouse itself breathtaking but so are the views once you reach it.
Temps in Mallorca can hit 20°C (68°F) but can also get as low as 10°C (50°F) on occasion so do be prepared with arm/leg warmers, vest and maybe a rain jacket for that rare shower. You can also read our tips on how to dress for cycling in winter. If you’re looking for something to do after your rides, be sure to stay in one of the more popular towns as wintertime can be a bit deserted in the countryside. For town ideas, check out our towns where we rent the most bikes as these will be the ideal locations.
Ibiza offers many well-maintained road cycling routes, both hilly and flat, that can be enjoyed by cyclists of all levels. As you bike along these scenic routes, you’ll be treated to impressive views of the sparkling waters, sandy beaches, and charming coastal villages. From gentle rolling hills to more challenging mountainous paths, riders of all skill levels will find their perfect match here. The varied landscapes provide a sense of adventure and make each ride a thrilling experience.
You can choose an easy ride like Santa Eulàlia Coastal Loop, a relaxing beach route where you’ll spot a collection of gorgeous coves. Or if you thrive on challenges, tackle the “Round Ibiza Tour”. It’s a 125km (78mi) road bike loop around the island. Hence, an excellent way to explore the island.
After your rides, countless entertainment options await…in addition to the nightclubs of course! Check out the bustling marinas, beaches and local Mediterranean cuisine. There are also quite a few stunning landmarks to explore such as the cave “Cueva de Can Marçà” which is over 1000,000 years old. (They say it was used by pirates to stash their contraband.)
Costa Brava certainly earns its title of one of the all-time top road bike winter destinations in Europe as it offers cyclists the full package experience. From coastal routes and high mountain passes to Girona’s rich cycling culture. Here you’ll also find everything from rugged coves and sandy beaches to medieval villages and vineyards – all reachable by road bike.
Costa brava makes it on every list of best winter cycling destinations with Gerona ass a true cycling mecca. To the south and east of Girona are the fabulous Costa Brava cycling routes and coastline. The Pyrenees is just to the north and Les Gaverres mountains to the south. In addition, a sizable portion of the region is protected areas and reserves so you are sure to get in a nice dose of nature.
For easy riding, head along the coast. From Lloret de Mar to Llafranc, you can take in views of the breathtaking blue Mediterranean and stop at cafés along the way. There is also an extensive network of paths (greenways and Pirinexus) designed solely for cyclists and hikers, covering 500+ kilometers and connects the Pyrenees with the rest of Costa Brava.
If you’re up for climbing, you can scale Els Angels, a 10km (6.2mi) 4% tough climb that ends at the historic chapel of Sanctuari dels Angels, where Salvador Dalí was married. A bit further away is a medieval vaulted village, Monells, dating back to the 10th century – perfect for a coffee break. With ideal winter cycling temps around 15°C (59°F), Girona is also one of the best gravel bike destinations in winter in Europe.
Be sure to stay in Girona’s labyrinthine old town as this medieval area, complete with crumbling city walls and cobble-lined streets, is where the heart of the town’s cycling culture lies. Home to countless pro cyclists over the years such as Mark Cavendish and Lance Armstrong, Girona has really developed a cycling culture – in particular a cycling café culture.
You’ll find quite a few cycling cafés founded by pro cyclists such as Hors Catégorie café owned by Dutch cyclist Robert Gesink, La Fábrica and Espresso Mafia set up by Canadian cyclist Christian Meier and his wife, and Federal Café owned by Australian Rory Sutherland.
Referred to as the islands of eternal spring, the Canary Islands remain one of the best road bike winter destinations in Europe. It is here where you get both epic climbing on pristine roads and incredibly unique views. Think volcanic mountain passes, Sahara-style dunes, scented pine forests, gorgeous coves…
The largest of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife is a popular training hotspot for the pros as it is ideal for both base training and altitude training. Here you can find the longest continuous climb in Europe at 2200m (7218ft) up the intimidating Mount Teide. Winter weather is ideal, with 365 days of sun per year and very little rain. Combined with average winter temps of 68°F (20°C), you better pack your sunscreen! be some of the best in all of Italy.
While Gran Canaria may not be as popular as Tenerife, it is a worthy road bike winter destination for serious cyclists due to its mountainous terrain. Flat roads are quite scarce on this island, as are other cyclists or vehicles – which means a much more relaxed cycling experience. With 43% of Gran Canaria under UNESCO designation, you are sure to feel immersed in scenic nature. Our top recommended climb is Valley of the Tears. It’s an incredibly arduous 12.5km (8mi) climb of 11% average gradient (with 25% bits) that has indeed brought tears to many attempting to take it on. Dazzling views such as lush laurel and pine forests as well as desert cliffs do help a bit to offset the searing pain in your legs.
Lanzarote is an excellent destination for riding the road bike in winter. It also caters to cyclists of all levels. Triathletes especially love it because, unlike Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the roads are more flat to undulating (although there are a few 10km (6.2mi) climbs to be found). The highest peak is a mere 671m (2200ft). Throughout the small island which is covered by mostly dormant volcanoes, you can expect smooth, quiet roads, courteous drivers and uniquely gorgeous views like green valleys and lava fields.
Temps are a comfy 18-22°C (64-72°F) which is ideal for riding the road bike in winter as well as for lazing around the white and golden sand beaches after your rides.
Top sights you should include on your bike tours are the picturesque village of Yaiza, twice voted the “prettiest village in Spain” due to its crisp white houses with bright green shutters and surrounded by volcanic landscape. It’s also an excellent place to stop for a café con leche. You should also check out the lava fields and La Geria, Lanzarote’s wine-making region. Be prepared for a very strange sight of bright green grape vines, encased in black volcanic ash and surrounded by a shallow, semi-circular wall of stones.
Fuerteventura is the least densely populated of Canary Island’s road bike winter destinations which adds to its relaxing charm. Small, well-maintained roads with little traffic translates into countless hours of undisturbed riding. Even though the terrain is more undulating than hilly – in fact it is the flattest of all Canary Islands, you’ll certainly find it to be challenging due to the winds. Winter temps hover around a pleasant 20-22°C (68-72°F), making Fuerteventura an ideal getaway spot for road cyclists looking to escape the winter blues.
As the whole island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it has a distinctive wild nature landscape. Inland routes are most ideal as they are the least traveled, compared to the busier coastal routes. As you make your way inland, you’ll soon be surrounded by a landscape that’s reminiscent of the Sahara Desert.
The best town for lodging is Corralejo. Here you’ll be closest to the best riding and top attractions. You can also take a ferry from this town to Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
You should also check out the lava fields and La Geria, Lanzarote’s wine-making region. Be prepared for a very strange sight of bright green grape vines, encased in black volcanic ash and surrounded by a shallow, semi-circular wall of stones.
While most known for its glamorous beach resorts such as Cannes and Saint-Tropez, as well as Monaco’s port packed with megayachts, Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) is an excellent spot for riding the road bike in winter. Here you can cycle along the coast, from Menton to Toulon, and take in the spectacular views of the azure blue coastline.
Or head inland to explore the mountainous terrain where you’ll find a plethora of long, hard climbs that’ll test both your legs and your resolve. The region’s big names are Col de La Madone (Note: north side could be snowy in winter), Col de Braus, Col de Turini (stop for a coffee at the top), Col d’Eze and Col de Vence. But not to worry once you’ve tackled these mythical passes since there are many more in the region that are just as fantastic, as proven by their inclusions in the Tour de France and Paris-Nice.
Thanks to Côte d’Azur’s exceptional microclimate, where it’s open to the sea but protected from wind by the mountains, it has been an established cycling mecca for quite a while now. It’s also a great location for exploring off the bike. Check out little coastal towns like Menton, famous for its plethora of lemon trees. Or walk around Nice’s old town to get a feel for Côte d’Azur’s local culture. With so much to do both on and off the bike, Côte d’Azur makes a great road bike holiday destination for the whole family.
Known worldwide for its incredible climbing and pleasant winter cycling weather, Andalucia has something for everyone. From coastal rides along Costa del Sol to the high mountain passes found in the famous Sierra Nevada region, you’ll be set for any ride your heart desires. Temps range from 16-25° but do note that the seaside tends to be warmer than in the high mountains.
Sierra Nevada, in the Granada Provence, is certainly an area to explore if you thrive on long mountainous climbs with little to no traffic and incredible views – especially Alhambra Palace and its surroundings. As the roads are sunbathed year-round, winter cycling here is exceptionally pleasant – even if you are surrounded by snow while reaching the peak of Pico de Veleta. As Europe’s highest paved road climb, you accumulate a massive 2600m in 45km when starting in Granada. (Note: this is the only climb that is sometimes closed due to weather.)
If you enjoy hitting the climbs one day, cruising along the undulating coast the next, and spending your free time museum/beach/café/bar-hopping, then Costa del Sol is for you! With winter temps of 18-25°C (64-77°F) and almost always sunny skies, Costa del Sol is one of the warmest road bike winter destinations in Europe.
Of all the cities in Costa del Sol, Malaga is the most famous – and richest in culture! Even though it has a population of close to 1 million, it maintains a very chill relaxed vibe, both in the city streets as well as on the roads. The local traffic is very cycling friendly, even along the N340 coastal road east of Malaga where it tends to be more congested. A nice climb that departs from Malaga is the Puerto Leon, a 16km route with 5.6% average gradient.
When not on the bike, there are more than enough interesting landmarks to visit such as the Arab Fortress, the Roman Theatre, the Gibralfaro Castle and the Cathedral of Malaga. Also, be sure to stroll around the narrow streets of the historical old town, where you will be treated to many more impressive landmarks such as Bishop’s Square, Church of San Augustín, and many more. Lastly, Malaga is home to Pablo Picasso, so not only can you visit the Picasso Museum but lots more as many of Spain’s best museums are located in this coastal town. Other towns in Costa del Sol that make for excellent home bases during your stay can be found along the coast both east and west of Malaga from Motril to San Pedro de Alcantara.
Seville (Almeria provence) is yet another excellent road bike winter destination in Europe (according to pro teams such as Jumbo-Visma) due to its quiet, well-maintained roads and variety of challenging climbs such as Alto Velifique. This is a mountain pass that hits an elevation of 1,793m (5,882ft) above sea level. And with temps around 16-22°C (61-72°F), you’ll be comfy from the first to last pedal stroke as you road bike in winter.
A highly recommended visit is to the ancient port city of Cadiz, touted as the oldest city in the Western world. Founded by the Phoenicians in 1104 BC, it plays an important role in Greek Mythology as well as in the Napoleonic wars. If you’d like to check out the area by bike, you can rent a bike in town.
If you’re looking for the top 5 best road bike winter destination in Europe, we’ve done all the research to make your decision easier. From relaxing café-hopping coastal tours to challenging mountain passes, these cycling hotspots are sure to deliver the most memorable experiences – all under warm, sunny skies! Ready to get started on your two-wheeled winter adventures? Then simply choose your destination, and rent your ideal road bike, in four easy steps.
By the way, if you own a bike at a popular road bike winter destination, here’s how you can make money by renting out your bike on ListNRide.