Nobody cycles in winter, it’s just too cold, right? Wrong! If you’re looking for the best winter cycling destinations Europe has to offer, where you can pedal to your heart’s content while enjoying the best of Mediterranean food and culture, spectacular landscapes, and importantly – mild winter weather – then we’ve got just the list for you!
Whether you’re a road cyclist, mountain biker or casual cruiser, book your perfect bike now at one or more of our 10 favorite winter cycling destinations:
France’s fifth biggest city, Nice, offers an incredible mix of urban, coastal and mountain road cycling. Road cyclists will find a huge variety of rides – from flat coastal rides, such as along the Promenade des Anglais, to challenging Tour de France level climbs just beyond the city, such as ascending the famous Col de Vence pass.
For a truly jaw-dropping tour, head to the Gorges du Loup, where you can ride the length of the spectacular gorge up to the old hill top fort, Gourdon. Plus, there’s always the option of testing yourself on the Col d’Eze – a picturesque mountain pass that traditionally features as a time trial stage during the Paris-Nice tour.
Average winter temperature: 12-14ºC
It’s not just a party island… did you know Ibiza is one of the best gravel bike winter cycling destinations? Not only is the average temperature in winter pretty mild, the island is also much smaller and far less hilly when compared to nearby Mallorca, for example – making it ideal for grinding gravel on beautiful trails all over the island.
Ibiza has such a wonderful variety of terrain it caters to all road, gravel and mountain bike cyclists, with the luscious south of the island offering fast, smooth roads, contrasted with the hillier north’s rougher trails and quiet vistas. And once you’ve finished riding, you can always head to Ibiza Town to let your hair down.
Average winter temperature: 15-17ºC
Challenging trails, astonishing beaches, warm weather and delicious cuisine – Sardinia is a cyclist’s paradise, and definitely one of the best mountain bike (MTB) winter destinations in Europe. Plus, when you go during the winter months, you’ll find far fewer tourists on the island, so you can enjoy riding on rugged, secluded trails almost undisturbed.
One of the best routes to test your MTB skills is on the 51km Montiferru mountain biking loop. It’s a must for intermediate and advanced mountain bikers, running from west to east through the breathtaking volcanic massif of the Montiferru mountain range, with dense forests, dramatic views, and thrilling downhill sections.
Average winter temperature: 12-15ºC
Known as the island of ‘eternal spring’, Gran Canaria’s warm climate guarantees spring/summer weather all year round, making it perfect for all types of cyclists. But road cyclists especially will enjoy the island’s abundance of smooth roads, challenging climbs and speedy downhills.
The ‘Valley of the Tears’ is regularly called the hardest climb in Europe, and it’s not hard to see why. The climb is a major challenge: 25km of ascent, with ramps nearing 17% – and you need endurance and confidence to conquer it. But if you’d rather a less brutal ride, try Soria – known as Gran Canaria’s ‘Alpe d’Huez’. With 5km of climbing at around 8%, it’s the island’s most popular road cycling route.
Average winter temperature: 16-17ºC
Almería offers a tremendous variety of terrain for cycling – from gorgeous Mediterranean coastlines, to huge national parks and the Tabernas desert where you can see some remaining old western sets. Warm in the winter months, with smooth, almost traffic-free roads, it’s no wonder the region attracts so many professional cyclists, who get away from the crowds to train here.
As well as the tough-going climbs of Velefique and Calar Alto, you can choose from plenty of other great cycling routes, such as a beautiful coastal ride through the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata-Níjar, the popular Puerto de la Virgen climb, or a ride to the famous ‘Valley of the Blocks’. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Almería’s spectacular Moorish Alcazaba (fortress), too.
Average winter temperature: 16-17ºC
World-famous for its port wine, Porto is one of Europe’s leading city destinations – affordable, with good year-round weather, a fascinating history, and a great food and wine scene. And of course, cycling is the best way to experience the city and region – whether you’re pedalling through beautiful city parks and coastal areas, or on quaint country roads.
At first, the hilly, cobbled lanes of Porto’s old town may seem unsuitable for cycling, but cyclists are everywhere. Cycling the Avenida da Boavista – Porto’s main road linking the city center to the sea – is a must. This 2km, traffic-free cycle route begins near the stunning Casa da Música concert hall in the city center, and ends up at the lush Parque da Cidade on the coast.
Average winter temperature: 14-15ºC
Nestled on the coast alongside the saltwater lagoon of Étang de Thau, Sète is sometimes called the ‘Little Venice of Languedoc’, due to its many canals that crisscross the town. If you’re a cycling and seafood fan, this is the place to indulge: Sète’s many restaurants offer some of the best seafood dishes in France.
The geography of Sète is mostly very flat, making it ideal for every cyclist, whether you enjoy road cycling, gravel biking or simply ambling along on a city cruiser. Ride at your own pace along the breathtakingly beautiful 12km-long coastline from the famous Mont St-Clair, down into 50km of bike paths around the Thau basin.
Average winter temperature: 11-12ºC
The largest of the Italian lakes, Lake Garda straddles the borders of three Italian regions, making it a melting pot of local cultures. Thanks to the lake’s uniquely mild microclimate, it can feel like you’re more south than you actually are – perfect for cycling, as well as enjoying the lake’s many activities and attractions.
Lake Garda’s 3km-long hanging cycle path is often considered one of the most beautiful bike paths in Europe. Suspended along a cliff edge above the lake, the path hangs in such a way that can make you feel like you’re riding in mid-air. What’s more, the route is just a small part of an incredible 140km-long trail circling the lake.
Average winter temperature: 7-10ºC
With its wonderfully mild winter temperatures, Cyprus is one of Europe’s best winter road cycling destinations, and the area around Paphos is particularly ideal for road cycling and triathlon training. The island has a huge number of historic sites, so exploring by bicycle can be very interesting, whatever your ability.
Hardened road cyclists may want to ‘conquer’ Mount Olympus on a gruelling but ultimately rewarding 150km-long route, which includes over 3,000m of climbing. But if you prefer easier-going, flatter coastal routes, be sure to try the 72km-long route from Paphos down to a pretty fishing village called Pissouri Bay, past the famous Rock of Aphrodite.
Average winter temperature: 17-20ºC
Picasso’s birth town makes an ideal destination for cycling holidays, with its exceptionally warm winter temperatures, 16 city beaches, thriving urban art scene, delicious tapas food, historic sites and more than 30 museums. Málaga’s awe-inspiring Alcazaba palace-fortress should also be on any visitor’s to-do list!
After you’ve explored the city, if you fancy a ride that heads out into the beautiful scenery of the Montes de Málaga, the Puerto del León route is a not-too-stressful, 47km-long steady climb starting in Málaga city center which, after just 10 minutes, sees you cycling up through verdant valleys and past quaint hillside villages.
Average winter temperature: 17-18ºC
It’s natural to be nervous about your hire bike being damaged or stolen while you’re on holiday. But don’t worry, all ListNRide’s bike rentals in the European Economic Area (EEA) are covered by Laka bike insurance, so you can have peace of mind while you’re out enjoying your perfect winter bike ride.
So if you’re dreading the oncoming colder months, why not spend your winter cycling somewhere warm and beautiful instead?
Simply choose your destination, and rent your ideal bike or e-bike, in four easy steps.
And by the way, if you own a bike at a popular winter cycling destination, here’s how you can make money by renting out your bike on ListNRide.