Wintertime doesn’t mean the MTB fun has to end! Check out the top 5 best winter MTB destinations in Europe that will keep the 2-wheeled party going. These hotspots cover MTB and fat bike destinations ranging from warm, sunny and relaxing to adrenaline-pumping (lift-assisted) downhill runs. Which will you choose?
Lanzarote is one of the top winter MTB destinations as there’s something for everyone. With many offroad trails on offer, you can choose how easy or challenging you want your rides to be. Opt for an undulating ride along the coast or venture inland to tackle the hilly volcanoes. No matter your choice, you’re sure to experience exhilarating trails with stunning views. What you may not see, though, is other people as much of the island is never explored by visitors.
While the whole island is incredibly gorgeous, there are few standout areas that must be visited by MTB in winter. They include the (aptly named) Valley of 1,000 Palms located in the sleepy village of Haría.
Another unique spot is the volcanic massifs in the south of the island. Lastly, 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. With temps at a comfy 18-22°C (64-72°F), feel free to sunbathe at any of the white and golden sand beaches after your rides.
Landes forest is one of the ultimate winter MTB destinations for nature lovers. This enormous natural park has it all, from open fire roads to singletrack through a lush pine forest past gorgeous lakes and streams.
As the nicely laid-out trails are mainly flat, it is the perfect location for mountain bikers of all ages. Covering a whopping 3,153km2 of protected land, the park spans all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Not only are trails abundant throughout the forest, but also along the coast. For these reasons, as well as its mild winter weather, Landes is also one of the best gravel bike destinations in winter in Europe. Europe’s largest collection of trompe d’oeil paintings, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts’ impressive Renaissance art collection.
For nature lovers, visit the many gorgeous sites such as the Fleurie Promenade and Marais d’Orx Nature Reserve as well as the picturesque coastal towns of Biscarrosse, Mimizan, Capbreton, and Labenne.
To further get a real feel for the region, be sure to check out Lévignac, a typical Landes village with picturesque half-timbered houses. In addition, Landes has some amazing museums that are worth a visit. First off is the Marquèze ecomuseum, which traces the history of the Landes region. This museum experience kicks off with a steam train to reach it, which certainly sets the tone for the rest of what’s to come. For those tech history aficionados, there is a helicopter museum as well as a hydro-aviation museum not to be missed. And if mountain biking in Landes isn’t enough of an adrenaline kick, there’s an Adrenaline Park in town. It is complete with obstacle courses and the option to ride quad bikes and motor bikes.
One of France’s most spectacular national parks, Les Calanques has much to offer for those looking for one of the best MTB winter destinations. While the mountain bike trails range from very easy on gentle sloping paths to quite challenging such as riding up some of Europe’s tallest sea cliffs, it’s the breathtaking panoramas that may actually blow you away. It is an absolutely picturesque area of coastal scenery known for its dramatic coves and rock formations.
As you traverse the hills, you’ll be treated to dramatic landscapes filled with towering sea cliffs and jagged turquoise shores of the limestone inlets. Be sure to ride by the three main calanques (coves): Callelongue, Morgiou, and Sormiou. Winter daytime temps hover around 12°C (54°F) so do dress accordingly for MTB in winter.
Notes: Cycling is prohibited in the following areas: Vallon de la Jarre – Montagne de l’Aigle, Domaine de Luminy, natural spaces on the Frioul archipelago and the Riou archipelago.
If you’re in search of that ultimate adrenaline rush for mountain biking in winter, The GAP (Glencullen Advnenture Park) is for you. As one of Ireland’s top uplift-assisted mountain bike parks, The GAP is equipped with 14 thrilling top-class downhill trails graded Blue, Red and Black (intermediate to ultra-advanced). They ramp up pretty fast in difficulty and technicality, and all are sure to get your blood pumping.
To reach the trailheads you can either pedal yourself up old-school style, or take a ride on the mini bus uplifts. Even on busy days, such as those in December which is usually their busiest month, they have their uplifts perfectly dialed. With four mini bus and trailer setups to accommodate up to 64 riders, you’ll be almost as quick back up to the top as you are to get down. Since Dublin can get a bit nippy in winter, be sure to read up on how to dress for cycling in winter so you are fully prepared.
Note: It is recommended to steadily work your way up to the ultra-advanced Black trails to first hone your skills on the type of terrain found at The GAP. Once you’ve graduated to the Pro Lines such as the Widow Maker, first stop and watch others tackle them before giving them a go yourself.
On site at the bike park is The GAP Kitchen Café, an eco-friendly place where you can indulge in their legendary burgers (many vegan options available), sandwiches, tasty treats and barista coffee. In the winter months, their wood-burning stove is a magnet for those wanting a cosy cuppa. For housing options, there is a plethora of bike-friendly accommodations in the neighborhood.
When not cycling, you’ll find many other activities to keep you quite busy. On the mountain, there is a network of scenic walking trails that lead to Ticknock and the Dublin and Wicklow Mountain Way. They all start at The GAP Kitchen Café. Along the route is the ancient ‘Giant’s Grave’, a 4000-year megalithic wedge tomb that is said to be the most intact of its kind. Located 20 minutes by car just south of Dublin, The GAP is in an ideal location to explore all that is on offer in the bustling city of Dublin.
Just outside the charming old town of Sintra, hidden in the majestic pine forest covering the Sintra mountain range, you’ll find some of Portugal’s best enduro, fat bike and downhill mountain bike trails.
As these trails are located in the famous Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, you’ll also be treated to amazing landscapes of the luxurious evergreen forest paired with breathtaking ocean views. As the Serra de Sintra mountains start in the center of the old town and extend to the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo da Roca, the western-most point of mainland Europe, you have lots of varying trails to choose from. They range from mountainous to coastal, open fire roads to steep technical singletracks.
There are even some super technical manmade trails waiting for you to explore. Top on your list should be to climb up to Capuchos Convent and Peninha’s chapel, one of Sintra’s highest points, then bomb down towards Guincho Beach where you can jump in the Ocean to cool off. The region’s mild Mediterranean climate ensures for pristine trails for when you mountain bike in winter. No matter the first ride that you choose, it will become crystal clear why Sintra is repeatedly one of the top winter MTB destinations in Europe.
Fascinating old buildings combined with stunning natural scenery makes Sintra an excellent tourist destination. Check out the region’s many cultural sites such as whimsical palaces, extravagant villas, and the ruins of a 10th century Moorish castle. One point of interest in particular is the Quinta da Regaleira, a neo-gothic mansion with unique gardens that conceal everything from secret passages to a Knight’s of Templar initiation well. You can also take a bike ride over to the bustling city of Lisbon which is only 24km (15mi) away from Sintra.
If you’re looking for the top 5 winter MTB destinations in Europe, we’ve summed it up for you here. From sunny MTB paradises to old-school downhill adventures, these MTB in winter hotspots will certainly leave you with the most memorable experiences! If you’re also into road riding, check out our top 5 road bike winter destinations in Europe.
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