Mountain biking in Cyprus

With easily-accessible trails for all levels, Cyprus has rapidly become one of the best mountain biking locations in Europe.

In the last few years, Cyprus has taken off as a destination for cycling enthusiasts, both as a place to enjoy the sport and as a means to explore the island.

The third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus combines attractive beaches with pine-clad peaks, busy modern Europeanised towns and tranquil old stone villages, vineyards and olive groves and ancient ruins.

It has perfect weather for cycling and, unlike many other locations, the strong headwinds that are a bane to cyclists are very rare. But what makes Cyprus stand out as a heaven for cyclists is its compactness. It is like a whole continent condensed into a small island.

The short distances mean that there are rapid changes of terrain. Within the space of 10km you can go from rocky to clay, and steep to flat, enabling you to experience all surfaces within a short period and making the island into one huge mountain bike arena. Also, there are no legal barriers to cycling anywhere, except of course on motorways.

 

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The Troodos experience

Cyprus has a wide variety of mountain bike trails, with the Troodos Mountains the focal point and located in the centre of the island so easily accessible wherever you're based. That includes Pafos and Limassol as well as the capital Nicosia, while from Ayia Napa it is an hour and a half's drive to the top of the mountain.

It covers a large area from Larnaka district through to Pafos forest and further, with Olympus its highest peak.

Troodos also offers numerous accommodation possibilities in a beautiful and natural setting,  away from the noise of the cities.

Troodos traverse mountain bike experience

The area that the Troodos Mountains cover has a huge mountain bike trails network, and it is possible to traverse it from almost any point.

You can start from sea level next to the Mediterranean coast, climb to Olympus and descend back to the coast on any other point on the island.

Mountain bike descentThe longest traverse of Troodos is the east to west mountain bike ride which starts from Lefkara, a picturesque stone-built village and then heads down to Akamas peninsula. This tour can be customised for beginners right up to more advanced level mountain bikers. With the help of a local mountain bike guide, you can discover the mountains either on dirt roads or through challenging single trails. You can also adjust the distance covered daily by using the numerous accommodation facilities that are available in Troodos.

Along the whole route you pass through traditional villages, vineyards and wineries, chapels and monasteries, Venetian bridges, rivers and valleys also feature around almost all of the most scenic peaks of the island. Stopping in the villages for a coffee break is always an option and a chance to mix with the locals and feel the warmth of the Cyprus “filoxenia” (the need to look after guests).

Cypriots as a whole are friendly people, and cyclists can be assured of a warm welcome, particularly in the more remote villages and countryside, where modern life has yet to spoil their traditional hospitality. English is widely spoken throughout the island, but particularly in the tourist resorts, so asking for directions should not be a problem.

Cypriot wines have been famous since antiquity and are well worth tasting. The island has a long tradition of winemaking that goes back over 4,000 years. In ancient times, wine was a major source of wealth for the island. The island supplied the Pharaohs of Egypt, and Cyprus wines were in great demand amongst the ancient Greeks and Romans. One wine, Commandaria, is acknowledged to be the oldest in the world.

Something for the Enduro fans

Dirt trailsApart from the experience of a cross country ride in the Troodos Mountains, adrenaline fans can enjoy the numerous long single trails that exist all over this mountain range.

There are enough single trails and dirt roads to provide five days full of Enduro riding from the top of the Olympus peak to the surrounding villages of Prodromos, Platres, Kakopetria, Kyperounta, and Kalopanagiotis. Another day in the Macheras Forest is a must - it's famous for the single trails which are used by the best mountain bikers in the world who come every year during February and March to compete in the “Cyprus Sunshine Cup” a highly-ranked competition.

The highlight of your Enduro experience is the day when you start from the top of the mountain at almost 2000m (1952m above sea level) to reach the coast in a spectacular way along single trails, dirt roads, tiny villages, valleys and many more experiences that you encounter only in Cyprus.

Tradition Tochni

If you are riding a mountain bike and enjoy the nature, tradition and culture of the place you are visiting then Cyprus has something for you.

There are several routes around the traditional village of Tochni (near Larnaka) that do not require good mountain bike skills or high fitness. These routes are designed to accommodate those who are more interested in the culture, tradition and culinary habits of the Cypriots.

On a five day Mountainbike tour you will experience the history of Cyprus, you will learn how to make the local cheese “halloumi”, you will eat traditionally made sweet fruits, you will ride along the coastal mountain bike routes and you will climb up the oldest monastery of Cyprus.

Off the bike you can treat yourself with traditional Cypriot and Mediterranean cuisine. There’s some fine dining to enjoy  in Cyprus. Cypriot cuisine is typically Mediterranean with a lot of olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables. Tavernas specialise in meze, an array of several small dishes offering a taste of everything at one sitting.

A similar mountain bike experience can be offered during summer – when the weather near the coast is not so pleasant for riding - in the Troodos area. An average fitness and MTB skills tour is available during June to September when the temperatures in Troodos hover below 30 degrees.

The Troodos MTB tour combines history with visits to ancient churches, traditional food tasting, grape products making and a unique experience of travelling to the bottom of the oceans! Troodos is closely linked with the formation of Cyprus as the creation of the Troodos mountain range is a result of a series of unique geological changes that happened  million years ago. The Troodos wooded peak is actually the deepest layer of a section of oceanic crust that was formed 90 million years ago, 8,000 metres below sea level. This is what makes Troodos unique!

TOP 5 EXPERIENCES

1. Cyprus Sunshine Cup

Professional and amateur mountain bikers on the same start line or racing in the same single trails is a unique experience that you can have in Cyprus. Book a week of mountain biking here in spring and meet lots of the most famous mountain bikers in the world.

2. The Troodos Traverse

This is one of the best ways to explore the Troodos Mountains, taste the Cypriot cuisine, drink the oldest wine in the world and live the excitement of mountain biking that only Troodos has to offer.

3. The Troodos Enduro experience

If the weather in the Alps or at home is still not the best for some enduro riding, here in Cyprus you can start riding down from the 2,000m Olympus peak from late March through to end of November - or even in December. Don’t let bad weather keep you off your trail bike.

4. The Akamas bountain bike Challenge

If you are up for some mountainbiking but you want to also enjoy the Cyprus beaches and do some sunbathing, then Akamas is the best area for you. With hundreds of km of trails you will be riding along some of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in Cyprus.

5. Tradition in Tochni

For the lovers of nice local food and wine in a quiet and inspiring environment.

WHEN TO VISIT

Best times to go:

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Cyprus is an ideal destination for mountain biking from October to May since you can enjoy your rides in mild weather conditions. The temperatures range between 15C and 25C, while annual rainfall is also quite low in comparison to most European countries.

When the temperature is climbing though, during the summer months, then the joy of mountain biking moves to the higher peaks of Troodos Mountain, with most of the trails starting from around 1700 to 2000m above sea level.

However, If you are looking to enjoy some enduro rides in the middle of winter then you'll need to check out the weather forecast as it can be quite bad for several days at that altitude.

Cyprus is accessible through its two main airports in Larnaka and Pafos - as well via the harbour of Limassol. Flights are frequent from main airports in the UK and off-season (November to March) prices can be really low.

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