timeoutdoors’ Travel Editor Tom Le Bas explains the choice of mountain biking holidays available, and highlights the most popular destinations for this exciting sport.
Apart from being an adrenaline-filled, endorphin-inducing activity in its own right, the joy of an extended mountain biking trip is that it gives you the opportunity to get way off the beaten track and experience magnificent scenery. A typical tour will take in a range of terrain, with forest sections, a few steep climbs and descents, and often some coastal scenery, too.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The majority of mountain-biking holidays last around a week and involve a combination of tracks, dirt roads, often a few (usually short) stretches of tarmac and, perhaps, some challenging sections entirely off-piste. There are also some shorter breaks on offer, typically running for three or four days.
Tour companies grade their itineraries, with easy, moderate and difficult options based on the difficulty of the terrain and the distances involved. The more challenging rides are targeted at people who have some experience of mountain biking, and who will usually want to bring their own bike. Good-quality bikes and helmets are almost always provided on the less demanding tours.
SELF-GUIDED OR IN A GROUP?
Some holidays are self-guided, where you will be provided with detailed maps and route notes – the very nature of mountain biking means that you’ll be off-road most of the time and it can be quite easy to get lost, even when the signposting (and cartography) is in good order. Your luggage is transported for you and will be waiting when you arrive at the next hotel for the night. On the more demanding / longer and/or more remote itineraries (particularly outside of Europe), the tour will often be guided, and you’ll ride with a group.
Accommodation varies widely depending on the destination, but overall you’ll stay in a combination of hotels, guesthouses and lodges. An evening meal and a packed lunch are generally included in the price.
WHERE TO GO
Most of the holidays available are in Europe – notably Portugal and Spain, where there’s an excellent network of trails. Austria, Germany, France, the UK (for example the South Downs Way) and Scandinavia all have well-developed mountain-biking facilities, too, with some other destinations such as Montenegro, Slovenia and Turkey beginning to catch up.
For something a bit different, Iceland offers an exciting wilderness experience. But the sport is becoming well established in other continents, too: for an exciting mountain biking adventure, consider a trip to the Cuba, various Andean destinations, the Atlas mountains of Morocco, the Indian and Nepali Himalayas, the Far East landscapes of Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and China, and the wonders of New Zealand.
There's a great selection of trips to choose from - to find the perfect one for you, have a look through our listings.
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North Carolina is a prime mountain biking destination in the United States, with something for all levels - from extreme downhills to relaxed rides on gravel roads.
Easily accessible and with more than 250km of trails to suit all levels, Vaujany is one of Europe's ultimate backdoor mountain biking resorts, writes local expert Jamie Purkhardt.
With easily-accessible trails for all levels, Cyprus has rapidly become one of the best mountain biking locations in Europe.
This area, stretching down into Navarra and the western Pyrenees, offers some of the best mountain biking in Europe.
For some of Europe's most enjoyable mountain biking amid an incredible variety of scenery, head for the green hills and Atlantic clifftops just north of Lisbon.
The highest peaks in Spain are home to a dense network of trails that will satisfy all mountain bikers with a sense of adventure
Few areas in the UK can match this rugged corner of Yorkshire for mountain biking. From Dalby Forest to high moorland and the coast, there's something for everyone here.
Explore one of the prime mountain biking locations in the UK, with some memorable trails to explore amid fabulous scenery.
Explore a land of ancient traditions and amazing landscapes on an exhilarating, and unique, mountain biking trip.
With an exceptional network of trails, great facilities and some of the UK's best scenery, Yorkshire is prime mountain biking country.
The Peak District is a surprisingly diverse destination for mountain biking, writes local enthusiast and cycling tour organiser Christian Newsome.
The Dolomites remains a hidden gem for mountain bikers, writes locally-based activity tour operator Daniel Sherlock.
If you'd like help finding a trip, just let us know what you're looking for and we'll be in touch with some ideas.
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