8 of the Best Mountain Biking Destinations in Europe

I've seen the best mountain biking North America has to offer, but nothing quite scratches my itch for top-of-the-line MTB riding like the unique trails you can find in Europe.

Nothing beats Europe when it comes to extended mountain biking tours set against legendary terrain.

If you’re keen to explore everything from glaciers and rocky drops to flowering grasslands and seaside cliffs, two wheels and a bit of suspension is the perfect way to enjoy the continent. But there’s a lot to choose from, so we recruited one of our favorite guides—Bostjan Brzin, former professional ski jumper turned MTB tour operator—to help us compile a list of the best mountain biking spots in Europe.

Whether you’re planning your next (or first) European mountain biking tour, be sure to check out the spots below. See you on the trails!

Mountain biking Switzerland
Europe has no shortage of amazing places to go mountain biking, whether it’s looking for the best bike park or the best long-distance trail, we sat down with a guide to get all the details.

Who better to ask than someone who has seen it all?

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC, has mountain biked all over North America. But for him, nothing beats Europe.

The industry vet has been biking for over 15 years and still makes it a point to get across the Atlantic annually for an extended tour. He says there are certain aspects of mountain biking he just can’t find in North America—even in classic locations like Whistler, Park City or Moab.

We sat down for a chat with Bostjan to find out what keeps drawing him back across the pond, from glacial trails to some of the best resorts in the world to up-and-coming spots like Madeira,

France

1. Les Deux Alpes

BEST MTB PARK IN EUROPE
Amazing views from atop the 11,000 ft. summit — “Never in your life will you see those kinds of views!”
Unparalleled terrain diversity
Trails were built by some of the best in the world
Skiing in the morning, biking in the afternoon (does it get any better than that?!)
Crowded year-round, but for good reason — the biking is just that good

Les Deux Alpes is the full package. This huge, high altitude mountain biking area was primarily known as a popular winter destination for in-bound resort skiers. But that changed around 2007 when they opened for mountain biking in the off-season. A little more than a decade later, there are now about 70 miles of singletrack among 21 different trails, and today “Les 2” is known as one of the premier biking destinations in the world.

Europe MTB
The picturesque village of Les Deux Alpes as seen from the trail. Photo by Mathieu Famas licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Ski and bike all in one day

The park features four rideable sectors and 7,500 feet of vertical drop—which translates into some rides lasting an hour and 45 minutes! While the park is geared towards pros and experienced riders with its impressive downhill, enduro, and cross country offerings, there are a fair amount of “Easy 2 Ride” sections within the lower reaches.

No matter which section you decide to ride, you’ll see the terrain switch from stunning glacier and alpine tracks to verdant meadows and valleys in the blink of an eye. It’ll pass so quickly that you’ll miss out on all the amazing views around you if you’re bombing down too fast. At this point in the conversation, Bostjan’s face broadens into a grin. “But that’s not all!”, he tells us. If for some reason you need a break from mountain biking you can change sports. Trade your bike for a pair of skis and head up to the Girose and Mont-de-Lans glaciers for some pristine Alpine powder—a rare and awesome flex for any resort.

Experience epic singletrack that the pros flock to

Les Deux is brimming with visitors year-round as skiers and bikers pack its amazing tracks. According to Bostjan, his groups never seem to mind the crowds because the singletrack is just that great. In 2008, the legendary Crankworx MTB festival had its first Europe iteration here, bringing many of the best trail shapers from Canada and Whistler to help build new lines. “Perfection,” says Bostjan. “I think Whistler might be the best, but it’s so much smaller,” he offers. Lucky for you, Les Deux, with all it’s world class trails and grand scale, is one of the few resorts that has something for everyone.

Les Deux is super packed every year, but my clients don’t seem to care at all because the singletrack is just so, so good.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Les Deux Alpes - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Suitable for all skill levels, but best for intermediates and pros

Season:

Late June through August

Type:

Downhill runs, enduro

Vertical drop:

7,500 ft.

Altitude:

10,500 ft.

Don’t miss:

Motown Cafe

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Jacques Sports

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

Italy

2. Livigno

BEST FOR ENDURO
Lots of riding options to choose from
Long stretches of relatively flat terrain make it a huge enduro destination
Beautiful scenery set in the Alps
Great for family vacations
The price might raise a few eyebrows

Moving on from the Les Deux, Bostjan takes us to neighboring Italy, where another popular ski destination has become a biking paradise: Livigno. Amid a moonscape of ice and mountains, the town is tucked into the Italian Alps close to the Swiss and Austrian borders. It still maintains a cozy alpine existence though, and also happens to be tax-free—always a welcome perk for a travel destination.

Starting in town you get to choose your own adventure: On either side of the Aqua Granda, the river bisecting Livigno, two bike parks diverge. Carosello 3000 to the southeast serves up nearly 20 miles of newly constructed flow and enduro trails while Mottolino Fun Mountain on the northeast courses through the mountains on diverse terrain.

Europe MTB
Hard to choose what’s more awesome in Livigno: the trails or the views! Photo by thekaikaiblog licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Choose your path

Of the two bike parks, Bostjan slightly prefers Mottolino with its 14 trails ranging from mild and flowy to steep and super fast fit for World Cup downhill riders. There is also a jump area with twisty wooden structures for adrenaline-hungry riders.

Carosello 3000’s bike park is newer to the area, but is quickly becoming a favorite for local and visiting mountain bikers alike, especially since it renovated all of its tracks in 2018. Here you’ll find family friendly and entry-level trails accessible by cable cars. From the highest point you’ll descend over 11,000 feet through alpine meadows and rock strewn singletrack. Electric bikes are also welcome here, so if you’re traveling with a group that’s not too MTB-savvy, everyone will have a chance to enjoy some downhill without much trouble.

Riding in both parks is a blast, says Bostjan, but his beaming smile shares more than words ever could.

I simply love Livigno. The sheer variety and quality of options in its two parks is something every mountain rider dreams of.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Livigno - Good to Know

Difficulty:

From beginner to advanced level

Season:

mid-June till late September

Type:

Enduro, downhill, freeride

Vertical drop:

7,500 ft.

Altitude:

5,958 ft.

Don’t miss:

Bivio Cantina

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Vertigo

What else to do:

Sightseeing in Southern Switzerland just an hour’s ride away

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

Italy

3. Finale Ligure

BEST FOR SEASIDE RIDING
Year-round season is a big draw
Amazing views of the Ligurian Sea
Possibly even better food — Fresh pasta, gelato, aperitivos!
No chairlifts so you’ll have to get those legs pumping

We’re staying within Italy as Bostjan introduces us to another stellar destination for enduro lovers. Finale Ligure is a small comune near Monaco and San Remo, and is one of the few mountain biking spots in the world where all trails lead to the sea. The Ligurian Sea. With a warm climate and consistently sweet riding conditions year round, Finale Ligure is perfect for a winter getaway, says Bostjan. Post-ride, plop into the Mediterranean where temperatures can go up to 70°F during the “cold” months.

Europe MTB
The Ligurian Sea provides the perfect backdrop for awesome mountain biking. Photo by WIPPart licensed under CC-BY ND 2.0

From shuttle service to the sea

The scenic terrain overlooking the ocean is vividly etched into Bostjan’s memory. There are 90 distinct trails that unfurl nearly 250 miles of coastal riding, most of which stems from the top of Apennine, a 3,280 foot mountain nearby. Access to the trails is easy from town as there are ample shuttle services, but no chairlifts mean you’re going human-powered once you’re there—all the way back to the sea.

Enduro lovers will enjoy themselves, and the fact that the Enduro World Series ends their season here most years attests to that. If you’re looking for something a little different, many of the flowiest trails actually begin at an abandoned NATO base complete with graffiti on concrete. Bostjan particularly recommends the ridge trail, Roller Coaster, a 4 mile descent to the Italian Riviera. Enjoy post-ride drinks at Oddone Bici, a bike shop and bar, and swap tales as you swill your aperitivo.

Finale Ligure is a delicious cocktail of Mediterranean scenery, perfect climate conditions and first-rate MTB trails.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Finale Ligure - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Intermediate to pro

Season:

Year-round

Type:

Enduro, cross-country, downhill

Vertical drop:

1,312 ft.

Altitude:

0 ft. (the city lies at sea level)

Don’t miss:

The village of Finalborgo

Bike shop and gear rentals:

The Ultimate Bike Shop

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

Portugal

4. Madeira

BEST FOR EPIC TERRAIN
Great trail diversity through a multitude of microclimates
You can explore the whole island on your bike
Up-and-coming and tons of potential
Hard to get to — closer to Africa than to Portugal!

An island of eternal spring, the mountain biking season runs all year on Madeira . The island in the Atlantic Ocean is actually closer to Africa than Portugal (it’s only an hour and a half flight from Lisbon, though) and is quickly becoming one of the top adventure holiday destinations in the world. Regardless of your skill level, you simply won’t be able to resist exploring the island on your mountain bike—it’s really the best way to see what’s on offer, insists Bostjan. The island’s mountainous terrain contains several microclimates, so you’ll find yourself coasting through arid, sun-baked ridgelines then alongside lush, verdant groves in a single ride.

Europe MTB
It’s crazy to imagine that the entire island is bikeable! Photo by Ralph Schneider licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Strong community and epic terrain come together

Many pros report that, while traditional hot spots like Whistler or the Alps may grow old after a while, Madeira’s terrain is constantly changing. Maybe that’s because riders can get lost in the action of the long-winded XC trails that weave through Jurassic Park-like jungles, stunning coastal singletrack, rooty descents, and abutt against Madeira’s famous levadas. Or maybe it’s thanks to Freeride Madeira, a small team of local riders who are continually developing (and maintaining) the island’s rides. It’s probably that one. In any case, Madeira is the perfect place to visit during off-winter months to get your fill of cross-country, enduro, downhill, all-mountain or even just casual riding. Although Bostjan has only ridden here once a couple of years ago, he’s so enchanted by the island that including it in this list was a no-brainer.

 

I’ve done my fair share of traveling and seen the best trails this sport has to offer, but if I could go to any place in the world at this moment, it would be Madeira.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Madeira - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Suitable for all skill levels

Season:

Year-round

Type:

Enduro, cross-country, downhill, all-mountain

Altitude:

6,108 ft.

Don't miss:

Madeira Natural Park

Bike shop and gear rentals:

The Ultimate Bike Shop

Austria

5. Saalbach-Hinterglemm

BEST FOR DOWNHILL
Biking from sunup to sundown
Very family-friendly
Never been biking before? You can start here
It gets quite crowded

Bostjan considers Austria to be one of the best countries for mountain biking, so we’ll cover a few locales that are close by if you want to make a regional tour of it

First stop, Saalbach-Hinterglemm. This Alpine resort town has built up a dedicated community of mountain bikers during its off-peak summer months and has the infrastructure to show for it. Case in point, there is an extensive lift system with modern gondolas and the thoughtfully designed trails have options for kid-friendly to pro-worthy, and for cross-country, gravity and e-bike riders too.

There’s a lot to enjoy in the land of the strudel and schnitzel. Within the valley is about 250 miles of trails and four mountains that offer up some 3,200 ft. of descent. The Blue Line is a beginner favorite, though even advanced riders enjoy its streamlined, brake-free simplicity. Other classics that draw riders back year after year are the legendary Hacklberg Trail, the X-Line—with its gnarly over-the-road jump—and the Bergstadl Trail.

No matter your preferred style of riding, with so many options to choose from there’s bound to be something here for everyone.

Europe MTB
The Austrian Alps are a magnificent playground for riders of all persuasions. Photo by Ernst Jürgen Schwarzmeier licensed under CC BY 2.0

A place built for and by mountain bikers

It seems like everything within Saalbach-Hinterglemm is tailored to mountain bikers after the snow melts. There are dedicated MTB accommodations like the Bike’n Soul hotel, but even the more traditional hotels, like Sallbacherhof, are proud of their proximity to the town’s epic trails.

One other aspect of biking here that Bostjan really likes is that, at most places, staying locally will give you a Joker Card for the duration of your stay. The card is good for a few free uses of the lift system and other discounts around town, which he finds indispensable for making the best use of all the trails. Also, if you happen to visit Saalbach-Hinterglemm in early July, make sure to check out the GlemmRide Bike Festival, where you can enjoy the electric atmosphere and mingle with the pros.

Everything in Saalbach-Hinterglemm feels like it’s tailored to the needs of mountain bikers. It’s rare to see this level of track quality paired with such good infrastructure

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Saalbach-Hinterglemm - Good to Know

Difficulty:

All levels

Season:

Mid-June through September (service is limited in May and October)

Type:

Downhill and freeride

Vertical drop:

Up to 3,363 ft.

Altitude:

3,290 ft. (height of the resort)

Don't miss:

High Ropes Park

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Bike’n Soul

More info for Saalbach-Hinterglemm MTB:

Visit Sallback’s official website for the best MTB trails, tips and more

Austria

6. Leogang

BEST FOR HIGH-END RIDERS
One of Europe’s most renowned bike parks
An advanced rider’s paradise
Lots of shops to cover all your needs
The technical trails can be intimidating for the average rider

Bostjan’s eyes light up as we come to our next spot. Just over the hill from Saalbach-Hinterglemm we find Bikepark Leogang, a serious pro rider’s arena. It hosts the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup yearly and is a regular stop for any diehard mountain biker. There are beginner rides in the valley, sure, but it’s primarily known as a training ground where advanced riders can hone their skills. Local test pieces include the Speedster, a World Cup course that is one of the most technically demanding around, and Hang Man I, a mile and a half line that runs through roots, rocks, north shores and tight turns. Even though Bostjan is more than a competent rider himself, he just can’t get enough of watching pros bomb downhill at dizzying speeds whenever he visits.

Europe MTB
If you’ve got what it takes, Leogang’s technical trails are going to be non-stop thrills. Photo by Lynn Sigel licensed under CC0 1.0

An all-in-one mountain biking location

You can find everything you need on the grounds, such as bike repairs and shops, rentals and wash, and even some decent camping options, which is less common in the other resort-driven locales. Another cool feature of the park is that there are plenty of workshops, flow parks, areas to practice the basics, and programs for kids. So if you’re traveling with family or friends who aren’t at your level of stoke—and skill— there’s plenty on offer to get everyone excited.

Leogang is the place where the pros come to learn, so you can imagine the level of skill on display here. Just watching them go at it is enough to make my afternoon complete.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Leogang - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Strong intermediate to pro (though there are some trails for beginners)

Season:

Mid-May through beginning of October

Type:

Downhill, freeride

Vertical drop:

Around 1,640 ft.

Altitude:

Around 2,625 ft.

Don't miss:

Westernstadl restaurant

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Sport Mitterer

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

Austria

7. Wagrain

BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Lots of options for beginners
Many natural trails that are well maintained
One of the best for family vacations
Limited options for advanced riders

After taking care of the pros, now we turn our attention to the newcomers. Wagrain, about an hour’s drive from Salzburg and Leogang, is a perfect place to take your first spins in the sport.

This quiet ski town is more than just the birthplace of Mozart, it also has a fantastic MTB park (noticing a theme?). Here you’ll find just under 100 miles of flowing trails and cruiser downhill runs on gravel and mountain terrain. Wagrain has a well-deserved reputation for its lift-supported gravity park—accessed via the Flying Mozart gondola, of course—where everyone can find some action that is just right for them. Bostjan recommends the Hard Rock, a long natural trail that descends nearly 2,000 feet on mild roots and rocks. For family-friendly adventure, this is definitely one of your best mountain biking holidays in Europe.

Europe MTB
With the wealth of options Wagrain offers, learning the ropes doesn’t get any more fun than this. Photo by Bikepark Wagrain licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Bostjan’s eyes, what stands out about mountain biking in Austria is the proximity of all the bike parks. If you plan your day just right, you can hit up several locations and still have time for a beer before the sun sets. Wagrain in particular is catered towards active vacationers and families, which makes it a great place to wind down and enjoy yourself after a day of bombing down trails.

With its relaxed and cozy vibe, Wagrain is just the right place for those kinds of activities that profit from a slower tempo.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Wagrain - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Best for beginners, but has something for all skill levels

Season:

June through October

Type:

Downhill

Vertical drop:

2,953 ft.

Altitude:

The town lies at 2,749 ft.

Don't miss:

Lake Jägersee

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Bike Welt

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

France

8. Châtel

BEST FOR ADVANCED RIDERS
One of Europe’s premier mountain bike parks
Part of the Portes du Soleil — Easily access other resorts nearby
Huge area with diverse terrain
Charming and laid-back town
Can get quite slippery when wet

To round off the list, Bostjan brings us boucler la boucle—full circle—by introducing another great French destination. Châtel is a picturesque Alpine village near the Swiss border that is home to one of Europe’s premier mountain bike parks. Part of the Portes du Soleil, a network of 12 interlinked resorts that includes Morzine and Les Gets, Châtel stands out as an advanced downhill mountain biker’s playground.

Europe MTB
If it’s hang time you’re looking for, Châtel’s bike park has it in spades. Photo by Sevan Spiess licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

One of Europe’s best bike parks

The Châtel Bike Park in Pre-La-Joux is considered by many to be among Europe’s finest options. There are two lifts within the park to bring mountain bikers to the area’s insane pro-and-difficult-rated tracks. The first, Pierre Longue, takes riders to an elevation of 5,300 ft. where standout black trails like Air Voltage, Komatrautrail and Gueps all await. The second lift, Rochassons, brings riders up another 2,000 ft. where the trails are rated as a bit easier, but equally as enticing. Bostjan cautions that green trails here are more demanding than green trails elsewhere.

While the bike park and Châtel proper are geared for strong, intermediate riders, there are some kid-friendly areas as well. Should you feel the need to venture further afield, the massive network of Portes du Soleil connects over 400 miles of trails spanning 12 resorts and 5 bike parks, so there are plenty of accessible options. This kind of variety is almost impossible to find anywhere else in the world.

Thanks to the huge Portes du Soleil trail network, there’s so much awesome stuff to see and do in Châtel that I wouldn’t know where to start.

Bostjan Brzin, owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

Châtel - Good to Know

Difficulty:

Mostly for intermediates and above

Season:

Late June through beginning of September

Type:

Downhill, enduro

Vertical drop:

2,493 ft.

Altitude:

6,430 ft.

Don't miss:

Walk and snack at Barbossine farm

Bike shop and gear rentals:

Mountain Ride

Recommended guided MTB tours:

Guided mountain biking through Europe’s hidden gems

About the author

57hours in collaboration with Bostjan Brzin

57hours in collaboration with Bostjan Brzin

owner of Bike Hike Tours NYC

A former pro ski jumper, Bostjan is now the owner and operator of Bike Hike Tours NYC, guiding mountain biking and hiking tours around New York City and Europe. With more than 15 years of entrepreneurial experience in travel and sports, Bostjan now introduces eager clients to the world of outdoor adventuring. Whether he’s at his home-base in NYC or travelling back to his roots in Europe, he brings the same dedication he did to his pro athlete career as he does to guiding.

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