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Follow the trail to our mountain biking holidays

Follow the trail to our mountain biking holidays

Our mountain biking holidays are a bit more about pushing than pootling, where endurance adds to the enjoyment, in places where you can get a strong flavour of wilderness. They are generally for experienced cyclists who enjoy some downhill trails back home, and want some cross-country cycling while they’re away. Our wilder cycling trips do vary in both difficulty in terrain. You need to have a bit of confidence in navigating nature on our Atlas Mountains cycling holiday in Morocco, for example, with some serious shredding and stomping opportunities. But you do have a private guide to support you with this one. Whereas, cycling the Camino Portugues proffers the freedom that mountain bikers crave over nine days, but with plenty of cultural and cuisine stops after your cross-country challenges. Here are our top cross-country cycling holidays and we hope you are as pumped about them as we are. 

MTB in Morocco

The Atlas Mountains are like the icing on Morocco’s colossal cake, spread for 2,000km across the top of the country and into Tunisia. They are also home to the welcoming indigenous Berber or Amazigh people. Our Moroccan mountain biking holiday in the High Atlas takes you up winding, steep slopes, past ochre Berber villages that merge with the rock faces of the same hue, following in the tracks of shepherds or goat herders and their trusty pack mules. The tour runs all year round, with cycling highs along the way including a ride up to Kik, a plateau in the High Atlas foothills of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest mountain. Or a challenging ascent to Tadmamt Pass (1,800m), with views across the vast Haouz Plain or Ourika Valley. Traditional mountain bike rental is included in the price of this Moroccan cycling holiday. 

Don’t just think about cross-country cycling – think big, think Atlas.

Perfect flow in Catalonia 

Dip in and out of the Catalonian coast on a mountain bike holiday that is based in two different places, with some superb loop trails and ancient hilltop villages on their doorsteps. The first few days are based in inland Palau-saverdera, gateway to Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Nature Reserve, which is home to flocks of flamingos. You then move on to Sant Pere Pescador, where the Fluvià River meets the sea. Based in a gorgeous Girona style farmhouse, circular cycling routes include trails in the heart of Catalonia countryside, with views towards the High Pyrenees. Or a day of historical and natural heritage, cycling to the Greek and Roman ruins at nearby Empúries, as well as some pretty coves for cooling off at, on the way back. Traditional mountain bike rental is included in the price of this Catalonian cycling holiday. 

Ciclismo on the camino

The Camino Portugues or Portuguese Way’s pilgrims have carved out two separate caminos en route to Santiago over the years, one inland (Central Way) and the other clinging to the coast (Coastal Way). They both start in Porto and come to a close in Santiago de Compostela, two fine cities, but with plenty of off the beaten track cycling in between. The Central Way covers 244km and takes eight days, heading inland after Porto, and cycling through eucalyptus and pine-filled woodlands to tranquil rural villages, market towns such as Barcelos and medieval spots like Ponte de Lima. You cross the natural border of the Miño River into Galicia in Spain, the hilltop cathedral town of Tui welcoming you into the next stage of your camino, where your path joins with the Coastal Way at Arcade. 

The Coastal Way covers 273km, takes nine days and is a cross-country and coastal combo. Follow the rugged Atlantic coastline from Porto, past Northern Portugal’s dune-rich and sandy beaches such as Povoa de Varzim or Vila Praia de Âncora. Crossing the Miño River again to enter Galicia, you get to follow more coastal paths and forest tracks to the small beachfront village of Oia, just one of many spots to tuck into Galicia’s fine seafood and wine. Traditional mountain bike rental is included in the price of our Camino Portugues mountain bike holidays.

Seek out the sacred scallop, taking on the camino from a saddle.

Attacking the Alto Minho

Another northern Portuguese paradise, there is some hero dirt to be found on this self-guided cycling holiday in the Alto Minho region. You start off clean as a whistle in the exquisite spa town of Monço and then, over eight days, bike your way through blissful river terrain, including the Miño River’s natural border with Spain and the River Lima, which takes you to one of Portugal’s oldest towns, Ponte de Lima. Explore the coastal forests of Portugal’s Costa Verde (Green Coast), remote farmland and river trails that link ancient towns and villages such as Caminha, with views of rather than vias through the Alto Minho’s Soajo and Peneda Mountains. Traditional mountain bike rental is included in the cost of the tour. 

Our group of four had a wonderful time on the self-guided Lima Valley tour. The diversity of riding: riverside trails, quaint village cobbles, vineyard backroads, oceanfront boardwalks and more kept us all entertained…during our seven weeks of travel in Portugal, this Lima Valley bike tour will certainly stand out for giving us the tastes, smells, textures, and good vibes of Portugal, all at the perfect pace of rolling on two wheels.” – Montana Mike on our Lima Valley mountain biking holiday. 

Pumping it on the Parenzana Trail, Istrian Peninsula

Cycling the Parenzana Trail is a five-day adventure through Italy, Slovenia and (mostly) Croatia, following the 123km former railway line along the Istrian Peninsula. Starting in Trieste in Italy, and crossing the finishing line in Poreč in Croatia, this is a bit flatter than some cross-country cycling holidays, but it’s an ever-changing course that will take you by surprise at every turn. Cycle under tunnels and over bridges, over viaducts, through villages and alongside vineyards. Cycle up to ancient hilltop towns like Grožnjan and Motovun, and shred your way down to the sea to Adriatic waterfront gems such as Poreč. Bike rental is a supplemental cost on this tour. 

Following the fishermen’s flow trails

As keen mountain bikers know, a flow trail is when downhill trail features fit together so well, you hardly need to pedal at all. You can just go with the natural flow of the land, and the momentum of your bike. The Rota Vicentina in Portugal is a colossal web of natural trails that have also wound their way organically in and around the Alentejo and Algarve Coast for generations, the main one being the Trilho dos Pescadores, or Fishermen’s Trail. 

The journey is very beautiful, the views are charming, some of the roads with many jumps (stones) Ricardo accompanied us throughout the journey and helped us a lot, he is a man of values, very available, and he cares a lot about the success of the riders.” – Dan R on our Rota Vicentina cycling holiday

Cycling the Rota Vicentina is also possible on an e-bike.

Although most of our holidays along the Rota Vicentina are for walkers only, you can rock the Rota on two cycling holidays. You can career down the coast for nine days on this trip between Santiago do Cacém and Lagos, north to south, with plenty of time built in to park up and head down to the sea. Or there is a seven day version of the same, starting halfway down the route covering the Algarve only. These are both gentle itineraries compared with some cross-country tours. But this means you don’t have to hurry a picnic at Zambujeira do Mar beach or on the cliffs overlooking the fine Cabo Sardão or Cabo de São Vicente lighthouses. They are definitely mountain bike holidays to just go tranqüilo. Traditional mountain bike rental is included in the price of these holidays. 

If you enjoyed our journey around some of the queens and kings of the mountain trails, you may want to take a B line to our other cycling blogs. These include Our best coastal cycling tours, Winter sun cycling holidays, Top cycling holidays accessible by train and our Responsible cycling tips.