Finale Ligure, Italy

The shorts are gone, the coats are out and we’re back to dodging puddles on the cycle to work.

This means that the mountain bike trails are getting muddy, messy and downright unattractive, and as Boromir from Lord of the Rings once said in that other thing he was in: ‘winter is coming’.

For some people, wet and wild is the only way to ride a mountain bike, but the dream of pinning luscious lines under blue skies will always be lurking in the back of the mind.

Of course, the it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to ride dry in your Christmas jumper in Britain, so here are some of the best spots in Europe for winter mountain biking.

Get your lottery tickets at the ready...

H&I Adventures Ltd trip to Spain's Sierra Nevada, February 2014.  Details for each photo, and higher quality images, can be obtained by contacting either copyright holder (photographer Tim Winterburn and H&I Adventures Ltd)

If you're looking to get away from the cold winter weather, Granada region could be the place for you. It's been described as having 'the best climate in Europe' and it's got a whole load of trails.

From a challenging charge up the Pico Veleta Pass at 3400m to riding hard down Sierra Nevada, the highest mountain range in Spain, this is one setting with no lack of gnarly trails.

Back in the day, 'icemen' in Granada used to walk up high in the mountains to get ice to cool cellars in the region. The paths they used now make for some sick trails - and you know for sure that they'll have ice for your drink when you reach the bar afterwards!

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 16c, lows of 7c.

Finale Ligure, Italy

A mountain biking mecca of sorts. Finale Ligure is right in the middle of the Italian Riviera, but the trails are insane - local diggers have been doing a good job and the natural feel of the place is just what you want when you go out to ride.

Trips can branch out to the Italian Alps, and with the non-cycling world knowing the place for it's beautiful beaches and striking scenery, you'll get more than just some classy riding out of this as well.

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 14c, lows of 4c.

sicily

Trinacria - official trailer from TriRide on Vimeo.

There's no need to talk about the scenery in Sicily. Everybody knows how beautiful the Italian island is, and if you don't then a quick look at the picture above should give you at least a hint.

Cerrita is one of the most famous downhill tracks in Italy, running down Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, and stunning coastal options at near enough every side of the island are also possible.

From the Manolfo trails around Palermo to the riding in Caccamo and the full lava experience, this is one trip that you won't be forgetting.

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 13c, lows of 7c.

madeira island

The remote island of Madeira is actually closer to Morocco than it is to the Portuguese mainland.

It may be a small island, but there's so much riding out there, and plenty of pros choose the setting as their winter hideout. The island has probably got some of the best trail variety in Europe - so it's great to get out there if you want to experience a whole lot of different terrain.

The fact that you'll be riding in about 20 degrees of sun in December shouldn't hurt the reputation of the island either...

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 20c, lows of 15c.

ibiza

When you think of Ibiza, mountain biking probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind. That'd be the partying, or perhaps the sexually transmitted diseases depending on how many times you've been there.

The trails are super nice, though, although with many recommended lines involving roads in their route, it's best to use them as a guide and then scope out your own lines - or get a local to show you round the area.

There are some mad steep sections to take on and plenty of hour plus lines you can ride without ever coming across a road. If you don't manage to get over this winter bare this in mind next time you head over in summer with dreams of Amnesia!

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 16c, lows of 10c.

algarve

The Algarve has long been since as a dreamland for mountain biking, and when you look at a breakdown of the terrain, it's not particularly hard to see why.

The place has 1000m extinct volcanoes on it's doorstep and seemingly endless dirt tracks as well. But possibly even better than all that is the scenery you get to see when you're up in the area.

Foia is one of the tracks in the area that's been around for years, and it's the highest point in the Algarve, and Picota too is said to be one of the best trails. Make sure to hit them up!

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 20c, lows of 10c.

Lousã, Portugal

Located in the centre of Portugal, Lousa is 20 miles from the old national capital of Coimbra. As do all the options in this list, it offered brilliant options for downhill, enduro and uphill across varied terrain.

Rooty and twisting tracks are normally the starting point but lead on to a mash up of tracks that contain fast-flowing berms and some gnarly rock sections. Get a hold of a good guide and he can lead you round whatever you fancy, from downhill race tracks to simpler, more scenic-based riding.

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 13c, lows of 5c.

Cote D’Azur, France

Lying within the French Riviera and alongside the Mediterranean - that source of so much British jealousy - this place is absolutely stunning and usually drenched in sun.

335km of trails await in the area and the views from many of them are absolutely outstanding. It's only a 90 minute flight to Nice, so whether it's a training week or a weekend of exploration you're after, this is a good place to bring your bike.

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 12c, lows of 4c.

tenerife spring

Tenerife may be more of a road cycling hub than a mountain biker's mecca, but for just this reason it could be a great place to get some empty trails.

Rumours of off-road mountain biking being illegal in the setting are false, although there are some areas of the mountains barred from use, but there remains a decent selection of trails including some sick technical downhill routes.

Admittedly, the picture above was taken in spring rather than winter, but with heats of up to 19 degrees in December, you can barely complain.

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 19c, lows of 13c.

pelion 2

An entry for Greece on our final point here, and there's no better way to sell this one than to take a look at the video featured.

Greek riding can be similar to a sunny summer ride in Britain at times in terms of terrain, and there are also some gnarly lines in amongst the dusty dirt if you want to challenge yourself further.

The Pelion trails start from the village of Milies and leave room for a lot of exploring on the way down. The routes will take you through some small European style towns when dipping in and out of the dirt to provide a continental experience you'll surely enjoy!

Approx. Dec temperature: Highs of 12c, lows of 2c.

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