Winter is coming… but imagine you could avoid donning those woolly overshoes and rain jacket and chase the summer around the world, where would you go? Here are some of the top European winter cycling destinations for some winter sun in 2018/19!
Autumn/Early Spring Cycling Destinations
The first cycling destinations that we’re going to look at are the ones which are most suitable for Autumn or Early Spring. They are still perfectly acceptable destinations for deep winter, but you might need a few extra layers!
Girona – The Pros’ Home
Maybe we’re biased but we think that Girona provides an amazing base for year-round riding. Autumn and early spring are key times of year as Northern Europe is under a chill but Girona’s climate remains temperate with very little rain. September – November is the perfect time to extend late summer by taking a cycling trip to the Catalan city and explore the place that so many pros call home. Girona also enjoys warmer weather from as early as February and March making it a perfect European winter cycling destination for when winter feels never-ending at home.
The golden combination of city, coast and mountains in Girona means that you can explore a plethora of terrain in one single ride. In addition, unlike many tourist locations it doesn’t completely shut up shop during winter as there are many locals and students living there. Take the perfect post-ride stroll through the old town to see the stunning Cathedral or visit one of the many excellent restaurants and cafes on offer. Access to Girona is also incredibly easy with the nearest airport a mere 12km away and the next closest, in Barcelona, is an hour’s train ride away.
Mallorca – The Original Cycling Mecca
The original cycling mecca, Mallorca has long seen sun-seeking cyclists making a pilgrimage to the island. Like Girona the best time to make a winter-sun getaway is September-November and February-March. In line with it’s Catalan counterpart Mallorca boasts a combination between coast and mountains meaning that the landscape is varied. Few riders will find the Mallorcan roads too challenging, there is a combination of flat and mountainous terrain alike meaning that riders of all abilities can enjoy what the largest of the Balearic islands has to offer.
One of the most popular rides on the island is to the Cap de Fortmentor lighthouse – the most northern point of the island, for nothing else if not a photo opportunity. An ascent of the sinewy climb of Sa Colabra, by far the most famous climb on the island and one of the most well-known in the world is also essential. Off the bike there is plenty to see and do including visiting the capital, Palma.
Where to stay: Sóller, Pollença
Southern Portugal – The Same But Different
It’s no surprise that Portugal is growing in popularity as a location for cyclists considering the warm climate, rich history and excellent riding, not dissimilar to the already well-established Spanish locations in terms of climate, culture and cuisine. Those who are looking for something the same but different will love what Portugal has to offer.
In the past year the country has been awarded numerous tourism accolades and has firmly established itself as a European holiday destination. For cycling over the winter months the southern part of the island is the place to travel to for the warmer weather. Head to the Algarve coast in the south-west for a combination of flat coastal riding and in-land mountains. Away from the riding Portugal has many ancient medieval villages to explore as well as a rich variety of wine and seafood to taste.
Where to stay: Alentejo, Algarve
All Winter Cycling Destinations
The following destinations are ready to be explored all throughout the winter months without a leg-warmer in sight! The go-to locations for a mid-winter getaway or epic training camp these are the fail-safe, tried and tested all-winter cycling destinations.
Gran Canaria – Cycling Heaven
More than just a beach holiday destination, a visit to Gran Canaria by bike will leave you wondering if the island was actually designed by cyclists. Year-round temperatures of between 22 and 25 degrees, a mere 148mm of rainfall on average over 12 months, plenty of climbing and some of the smoothest tarmac you’ll ever ride on make it a cycling haven.
Likely due to this winning combination Gran Canaria cycle routes are a winter camp favourite of many a pro team in recent years. The landscape of Gran Canaria is uniquely stunning and diverse ranging from sparse and volcanic to lively and green. The climbs here can be steeper than the neighbouring Canary Islands meaning the riding is somewhat more challenging and varied – perfect training terrain. Those who aren’t all about pushing their limits on a cycling getaway can take advantage of recovery time on the many beautiful beaches the island has to offer.
Where to stay: Maspalomas, Cruz de Tejeda, central locations.
The Costa Tropical/Calpe – Sun & Smooth Tarmac
The Southern regions of Spain are a long-held favourite location of leisure cyclists and World-Tour teams alike. It’s no surprise that so many fly south for winter; Andalucía enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine a year and only 40 days of rain on average. Calpe and the surrounding area boasts a similarly temperate climate and is swarming with cyclists engaging in some winter training during the colder months.
The Costa Tropical region is like most good training locations – the area is very hilly, several climbs over 2,000m, good road surfaces and sparse traffic. The Calpe/Alicante area is known in summer as a haven for those seeking sun-soaked partying but in winter it attracts a very different kind of clientele who mix with the stalwart mahogany ex-pats. Cyclists flock to the region in search of sun and smooth tarmac, which they receive in abundance. As with the rest of Spain, the draw is not only the fantastic riding but also the laid-back lifestyle and delicious food and drink on offer, re-fuelling with some delicious tapas and a cerveza is a must. Check here to see what cycling kit you’ll need for winter cycling in Southern Spain!
Where to stay: Mojacar, Calpe, Almería, Almuñécar.
Inspiring Winter Cycling Spots
Inspired? Each of the 5 winter cycling spots above give you the ability to indulge in a cycling tour or training session when it should be too cold to be enjoyable! Take a look at our winter camps to see how you can enjoy some cycling in the sun this winter. For more information or to find out about how we can tailor a winter trip to your needs email us on [email protected] or contact us online!
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