The Best Places to Ride Your MTB this Autumn

By Martin Atanasov

Autumn is finally here. Yes, it’s hard to believe with the high temperatures, but autumn is upon us, and it’s time for us MTB riders to migrate. Naturally, the Alps and the Northern countries will be the first to close their seasons, as will the high Pyrenees resorts. Still, riding MTB is not a seasonal addiction. It’s a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year itch that must be scratched regularly. So, where should we go? Well, we’ve prepared 5 of the best places to ride our MTBs during this autumn.

1.   South Tyrol, Italy

Usually, we’d be the first to suggest getting out of the Alps as the days become shorter and the nights become colder. Still, this year, thanks to El Niño, the weather is going to be unseasonably hot, at least until January. So, MTB riders, rejoice. This weather phenomenon will allow us to enjoy higher mountains a bit longer this year. Still, we’d suggest sticking to the southern slopes. South Tyrol is the perfect spot, actually.

The region has over 500 kilometres of cycling paths. It can offer something for everyone. Whether you are a DH enthusiast, an XC rider, or an Enduro fanatic, you will enjoy the bliss of South Tyrol. Having a central town like Bolzano, famous for its bike-friendly infrastructure, is definitely an invitation that’s hard to refuse. But when we include the magnificent mix of Austrian beer and Italian food, this suggestion is simply irresistible.

Still, make sure to follow the weather, as being in the Alps during the autumn months means rain and snow are quick to come, and if you are ill-prepared, you might find yourself in trouble.

2.   Rijeka, Croatia

Mount Vojak
Enjoy the incredible views of Mount Vojak. © Profimediea

While going to Mediterranean islands like Mallorca, Sicily, Greece, or the Canaries is a no-brainer during the summer, you can enjoy them during the winter as well. Plus, we would like to expand your worldview and take you to some new destinations. Croatia is the perfect place to start.

The region of Istria and the central city of Rijeka are probably the best places to experience Croatia with your mountain bike. While the DH and MTB infrastructure is not as well developed as it is in Central and Western Europe, the untouched nature and serine wild trails overlooking the Dalmatian coast are something that can’t be described in words. One must see this beauty.

If you decide to visit Istria this autumn, you must try the iconic Rijeka – Mount Vojak loop climb. It’s a fantastic way to experience the raw Croatian countryside. The Parenzana Trail should also be on your list, as this old railway which has been turned into a biking trail is more than enough to give you the adrenalin-pumping experience you are looking for.

And if you are into bikepacking, Croatia is your paradise. The locals are quite friendly, and you will try some extremely delicious foods and drinks along your way. Just make sure to take some warm clothes. The weather can become freezing during the night, so you better be prepared.

3.   Málaga, Spain

Málaga is often forgotten by MTB riders despite its more than alluring trails. Whether because of the scorching heat during the summer months or the predominantly dusty terrain, MTB enthusiasts often skip this rider’s dreamland. Well, the lack of crowds on the bike trails is one of the biggest allures of this hidden gem.

A considerable drawback is that all MTB trails are accessible only through dirt roads, making transportation a bit of a hustle. Nevertheless, if you enjoy pedalling and exploring, Malaga has a lot to offer. Whether you choose the cool breeze of Parque Natural Montes de Málaga, the wild trails of Sierra De Tejeda, or the much easier and beginner-friendly slopes near the coast, you have many options. If you like Enduro rides, the area of Los Almendrales is a must-visit.

But Málaga has much more to offer. It has outstanding DH traces like the R3 and Alhaurin, as well as nice XC options like La Techa. Mix all that with spectacular food, more than welcoming locals, and some of the best wines in the world, and you’ve got yourself one 5-star vacation. What more could you ask for?

4.   Finale Ligure, Italy

Finale Ligure
Apart from sandy beaches and the views, Finale Ligure is known for its incredible network of enduro trails.

Speaking of great wine and food, well, Italy is right there on the map, isn’t it? With outstanding traditions in all sorts of bicycle activities, one can hardly be surprised that some of the best MTB trails are here. Finale Ligure is the creme de la creme when it comes to mountain biking. This small town squeezed between Monaco and San Remo gives ample options. Best of all, despite being at the forefront of the Alps, the Mediterranean climate and the shelter from the cold northern and western winds make this place one of the warmest throughout the year. Naturally, riders flock here during the late autumn months, and the joyrides continue even throughout the winter.

The area has over 90 distinct trails, covering over 350 km of coastal riding. The locals have taken advantage of this unique weather and offer shuttle services to the top at nearly 1,000 metres. Needless to say, the ride down is simply amazing, with magnificent views of the Mediterranean coastline and the sapphire blue water. Should I mention Italian cuisine all around? You can probably guess that everything is finger-licking delicious.

5.   Côte d’Azur, France

Finally, we can’t have a list of favorite autumn cycling destinations without adding Cote d’Azur. It’s not a coincidence that most world-class riders prefer to spend their winters here. The weather is gorgeous and one of the best on the continent throughout the cold months. The only problem is that early autumn may still be a bit hot near the sea, while up in the mountains, the weather gets colder by the day. So, you might be uncomfortable when starting your journey, especially if you are near the sea.

On the other hand, there is so much to see up in the mountains. And the trails – they are just magnificent. From the leisurely La Brague to the technical L’escarene, each MTB rider can find a piece of heaven. The best part is that if you get tired of climbing the mountains, you can always take a day ride to Monaco and check out the ultra-luxurious principality by yourself.

The rest is as clear as day. Outstanding French wine, seafood galore, and, of course, ecstatic nightlife.

Are you ready to pack your bags?

Well, there’s no rush. The winter is going to be mild, which is not that good for our ecosystem, but when it comes to MTB riding, it’s sure to open some doors. So, take advantage of El Niño and make some memorable MTB rides this autumn. Who knows, next year, there might be snow.