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Finale Ligure: What Makes That Place Predestined for Winter Enduro Rides

By Adam Marsal

If something made you decide to move hundreds of miles from your home and settle down, you most likely must have fallen in love with that place. That is what happened to Dominika Durcakova from the Czech Republic, who moved to Finale Ligure in Italy. The reason? Weather, Italian culture and mountain biking. “Because I hate cold winters, I left my country for Finale Ligure where I can cycle all year long. Back in 2016, it was love at first sight,” explains Dominika what helped her to stick to the place located on the Italian Riviera, approximately an hour’s drive west from Genova.

Apart from sandy beaches and the views, the place is known for its incredible network of enduro trails. Currently, Dominika makes her living as a bike guide. After visiting Finale more than thirty times, she slowly learned to know the trails by heart, enabling her to start guiding her friends and later even public customers.

Unlike an average bike park, the trails are not located on one hill but are scattered across both coastal and inland mountains. “Visitors unfamiliar with local geography might get lost easily, so if anyone wants to use their time efficiently, I’d recommend hiring a guide,” Dominika says. There are two major shuttle services and dozens of smaller ones to choose from. “Each customer is looking for something else. While some are attracted to difficult, technical downhill rides, others prefer a family holiday. Finale Ligure offers both,” says Dominika who works with the local Cascina del Groppo company.

Finale Ligure
The picturesque trails of Finale Ligure.

The main advantages? The sea is visible from many trails, providing a pleasant summer atmosphere even for winter rides. January or February temperatures are around 15°C, so shorts and a jersey are enough for riding as long as you wear a sweatshirt in your backpack. With the sun in the sky, it gets warm quickly, even though the wind can spoil the feeling of comfort.

Bikers are popular among locals as they are the main source of tourism revenue outside of the summer season. When local drivers catch up with two cyclists riding side by side on the road, they don’t honk angrily but drive around them and even wave hello.

According to Dominika, there are up to a hundred bike trails in Finale Ligure. Several groups operate in the area to look after them and keep them in good condition. The existing network is constantly being expanded. While in the past, difficult trails for more experienced riders predominated, the current trend is to build more trails for less advanced bikers. “It’s still not suitable for beginners but those who ride the red trails in the bike park can ride in Finale Ligure,” says Dominika. Moreover, trails for e-bike users have been introduced lately in Pietra Ligure, offering many uphill trails that will satisfy both family and sporty riders.

Almost all trails in Finale are easily accessible by paved roads but those who want to experience more local trails are encouraged to rent bike shuttles. Vans with special trailers for bike transport can carry groups of 5-10 people up the mountains. You hang the bike on a rack, get in the car and let the driver bring you to the top of the hill. Spacious vans offering a single lift might even accommodate up to 20 people, and furthermore, there are off-road cars enabling you to reach inaccessible for backcountry riding.

Despite the shuttle assistance, riding in Finale is a challenging experience. In one go, you might descend between 3,000 and 3,500 vertical metres. An untrained rider may struggle to hold the handlebars the next day. On some trails, you’ll descend as little as 200 metres, but there are also up to 11 kilometres long trails with 800 metres of elevation. At the end of each trail, the shuttle is already waiting to take you back up the next mountain. Depending on the length, you can ride between 6 and 12 different trails a day. If you want to take a break from downhill riding, you can take a ride up the hill and spend the day cross-country riding with slow descending to the sea.

Finale Ligure is one of the top world destinations for enduro MTB riding.

For those preferring to ride individually, you can pick up trail maps from shuttle services to get a good overview of the difficulty levels and trail locations. A free and interactive alternative is the Trailforks app. The app has all the trails stored, and with a GPS signal, you can ride them and find your location effortlessly. Coloured markers indicate the difficulty level according to the Diamond Rating. Green and blue are the easy trails, black is for advanced, and red indicates the most difficult ones.

How about the equipment? An enduro bike with at least 140 mm of travel front and rear is a must. “I recommend tubeless tyres to everyone to avoid punctures that could be annoyingly frequent if you choose wheels with tubes. Pads and an integral helmet are essential to protect you from injury.”

Finale itself is divided into the old town of Finalborgo and the town proper of Finale Ligure. In the old town, you can find many restaurants, ice cream shops and cafes that invite you to relax after an exhausting day of biking. Dominika recommends spending afternoons at a lovely promenade, sitting just by the beach, where bikers can have a beer or two after the ride. Cars are only allowed to enter the old town for transportation purposes, so a cosy atmosphere is guaranteed, and you can explore all the little stores in peace. The medieval character gives the old town a specific flair. “If winter bothers you where you live, do not hesitate and come, I believe that Finale Ligure will make you happy!” Dominika promises.

You can reach Dominika on Instagram.