The ten most challenging mountain bike routes in Europe

When you hop on your mountain bike, you leave the world behind and become one with the breathtaking environment around you. Exploring the wilderness on two wheels has a magical quality, especially when extra challenges raise your heartbeat. A new spring means new summer plans. We'll guide you through the ten most exhilarating mountain bike routes in Europe, so get your calendar ready!

The Giant's Tomb (Bouillon, Belgium)

Let's start in our own country. One of the most beautiful panoramas in Belgium can be found in Botassart, a part of the city of Bouillon near the French border. There, you'll have a view of 'Le Tombeau du Géant' (The Giant's Tomb). According to legend, a giant is buried here, although this beautiful piece of nature owes its name mainly to the unique shape left by the Semois river in the landscape. In 2023, the Belgian MTB marathon championships were held here. It's a particularly challenging environment for cycling, but the photo afterward makes it all worthwhile!

De Treeker (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Off to our northern neighbors. The Utrechtse Heuvelrug is a vast area of ​​2000 hectares where you can escape the hustle and bustle. With the Treeker MTB Trail North and the Treeker MTB Trail South, you have two options for a sporty afternoon. You'll ride through the forest area, encountering some surprising slopes along the way. For a day of mountain biking, you'll need a day pass or an annual permit. The route is marked with arrows.

Valle d'Aosta (Aosta, Italy)

This region in northwestern Italy is sometimes called 'the roof of Europe.' In cycling circles, this area is reminiscent of prestigious races, but it's also great for off-road biking. For the real deal, head to La Thuile, where there's a mountain bike school and a 'Natural Trail Area.' The routes are all clearly marked, but expect a lot of elevation gain!
Val d'Anniviers (Saint-Luc, Switzerland)

In Swiss Saint-Luc, there's also a bike park. Amateurs and professionals alike can enjoy themselves here on the wooden ramps, banked corners, and jumps. This spot in the Sierre district and the canton of Wallis is a ski area in winter, but the lifts are opened in summer for cyclists to enjoy plenty of spectacular descents. Plus, it's a relatively quiet area, so it's truly a battle between you and nature. Interested in astronomy? On the route towards the Observatoire François-Xavier Bagnoud, the solar system with its nine planets is presented.

Sölden (Tyrol, Austria)

While Tyrol is mainly known for its ski culture and the hit song 'Anton aus Tirol,' in summer, it's primarily a pilgrimage site for mountain bikers. In Sölden, at 1,377 meters altitude, you can even become a 'Bike Republic Citizen' or 'Republican.' This means you become part of a real community. With a special passport, you collect stamps per trail, so many enthusiasts aim for a full card. Thanks to the ski lifts, you won't have to pedal all the way up the slopes. Got some time left? The route of the 2018 UCI Road World Championships is located in Innsbruck and was a true test for every category.

Tweed Valley (Glentress, Scotland)

With the passage of the MTB World Cup in Scottish Glentress, the whole cycling world now knows Tweed Valley. In this valley, less than an hour from Edinburgh, there's so much activity that you won't know where to start: salmon fishing, discovering local beer, multi-day hikes... The 7Stanes MTB trails are known as the country's best trails. Cross-country, enduro, downhill... everything is possible within a few square kilometers between Innerleithen and Glentress. It's thanks to the Forestry Commission that over 300,000 people come here annually, purely for cycling.
Val d'Isère (Savoie, France)

Off to Savoie where Val d'Isère is located. Together with neighboring Tignes, this is a skiing paradise in winter and a mountain bike mecca in summer. The Col d'Iseran runs through the village, a pass so high that even the Tour de France hesitates to pass it often. The central point in the area is the Tignes - Val d'Isère Bike Park, where you'll find the start of various trails or can take the mountain bike shuttle. In total, there are 220 kilometers of trails. Fortunately, beginners can find their way around thanks to the 'First Ride' zone. Also new: the 'Val Pesto,' a route passing through all the local villages where you can find breakfast, aperitif, or lunch.

Zona Zero (Ainsa, Spain)

In the Aragon region of Spain lies the medieval town of Ainsa. Around it lies Zona Zero. Old roads have been restored to suit mountain bikers, who can enjoy official routes as well as family packages, rally routes, and special routes. It's important to note that the 300 kilometers of trails were laid out with respect for the natural environment. Zona Zero is more than just a bike park; it's a network and a tourist attraction. And if you don't feel like biking for a day, Ainsa is definitely worth a day trip!

Trollstigen (Møre og Romsdal, Norway)

Norway's 'Path of the Trolls' is a popular tourist road with eleven hairpin bends. The lookout platform is particularly popular, and the mountain bike route is also becoming increasingly well-known. The trails run amidst breathtaking fjords and fascinating waterfalls. You'll need some serious power, as it's quite uphill in this region. An additional advantage of this route is that Norwegians are generally very courteous to cyclists.

Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria & Greece)

The Rhodope Mountains stretch across Bulgaria and Greece. With some striking landscape features such as the Trigrad Gorge or the Goljam Perelik (2,191 meters altitude), the area is ideal for mountain biking. Many multi-day mountain bike tours are organized because the area is too vast to fully explore in one day. Once the Romans, Greeks, and Ottomans waged war here, now the region looks somewhat abandoned and ready to be taken over by cyclists.

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