The Basque Country in Spain has been voted one of the top 50 best places to go mountain biking in Europe. With mountains, sunshine, and so many trails you could spend months riding them, Basque country mountain biking is just a short flight from the UK.
The Basque Country sits in the north of Spain and the south west of France, straddling the border between the two countries. It’s not an area that’s well travelled by British tourists at the moment and is more famous for its surfing than its mountain biking. This is starting to change though, and Dirt Magazine recently voted the area as one of the top 50 mountain biking spots in Europe. The first thing that strikes you when you fly over the region is how little flat space there is. There are so many mountains and they seem to rise straight from the sea, with kilometre high peaks right next to the coast. It all makes for a spectacular place to ride a mountain bike and you could ride here for months without repeating a single trail.
Mountain Biking in the Basque Country
From mellow coastal singletrack to full on big mountain switchbacks, there is something to suit most mountain bike riders. However to get the best from mountain biking in the Basque area you will need to be reasonably confident on your bike, with about a years worth of riding under your belt, and be happy on blue level trails at any UK trail centre. Local Basque Mountain Bike Guides can offer you tuition which, combined with the local trails, will really develop your riding skills over a weeks holiday in Spain. If you are already an expert then you will find the local mountains contain trails which make any trail centre trail look positively tame. Indeed, the trails here can be as hard as any trails you will find in the Alps. There are also some specially built downhill trails, but these won’t appear on any maps and you will need a local mountain bike guide.
The Basque Country doesn’t have any ski lifts on it’s mountains, but local guiding companies can provide uplift. The trails are probably suited to more of an all mountain type bike, with 5”-7” being perfect, because even on uplifted holidays there will be some riding to get to the top of the best trails.
Other Activities to do on a Mountain Bike Holiday in Spain
The Basque coast is rated as one of the top surf spots in the world and it’s a great way to end a day spent in the mountains. There are lots of companies on the beach which will hire you boards and wetsuits and offer you some lessons to get you started. With the Pyrenees and the coast right on the doorstep, there are lots of other local activities to choose from, including climbing, rafting, kayaking, diving and many more.
The area is also famous for it’s food and parties, and there are lots of restaurants and bars where you can get a fantastic meal without breaking the bank. Heading into one of the trendy cities, like San Sebastian, offers you lots of options to party the night away, drinking and eating tapas with ‘the beautiful people’ until the sun goes down and comes back up again.
Mountain Safety When Mountain Biking in the Basque
If you decide not to take a guided option then you need to be aware of your personal safety when in these mountains. The trails can be remote and there is little chance of somebody passing by to help you. The weather, as in any mountainous region, can change very quickly so you need to make sure you have appropriate clothing. A charged mobile phone is essential but you can’t rely on getting a signal. If you are somewhere remote then ride within your limits, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back. Always carry a first aid kit and know how to use it.
Planning Your MTB Holiday in the Basque Country
You can ride all year round in the Basque Country, however the best weather will be from March to October. Over winter the weather can be cold and wet so you are advised to avoid November to February.
Accommodation in the Basque Country is plentiful and reasonably priced, ranging from camp-sites to plush hotels. Be aware that in July and August everything tends to book up early. You can book guided mountain bike holidays including accommodation with local mountain bike companies.
There are two main airports for the area, Bilbao and Biarritz, both are well served by the budget airlines and if you book in advance then flights can be bought very cheaply. It is also quick and easy to take the train from London to Biarritz, via Paris or you can take your car on the ferry to Bilbao or Santander.
It’s always worth taking your own bike on holiday, you are used to it and you don’t have to adjust to another bike, which can affect your first day or two of riding. You can hire bikes from Basque MTB. if you want to though.
Further Information on Mountain Biking Holidays in the Basque Country
To find out more about mountain biking holidays in the Basque Country and to look at accommodation, see BasqueMTB: Mountain Bike Holidays in Spain