I live in Bratislava, Slovakia. A city surrounded by forests with some nice singletracks and a vibrant mountain biking community. I'm grateful for where I live, but when I travel, I sometimes dream about other places. I wonder if people ride a lot and if there are good trail systems. Eventually, I also think about how much it would cost to live there. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I came up with a list. After analyzing over 30 towns and cities, I narrowed it down to 10 towns that have a low cost of living and are great mountain biking destinations.

If you are planning to visit a town in Europe or actually move to one, this list could help you figure out where to go!

How did I come up with the list?

I started by looking up towns with good mountain biking trails within 40 kilometers (25 miles). This gave me a list of about 30 places. I purposefully excluded small villages since there are plenty of well-known mountain villages, like Leogang, that are amazing places to mountain bike. I was interested in towns and cities with a population of at least 30,000.

To be as objective as possible, I set up 4 criteria to assess the quality of mountain biking and 3 to assess the cost of living. Once I had all this information, I could rank the cities and towns and create a final top 10 list.

A good place to mountain bike?

How do you define a good place to mountain bike? Rather than looking at popularity, I wanted to have an objective set of criteria. I decided to look at the following 4 things:

  1. Trails: the length of trails around towns, this includes trails that are further than the 40-kilometer radius, but are directly accessible by bike from the town center.
  2. Total vertical: the total vertical elevation in meters
  3. Total descent: the length of descents on trails
  4. Pollution index: it's just nice not to inhale sh*** when you bike

The trail data was taken from Trailforks, and the pollution index is from Numbeo.

Cost of living

Defining the cost of living is a bit tricky because statistics only tell you so much. I gave it my best shot and gathered my data from Numbeo. I looked at 3 statistics:

  1. Cost of groceries: this one is calculated as the minimum price to pay to get 2400 calories per day, every day, for 31 days
  2. m3 in town center: Price per Square Meter to Buy an Apartment in the City Centre
  3. 1 large beer: well, the price of 1 large local beer :)

Here are the top 10 towns and cities around Europe that are cheap to live in and have amazing mountain biking around:

10. Savona, Italy

Photo Matt Wragg/Pinkbike
Trails: 135 kmTotal vertical: 807 m
Total descent: 8,812 mPopulation: 61,345
Pollution index: 35.95m3 in town center: 4,000 €
Groceries per month: 274.83 €1 large beer: 5.00 €

Savona on Trailforks

The seaport town of Savona was once home to Christopher Columbus, so the history chops are on point. But besides this, it's also the gateway to the Ligurian Alps, and that's the part I'm most interested in. You can bike 135km on 45 trails, and with average temperatures of 19 °C (66 °F), it's not a bad place to be. The only downside is the 5€ price you'll have to pay for a beer after your ride.

9. Trento, Italy

Photo wolisphoto/Trailforks
Trails: 969 kmTotal vertical: 1,083 m
Total descent: 120,545 mPopulation:117,417
Pollution index: 14.72m3 in town center: 3,420 €
Groceries per month: 292.31 €1 large beer: 4.50 €

Trento on Trailforks

Trento is the opening act to Lago Di Garda, a well-known mountain biking destination. It's a city of 100K inhabitants and is one of the wealthiest parts of Italy. Besides the ridiculous 969km of trails near the town, it also has 8 bike parks nearby.

8. Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Trails: 567 kmTotal vertical: 1,202 m
Total descent: 26,896 mPopulation:402,949
Pollution index: 32.06m3 in town center: 3,392.50 €
Groceries per month: 228.14 €1 large beer: 3.00 €

Palma on Trailforks

The capital of the island of Mallorca, this city is surrounded by spectacular nature with some of the best views out there. Palma has a Mediterranean climate, so you can bike most of the year. The best part is that you end your rides by the ocean which is great for a cool down dip.

7. Orebro, Sweden

Photo The Heart of Sweden
Trails: 250 kmTotal vertical: 250 m
Total descent: 3,731 mPopulation:107,038
Pollution index: 13.94m3 in town center: 3,159.96 €
Groceries per month: 240.29 €1 large beer: 5.91 €

Orebro on Trailforks

So far, all our towns were in the south of Europe, but the north has lots to offer as well. Orebro is Sweden's 7th largest city and is also home to about 250km of trails. This is not alpine country, so you won't be able to send it downhill, however with a pollution index at 13.94, it is the cleanest city on our list.

6. Gdansk, Poland

Photo kalafior66/Trailforks
Trails: 95 kmTotal vertical: 127 m
Total descent: 4,712 mPopulation:573,971
Pollution index: 28.99m3 in town center: 2,251.84 €
Groceries per month: 135.73 €1 large beer: 1.86 €

Gdansk on Trailforks

The Polish city of Gdansk is not a typical biking destination, but with its low cost of living and plenty of nature right around the city, it is a good place to live as a mountain biker. There is a strong XC scene organizing the annual XC Gdansk competition.

5. Glasgow, UK

Photo jamesmcnairphoto/trailforks
Trails: 213 kmTotal vertical: 487 m
Total descent: 7,483 mPopulation:598,830
Pollution index:30.00m3 in town center: 2,895.05 €
Groceries per month: 203.04 €1 large beer: 4.06 €

Glasgow on Trailforks

Even though Glasgow is more expensive to live in than Gdansk, it wins on the trail front in a big way and that's why it takes 5th place on my list. With over 213km of trails around the city, it is a great place to live. The elevation is not massive, with 487m, but it makes this up with its stunning hills, glens, and forests. There's a strong biking community that maintains the trails and even organizes meetups.

4. Brno, Czech Republic

Photo TrailHunterCZ/Trailforks
Trails: 177 kmTotal vertical: 383 m
Total descent: 13,975 mPopulation:377,973
Pollution index:44.56m3 in town center: 2,536.03 €
Groceries per month: 171.18 €1 large beer: 1.36 €

Brno on Trailforks

Brno has some amazing trails, including a bike park near the city. There's a well-established biking community building and maintaining trails. As a bonus, you get some of the best beers in the world. Thanks to the university it's a hip place to live in, with a lot of stuff to do, once you're done riding.

3. Malaga, Spain

Photo dirtitmore/Trailforks
Trails: 469 kmTotal vertical: 1,143 m
Total descent: 20,491 mPopulation:569,009
Pollution index:24.54m3 in town center: 2,642.86 €
Groceries per month: 187.07 €1 large beer: 2.00 €

Malaga on Trailforks

First inhabited some 2800 years ago, Malaga has been around for some time. I can't say that people back then picked it because it was a great mountain biking spot, but I'm sure glad they did. It has 469 kilometers of trails with epic views and descends all the way to local beaches. Being a Spanish city, the food is on point, and so is the wine and nightlife.

2. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

Photo ANVILfilms/trailforks
Trails: 385 kmTotal vertical: 1,255 m
Total descent: 22,267 mPopulation:78,484
Pollution index: 25.86m3 in town center: 1,590 €
Groceries per month: 169.69 €1 large beer: 1.20 €

Banska Bystrica on Trailforks

This one is a hidden gem. Located in the middle of Slovakia, Banska Bystrica is a small historic city that is surrounded by mountains. Ideal for mountain biking. This shows in the number of trails that are in the immediate surroundings of the city. There's a strong community of bikers associated with the local BBtrails organization. One of their biggest achievements is the complex of Laskomerske single trails that were built on the basis of century-old ranger trails.

1. Rijeka, Croatia

Photo alienri/trailforks
Trails: 1077 kmTotal vertical: 1,370 m
Total descent: 42,783 mPopulation:121,975
Pollution index: 26.17m3 in town center: 1,373.28 €
Groceries per month: 183.79 €1 large beer: 2.02 €

Rijeka on Trailforks

The winner of our list is Rijeka. This city is better known as a summer beach destination, but mountain biking in the mountains right above Rijeka is even better than sunbathing all day by the sea. If you'd like to get recommendations from locals, hit up the fan page of the local mountain biking community - Team Rodeo.