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 find myself dreaming 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 planing to visit a town in Europe or actually move to one, this list could help you figure out where to go!
How I came up with the list?
I started by looking up towns with good mountain biking trails in the radius of 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
To be as objective as possible, I set up 4 criteria to assess the quality of mountain biking and 3 to asses the cost of living. Once I had all this information, I was able to rank the cities and towns and come up with
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:
- 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.
- Total vertical: the total vertical elevation in meters
- Total descent: the length of descents on trails
- Pollution index: it’s just nice not to inhale sh*** when you bike
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
- Cost of groceries: this one is calculated as the minimum price to pay to get 2400 calories per day, every day, for 31 days
- m3 in
towncenter: price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre
- 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
|? Trails: 135 km||☝️ Total vertical: 807 m|
|? Total descent: 8,812 m||???? Population: 61,345|
|? Pollution index: 35.95||? m3 in town center: 4,000 €|
|? Groceries per month: 274.83 €||? 1 large beer: 5.00 €|
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 at. The only downside, it the 5€ price you’ll have to pay for a beer after your ride.
9. Trento, Italy
|? Trails: 969 km||☝️ Total vertical: 1,083 m|
|? Total descent: 120,545 m||???? Population:117,417|
|? Pollution index: 14.72||? m3 in town center: 3,420 €|
|? Groceries per month: 292.31 €||? 1 large beer: 4.50 €|
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 in the vicinity of the town, it also has 8 bike parks nearby.
8. Palma de Mallorca, Spain
|? Trails: 567 km||☝️ Total vertical: 1,202 m|
|? Total descent: 26,896 m||???? Population:402,949|
|? Pollution index: 32.06||? m3 in town center: 3,392.50 €|
|? Groceries per month: 228.14 €||? 1 large beer: 3.00 €|
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
|? Trails: 250 km||☝️ Total vertical: 250 m|
|? Total descent: 3,731 m||???? Population:107,038|
|? Pollution index: 13.94||? m3 in town center: 3,159.96 €|
|? Groceries per month: 240.29 €||? 1 large beer: 5.91 €|
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 also home to about 250km of trails. This is not
6. Gdansk, Poland
|? Trails: 95 km||☝️ Total vertical: 127 m|
|? Total descent: 4,712 m||???? Population:573,971|
|? Pollution index: 28.99||? m3 in |
|? Groceries per month: 135.73 €||? 1 large beer: 1.86 €|
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
|? Trails: 213 km||☝️ Total vertical: 487 m|
|? Total descent: 7,483 m||???? Population:598,830|
|? Pollution index:30.00||? m3 in town center: 2,895.05 €|
|? Groceries per month: 203.04 €||? 1 large beer: 4.06 €|
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
4. Brno, Czech Republic
|? Trails: 177 km||☝️ Total vertical: 383 m|
|? Total descent: 13,975 m||???? Population:377,973|
|? Pollution index:44.56||? m3 in |
|? Groceries per month: 171.18 €||? 1 large beer: 1.36 €|
Brno has some amazing trails, including a bike park right next to 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
|? Trails: 469 km||☝️ Total vertical: 1,143 m|
|? Total descent: 20,491 m||???? Population:569,009|
|? Pollution index:24.54||? m3 in |
|? Groceries per month: 187.07 €||? 1 large beer: 2.00 €|
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
|? Trails: 385 km||☝️ Total vertical: 1,255 m|
|? Total descent: 22,267 m||???? Population:78,484|
|? Pollution index: 25.86||? m3 in town center: 1,590 €|
|? Groceries per month: 169.69 €||? 1 large beer: 1.20 €|
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 surrounding of the city. There’s a strong community of bikers associated in the local BBtrails organization. One of their biggest achievements is the complex of Laskomerske
1. Rijeka, Croatia
|? Trails: 1077 km||☝️ Total vertical: 1,370 m|
|? Total descent: 42,783 m||???? Population:121,975|
|? Pollution index: 26.17||? m3 in town center: 1,373.28 €|
|? Groceries per month: 183.79 €||? 1 large beer: 2.02 €|
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.