Whether you need to take December cycling holidays because you're tied to school dates or work requirements - or you just fancy a winter cycling holiday when many places will be quiet - there are some great November/December/January/February cycling destinations to be found in Europe, as well as way beyond.
From winter sun cycling holidays on mainland Spain to the Canary Islands, the Algarve, Dubai, Mexico and even the Seychelles, the period between November and February inclusive gives you the chance to experience some of the best winter cycling destinations on the planet.
If you're looking to make the most of the festive break by taking a Christmas cycling holiday or want to take a cycling holiday in February when it’s ultra quiet and really cheap to travel, we think these are the best winter cycling holidays destinations out there.
By Clare Dewey
Banner photo credit: John Vicars
1. Costa Almeria, Spain
Best for low traffic riding
When you want to take cycling holidays in January or another of the winter months, Costa Almeria has a lot to recommend it. The tarmac is smooth, the area sparsely populated - and best of all the temperatures average out at a fairly balmy 16 to 22 degrees celsius.
These are among the reasons why Team Jumbo-Visma hold their cycle training camps in this area before their season starts. As well as some of the best cycling in Europe, other perks of taking a break in southern Spain include great food and wine, a range of challenging ascents, coastal views, high quality accommodation and easy access to airports and motorways.
Costa Almeria is relatively untouched by tourism. This part of Andalusia is far quieter than the commercialised Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca that lie to either side.
For keen climbers, the Sierra de Los Filabres is a must. Other popular routes in the area include the challenging Puerto de la Virgen ascent, a scenic coastal route through the Parque Natural del Cabo de Gata-Níjar, the climb up the Sierra Bedar and a road trip on two wheels to the photogenic Valley of the Blocks.
Discover more about one of the best cycling destinations in Europe with our complete guide to Costa Almeria.
2. Algarve, Portugal
Best for winter sunshine in mainland Europe
Like southern Spain, there’s far more to the Algarve than bucket-and-spade holidays. Portugal cycling holidays offer keen riders some of the best bike trips in Europe, and there’s a great variety of terrain to cover.
The Gravel Challenge Albufeira, the Ride Across Algarve and the Volta ao Algarve all take place during February, and they’re some of the best cycling tours in Europe for road cycling fans.
Other reasons to pick this part of Portugal for cycling holidays abroad include the country’s beautiful coastline, its fascinating history - and of course the fact that temperatures can be as high as 20°C in winter.
The majority of roads are very well maintained, and there are plenty of hills to tackle if that’s your thing. Most of the Algarve is ideal for road cyclists, but seasoned enthusiasts particularly recommend Salgados in the central Algarve, Lagos in the western Algarve or Tavira in the eastern Algarve.
3. Gran Canaria
Best for varied terrain and spectacular landscapes
While you may have heard and thought of Tenerife cycling holidays before, how about Gran Canaria? Tenerife’s neighbour tends to have lower traffic levels, and that applies to both cars and bikes.
Whether you want to combine luxury and cycling holidays by staying at a four/five star resort or go for a more pocket-friendly option, Gran Canaria’s warm climate makes this island just as appealing for winter sun as it is for the tarmac.
Reasons to travel to Gran Canaria with your bike include the epic Valley of the Tears climb, plus pine-clad hills and vast stretches of sandy desert. Less challenging climbs include the Serenity, Fataga and Soria ascents, or take the Ayagaures loop for a brief but exhilarating blast.
The climb to the Pico De Las Nieves volcano is one of the island’s best, and en route to the ‘rock in the clouds’ there are some short descents to offer your lungs some relief.
Check out all there is to know about cycling in Gran Canaria by reading this guide.
4. Dubai, UAE
Best for early season sunshine and desert vistas
You might well expect to encounter desert vistas during a trip to Dubai, but head inland and you’ll find plenty of mountain peaks too. The country offers some of the finest road bike vacations you’ll find anywhere - and that's thanks in part to the well-maintained roads.
In fact the purpose-built cycling tracks are a dream to ride, especially for those who like flatter terrain and to cycle two abreast. They’re ultra slick - so much so that you should really consider 25c + tyres here when the weather’s wet.
The most popular tracks in Dubai include the eight kilometre District One loop near Meydan racecourse, which is illuminated ready for night rides. Longer options include the 160 kilometre Al Qudra cycle track traversing the desert, while racing circuits include the Dubai Autodrome route.
Explore the range of opportunities Dubai offers the road cyclist here.
5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Best for hidden gem in Mexico
Sometimes you want to look way beyond cycling breaks in the UK and Europe, and if that’s the case we recommend Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Why bother to look for the best winter cycling destinations in the USA when you can take in tropical beaches and enjoy cut-rate prices south of the border?
Work up an appetite for tacos and tequila by ascending mountains, rolling along by the coast or exploring the valley routes connecting the two. We’ve heard cyclists are generally well respected by Mexican drivers, though you should prepare for speed bumps, cobblestones and dirt tracks when passing through built-up areas.
The best base for your stay in this region is Bucerias, which is around three-quarters of an hour by car from central Puerto Vallarta. This way you can head inland to the Sierra Madre mountains, or stay in the eastern part of the area to explore some epic coastal routes.
Find out all about Puerto Vallarta from a local expert in this article.
Best for tropical bliss
If you want an upmarket, exotic winter destination, then you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the Seychelles offer some awesome road riding. Cycling here also means you see parts of this tropical island paradise that other tourists miss out on.
You’ll probably need to take your own bike along for the ride and may require a 11-32 cassette for tackling the mountain passes, but the roads are in decent condition. Just look out after there’s been a storm, as they can become littered with debris.
The main Seychelles island of Mahé makes a dreamy cycling and vacation destination. You can take a loop on two wheels in the north or south of the island, or follow a mountain route within the interior. Alternatively, Praslin and La Digue also offer good road cycling, and as it’s the main form of transport on the latter there are bike hire shops there too.
If a cycling holiday to the Seychelles appeals, read all about it here.
Where’s your favourite place to cycle in winter?
The best cycling trips in Europe and the wider world await those who wish to traverse the roads on two wheels.
Where will yours take you?
Let us know about your top winter cycling experiences in the comments!
More About Clare
I founded epicroadrides.com in 2018 because I couldn't find the kind of information I wanted and needed to plan my trips.
There's nothing I love more than exploring the world on two wheels - except perhaps writing about it! I hope you enjoy this article!
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