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Destination: Granada, Spain

Granada's location near the vast expanse of Alpujarras region trails makes it "Europe's Vancouver"

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The story goes, when the last king of the Moors was forced to flee Granada in 1491, and upon reaching the mountain pass leading out of town, he cast a last glance at his beloved kingdom below and sighed deeply. To this day the mountain pass is called “El suspiro del Moro,” or “The sigh of the Moor.”

It’s this same pass that mountain bikers now cross in search of Spain’s sweet singletrack. The famed riding is not only found in the immediate vicinity of Granada itself, but is also abundant in the Alpujarras, a mountain region consisting of a string of sleepy, white-washed villages clinging to the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the mountain range that is home to Spain’s 11,423-foot Mulhacen peak.

The Sierra Nevada

Up until a few decades ago, the villages of the Alpujarras were only accessible by dirt track, and by a dense network of precipitous, dusty, and stony mountain trails littered with switchbacks, drops and rocky chutes. It’s this network, together with the possibility of huge elevation drops, and Andalusia’s Mediterranean climate, which (unlike the Alps) allows for year-round riding, that has spawned one of Europe’s most technical riding spots. The region is visited by hordes of bikers, specifically in fall, winter, and spring.

Granada’s proximity to this area has earned it the moniker “Europe’s Vancouver.” Granada is also only an hour away from the beach, half an hour from the ski station Sol y Nieve, and is of course one of Europe’s grand cultural destinations, what with the famous Alhambra in its city center.

While it is perfectly possible to mountain bike and explore Granada and the Alpujarras independently, quite a few people, mainly Brits, have set up local holiday companies catering to mountain bikers, typically offering weeklong arrangements that include accommodations.

If you go:

Guide book/maps: The Trailrider Guide — Spain by James Nathan and Linsey Stroud
More information >>

Outfitters: Switch-backs More info >>
Ciclomontana More Information >>

Weather/seasons:The best time of the year for riding is spring and fall, as summer gets very hot

Airports: Granada and Malaga are good entry points