Skiers in winter, hikers in summer – this simple tourist mixed calculation no longer works in the Alps. The interests of the guests are becoming more and more diverse. Mountain bikers are now an important group in summer. Some places have specialized in them as holidaymakers and have created an appropriate infrastructure.
Okay, the Tour de France route is another 200 kilometers longer. But the racing bike professionals are not out and about in the mountains every day. For amateur athletes, even very ambitious ones, the Lombard town of Livigno near the border with the Engadine offers a barely-cycle network of mountain bike trails that add up to a length of 3200 kilometers. Anyone who books one of the bike accommodations in Livigno receives a bike pass free of charge. With this, mountain bikers can use all lift systems, all of which are equipped with a bike transport device.
300 kilometers are specially designated for e-bikes. For example, there are combinations of a mountain bike tour in steeper terrain, which is easy to manage thanks to the motor assistance, and a summit hike to the two three-thousand-meter peaks Monte Breva and Pizzo Filone. There are special courses for mountain bikers in the immediate vicinity of the mountain village. Livigno is located in a high valley at 1,800 meters above sea level. On one side of the valley there is that Mottolino bike park with downhill and freeride routes with different levels of difficulty. On the opposite side, the Swiss mountain biker and multiple world champion Hans Rey has on the Carosello 3000 named area ten flow trails. The infrastructure of bike shops, rental options, workshops, charging stations, guides and bike trainers is very well developed. Mountain bikers have long been the most important guests during the summer season.
Ten thousand square meters are available to beginners and children in the Riders Playground to learn mountain biking properly from the ground up – that is, cornering, overcoming obstacles, and correct, safe driving technique in general. At the other end of the spectrum there are routes suitable for profit: Mountain bike world championships have already taken place in Saalfelden Leogang twice, in 2012 and 2020. World Cup races are also regularly held here, most recently in mid-June.
The Pinzgau, located between Großvenediger and Großglockner in the south and the Steinerne Meer in the north, has developed into Austria’s largest bike region. A shared bike ticket gives cyclists the opportunity to use nine different mountain railways in Leogang, Saalbach Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn. More demanding routes lead into the Steinerne Meer. But there is also a designated e-bike pleasure tour that leads to a dozen direct marketers, including village shops, a beekeeping, an alpaca stable and a still. Gravel bike routes are also on offer, as well as racing bike routes. The Kaisertour leads to the Großglockner. Racing cyclists conquer a little more than 2000 meters of altitude on this 80-kilometer route and get up to Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe, from where you have a panoramic view of Austria’s highest mountain.
Many hoteliers have specialized in cyclists as guests and offer a washing service for sweaty sportswear as well as for dirty bicycles, and tools are often available for hire. There is a bike school at the valley station of the Asitzbahn.
Davos / Klosters
Tolerance is a big word. In Graubünden, and thus also in Davos and Klosters, it is lived every day on the hiking trails that hikers and mountain bikers share with care. This allows the place to advertise 700 kilometers of bike trails. Even if that is perhaps a bit exaggerated: Everything is done around the city at 1500 meters in summer and autumn so that single trail lovers get their money’s worth, it is a rather demanding area.
Hardly anyone steps up long forest paths here, you take the cable cars to the Jakobshorn, Rinerhorn or Weissfluhjoch. From there it goes up and down over very beautiful trails that are maintained by a dedicated team – but significantly more down. A new and particularly beautiful flow trail leads from the Chörbschhorn down to the romantic Stafelalm, where Ernst Ludwig Kirchner once painted. The section of the “Alps Epic Trails” between Rinerhorn and Oberalp is also great to drive and with wonderful views.
Those who stay overnight in Davos in a hotel or on the campsite can get a day pass for the railways for 25 francs (23 euros). And if you sleep in one of the specialized bike hotels, you only pay 15 francs for the day pass. In addition, free day tours with a bike guide are offered every Friday and Saturday. There is a challenging three-day hut tour for e-mountain bikers.
It is a very special form of monument protection: When the Reschensee was dammed in 1950, all the buildings that stood on its future area were either demolished or simply flooded. Only the listed church tower in the village of Graun remained. Since then, its upper part has protruded from the lake. A picturesque panorama – which is rounded off in some places by the Ortler in the background. Such a view can be found at various points in the mountains around the Reschensee at the northern end of the Vinschgau. Some of them can be reached by mountain bike – the most beautiful of these tours leads below the Plamorter peak.
The best starting point for tours is Nauders on the other side of the Reschen Pass. This is what makes this bike region special: the lake is in Italy, the town in Austria, and many routes lead west across to Switzerland. Three-country enduro trails are accordingly the specialty in Nauders. Most of them are laid out horizontally and the starting points can be easily reached with mountain railways. Quite a few of them can be combined into round tours. So it’s not so much about making a particularly large amount of vertical meters or enjoying downhill runs, but about the repeatedly great views of the Ortler group, the Ötztal Alps and the mountains of the Lower Engadine.
From the beginning of June to mid-October, Nauders Tourismus offers a guided bike tour every weekday, including two e-bike tours. Of the three tours for normal mountain bikes, one is specifically designed for families with children. A beginner’s course with a kids loop has just opened at the Bergkastel mountain station. Bicycles and equipment can be rented on site.