A mountain biking holiday isn’t like your average break. Rather than lying horizontally on the beach, you’ll be breezing down vertical hillsides. Instead of caking on the sun cream you’ll be wiping away the mud. And in place of lazing by the pool, you’ll be working up a sweat. But this is exactly why people love it.

Wales is a wonderland for those who enjoy spending their downtime on two wheels. Our beautiful countryside is crisscrossed with bike trails, some of which can be circumnavigated in a couple of hours, while others can keep even the fittest beicwyr (cyclists) busy for days. The country also boasts a number of specialist biking centres, offering rentals and repair services, plus experienced guides poised to lead wobbly newbies and steadfast pros alike on unforgettable expeditions.

Read more: Tom Hutton's guide to mountain biking in Wales

Three mountain bikers looking down a hill.

Mountain biking in the Ceredigion hills, Mid Wales

Is a mountain biking holiday for you?

So what is it that convinces holidaymakers to swap their sun hat for a crash helmet? According to Phill Stasiw, founder of Mountain Bike Wales, it’s a combination of factors.

‘Some people enjoy the challenge of this type of break, others come to meet like-minded people who love cycling,’ says Phill. ‘But for the most part it’s about being outdoors in the stunning Welsh scenery, which often takes visitors’ breath away.’

Though you might think it’s only Lycra-clad pros who spend their vacation days pounding the trails, Phill notes that, in his experience, tours tend to attract a mix of amateur and avid riders.

‘We really try to cater for all levels. We have multi-day itineraries crossing Wales that are extremely challenging. Then, at the other end of the scale, we coach new riders through their first off-road experience,’ says Phill. ‘We also offer electric all-terrain bikes, which help riders get out into the wild when their fitness might limit how far they could travel otherwise.’

Where to go in Wales for a guided mountain biking holiday

Ready to hop in the saddle? Here are some of the key spots in Wales for a mountain bike holiday. All of the centres mentioned here either offer or can arrange local accommodation for riders, while food and board are typically included in multi-day trips as standard. Some centres also rent bikes and equipment, meaning all you have to bring along is an unwavering determination to get up those hills.

Long distance mountain bike tours

For experienced cyclists who want to shift the intensity level into the highest gear, Wales offers a selection of resolve-testing, long-distance trails, designed to push riders’ skills to the limit, while simultaneously offering a unique window into the wonders of rural Wales.

Mountain Bike Wales is one of the specialists in these epic multi-day tours. The company’s most popular route is the Trans Cambrian Way, a 112-mile (180km), three-day trail that skirts around the lakes and clambers over the peaks of the stunning Cambrian Mountains, carrying riders from Knighton, on the England-Wales border, all the way to the southern edge of Eryri (Snowdonia).

Not quite challenging enough? The company also runs the Sarn Helen tour; a Herculean, six-day ride from coast to coast along the central spine of the country, beginning in Conwy, in the north and ending at the beaches of Gower, in the south. Following what is believed to be an old Roman road, the route takes in some of Wales’ most celebrated landscapes, including both Eryri (Snowdonia) and the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park.

Their newest tour is the recently developed Traws Eryri route - a 140m (225km), an incredible four-day, off-road trail challenge between Machynlleth in Mid Wales and Conwy in North Wales. Ride along remote ancient trackways high up in the mountains and through Eryri's native forests, visiting four MB centres along the way. Visit the MTB Wales website for more information.

Some people enjoy the challenge of this type of break, others come to meet like-minded people who love cycling,’ says Phill. ‘But for the most part it’s about being outdoors in the stunning Welsh scenery, which often takes visitors’ breath away."

Mountain bike holidays in North Wales

With ziplines streaking overhead and giant trampolines spanning vast underground caverns, North Wales has developed a reputation as a hotspot for thrill-seekers, and the region’s off-road bike trails certainly don’t disappoint.

Deep in North Wales, the Hilton Garden Inn Snowdonia makes a great hub for tackling the popular trails in the counties of Gwynedd and Conwy. These include the Gwydir Mawr a Bach (formerly The Marin Trail), a 16-mile (25km) loop starting at Llanrwst that rewards lung-busting forest climbs with jaw-dropping mountain views, and the Penmachno Trails, two loops of exciting singletrack that’s managed by passionate volunteers. Physical guiding isn’t offered at the centre, but maps, advice, and a repair service are available.

There is plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets nearby in Penmachno, Betws-y-Coed, Llanrwst and Dolwyddelan.

MBWales: The Marin Trail, Betws y Coed, North Wales

Mountain bike holidays in Mid Wales

The Brecon Beacons National Park, in Mid Wales, is known for its incredible night-time views of the cosmos, a trait that led to the area becoming Wales’ first International Dark Sky Reserve. However, it’s also something of a rising star when it comes to off-road biking.

Situated in the westernmost range of the Beacons, Black Mountain Adventure arranges guided and self-guided day-long trips that carve through the region’s scenic valleys to lookout points like Hay Bluff, or twist their way through forest trails to local beauty spots like the Begwns, a National Trust site scattered with grazing livestock and purported Bronze-age relics. The centre offers bike and helmet hire, and can also organise tailored, multi-day tours.

Elsewhere in the Mid Wales region, the aforementioned Mountain Bike Wales team, based in Staylittle, Powys, runs a popular ‘Summit to Sea’ tour, with a stop for a swim at the coastal town of Aberdyfi. It also guides riders through sections of the Mach trails, three well-worn cycle trails that curl their way around some of the highest peaks in the Cambrian Mountains.

Mountain bike holidays in South Wales

Home to the nation’s most populous cities, South Wales pulls in visitors thanks to its urban attractions, be they the bars and restaurants of Cardiff or the museums and historic houses of Newport.

But off-road cyclists would be foolish to give this region a swerve. This is, after all, where Bike Park Wales is located, arguably the premier mountain bike centre in the UK. Situated on the outskirts of the town of Merthyr Tydfil, the park is akin to a muddy ski resort, with 40 runs for cyclists to choose from – and a handy lift service to transport puffed-out peddlers back to the top of the mountain. 

Male rider on a mountain bike, airborne jumping from on a gravel trail, with a forest of trees.
Two mountain bikers on a trail through a dark forest.

BikePark Wales, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

Visitors will find another big name in the world of Welsh biking a little way to the east. Based in the town of Monmouth, WyeMTB was started by two enthusiasts in 2010, and today offers the whole gamut of guided tours, from short, family-friendly jaunts to vehicle-supported, three-day tramps through the vertiginous South Wales Valleys. The centre also offers free taster rides on Thursday evenings.

More conventional cross country rides are on offer a little way south in Cwmcarn Forest. The area boasts two fun and challenging loops: Cafall Trail and Twrch Trail, the latter offering open ridge sections that look out over the Bristol Channel. This is a self-guided route, but bike hire and maps are available from a small visitor centre at the main car park.

A man on a mountain bike going through a stream.
A large group of mountain bikers on a hilltop.
Mountain bikers on a hillside trail.

Mountain biking in the Wye Valley with WyeMTB, South Wales

Mountain bike holidays in West Wales

West Wales is a great hub to base yourselves for a mountain biking break. Self-guided trails are abundant in the region, with a selection of ‘easy’ graded off-road routes in the beautiful Crychan Forest, near Llandovery, and a more challenging 4-mile (6.5km) coastal route at the Stackpole Estate, within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The world-class Afan Forest Park in the hills above Port Talbot and Swansea has a number of trails, ranging from Green to Black, and definitely one to tick off your bike park bucket list. 

Holidaymakers with younger, inexperienced riders in tow, meanwhile, could opt for the on-site track at Morfa Bay Adventure centre near Pendine. Designed by elite mountain biker Rowan Sorrell (who has worked on trails in locations as diverse as Czechia and India), the course gives newbies a chance to test their skills in a safe environment, while trainers watch on. Bikes, helmets and pads are provided.

Check out more self-guided routes in the area on the Discover Carmarthenshire website and Visit Pembrokeshire's website.

A mountain biker heading down a trail.
Two mountain bikers on a trail at Afan Forest Park.

Afan Forest Park, Swansea, West Wales

Accessible mountain biking holidays

Wales has a number of self-guided trails dotted around the country that can be undertaken with hand cycles or adapted wheelchairs. 

Accessible trails include the Green Rookie Trail, in Afan Forest, the Derwen Trail, in Beddgelert Forest, and the MinorTaur trail at the Coed y Brenin centre, the latter being arguably the most technical and challenging of the three. For more information, Natural Resources Wales has a great webpage with narrated videos providing a comprehensive breakdown of a selection of accessible routes, including which type of specialised bike each trail is suitable for.

Adapted bikes can be hired from a handful of venues, including Bikeability Wales, near Swansea, and Beics Antur Bikes in Caernarfon.

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