How many places in the world can you ride your bike right next to the beach, on genuinely world class trails? There aren't many, and those places that do have the golden duo of trails and sea, have compromises, be it in the town, the trails, the beach itself or some other unknown taint to perfection.
Finale Ligure adds extra zing to the beach mountain bike holiday package. Not only does it boast some of the worlds best enduro riding, the beautiful Mediterranean sea and the warm welcome of the Ligurian people with their outstanding food (and gelato), it also boasts one of the great mountain bike scenes. It's something that brings that extra element to a mountain bike trip, to be around other mountain bikers is something special, on the trail, at the bike shop or in the square having that post ride beer.
Sure, sometimes it's great to be out there exploring by yourself, your crew, alone in the hills. But we want to talk about a holiday, meaning a time where you can relax and enjoy yourself. But the great thing about Finale Ligure is it's almost as good without the bike as with it...here's 8 reasons why we think Finale Ligure is the best mountain bike beach holiday
Finale Ligure, where mountain bike dreams come true
Finale Ligure, about 2 hours from Nice and 1 hour from Genoa airports, is a small coastal town, formerly famous for it's Piaggio factory, which still stands tall on the edge of the seafront, and it's beach tourism, still frequented in summer by the surrounding city folk of Milan and Turin, aswell as beach goers from across Europe.
Now it's found a new calling, as one of Europe's capitals of adventure. Climbing, Hiking, Mountain Biking and E-Mountain Biking, among others, are some the most popular sports. This is backed up by a strong local community of enthusiasts and professionals, with several high end shops dedicated to each discipline.
Guiding and expertise is on hand through private companies and Finale Outdoor Resort, the overseeing co-operative of the region, who supply up to date trail information and are a platform to find all the information you need for a holiday in Finale Ligure.
With a population of just over 12,000, it's a town just big enough to have all the things you need, but not too much of the things you don't. It's not commercial, there is no McDonald's or Subway, you're more likely to find a craft beer in one of the local bars than a Heineken. But, you will find a couple of supermarkets and you'll find solutions to most needs somewhere. The Ligurian people are resourceful and kind, they have learned to be self sufficient and will be ready to help solve anything.
There are plenty of restaurants, from cheap and quick pasta/pizza joints to higher end Italian eateries, though you won't see many fancy pants dining rooms here, Italy has always been best at honest, produce driven flavours, the Osteria menus speak to that.
There's no nightclub (well, there is one but lets not talk about it), the bars in the square are lively on the weekends and mellow in the week, usually closing between midnight and 2am. Everywhere you go in the afternoon, you'll be offered aperitivo with your drink, a selection of snacks, which some bars do better than others, but regardless for anyone not familiar with this kind of apres-day drinking, it's a treat and far more civilised than a bag of salt & vinegar crisps.
2.BARS, RESTAURANTS & GELATO
Generally, they are all good. Some a little better at one thing than others, some a little pricier due to their beach front location and some a little harder to find. But, you can waltz into 19 out of 20 restaurants and expect and warm welcome, a well priced menu, solid food and a decent house wine or local beer, for a fair price. A meal out for a family of four can easily come in at €50 - €70 dependent on the amount of vino consumed, pretty good value we'd say.
Bars are welcoming also and prices are not high. You're at around €5 for a standard beer, the gold standard metric for judging a local economy.
Gelato, well that's on tap. Trust the busy outlets, they are busy for a reason. Our pick is Carlin in the main square, but arguments can be made for several!
Check our full restaurant and bar guide here.
Thought to have been founded in the late 12th century, with most of it's construction dating from the 15th century, Finalborgo is a cultural focal point for people and business in Finale Ligure. Found around 15 minutes walk inland from the centre of Finale Ligure, it's town walls and imposing gates strike a dramatic vision of the past.
Inside, 4/5 story tall buildings dominate the tight laneways, broken only by a small square that gives up much of it's space to patio furniture and outdoor dining. The bars and restaurants here range from traditional to trendy, as do the retail businesses. Finale's climbing hub can be found here, with several shops dedicated to it.
Some of the views in Finale are incredible
Many people declare Finale as the best place they have ever ridden. I do. The trails here are so varied, fast, technical, challenging, wild, loose, natural and ever adjective in between. Each zone has it's own character and flow drawn from the trail builders that crafted them and the land they occupy.
From rock fests to flow, sand to scree, red dirt to soft loam, Finale has everything covered. Providing it hasn't rained too much, it rides well in the wet and drains very quickly. You'll find the flow easily up at the Nato Base, named after a disused Nato communications base. The rocky gnar around the Madonna della Guardia church and the infamous jank in San Bernadino just behind Finale Ligure. These zones merely scratch the surface of the riding here, trust us, there is plenty to do.
The only draw back to Finale Ligure's crown as the worlds best mountain bike beach holiday can be found in the trails however. They are not easy. There are only a handful of trails we would consider accessible to the novice rider, not enough to enjoy a full week of riding, afew days certainly. Most of the riding will have at least some features we'd consider difficult (black) in a graded bike park.
The length of the trails in Finale Ligure is as varied as the terrain. From short 1 minute blasts in Feglino to 20 minute epics towards Pietra Ligure or Monte Alto, there is everything to build awesome days out, balanced with short, sharp and technical (janky gems), to long, flowy magazine cover specials.
It's quite easy to get around in the hills, the official trail maps are good and apps like Trailforks make finding the runs far easier than days gone by. We do however highly recommend a guide and shuttle service. you get more riding in, there's never that feeling of being lost or under prepared or potentially dropping into the wrong valley and you'll benefit from the van uplift, the local knowledge, what trails are riding the best and where to avoid the crowds.
Lets be frank, not all companies are created equal so do some research on them before booking to make sure you get the best experience. We've been working in the region ourselves since 2016 and provide what we believe are great classic and back country tours for clients on our Riders Weeks. We have been working with Ride on Noli for the same amount of time, providing classic and deep back country tours and now, our Exclusive Apartment Package gets you a guide, driver and a 4x4 for the week, entirely at you and your mates disposal. Other companies to recommend would be Back Country Finale, Just Ride, Eze Freeride or Niki Rad, just depending on what you are looking for.
Finale Ligure has one main beach, that runs the length of the town. Most of it is divided into sections leased by beach bars, that will charge you for a serviced lounge chair during the Spring, Summer and Autumn. Several sections are left open to the public for free sunbathing and you'll always find a spot for a swim.
The beach is sandy, apart from at the sea edge, where rocks thrown from the regular but small shore break keep you honest before diving into the always welcoming Mediterranean sea. There isn't often surf, but if the is it'll be found towards the end of the beach where the old Piaggio factory sits, enough to throw up some decent sets, enjoyed in October last year by EWS riders Jack Moir and Eddie Masters in between practices.
There are a couple of excellent, quiet beaches just out of Finale Ligure in either direction, towards Noli (also a really pretty village to visit, about 10 minutes drive), and about 2 minutes by bike you'll come across a couple that although ask a small €2 fee in season, are usually really quiet and peaceful.
The most pristine beach in the area can be found a few kilometers down the road, in Varigotti. It's actually right at the end of the infamous Mens DH trail, and is many guides top Italian beaches. Varigotti is a tiny little village, with a wealthy population occupying literal beach front properties, everywhere you look is like postcard when the sun is out. The sea here is a little more calm and the water that little bit clearer, a slice of heaven after a ride!
The buzz of being surrounded by like minded mountain bikers is a draw for every destination, Whistler, Morzine, Schladming and others all have that feeling of being part of something. You meet new friends, get inspired by the shredders and not only that, the draw of mountain bikers brings bonuses, like finding help when you need it, whether out on the trail when you've run out spare tubes or just needing to find that upgrade in the local bike shop, of which there are plenty in Finale Ligure.
Whether sipping a spritz (red medicine) in the square, or a local pilsner in Finalborgo, you'll see other riders. The bars are well setup with bike racks at each one, and Finale is safe. You should keep your steed close by and watched for sure, but we don't know of a single theft. The town is also packed bustling most of the year with tourists, coming to visit the ancient architecture or Medieval castles found near the town, or just soak up Finale Ligure's atmosphere of cobbled streets and outdoor eating and drinking.
Of course, that isn't for everyone. Some riders want to get as far away from people as possible. You can still do this and ride Finale Ligure. Accommodation in the hills exists and uplift companies are diverse enough now that some will give you a week of amazing riding without once riding Roller Coaster or and Nato Base trail. Ask us for more info.
The beach is never too far away in Finale Ligure
Now, this is a trump card for those of us that have kids, a wife or husband who don't ride. Are you looking for that riding spot where you can honestly say you can take the family, they can have a great time while you can do some genuinely good riding? Here it is, Finale Ligure is that place.
The family have the beach and a beautiful town to explore. Each beach bar has activities and a play zone for the kids, all within view of somewhere to sit and sip a cappuccino, free to use if you have a drink there. Ondina beach is probably the best of the bunch for kids, with an awesome pirate inspired play zone and a beach front swimming pool with a lifeguard on duty. The beaches themselves have their own life guards, just check in to see if one is on duty if you are nervous about swimming in the sea.
It's a relaxing place to be, Finale, and that is the point of a holiday, to relax.
Some of you love to spend weeks pouring over maps, Airbnb, Strava, Trail Forks, Forum research and that's great, You'll have a good time and Finale can still be the place to do all of the research and make an amazing trip.
However in today's time poor world, it's just nice that there are options out there that are easy and accessible. Finale Ligure is the kind of mountain bike holiday you can point and click at. If you are staying with MTB Beds you only really need to tell us when your plane lands and takes off, if you'll need a bike or not and then you're good! If not, there are options to get here and experience the Ligurian coast that take a bit more effort and may cost more, but you can do it.
Every day finishes at the beach in Finale Ligure!
8.WHY FINALE LIGURE IS THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE BEACH HOLIDAY
In short, a Finale Ligure Mountain Bike Holiday is exactly that, a holiday, a break from reality but not one so severed you lack creature comforts. It will introduce you to enough new ideas, new places, people and cultures to be exciting every day but yet still be familiar. The sea is welcoming and the beaches have enough beautiful people to make you feel classy but not push up the price of an espresso. The people are friendly, the food is good and the riding is world class.
If you want to nit pick you can say there are better beaches than Finale, there are better dining hubs or towns with more nightlife, it's busy with bikers in peak season and if it rains, well there isn't much to do. Well that's fine, some things are a compromise but everything in Finale is good, if you don't like it then you're a bitter soul, maybe go elsewhere, we'll be right here on the beach.
Want to know more? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Finale Ligure here.
To book a Finale Ligure Holiday with us click on the links below or send us an email on [email protected] and we'll find something that suits your needs.