Moving to South of Europe

I’ve decided to move to southern Europe next autumn with my girlfriend and stay for a few years. I’m especially interested in Spain or southern Italy. I’m fed up with Scandinavian winter so I’m looking for mild winter temperatures. And since this is a cycling forum, we will focus on the cycling perspective, and less on the other aspects as work possibilities and so on :slight_smile: . Here are some of the things I am looking for:

  • I want to live close to the mountains, I love long climbs and my race calendar is climbing-focused.

  • I prefer to live close to the ocean.

  • Smaller town, city. Don’t mind if it’s a tourist town or not

  • Low living costs

My first idea was either Gran Canaria or Tenerife, but my girlfriend was a bit worried with how small these islands are. Are there any snow free moutains in Europe during winter? What about Sicily? Worste case scenario is that I just dont ride so far up the mountains during winter. I dont mind bad weather, its just really cold temperatures and icy, dangerous roads I can’t stand. That’s why I’ve also been thinking about Northwestern Spain, but I don’t know much about Galicia and surroundings.

If you were moving to Southern Europe, where would you like to live and why?
What are the best cycling places in Europe November - April?
What places in Spain/Italy/Portugal have you been riding your bike and how did you like it?


Having cycled at both quite a bit, Tenerife and Gran Canaria check off all your boxes. My preference would be Tenerife though, it’s a bit less touristy than Gran Canaria. And I think the landscape is cooler, tons of neat variety from jungle-like at one end of the island, to martian lava landscapes up top. I would say to definitely look into which side of the island you want to live on, as there are considerable differences due to the way the mountains block weather (this is true of both islands, I can’t overstate this enough - one merely only need to look at the weather station differences to see how vast it is).

Neither will feel ‘small island’, in terms of your girlfriend’s worries. All the main Euro-store chains are on Palma, with virtually all on Tenerife as well.

Also, have you considered Mallorca? It also checks off your boxes, assuming you count the Med as ‘ocean’. Plenty of long climbs there, considerably closer to the rest of continental Europe. And a bit less volatility in the weather.

Inversely, having spent a bit of time on Corsica and Sardinia, both are astoundingly beautiful islands, but…by the cycling standards of Mallorca/Canary Islands/etc, the road-riding infrastructure just isn’t quite the same. I love vacationing on these islands, and do road-ride a bit, but I wouldn’t be as thrilled to live there as the other spots (specifically from a road-riding standpoint). On Tenerife, you’d likely want to be on the Northern side, and then in Gran Canaria you’d want to be down on the Southern/Southwest coast for the warmer weather (hence why all the tourist resorts are there, and not on the northern side).


Southern France? My mate moved to a small town on the French side of the Pyrenees, Quillan 8 years ago and set up a cycling B&B there Google Maps. He seems to be liking it. Its not dead on the coast but within cycling distance of it, the coast would be too expensive.


my parents are from a village in northern portugal near the spanish border. For me living in the US at sea level, it would be great for cycling, the last time I went and was able to rent a bike, I was able to be at the summit of a cat 2 mountain climb in an hour from the house. unfortunately the weather around now isn’t very inspiring


it’s warmer than it is where I am with near constant freezing temps in winter, but lately it seems like more often than not it’s been raining. but in a region like that there would be tremendous value compared to moving somewhere which is popular for other ex-pats. Although I don’t live in Portugal, someday I’d love to try to make my parents’ town a bit of a cycling destination for folks, there’s definitely a lot of potential

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I really like the different conditions and climates of the Canary Islands, I live half of the year in Guatemala and I enjoy the micro climates that exists.
Mallorca could be an option as well and will be a shorter trip to our other homes in Sweden and Guatemala.

Buuuuut, I have been “Google mapsing” Tenerife all week long and daydreaming of riding and living a quiet life close to Teide. But it will probably not come down to what I want anyways :smiley:


Northern Portugal is definitely a contender. Even if the weather forecast you posted doesn’t look like the best conditions, it’s totally fine for me in December. We had a few weeks of that weather in October/November and I loved it, no reason for a winter bike with thuds or frost bites :smiley:.
There are also some first division football clubs in the area which is a +.
Do you have any idea about living expenses in a smaller town in Portugal (not Lissabon or Porto)? How’s the English among Portuguese? I’ve heard Spanish is a big no no in Portugal?

Not totally sure about living expenses but I do believe it’s affordable (at least more affordable than the US in some ways). English can be hit or miss, younger people are definitely pretty decent with it and often learn in school but older people (which you’ll find more often in the smaller towns) not so much. I can’t really say how offended folks would be if you spoke Spanish, I think those days are in the past given how much tourism is there these days

The nearest (current) top flight club where my parents are from is GD Chaves but they’re in the lower divisions much more often than they are in the top league. Braga and Porto in the north obviously have two of the top 4 clubs so good football is easily accessible!

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I would 100% move to Altea/Calpe.

Weather right now in the winter is amazing, long sleeve jersey (even rode with short sleeve today) most of the days, lots of sun, good drivers, good roads, plenty of different climbs etc.

And for Calpe, there is lots and lots of places to eat, and majority of the pro teams are here training now. I think we count to around 7-8 teams per day when we ride.

The loops are good as well, not too long or too short. Regular loop is maybe 110k and 2300m of climbing. They have really good cafes in the mountains as well, strategically placed so you can ride 3-4 hours, then have coffee, and then downhill home.

In regards to climbs, you got plenty to choose from, length and steepness.

I think what I like the most is that the terrain is varied here. You have plenty to look at and scenery to enjoy while riding.

I have spent many many weeks on both Mallorca and GC, and would steer clear of both, you’ll get bored really, really fast. GC is pretty much one big rock, with 2-3 roads up. It’s either up, or down… which gets really boring after a week.

Mallorca is nice, and got a lot of varied terrain, but colder winters than Calpe and way way more traffic.

I don’t know about living expenses here, but Im sure you can find some smaller village near Calpe that will be cheaper than the city centre.

Rating all the places I’ve ridden extensively I would rate them:

  1. Dolomites
  2. Calpe
  3. Nice
  4. Mallorca
  5. GC

GC for me is just a place where you have guaranteed heat during winter, and lots of climbs. It’s useless for anything else than getting the hours in, getting some sun, and doing intervals on the climbs.

Plus, staying on the mainland gives you the possibility to get a car and drive to different places to ride whenever the weather allows.

Mallorca/GC/Tenerife - you’re stuck on an island…


If you are contemplating the Canaries, something to consider is the inter island ferries. If you want to always ride straight from your door it won’t work, but if you’re happy for a bit of time on the ferry (2-6hr), you can open up all seven islands fairly cheaply and easily.


Have you checked out the Denia area? You have a fair amount of 7-8 km climbs (Coll de Rates, Val de Ebo, La llacuna, La drova, Tudons, vall de llaguar, Bernia, Sa Creueta…just to name a few). Winters are mild, summers are quite warm. The roads are great , and there is people from all around the world, including pro teams, riding all the time. Towns not directly on the sea shore tend to be cheaper. There is a sizeable British community in case you need English speaking services.
The ‘ocean’ is the Mediterranean though.

[Edit] I see someone already mentioned Calpe. Denia is about 40 km North of Calpe. I find the Denia region a bit more chill than the Calpe Altea Benidorm part of the coast


I first went to that area for the Vuelta in 2008 and lol, one day I was riding with a bloke from Yorkshire. We disappeared in to the mountains and in the middle of nowhere we stopped in one of the local villages for lunch and he tried to make an order in his best pigeon Spanish. The waitress turned around and said, alright luv. She was a Cockney :joy:


The first time I went to climb Bernia I couldn’t find the road, so I asked a cyclist. He happened to be from Switzerland. I’ve also shared some kilometres with some British and Dutch…


Being on Tenerife is like visiting 4 different places within a day. The climate varies so much depending on which side of the island you are. Otherwise, pretty much anywhere along the Mediterranean coast you can ride all year long.

Tenerife is definitely a vote from me, having by far the best weather in „Europe“ year round.
For those staying in continental Europe, I’ve never understood cyclists obsession with Calpe area, and disregard of Andalusia.
Andalusia has the bigger mountains, better weather, longer nights, and is super easy to reach via plane. The area of Estepona (close to Gibraltar) especially comes to mind, with sweeping views of Africa behind the Mediterranean, several HC/ Cat 1 climbs right around the corner, and a very international population.

I love Italy, especially Sicily, but my reason not to move there would be the short nights in the winter.
Andalusia just lies stupidly fast west to still be in the same time zone as Warsaw, but that’s great for long winter nights.

So, Tenerife is the best in the EU, Andalusia the best in continental Europe.


I would probably vote for Spain in general, Tenerife or Mallorca islands (but for me islands are nice for a visit, not necessarily to live there) and south coast continental. It’s a mixture of good weather, good roads, great views and, at least in my experience, good driving culture. I just felt relatively safe on the road and could focus on the ride.

Good in winter = hot like oven in summer.
Also not being a tourist sucks hard without local language skills in south Europe.

Not really the case for the coastal area of Andalusia. The climate is very comparable to Southern California. In summer you get 26 to 34 C everyday, but hardly ever 40+.
Not to be confused with Sevilla and Granada, which are more inland, and therefore see higher spikes in temperature.

The area around Malaga, Marbella, Estepona, and Gibraltar is highly influenced by tourism and ex-pats. Everyone speaks (some) English, many people are from Northern Europe, Central Europe, or the UK.

My brother is living there, hence I get updates frequently and visit a lot too.

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What is it that you don’t like about Calpe/Altea?

Whenever I rate something for cycling its way more than just cycling itself, I often look at:

  1. How the drivers are
  2. Roads to and from mountains
  3. How many different rides can you do
  4. Restaurants
  5. Prices
  6. Proximity to airport
  7. Everything else that might matter when you’re on the bike

And most importantly - how would it be to live there a longer time?

I’m sure most people from a larger Scandinavian city (I live in Stockholm) would crawl in their skin after 2 months on Tenerife, GC etc.

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Calpe is great, but I find Tenerife and Andalusia to be:

  • warmer (not a ton, but again, a little more can come a long way in winter)

  • have longer evenings in winter (that’s very important for me working full time, to be able to get on the bike for 2 hours, after work), the difference isn’t gargantuan, but today, the sun sets at:
    Los Gigantes, Tenerife: 6:15 (that’s 7:15 in Europe, so when working remotely, that’s even more of a plus)
    Marbella: 6:07
    Denia: 5:40
    Palma de Mallorca: 5:28
    In the darkest time of the year, half an hour more daylight in the evening is half an hour more riding!

  • bigger climbs (which is what I love most)

While also having great food, roads and relatively few drivers.

If you seek vibrant city life, Marbella and Malaga are great!

If you want to live more remotely, but still have a city right around the corner, Andalusia has got you covered.

If you don’t care for major cities: Tenerife.

I‘d personally go Marbella area for living, Teneriffe for mainly cycling.

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I loved Tenerife when I went there last year, especially away from Las Americas, its only drawback depending upon the individual (at this point no real drawback for me) the only way is up even if you go along the coast. At least from the Playa las Americas side of the island.