You’ve heard a lot about how much Finale Ligure was a Mountain Biker’s paradise, and you decided to head there for the first time.
But as any first-timer you have doubt about the what, the where and the how of Finale Ligure.
Well don’t worry, this short guide will help you with everything you need to know before reaching Finale Ligure so you can start your MTB trip in the most relaxed (but pumped!) way.
This guide is for First-timers in Finale only. If you’ve been there before, don’t bother reading, you won’t learn anything new.
Please note this guide is about the enduro / DH trails in Finale Ligure area and NOT about XC coastal trails.
I will not bore you with long stories and will jump straight into the when, what and how of Finale Ligure.
When’s the best time to go to Finale Ligure?
Not during summer.
Ok, let’s assume you haven’t fully planned the time of the year you want to go to Finale yet. Make sure that whatever you do you don’t go during summer.
First of all, it is extremely hot. And second of all, it is so hot that most MTB businesses are closed.
So cross July and August of your list.
Quite frankly, I found Finale to be a pleasant spot to go when all other resorts are closed, a.k.a after mid-October and before mid-June.
Note that just like it can rain in Finale, it can also snow during the colder months. So January and February might not be the best time either.
What is Finale Ligure?
I should have started with that, but thought the “when” point was too important not to be the first one. Plus, you probably sort of know what Finale is.
Finale Ligure is a town right by the sea in North-West Italy, close to Genoa, with medium range mountains right there in its backyard.
The entire mountain region has been used for mountain biking trails to the point where one could easily say it is a maze of MTB routes.
The trails start from everywhere and finish at random spots, making it difficult to understand for people who come there for the first time (even with an app like TrailForks or even a local map).
Finale Ligure is a maze of trails
(Image obtained using TrailForks App)
Although there are some XC trails along Finale Ligure, most of the enduro / DH trails are located slightly further inland, and reaching them require some very strong legs or a good shuttling company.
How do you ride in Finale Ligure?
Shuttle company you said?
Exact! Although one could take on the challenge of cycling from Finale all the way up to the start of the trails, I would personally not recommend it for safety purposes: the roads in Italy are very narrow and drivers are fast.
Thus the best way to navigate in that area is to use the service of a shuttle company (a van for 9 people + a bike rack for trailer).
Shuttle companies have basically all the same offer: single ride or full day (some offer half-day).
A single ride means the shuttle will bring you to your preferred high point (choices usually limited to either Malongo or Base Nato), and it’s then up to you to ride the trails you want. BUT, it’s also up to you to ride back up to the top if you want to do more trails, and to ride aaaall the way back down to Finale (mostly on roads).
Half-day and Full-day means the shuttle will bring you to any trail start and then pick you back at the bottom of the trail over and over again. BUT, because it’s is such a maze, these half-day and full-day come with a MTB guide.
A MTB guide?? Yup, a guide. A guy/girl on a bike that will show you the way to the trail and coordinate the pick up location with the shuttle driver.
AND, because this is all about optimisation, you will be grouped with other people. So do not expect to be alone.
And because right now you are filled with questions, I’ll just make it easier with this little FAQ:
What’s with riding with other people?
That’s the way it goes. A shuttle can take up to 7 people and shuttling companies want to optimise their costs.
But what if their slower / faster than me?
Then they’ll have to wait for you at the bottom of the ride or you will have to wait for them.
Usually it’s nothing more than just a few minutes, so do not be alarmed. And remember that you might be the fastest of the group on Monday yet then be the slowest on Tuesday. You never know.
Just enjoy being with other people and share stories with them.
Why do I have to follow a guide?
If you take a half-day or full-day shuttle, then it comes with a guide that will select the trails to ride, mostly for logistic reasons.
Once again, Finale Ligure is a maze in terms of trails, and it would be a nightmare for shuttle companies to find you back if once at the very top each one of their customer went for a different trail.
Just know that you won’t necessarily spend the day following the guide on the trails. (S)He will most likely ride last in the groupe based on your confidence and knowledge of MTB.
This is not like rock climbing where you get roped with a guide and can’t get out of it. Here the guide is just here for logistical purposes and to give you an overview of the trail.
What sort of pricing can I expect?
When it comes to a single ride, expect to pay around 10€
For full-days the normal price is 50€ (and if the company does half-days, it’s 35€).
This prices includes the ride, the guide, the driver.
If you think your guide was amazing, you can always add a little tip to that (especially if you ride 3 days or more with the same guide).
Prices do not include food.
If you take a full-day ride, you will usually have a big hour of brake around noon to eat. Most likely you will go to a restaurant selected by your guide.
Most restaurants in the area have cheap mountain-bikers menus. Expect appetizer, pasta, main dish, dessert, drinks and coffee, for anything between 10 to 15€.
Everyone pays for their own food, no need to invite the guide or the driver.
If you feel like bringing your own food, talk to your guide before-hand so that he doesn’t include you in the restaurant’s reservation.
How to book a shuttle?
There are websites out there that call themselves “booking platforms”, and let me tell you something: it’s bad.
I got reservations cancelled at 6pm the night before and it’s not fun.
The best is thus to get in touch directly with a shuttling company (aka, use your phone) and ask if they are available on your desired dates.
The 2 big ones are: Finale Ligure Freeride and The Ultimate Bikeshop
Pros: Always at least one shuttle running. Good backup if everything else goes south.
Cons: Not flexible. Potential cancelation if the shuttle is not 100% full.
Then there are smaller ones like: Bikeactivityfinale, or BikeShuttleFinale
Pros: Slightly more flexible. Will accommodate even if not 100% full. More likely to do half-days
Why is Finale Ligure so popular?
Finale is popular because it is a good spot to go to once the season is over in your usual riding area.
The weather is really nice starting October, which is when most spots start closing elsewhere in Europe.
With that said, I personally would only go there a few days at the end of October as a way to symbolise the end of the season.