Åre in Sweden is not only Scandinavia’s main ski destination – it’s also a world class bike destination. Mattias Fredriksson has been living in Åre for the last 20 years and seen how the small northern village has evolved over time.
I often describe Åre as Scandinavia’s Whistler. The two places have a lot of similarities but most importantly; they are both ski towns who turned into bike destinations. Even though Whistler has a lot bigger mountains, the nature and landscape in Åre kind of reminds you about Whistler – just a bit scaled down. And, about the people; it is exactly the same type of people who are drawn to mountain towns like these all over the world. People who live for the mountains and have decided to live a different lifestyle than most others.
Like many ski towns, mountain biking became a popular activity in Åre during the summer months around the mid 90s. Downhill mountain biking naturally drew the attention and with its steep terrain, Åre was a perfect place for the sport. The local bike club organized a World Cup race in 1995 and the fastest mountain bikers in the world came to Åre for a legendary race. This was in late May and there was still enough snow on the mountain to allow spectators skiing next to the course, which had to be cleared from snow. Four years later, Åre hosted the 1999 World Championships during a beautiful fall week and the interest for mountain biking in the small Swedish mountain town really took off.
Over time there has been more and more bike trails developed and for some locals, the bike season is now more important than the ski season. Today Åre is a world-class mountain bike destination and people come from all over Europe to ride. Åre Bike Park is northern Europe’s biggest bike park with four lifts serving about 40 bike trails – both for bigger bikes and trail bikes – and there is a trail network in the valley that keeps you busy for a long while.
During the last few years with the trail-riding boom in the bike industry this of course has hit trendy Sweden too. The backcountry riding around Åre has become very popular and still grows fast. Åre and the county of Jämtland has always been a popular place for hiking so there are a lot of trails in the wilderness and also a number of huts that you can sleep in. These trails and huts were never even on the radar for mountain bikers before, but nowadays they are popular among both the locals and visiting riders.
The thing that really makes Åre stand out is the huge local interest for mountain biking; there is a really strong riding community among all ages and genders. The local bike club Åre Bergscyklister has about 900 members, which is an impressive number when you know that the town only has 1700 inhabitants! Pretty much every household has something to do with mountain biking in one way or the other.
Every summer the club puts on Åre Bike Festival, which is a weeklong mountain bike festival with everything from grass root events to an enduro race and a video challenge, with movies that usually catch a lot of attention worldwide. The annual festival is one of the real high lights of the summer with thousands of people coming from all over Scandinavia to celebrate the two-wheel enigma we call mountain biking.
After mountain biking pretty much all over the globe for the last 20 years I can honestly say Åre is an amazing place to ride your bike. Especially if you are the adventurous kind and feel like exploring a unique part of the world.
“Mattias Fredriksson is one of the most prolific adventure photographers of our time. His talent, dedication and farmer’s work ethic have boosted him to this level. Fredriksson combines subtleties of natural light with motion to offer a potent mix of quiet alpine moments, loud screaming action, and creative portraiture. He spends his winters chasing snow and summers on the trails working with a vast assortment of clients and athletes.
After living in Riksgränsen, Sweden for two seasons in the mid 90s, Fredriksson started his career in print journalism with Vertikal Magazine, eventually landing in Åre as editor of Sweden’s national ski magazine, Åka Skidor. He decided to focus on photography and freelancing in 2000, and his work now appears in all of the world’s top ski, mountainbike and outdoor magazines and in campaigns for commercial clients globally.
Fredriksson is the only European photographer with the honoury titles of senior photographer at both Powder Magazine and Bike Magazine in the United States. His latest projects focus more on his passion for storytelling and a documentary style of photography. He works globally but calls Åre, Sweden his home.”
If you want to go to Åre and Jämtland Härjedalen by public transport and bring your own bike; in addition to cycling all the way to the destination, you can also go by train, plane or bus.
Via train, it is possible to bring a bicycle on the Inlandsbanan, Norrtåg and Snälltåget, but if you travel with SJ, the bicycle must be packed in a bag. Via bus, it is possible to bring a bicycle on Länstrafiken’s buses, but space is limited. If you fly, the bike must also be packed in a bag.
Bring your bike on Swedish trains – a helping hand from the Swedish Bicycle Association Cykelfrämjandet.
Downhill Cycling / MTB
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trails are marked according to level of difficulty, ranging from child friendly/very easy, easy, medium, hard.
34 trails, 853 vertical gradiometers.
Trails start at different points in Åre. Check out the descriptions for each trail.
Varied trails, partly rocky, mountain roads, pathways and marshes.
Trails are marked on bikingare.com with maps, descriptions and altitudes.
Wear a helmet and protectional gear, water and energy as per requirement. First Aid kit, wind proof jacket and puncture repair kit.
Hotels, apartments, cabins and camping available in Åre, are360.com.
Hanging out at Åre torg with fellow bikers telling stories from your adventures. Join them for “after-bike” at one of Åre´s many bars. Then go for a hearty meal made from local delicacies at one of the restaurants.