Open roads, warmth, views, sunshine and freedom are calling (soon?). Was there ever a better time in the history of the world to plan a motorcycle road trip?
Summer 2021 - it is nearly here and hopefully soon travel will return to the (new) normal. Here are some of our favourite journeys to get you started planning for a road trip in Europe.
1.Greece: The Peloponnese Peninsula
The Peloponnese has it all: clear coastal roads; long and winding mountain passes; tree-lined dirt tracks; world heritage sights; picturesque villages; and friendly people. It’s made for relaxed cruising or knee-on-ground riding.
The charming bars, tavernas and sandy beaches of Stoupa make it a good base. From here, ride out to enjoy the panoramic views of the Taygetus Massif, which contains the tallest mountain in the Peloponnese, the Profitis Ilias summit, reaching 2,404m, Ancient Olympia; Limeni, a tiny fishing port, where you can dive from the rocks into the turquoise water and enjoy the catch of the day; and the beautiful lake cave of Diros.
2. Norway: The Atlantic Road And Geiranger
Who doesn’t love Norway? The roads are first-class and the beer is cold! The Atlantic Road takes you right to the ocean’s edge, connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland via a series of small islands and islets spanned by a total of eight bridges over 8,274 metres.
You may get a sun-soaked and peaceful summer day; it might be a foam-sprayed journey in a storm hammering down from the northwest. There are designated stopping places where you can enjoy the salty air and the spectacular views. This area is also superb for boating, fishing and scuba diving (shipwrecks a speciality).
A fjord hop away is Geiranger – an extraordinarily beautiful, deep fjord. Snaking its way up steep mountain sides, passing waterfalls, edged with stone railings, narrow, sometimes nerve‐racking but always extremely fascinating, Trollstigen mountain road, with its eleven magnificent hairpins, is an absolute must-ride.
3. Sardinia: All Of It
Sardinia by motorbike is paradise: fabulous food and wine, gorgeously mild climate and fantastically twisty roller coaster roads with show-stopping views of the sea. The enchanting old little town of Alghero in the northwest is one great place to start. Head inland towards the fascinating Bronze Age village of Su Nuraxi. Or, from Olbia or Cagliari, take the Orientale Sarda and enjoy magnificent coastal landscapes of San Teodoro, Orosei or even Villasimius. Explore the wildernesses of the Sardinian hinterland, and the various tonics of medieval Italian villages.
Ogliastra is a really popular destination for bikers because of its panoramic coastal road. Come evening, enjoy the vibrant nightlife and cool bars and restaurants overlooking the sea. Finally, the 125-mile stretch from Sant’Antioco to Cagliari is unmissable – it’s a spectacular route above the sea where leading motorbike manufacturers (including Aprilia and BMW) film their TV adverts and test their bikes.
4. Austria: Grossglockner High Alpine Road
You can’t really go wrong in Austria, but this epic ride is an absolute standout and will take your breath away.
A 30-mile-long trip through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, and one of the highest roads in Europe, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is beautifully maintained (there’s a toll) and has a multitude of protective barriers. It's stuffed with bends that make it challenging and exciting at every turn. It’s cold at the top, even in summer, and check the weather before you set off, as you’d kick yourself if you couldn’t see the views through the mist.
The real test is the cobbled road up to Edelweissspitze, the highest point you can ride to, which is not for the faint-hearted. It’s 2,571 m above sea level and there's an inn that’s well set up for bikers, plus the spectacle of 37 3,000-metre peaks and 19 glaciers. From here, you can extend your Austrian tour through Carinthia, Tyrol and Salzburg.
5. Northern Spain
The spectacular mountains of Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees - towering and rugged, shimmering with rivers and lakes, cut through by deep, forested valleys - offer some of the best motorcycling available anywhere in the world. The sun is almost always shining and the roads are smooth and well signposted.
The Pyrenees lie half a day east of Bilbao and are quieter than the show-stealing Picos. Follow the N260 in the direction of the picturesque hilltop town of Torla for stunning scenery, or take the A-136 up over the mountains.
The Picos mountain range, Spain's only inhabited nature reserve, is a short hop from Santander. The famous N621 highway begins in Potes, a beautiful little town and a great place to base yourself for a few nights. The 55.9 miles of road climbs up the awe-inspiring jagged mountains to an ascent of 1,610 metres. Take it slowly, so you don’t miss turning off into one of the many viewpoints. And finally... mind the bears!