Motorcycle touring is a fantastic way to take in huge swathes of stunning scenery in a relatively short amount of time. There are no window screens or pillars to block your view and you can feel the wind and sun (and of course any rain or snow) which adds to an immersive experience. There are thousands of brilliant routes across our world so where should you start?
We have pulled together some suggestions for some great routes in Europe and the USA to help you with your research. We have selected routes that are available from various specialist motorbike touring companies (e.g Magellan Motorcycle Tours) as they are timed, safe and you will be able to conveniently find fuel, food and accommodation.
Self Guided Motorcycle Tours
In a self-guided tour, you will be given a route, and these days, sat-nav and GPS data. The route has been tested and will be broken down into nice bite-sized chunks. This means you can be confident that you have plenty of time to cover the required distance each day. In addition, the tour company will have found suitable accommodation at your stopping points, the cost of which is usually included in the price of the tour. This is a good option for a group of friends or a couple.
Another option is to choose a guided tour. In this case, you will ride with a bunch of other holidaymakers and be accompanied by a guide. The benefits to this over a self-guided tour is the additional comradery and peace of mind should you have any problems. If you chose the right company then your guide will be knowledgeable about the area you are travelling through and will be able to pass on their knowledge of places to visit and where to eat. This is a great option if you are travelling alone.
What To Take
The bikes are included so that is a big item off your list. However, you should take all your own clothing including boots and helmets. As you will be wearing your helmet and motorbike clothing a lot longer than usual you might find out some of it does not fit as well as it should. Try to test out your gear properly before you travel and if it doesn’t fit anymore or it isn’t comfortable buy replacements.
Always check the insurance cover provided by the tour company. Does it cover you for all your possessions, does it provide health cover and does it cover you for an accident caused by another driver (including uninsured drivers) and any costs you may cause to other people if you are at fault? You might find you need a combination of insurances to cover you properly for your whole trip. Remember that post Brexit you may need extended health cover in Europe.
Motorcycle Tours in Europe
Norway has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and there are plenty of tours of varying lengths that take in some of the highlights; fjords, Oslo, Bergen, the 33 hairpins on the Lysboten road and the famous Preikstolen rock with its 500m vertical drop to Lysfjord.
In Germany, the black forest’s B500 road is an iconic motorbiking destination. Combine this with the Grossglockner High alpine road and visit the Eagles Nest at Berchtesgaden. Then pass into Austria to ride around the beautiful alpine lakes and mountains and then onto Switzerland to cover St Gotthard pass, Furka pass and Neufenen pass. After all those hairpin filled passes pop back over Switzerland’s Northern border with Germany and finish off with a nice gentle run along either the Danube or the Rhine rivers. Everywhere along this route there are countless spectacular waterfalls, caves and plenty of great beer!
If you fancy visiting France then consider following the Napolean route which runs from Grenoble to Cannes. Only 2 hours from Cannes is the incredible Verdon Gorge which is unmissable. If you have time, extend the trip to the North by passing through the Jura mountains along the border of Switzerland.
If you fancy something a bit hotter then why not take in historical Greece by bike? You can start at the incredible Meteora monasteries and then travel to Mount Olympus and on to Athens. Then spend a day or two passing along the stunning coastal roads of Southern Greece. The beauty of Greece is that you pop on a ferry to any of the Greek Islands or Italy to extend your trip.
Motorcycle Tours in USA
A North American road trip has to be on just about anybody’s bucket list. There is so much country to see, monuments, National parks and a huge range of scenery and habitats not to mention some iconic cities. The best bike tours will combine all of these elements.
Alaska is a vast and incredible part of the world. There are plenty of great tours you can do here. Top routes are the Seward, Homer and the Kenai peninsulas, The Hatcher Pass, Thompson pass and the Denali and Dalton highways. There are plenty of forests, glaciers, lakes and small towns along these routes. Combine it with a visit to a city like Anchorage or Fairbanks.
For something totally different why not tour Cuba on a classic Harley Davidson? You can circle the Island enjoying the warm sun and breathtaking beaches. Hop over the tropical causeway to Caya Santa Maria, stop to visit the Tobacco factories in Trinidad and soak in the atmosphere in Havana.
The Pacific North West coast of America is vast and there are countless places to visit. You can focus on just the Southern Californian section or ride all the way up through Oregon and Washington to Canada. From South to North the major cities are;
- San Diego, on the Southern coast, is only 30 minutes drive from the Mexican party town of Tijuana.
- Los Angeles is 2h 45 minutes north of San Diego via Carlsbad, Dana Point, Laguna and Long beaches.
- From Los Angeles, take the 7h 30 minute coastal route north to San Francisco via Santa Barbara, the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Monterrey.
- Head inland for 3.5hours and see the unmissable Yosemite National Park.
- From San Francisco it is 10 hours to the city of Portland however you can break this up with a visit to one of a cluster of National Parks on the route; Mendocino, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta-Trinity, Six-Rivers, Klamath, Cascade-Siskiyou, Crater Lake, Umpqua, Willamette and Mt Hood!
- 3hours north of Portland is Seattle. On the way pop East to the Mount St Helens or Mount Rainier National Parks or West to the Olympic National Forest (home to the Quinault tribe, Forks, Clearwater and La Push made famous in the Twilight books and films).
- A further 3 hours from Seattle and you are in Canada and the city of Vancouver. On the way you could pop on a ferry over the Puget Sound to access Whidbey Island and the Olympic National Forest.
If you don’t fancy the long coastal route another option is heading inland to do some of route 66 and to see some of the other highlights of South West USA. From California, you can head inland and visit Las Vegas, Death Valley, the giant redwoods of the Sequoia National Forest and of course the Grand Canyon. Travel through Arizona‘s desert landscape, visit Pheonix and then head into New Mexico and the historic towns of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Alternatively, start from Portland and do a circuit into Idaho, Wyoming (Yellowstone), Montana and end in Washington. There are some fantastic places to visit on this circuit. Obviously Yellowstone is the most iconic but you will also enjoy; Colombia river gorge, the Cascade Mountains, the Deschutes River, Hell’s Canyon and Snake River, Lemhi Pass and hot springs, Cooke City, Beartooth Pass & Rocky mountains, Lolo Pass, North Cascades, Mount St Helens and Mount Rainier!