Every motorcycling or tourism publication has tried to put together a list of the best routes in the world. They have drawn on experience from those who work in the business or people who have quite simply put in the hard (yet pleasurable) hours on the road, as well as using the feedback from their readership.We’ve analyzed some of these top ten lists that have been published on the web to find out which routes are the most uniformly popular. The world is full of tracks that seem made for 2 wheels, and unfortunately, one lifetime is not enough to try them all…. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA
Duffy Lake Route – Canada
A 575km ring road in the Vancouver area that starts on Highway 99 west of the Canadian city and passes through some really spectacular scenery. The first part is along the fjord in Howe Sound with mountain and sea views, then on to the desert area in Pemberton, after that you’ll be greeted by lush scenery that will accompany you to Lilloet and Fraser Canyon. A real pleasure to ride on,… this route gives you a taste of what this part of the American continent has to offer.
Creston, BC to Kootenay Bay – Canada
Just a small stretch of road when you consider how vast this country is. 72 short, yet intense kilometres. We’re in the south of British Columbia, along the eastern coast of Lake Kootenay. It’s interesting to note that part of this itinerary (9km) requires crossing Lake Belfour on a ferry (free).
The Hana Highway, Hawaii
Ocean on one side, mountains on the other. 60 miles through Jurassic Park with around 600 bends and 60 small one-way bridges. This is a real paradise for motorcyclists in search of routes off the beaten track.
Route 66. The Mother Road
Exactly. The mother of all roads. Almost 4,000km, from Chicago to Los Angeles, crossing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
The local charm of the country passing through sites from the battles during the Civil War, then it’s up towards the Great Smoky Mountains winding through the bends of Blue Ridge Parkway.
Needles Highway, Black Hills, South Dakota
An amazing highway (it almost seems as if it was made for motorbikes) that takes you directly to Sturgis Motorcycles Rally. Along the way you’ll be accompanied by beautiful scenery, tunnels with granite walls, buffalos grazing in the pastures, and you’ll spot numerous wild small animals going about their day. Make sure to ride with prudence.
Tail of the Dragon Deals Gap, North Carolina/Tennessee, USA
11 miles with 318 bends. Whether it be considered heaven or hell, it is noted as one of the most incredible American routes to ride on. Along the way you’ll find motorcycle parts hanging from trees, an homage to the various falls along the road. It’s also one of Hollywood’s favourite stretches to film. The Tail of the Dragon is ideal for sport bikes. Luckily, no trucks are allowed…..
Beartooth Pass, Wyoming
An adventurous itinerary to say the least, with enough ups and downs to rival the best roller-coasters. Incredible mountains, dense forests, rivers, … snow and tundras. If you find yourself in the vicinity, add this pass to your itinerary. You won’t be sorry.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
320 km (200 miles), from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco. For many this is one of those stellar routes that should be on everyone’s list. Beaches, forests of redwoods, cliffs of Big Sur, the capital of surfing in Santa Cruz, Monterey… finishing up on the Golden Gate Bridge.
America’s wild west
The wildest part of west America Here you get to drive through the lands of the Navajo and Apache, and you can go off-road, adventuring along the parallel trails. And what could be better than traversing the 1,864 miles of canyons, deserts and forests? Not to mention the border cities or the great National Parks.
One of the favourite roads of American bikers is found between San Diego and Los Angeles. It takes you away from the coast in the direction of the Cleveland National Forest. From here you can visit the spectacular High Point in the Palomar Mountain range. It’s here that you’ll find the famous observatory that from 1949 to 1992 enjoyed the title of the biggest in the world. Keep an eye out for the rattlesnakes though……
Peak to Peak Highway: Colorado
A diverse patch of nature in just 60 miles, with a road that offers some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. You can find the famous Rocky Mountain range here. Settle down for the night here, and take in the night sky from the warmth of your sleeping bag.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: Montana
Remote, and accessible only in summer, this epic stretch of narrow and winding road which is 50 miles long is the holy grail for adventure lovers. It goes through the Glacier National Park in Montana, and Logan Pass at an altitude of 2,000 metres. Don’t forget your binoculars, and to check the weather forecast before setting off.
Coastal Route One: Maine
You may just get a whiff of seafood as you make your way along this coast. It’s Route 1 from Brunswick to Machias in New England. All up there are 167 miles that wind through small seaside towns, breathtaking scenery off the beaten track and old light houses. It would be advisable to keep two fingers on the brake: you just might find yourself eye to eye with a moose around the next bend.
River Road: Texas
A loop for hardcore motorcyclists of 17 miles through the Valley of the Gods. The high point of the road that follows the Rio Grande, is a 115-mile long trail. Best to avoid it in the summer. Too much dust.
Pikes Peak, Colorado, US
A road that takes you up amongst the clouds. It’s also a known hill-climbing spot for motorcyclists that has an annual competition with a starting point of 2,800 metres, that goes up to 4,300 metres. The maximum incline is 10.5%.
Prudhoe Bay – Alaska
Best left to experienced bikers. This is Alaska, a place known for it’s extreme, yet stunning landscape. You’re up against disconnected dirt roads, rain, snow ….. it’s better faced in a group, perhaps even with a specialised tour. The route is worth the hard work.
The Great River Road (Hwy 61)
2,552 miles that start in Itasca State Park in Minnesota and end up in Jackson in Louisiana. The route (GRR 61) was created in 1938 and is still considered one of the most beautiful stretches of road for motorcyclists in that it goes through the 10 states that border the Mississippi, departing from its source in Louisiana Cajun Country, passing by marshland, dense woods and rocky areas without ever getting close to built up industrial zones.
A number of day-long routes leaving from the capital San Josè, and taking you through rainforests, across rivers, along beaches, even besides a volcano….
Cozumel Island Loop Mexico
Short, yet intense. 41 miles in total, leaving from San Miguel and returning to the second biggest island of Mexico. Beaches, a Mayan village, a black coral factory, tequilla and much more….
Chasing Che, Cuba
2,000 km, from L’Avana to Baracoa, on an island that was a sort of forbidden fruit for decades. A true beauty, that can finally be crossed also by American citizens.
The Carretera Austral – Chile
550 miles leaving from Chaiten and going south until Villa O’Higgins. On this stretch you will rarely see any asphalt. This road is best tackled only by experienced off-road motorcyclists. You’ll be rewarded by views of pristine lakes, glacial waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery.
Los Caracoles Pass, Chile and Argentina
Chile and Argentina share at least 5,000 miles of a border. Los Caracoles is the most important pass between the two countries and connects Santiago to the region of Mendoza.
Serra Do Rio Do Rastro, Santa Catarina, Brazil
The most famous motorcycling track in Brazil passes through this mountain range which is located in the south, in the state of Santa Caterina.
Ruta 40. The end of the world
One of the longest roads in the world. We’re talking about a massive 5,301km from Cabo Vírgenes (Santa Cruz) to Quiaca (Jujuy) on the borer of Bolivia. Enchanting landscapes which take you through a record number of 20 National Parks! Utterly amazing!
Che Guevara Tour
This very popular long South American route was made famous by Che who wrote about his extraordinary experiences in his diary.
A road in Southern Norway (refer to Lysefjord) known for being popular amongst adrenalin junkies. Hairpin bends, tunnels and wild terrains.
Bergen to Geiranger, Norway
A beautiful itinerary that should be stretched out over 2 days to fully appreciate the scenery. Leave from Bergen on the E39 and be ready to load the bike onto a number of small ferries that act as bridges over the many floating fjords. The cliffs around you reach up to 1,000m. You will cross the Sognefjorden until you arrive in Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO world heritage site.
450 km from Bergen to Andalsnes. The land of the Vikings is worth getting to know on your bike. Once again, prepare to get on and off the inevitable ferries.
With an incline of 9% and its numerous hairpin turns, Country Road 63 is one of the most popular roads amongst Norwegian motorcyclists.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio is one of the most famous Italian passes, and is an unmissable destination for every self-respecting motorcyclist. The 47km route crosses the National Park of Stelvio at an altitude that leaves snow on the track even in summer. It is entirely deserving of a place amongst the most beautiful roads in the world.
The Amalfi Coast Road – Naples to Salerno, Italy
Whoever included it as one of the best routes in the world, also advises avoiding it in summertime so as not to be stuck in the heavy traffic of the Amalfi Coast, and also to get away from the chaos that is traffic in Naples by going towards Sorrento. From there, you’ll find 50km of stunning scenery, with marvellous little towns dotted along the way. If there’s time, the Island of Capri is a must-see.
Sardinia Eastern Coast + Nature and Ghost Village
This road which winds along the Eastern coast of Sardinia, from Olbia to Tortoli on SS125 is towards the top of the list. There are 108 miles in total. The second part is more interesting, passing through mountains and along the coast. You’ll be impressed by the good condition of the road surface. You can extend this route, by leaving from Tortoli towards the centre of the island, for another 29 miles. Take the SS198 in the direction of Lanusei, Gairo Vecchio (ghost town) and then Osini. At the end of the town look for the area ‘Scala di San Giorgio’ to enjoy a breathtaking view.
Marbella to Ronda, Spain
Perfect asphalt roads winding through the hills.
Cabo de Gata to Granada, Spain
A 130-mile trip. From the volcanic rocks of Cabo de Gata until Alhambra through the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada.
Madrid to Segovia through Navacerrada Mountains
Here is another route proposed by Motorcycle road (all the sites we mention are listed at the end of the article). It is 137km long and leaves from Madrid on the M-607 and ends up in Segovia on the CL-601 bypassing the Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares. A perfect roadbed, fresh air, impressive forests. Don’t forget to pick up a classic guitar once you arrive at your destination……
Les Gorges du Verdon, Provence, France
An extremely famous canyon that offers a trip of 110km with breathtaking views.
The (French) island of Capri, is considered “the best riding experience after the Alps” in Europe. It’s easy to get there by taking a ferry from Italy or France.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
The TT circuit, Isle of Man
The biggest challenge between man and bike. A 60km circuit on narrow roads, climatic surprises are guaranteed. You’ll regret not going at least once in your life time.
The Antrim coast road, Northern Ireland
Once again the route is around 60 miles and it’s been said that the great Joey Dunlop earned his stripes on this road before taking on the TT. Many consider this road to be one of the most stunning in the world.
The Cat and Fiddle run – A537, Buxton-Macclesfield, England
This is the name of the pub where you will find hundreds of motorcyclists taking a break after tackling one of the most dangerous roads in the UK. It’s a true rite of passage, a stretch of asphalt of 11km in the Peak District that requires maximum concentration. To be avoided when tired.
If you like long, solitary rides, the roads of North Yorkshire are for you. Some of them are the most loved by motorcyclists. Clear, blue skies, fresh air, wild moors, small towns such as Hawes, Masham, Helmsley, cafès…. Not to mention the lanes that take you up into the welcoming hills.
The Transfagarasan Highway – Sibiu to Curtea de Arges, Transylvania, Romania
Built in 1970 by direction Nicolae Ceaucescu ……to dominate nature. This road crosses the highest mountains of Romania for a good 90km. It snakes around with fast bends, and leaves you speechless with its beauty. Please note that it is closed in Winter. This road connects the historical regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.
Furka Pass, between Gletsch and Andermatt, Switzerland
Turkish motorcyclists say it reminds them of the Eastern Anatolia. Take a break to admire the glaciers.
A legendary route that is 43 miles south of Cologne and 75 miles north-west of Frankfurt. It naturally includes the automobile circuit built in 1984 and 12.8 miles long (one of the most demanding in the world), but what will really fascinate you will be the hamlet and medieval castle of Nürburg.
Eastern German Alpine Road
150 km. Leaving from Bayrischzell, in Oberaudorf you set off north towards Brannenburg and then east towards Samerberg and Bernau, then south once again until you reach Reit and then north again following the 305 until Berchtesgaden, that gives its name to the beautiful national park. You’ll drive through the mountains of Chiemgau, through the green forests and pastures. A corner of Germany that is not to be missed.
Silver Coast Route – Portugal
An itinerary of 260km that starts in Lisbon and ends up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean near Aveiro. You’ll find many interesting little towns, on roads that are perfect for motorbikes, such as Sintra, Ericeira, Figueira da Foz, to name a few. A large quantity of mountains, forests, beautiful, wild beaches, that few other countries could offer, with compulsory side trips such as “Cabo da Roca”, “Bidos e Nazaré, where Hawaain surfer Garret McNamara surfed a Guiness World Record wave of 24m.
OTHER SUGGESTIONS ACROSS EUROPE
Bar in Montenegro to Sarajevo in Bosnia
About 400km, best ridden on a Maxienduro. Stunning in Autumn when the trees on the slopes of “Montenegro Black Mountains” are multicoloured. Turn left at the ski resort of Bobotoc Kik towards the National Park of Durmitor. Here the road turns into a gravel track. If you choose to go along it, make sure to take a couple of bottles of water with you: this place is usually deserted. At a certain point you’ll find yourself in a canyon a mile deep and 50 miles long. You’ll end up in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Pyrenees Loop, France and Spain
The Pyrenes route is well known to European motorcyclists. The loop is 2,410 km long and leaves from Bilbao to end up in Biarritz traversing parts of Spain and France. (Seu d’Urgell, Andorra, Bourg-Madame, Ripoli, Figures, Col d’Aspin…)
Transalpine: Back to nature
This rather challenging alpine route is included amongst the best routes, travelling at high altitude along the roads most loved by European motorcyclists across the Alps. Leaving from Grenoble, and arriving in Venice. You’ll pass through France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
Gordon’s Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
A spectacular and lively city, perfect to get to know on a bike. With a backdrop of Table Mountain and little traffic….. Perfection.
Cape Town Circuit, South Africa
Go to and from along a circuit of 1,690km. Fantastic roads, incredible scenery not to mention the climate. This route takes you along the east coast to then turn toward the Olifantskip Pass that is found in the Addo National Park. A long bridge takes you to Great Karoo in Oudtshoorn and then you meed some seriously vertiginous hairpin bends – via Route 62 – following the course of the Small Karoo. The Robertson wines at the end are the icing on the cake.
North Africa is perfect for those motorcyclists who are after a winter escape. There’s something for everyone – all types of bikes, and ability levels. The more adventurous can head south and face the mule tracks and sand dunes. And then there is the High Atlas,on the the Atlantic Coast.
Ceuta to Marrakesh loop, Morocco
On the ferry to Ceuta and then there’s a long stretch of 2,570km that explores the exotic kingdom and the desert culture. You’ll cross the mountains from Rif to Fes and then the Atlas range to end up in the Sahara in Erfound. The Todgha Gorge, the palms of Ouarzazate, and Marrakech are not to be missed. You head back along the Atlantic coast going through Agadir and Casablanca.
Trabzon to Savsat, Eastern Turkey
300 km that feel as if you’re passing through different continents. From Trabzon you’ll head towards Hopa that is situated on the border with Georgia. Here the women are colourfully clothed with red and brown striped shawls, and you’ll travel through the lush tea plantations. Then it’s off to the heat in the Eastern Anatolia Region. You’ll travel along parallel to the border until you find the town of Artvin, where you will then find yourself in ‘Switzerland’. Well, at the very least, you’ll feel as if you were, what with the crisp, fresh air and your green surroundings. This is Savsat.
The Silk Road, Alexandria Egypt, to Xian China
It’s difficult to follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo. This is a mythological trip that was unfortunately (almost, but not entirely) wiped out by the conflict in the Middle East.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China
This is the highest road in the world that is accessible to vehicles. Whoever rides it is a real biker! A total legend if you do it on a Royal Enfield.
Tibet: The roof of the world
Amazing and impossible? Let me premise this with the fact that we’re talking about 3,500km from Lhasa to Kashgar. There’s asphalt, at least in some parts. The view is of the Himalayas, and you’ll see at least 5 peaks 8,000m high. Only for hardcore adventurers. Something to tell your grandkids about.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China
The Karakoram Highway is part of the historical Silk Road, the passage considered to be the highest and least traversed in terms of easier roads. It connects China to Pakistan through the Karakoram mountain range. Along the route, about 800 miles between Kashgar and Islamabad, whoever travels down it on a bike, besides the peaks, will see the largest quantity of ice outside the polar ice caps.
The Road of Bones, Magadan to Yakutsk, Russia
Another large endeavour. The road of bones (as legend would have it this road was paved with a mixture of earth, gravel and bones ot the prisoners who died while building it) is 2,320km long and starts in Madagan on the sea of Okhotsk and Yakutsk on the Eastern shore of Lena.
Mae Hong Son Loop
In south-east Asia, in Thailand to be exact, there is this wild loop that is worth experiencing on two wheels. It goes for 600km through the mountainous country side of the country with over a thousand hairpin bends. Enough to make your head spin. Luckily, with a smorgasboard of waterfalls, caves and villages to visit, there will be plenty of breaks. It’s best to travel clockwise, as it’s a bit more pleasant. Average travel time is 4 days. Departure from Chiang Mai.
In the middle of the remote Northern province. Departing from Hanoi, soon the roads become single lanes and full of pot holes, and then subsequently become small dirt road tracks. What makes the route so special? Well, because it takes you through lush valleys, up and down tea and coffee plantations. It’s a real pleasure to ride, and you’ll be well and truly away from the hustle and bustle we all know too well.
Montain and Sea Vietnam
A 120km circuit that snakes it way from Nang City to Hue City, in the centre of the country. You’ll pass by the coast, small villages, rice fields, a stunning national park and passes over the mountains.
A country still mostly undiscovered by motorcyclists from the rest of the world. A Japanese publication asked its readers to vote on the most beautiful roads, so we’ll give them to you as we found them. There’s nothing more we can add.
- Chirihama Nagisa Driveway
- Aso Panorama Line
- Kouya Ryuujin Skyline
- (tie) Shimanami-kaido
- Shiretoko Oudan Road
- Izu Skyline
- Shiga Kusatsu Road
- Yamanami Highway
- Venus Line
- Bandai Azuma Skyline
THE ARAB EMIRATES
The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, Abu Dhabi
This route is just over 11km and takes you up to 1,200m high with an incline of 8%. This stunning mountain road is about 60 minutes outside of Dubai. The Hafeet Mountain Road reaches the border with Oman and boasts 60 bends and a smooth surface that has recently been paved. A real joy to ride on!
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria
A route well-known but not only by Australian motorcyclists. A truly spectacular stretch of road. Beware of the weekday traffic.
Oxley Highway, NSW
A trip that connects Port Macquarie to Walch that has an abundance of every type of riding situation. From tight bends to long, linear stretches that encourage you to test the speed limits, even while traversing mountains.
Gunbarrel Highway, Western Australia
It may be 1400km of hard work from Victory Downs to Carnegie Station, but as you cover the distance, think of Len Beadell, who was responsible for building the road in the 1950s, and wonder at the majesty of the land and the persistence of man.
Omeo Highway, Victoria
From Hume Weir to Bairnsdale, the Omeo route goes up into the mountains and then winds it way down to the sea.
Anywhere in Tasmania
If you don’t talk enthusiastically about the Tasmanian roads, that means you’ve never ridden on them. Just point to a spot anywhere on a map of the island, set off on your bike, and you’ll see what we’re talking about. It’s the place that all Australian motorcyclists rave about, and where they all want to go………. however, few actually do.
Christchurch to the Coast – New Zealand
A very scenic ride to get to know the land. It leaves from Christchurch, stops in Queenstown and then heads for the West Coast.
Wild, desolate, isolated, infinite, full of animals and Anangu aborigines. It’s possible to drive for days without meeting a soul. The desert tracks in Central Australia represent a unique challenge. You need to be up-to-date, informed, equipped with a detailed map and necessary luggage (most importantly with plenty of water and petrol). Don’t even think of straying from the marked trails if you plan on coming out alive. Basically, a route for only the most die-hard bikers.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
290 kilometers (180 miles). Blue skies, white sand, scorching tyres. This day-long trip from Melbourne to Petersborough, crossing the jagged Australian coast is truly sensational. There are so many worthwhile places to take a pitstop, such as the limestone pinnacles that look like witches’ fingers jutting into the sea.
The South Island: Highway to Middle Earth
This loop is on the South island of New Zealand, where the landscape is a constant feast for the eyes, is rather long at 2,100km of road, leaving from (and returning to) Christchurch you’ll need to head north along the Pacific coast up until Nelson in Cook Strait. This is where you’ll be rewarded with even more breathtaking landscapes. Don’t miss Lake Mapourika where the road flanks the Franz Josef Glacier, as well as the Hasst Pass.
The above rankings were drawn from many different sites and we recommend visiting them to gain further information regarding the mentioned routes.