There’s nothing like the feel of the wind on your face while driving down the road in the summertime. But better yet is the view when you’re riding down a scenic drive, be it coast or inland. Riders can take all their favorite accessories around the world and explore long and short trails alike, challenging their riding skills and taking in spectacular views. It’s hard to know where to start when looking for a new drive to take, but this list encompasses some of the best drives all over the world.
Historically, motorcycles do great on tours, and adventure bike rentals have gone up in the last few years. It’s important for a rider to be prepared for international travel. If a rider wants to take an international trip with their motorcycle, it’s a good idea to have an international driver’s license. There is more information here about how to obtain one. Several states, including Maine, have laws prohibiting wheelies, or “raising wheel.” It’s a good idea to check international laws before embarking on a trip overseas with a bike.
You got the motorcycle, you’ve got the gear, now all you need is somewhere to ride. We take a look at 11 of the best motorcycle rides on the planet; rides that every motorcycle enthusiast should try once in their lifetime:
1. Sardinia, Italy
Traveling down both coasts and inland by motorcycle enables the rider to truly see the island. These trips are fairly short, only taking a couple hours at most to reach the end, but short trips mean riders can lengthen their tour with fun stops along the way. To tour the eastern coast of Sardinia, start in Olbia and follow SS125 south toward Tortoli. With good pavement, the breathtaking views of the coast are interspersed with tiny villages and even a castle! Along the way, there is a town called Genna Silana to stop for coffee. Tourists will find some great hiking trails, too, if riders want to stretch their legs. To tour Central Sardinia, take SS 198 from Tortoli toward Lanusei. Keep following that road through Gairo Vecchia and Osini, then follow the signs for Scala di San Giorgio. The last part of the trip to the top of the mountain is a tough ride in a forest, but worth the five minutes of roughness for the view at the end.There are few places to stop along the way, so make sure to fill up and have a bite to eat before leaving Tortoli. To tour western Sardinia, take SP 105 from Alghero to Bosa. This part of the trail is only 28 miles, but there are huge cliffs and perfect views all along the way. The road is clean and clear of traffic most of the time, too.
2. San Miguel de Allende to Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
One of the shorter trips on the list, traveling along 51 is about a 30-40 minute drive. The landscape is beautiful, and tourists will begin at what has been heralded as the most beautiful city in the world, San Miguel de Allende. When riders reach Dolores Hidalgo, the site of the beginning of Mexico’s independence, they will have plenty of sightseeing opportunity. Visit the church, the museums, and the monument, and then have lunch or dinner and a siesta.
3. The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada
This trail is 187 miles long, with all the curves a motorcyclist could want. It’s almost a complete circle along the coast of Cape Breton Island, starting at Buckwheat Corner and traveling west. The trail goes through tiny sea towns and fishing villages, looping north, east, and back south, finishing at St. Ann’s. There are so many places to stop along the way, with Celtic music and heritage to explore and wonderful hiking trails. The ocean is never far from view, and the road is generally in good condition.
4. The Great Ocean Road, Australia
This trail curves from Melbourne to Peterborough and was built in the 1920s. The best way to travel the road is over several days, although the trip is possible in only one. The seacoast and amazing landscape are visible, including Shipwreck Coast, and there are many beaches where riders could take a break for surfing. Riders can view the limestone rock formations, and they should make sure to stop at a pub along the way.
5. Cape Town Circuit, South Africa
In order to cover the 1050 miles on this circuit, the riders start north along the western coast of South Africa, before heading east. The loop back to Cape Town can be completed in one or two weeks, depending on how much riders want to tour the area. Take the trail all the way to Addo National Park, and find some great curves and turns along Route 62. Don’t forget your camera, and pick up some South African wine as you head back to Cape Town. Riders will want to fit in some tourism when they get back to the city, including a hike up Table Mountain (take a cable car back down). For a taste of Irish cuisine, visit The Dubliner downtown, and visit the colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, along with the market.
6. Tail of the Dragon, North Carolina, USA
This is a very short drive, but there are over 300 curves in the short distance (11 miles!) of trail. Riders will travel the border of the Great Smoky Mountains on US 129, starting in North Carolina and ending in Tennessee. The mountains offer scenic views and beautiful forests, and along the way, you can find the Tree of Shame, covered in smashed up parts from motorcycles that were damaged on their tours of the Tail of the Dragon.
7. Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii, USA
In the 60 miles of road from the Kipahulu Forest in Hana to Kahului, there are over 600 turns. Experienced riders should also watch out for the 60-some bridges with only one lane, but the gorgeous views and greenery is all worth it. Hana is isolated and not very developed, so the tropical paradise mostly remains untouched. Along the way, stop at the Hasegawa General Store, built in 1910 and featured in 1961 in the song by Paul Weston.
8. Nurburgring, Germany
This is one of the longest permanent race tracks (although one of the shorter routes listed here) in the world, known worldwide as The Green Hell. Riders travel 12.8 miles with no speed limit and one-way traffic. Riders can pay a toll and drive around Nurburg and the castle there. The route is difficult, but the mountain views along the way are worth it. Sounds like a blast!
9. El Camino de la Muerte, Bolivia
Starting in La Paz around 12,000 feet, the road climbs to 15,000 feet before descending to Coroico. It was built in the 1930s and is one of the only ways to get from La Paz, one of the nation’s capitals and the government seat, down to the foothills. Years ago, hundreds of people died on this trail every year because of the gravel and the hairpin turns cliff side without guardrails. This is what gave the treacherous road its nickname, “The Death Road.” Since 2008, the road has been paved, making it less dangerous, but still nerve-wracking to twist along the mountain unprotected. Before leaving La Paz, riders can do some sightseeing at the many museums and cathedrals.
10. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile
This is a section of one of 40 border crossings between Argentina and Chile, and probably the most dangerous. The Paso de los Libertadores is full of switchbacks down the mountain, and there is always a lot of traffic. It is wise to travel slowly and safely. That is where the pass gets its name; Los Caracoles means “the snails.” Along the way, view the magnificent statue Cristo Redentor de los Andes, a statue erected to commemorate the peace finally reached between the two countries.
11. Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Traveling the 270 miles from Kendal to Whitney is a one-day trip, but riders could stretch this into a longer excursion with tourist stops. Enjoying a pint after a long day’s ride at a pub in northern England sounds like the perfect way to finish the drive. Along the way, visit Hawes, a small market town and the home of the Wensleydale Creamery. Leeds is also nearby (with Leeds Castle), Ripon, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
These are some fantastic places to visit. Riders have a ready-made bucket list now, with the advice to enjoy them in the sunniest of weather. These roads take travelers around the world, with short and long trips, tons of curves and straightaways, and the best vistas the world has to offer. Ready for the best motorcycle rides in the world? Zoom, Zoom!