Riding, NewsJames Evans

Top five European destinations

Riding, NewsJames Evans
Top five European destinations

Planning on adventuring out into Europe this summer? Take a look at our list of the top five European Destinations, and roads to ride when you get there. It might just inspire you to ride further and experience more on motorbike

The French Riviera

 Route Napoleon, just inland from the beautiful Côte d'Azur. Picture: Ben Lindley

Route Napoleon, just inland from the beautiful Côte d'Azur. Picture: Ben Lindley

The Côte d'Azur: a slice of coastline made famous by wealthy holidaymakers for over 200 years. Towns and cities of the coast are now household names, thanks to the likes of the Cannes Film Festival, and Monaco's famous Grand Prix and Casino. The Route de Saint-Barthélémy is a must ride on the coast, heading west from Cannes. Its surface threads a line between blue sea and red rock headlands, teaching lessons in cornering to any motorcyclist riding at any speed. 

Road To Ride: Route du Faron

A one-way road up and down a mountainside starting and finishing in a small city? What's not to like? Make sure you ride it clockwise. This way's both the only legal direction, and also the hardest, with a series of tight switchbacks on the descent. At the top of Mont Faron, walk out to Pointe Sublime, marked with a life-size cross, for a panorama over Toulon and the Mediterranean Sea.

Road To Ride: D4085, Route Napoléon

From Cannes to Grenoble, Route Napoléon spreads out over 334km of French roads, from perfectly asphalted biking heaven, to monotonous straighter sections. The southern part of Napoléon's famous journey is an exciting undertaking on any motorcycle, especially the D4085 around Castellane. Grip is excellent, curves are deeply satisfying, but watch out for the odd patch of gravel spilling onto the road round tight bends.


Andalusia, Spain

 Olive groves, hills, curves, cities crammed with history. Picture: Ben Lindley

Olive groves, hills, curves, cities crammed with history. Picture: Ben Lindley

Ronda isn't thought of as a motorcycling mecca, and this is a good thing. While hordes of bikers descend on Assen, Bol d'Or, or the Isle of Man TT, take your bike and sneak over to Southern Spain's playground. The Spaniards love their Grand Prix, so ride the best of these roads on a MotoGP race weekend for less traffic.

Road To Ride: A397, Ronda to Marbella

What a stonker. Nothing prepares you for the enjoyment this road can bring you on a sunny day. The A397 is used as a testing road on motorcycle launches, and it's easy to see why: corners come thick and fast, each featuring a different angle, length, and sight line than the last. The road is wide, with a good two lanes so there's no danger of running into trucks running into your lane either.

Road To Ride: A337, Cherín to La Calahorra

Cutting through the Sierra Nevada National Park, Andalusia's A337 is a masterpiece of high-grade tarmac and sportsbike switchbacks. By that, we mean these switchbacks aren't the fiddly things with missing tarmac and potholes to negotiate on the clutch in first gear like you find in the Alps. No, boy. These are smooth, wide, second gear switchbacks built for sportsbikes to devour over breakfast.


Austrian Alps

 Austria's famous Furka Pass. Attempt on a sportsbike at your peril. Picture: Ben Lindley

Austria's famous Furka Pass. Attempt on a sportsbike at your peril. Picture: Ben Lindley

Cheaper than Switzerland thanks to a more lenient motorway vignette, Austria is a brilliant place to experience some of the best riding in the Alps. It's home to a wide variety of mountain passes, some well-known, and some that don't even have names. 

Road To Ride: The Furka Pass

Route L51 is the less impressive name for the Furka. Squirreling out of Rankweil, it's a single-track tarmac strip that's not for the faint-hearted. It's so narrow at one point, that cars stop at a traffic light to let drivers come past. The descent into Damüls is very refreshing after the tense balancing act of motorbike on cliffside.

Road To Ride: Route 87, Greifenburg to Hermagor-Pressegger See

This is an unknown road to write home about. Getting caught at the railway crossing only builds the tension and excitement for the run up the hillside to follow. The surface is marble-smooth on the ascent, slicing through forest with its fair share of switchbacks. Catch your breath on the brief plateau, and then you're barrelling down the other side towards Weißbriach. Very stimulating.


Croatia's Coast

 The view from the E65, just south of Senj. Picture: Ben Lindley

The view from the E65, just south of Senj. Picture: Ben Lindley

An average rating of 'gob-smacking' can be applied to Croatia's coastal panoramas. This is the case whether you're riding right down at sea level, metres from the water's edge, or high and dry, guiding the bike through smooth curves of tarmac atop severe cliffs. You can split the Croatian coastline into two sections, handily split by the city of Split. Each takes less than a day to fully explore, giving you time to backtrack and perfect that really delicious sequence of corners. Prepare for variable tarmac, but expect good weather and inexpensive pizza.

Road To Ride: E65, Karlobag to Starigrad

Traffic heads off the E65 south of Karlobag up to the motorway using the switchback-laden Route 25. This means the next section of the E65 is blissfully empty. Expect an incredibly smooth and sticky covering of fresh tarmac and corners that are simply sublime. The sequence between Baric Draga and Tribanj is particularly world-beating. The road curves inland and back out in smooth arcs following headland after headland jutting out into the sea.

Road To Ride: Route 8, Dubrovnik to Montenegro Border

Ride south out of Dubrovnik towards the border with Montenegro. Stop on the cliff-side ascent and look back to get film-set views of Dubrovnik's spectacular citadel and port. Further there's less traffic, a few straights to stretch your legs on, and then the border post arrives. Continue through for another two hours of beautiful coastal riding to another harbour town: Kotor.


Scotland

 Scotland's impressive Glencoe. Brooding clouds mandatory. Picture: Ben Lindley

Scotland's impressive Glencoe. Brooding clouds mandatory. Picture: Ben Lindley

World-class landscape, the nation's grippiest tarmac, and adventure on an epic scape all mixed together with a heady aroma of single malt whisky. We are so lucky to have such a wild and adventure-ready country at our disposal. Don't bother with New Zealand before you've ridden Scotland – they're very similar places.

Road To Ride: A82, Tyndrum to Glencoe

Using words like 'dramatic' to describe the power of Glencoe doesn't do the experience justice. Ride north west past Loch Tulla as the road slowly curves higher and higher until inevitably falling into the River Coe's valley, past The Meeting of the Three Waters waterfall. All this while surrounded by brooding mountains.

Road To Ride: The North Coast 500

Not technically a road, the North Coast 500 is more of a route taking in the best of Scotland's North Highlands. The start and end point is Inverness, and you can ride the coast both clockwise and anti-clockwise. Highlights include the Applecross Pass, the A894 between Ledmore and Kylesku, and coasting into John o' Groats. More information: www.northcoast500.com [LINK]

 Scotland's landscape just gets more beautiful the further you ride north.

Scotland's landscape just gets more beautiful the further you ride north.