15 of the World’s Greatest Roads for Motorcyclists
Planning a vacation? If you own a motorcycle, make it a road trip—and consider hitting up one of these 15 stunning routes.
1. ROUTE 66
The legendary Route 66 is referred to “Mother Road,” or the “Main Street of America.” It opened in 1926, and was one of the first U.S. highways. The route took drivers on a winding, 2400-mile tour of the U.S., passing through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma before dipping down into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
In the 1950s, the U.S. Interstate System began replacing portions of Route 66, and the road was eventually closed for good in 1985. However, most of Route 66 is still drivable. Road-trippers nostalgic for an era of greasy diners, kitschy small towns, and quirky hotels can purchase guides or maps to navigate these remaining swaths of 20th century Americana.
2. PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, CARMEL TO MORRO BAY, CALIFORNIA
Enjoy the wonders of California’s storied Pacific Coast Highway by driving the 123-mile route from Monterey to Morro Bay. Roadside attractions include the famous art colony of Carmel and the mountainous Big Sur region. The route is foggy even in the summer, so make sure to dress warmly. Also, watch out for the road’s steep drop-offs and narrow shoulders.
3. THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Australia’s Great Ocean Road provides drivers with a scenic—and historic—journey along the country’s southeastern coast. World War I veterans built the Great Ocean Road between 1919 and 1932 to memorialize the country’s fallen soldiers. Today, the 151-mile drive takes motorcyclists from the tiny surf town of Torquay in Victoria, Australia, all the way to the charming fishing village of Port Fairy. Along the way, you’ll pass rain forests, mountains, beaches, and the Twelve Apostles, a famous series of tall rock formations off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. You’ll also encounter a vast array of wildlife, including birds, kangaroos, and koalas.
4. THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA
While driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina, you’ll travel 469 miles through the Blue Ridge, a sub-chain of the Appalachian Mountains. The trip ends at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the most-visited national park in the nation. Since the parkway’s maximum speed limit is 45 miles per hour, the entire trip will likely take up to two days. If you’d like another afternoon on the road and are heading from North Carolina to Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway extends into Appalachian National Park and leads you straight to Virginia’s Skyline Drive.
5. PYRENEES LOOP, FRANCE AND SPAIN
Want to take a motorcycle trip across Europe? Consider touring the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain. Motorcyclists are fans of the 1500-mile loop from the port city of Bilbao, Spain, to Biarritz, a seaside town in the south of France. Along the way, you’ll cross through the tiny country of Andorra and cruise along France’s Mediterranean Coast. The peak-filled route is long and challenging—but since it’s filled with narrow twists, turns, and passes, it never gets dull.
6. SKYLINE DRIVE, VIRGINIA
Virginia is for lovers—and Skyline Drive is for motorcycle lovers. The 105-mile road is the only public freeway to pass through Shenandoah National Park. Adrenaline junkies might be deterred by the route’s 35 mph speed limit, but stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley and the hilly Piedmont region make a slow journey worthwhile. Since the entire trip takes around three hours, it works well as a leisurely afternoon ride.
7. THE ALASKA HIGHWAY
You won’t encounter many roadside attractions or billboards along the remote Alaska Highway, which is also known as the Alaska-Canada Highway, or ALCAN. However, you will see plenty of mountains and forests, and wildlife like caribou, moose, and grizzly bears.
The 1387-mile road was built during World War II to connect the contiguous U.S. to Alaska through Canada. It begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and ends in Delta Junction, Alaska. Along the course of your ride, you’ll pass the Rocky Mountains, the Yukon River, and the St. Elias Mountains. Keep in mind, though, that the road is nearly as bumpy as it is beautiful. Long stretches are still lined with gravel, so make sure your bike is fitted with good tires—and remember to pack a spare.
8. THE CHEROHALA SKYWAY, TENNESSEE AND NORTH CAROLINA
Opened in 1996, the Cherohala Skyway was named after the two national forests it passes through: the Cherokee National Forest in southeast Tennessee (Chero-) and the Nantahala National Forest in southwest North Carolina (-hala). The 42-mile road connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with Robbinsville, North Carolina. Admire an unparalleled view of the Great Smoky Mountains, and take frequent pit stops during the roughly two-to-three-hour drive to explore the region’s hiking trails, campgrounds, rivers, and waterfalls.
9. GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD, MONTANA
This 50-mile road cuts across Montana’s Glacier National Park, providing motorcyclists with a breathtaking view of the region’s ice-carved cliffs and mountains. Thanks to the area’s snowy winters, the route is typically only open from early June to mid October. Consider making this drive the highlight of a summer camping trip. However, don’t attempt it unless you’re a skilled biker, as the road is narrow and filled with steep drops and hairpin turns.
10. CAPE TOWN CIRCUIT
Instead of going on a South African safari, ride your bike out of Cape Town, head east, and then turn north over the Olifantskop Pass, a section of the Suurberg Mountains. You’ll soon reach Addo Elephant National Park, the third largest national park in South Africa. Once you’re done admiring the wildlife, take Route 62 over the Little Karoo Mountains and swing through Robertson, a town known for its fine wines, before heading back to Cape Town. This trip is around 1050 miles long, and takes about one to two weeks to complete on a motorcycle.
11. THE JEBEL HAFEET MOUNTAIN ROAD, ABU DHABI
Enjoy the luxurious sights, spas, and shopping malls of Abu Dhabi—but don’t be afraid to leave its creature comforts for the open road. The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road sits 90 miles south of the capital of the United Arab Emirates. With 7.3 miles of racetrack-quality asphalt, 60 sharp corners, and a 4000-foot climb that provides a breathtaking view of Abu Dhabi and neighboring Oman, this is one motorcycle route you don’t want to miss.
12. TAIL OF THE DRAGON, DEALS GAP, NORTH CAROLINA
Driving through the Cherohala Skyway? Make a detour to Deals Gap, a nearby mountain pass bordering the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. There, you’ll find a short yet exhilarating road called Tail of the Dragon. Boasting 318 curves in 11 miles, it’s a sought-after destination for motorcyclists. The speed limit was recently reduced from 55 to 30 miles per hour, making the Dragon’s precipitous twists and turns much safer than they used to be. Since the area is isolated and cell service is spotty, make sure to travel with a companion.
13. TROLLSTIGEN, NORWAY
The Trollstigen, or “Troll’s Ladder,” zigzags through the mountains of Rauma, a fjord-filled municipality in western Norway. The 66-mile road is steep and filled with hairpin turns. The route’s most precipitous section, Ørnevegen (“the Eagle Road”), takes drivers 2034 miles above sea level, providing them with a bird’s-eye view of the tall "De syv søstrene" (“the Seven Sisters”) waterfall and the Geirangerfjorden, a fjord that’s both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions.
14. AMALFI COAST, ITALY
Italy’s Amalfi Coast runs along the southern edge of the country’s Sorrentine Peninsula. The only thing better than lounging on one of the region’s beaches is exploring the cliffside villages, villas, and vineyards that dot its shoreline. Take a ride along the 43-mile road that connects Sorrento, a hilltop town overlooking the Bay of Naples, with the medieval city of Salerno. After you’ve finished, consider taking a day trip to nearby attractions like the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, or the island of Capri.
15. TRANSFAGARASAN HIGHWAY, ROMANIA
Ever wanted to drive through the legendary homeland of Count Dracula? The Transfagarasan Highway is a vertiginous paved road that cuts through Moldoveanu and Negoiu, the tallest peaks in Romania’s Făgăraș Mountains. It connects the regions of Transylvania with Wallachia, both known for their alpine scenery and historic vampire lore. Along the way, you’ll pass a scenic glacier lake, Bâlea Lake, and Poenari Castle, the infamous cliffside fortress of Vlad III Dracula “The Impaler.” One travel tip? While navigating the Transfagarasan Highway, keep your eyes peeled for stray donkeys or horses that might wander into the road.
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