50 rides to do before you die.
Do you have a ride bucket list? You may well start one after reading this. In no particular order let me present …
1. The Grande Strada delle Dolomiti, Dolomite mountains, Italy. There are many mountain passes and interconnecting riding options in this area so this is merely one of many great roads. The Grande Strada delle Dolomiti links Bolzano and Cortina as a starting point but you will need a week to take it all in. Some more photos and info about riding this area can be found in my European alps tour.
2. Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia is known for it’s beauty and interesting mix of Canadian, French and Scottish ancestry. The Cabot Trail combines this with curvy roads with wonderful vistas. A popular destination for bikers that offers so much to enjoy.
3. Route 40, Patagonia, Argentina. Many do this as a ride from Osorno, Chile to Punta Arenas Chile (but you spend much of your time in Argentina). First through the seven lakes and then onto route 40 with a side trip back into Chile for the Parque National Torres Del Paine. Spectacular countryside at every turn, a bit of this route remains remote and unsealed but you could also approach from the south on all sealed road.
4. Beartooth highway, Montana and Wyoming, USA. A national scenic byway voted number one ride in the USA by a prominent motorcycle magazine. Offering endless beautiful scenery and curves and you can also enjoy Yellowstone National park. The North West area of USA offers some incredible riding roads. Have a read of my tour there for more riding ideas.
5. Lyse Road, Norway. Lyse road is a 44km mountain road with 27 switchback corners and amazing views. Of course if you have taken the time to get to Norway then you would might also want to ride the Atlantic highway and Trollstigen (trolls ladder) as well. Note there is a very narrow season these roads can be ridden.
6. Ring Road, Iceland. Iceland’s route 1 circles the island covering about 1300km. Besides taking you to many of the countries sights it is a visually impressive ride. Mostly sealed but still a little gravel on the eastern side. Iceland is renown for it’s dramatic landscapes and the Ring Road is the best way to experience them.
This is one of the more difficult ones since it requires a special side trip and the ride season is very narrow.
7. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. The Cameron highlands is a mountainous area of Malaysia that with has some of the best riding roads to be found in Asia. The hilltops are lush green with tea plantations and you can base yourself in one of the many hotels up there while exploring the area.
If your travelling in Asia then this is perhaps the next easiest to do after Thailand. More info can be found in my Malaysia tour.
8. Tranfagarasan road, Romania. The Transfagarasan Highway is one of the most photographed passes in Europe featuring in many motorcycle or car tours and made even more famous by those British car show presenters. Built as a strategic military route, the 90 km road run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians.
Update: I have been reliably informed the Transalpina road nearby is even better.
9. Rota Romantica, Brazil. This ‘Romantic Route’ is a 184km scenic road the winds through the Rio Grande do Sul from Sao Leopoldo to Sao Francisco de Pallia. It takes you through wooded hills, vineyards, canyons with waterfalls and scenic bluffs and is one of the best rides in Brazil.
10. Amalfi coast road, Italy. The Amalfi Coast is considered one of the finest examples of coastal scenery. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautiful vistas every which way you look. Strada Statale 163 will take you from Sorrento to Amalfi, and most of the twisting road has been carved directly out of the coastal cliffs.
11. Forgotten world highway, New Zealand. It is very hard to try single out any one road in New Zealand, pick any direction and ride and you will not be disappointed with this most beautiful country. This route is the locals favourite and somewhat remote even by their standards with many changes in scenery. Of course getting there and back from Auckland offers so many riding options. More info about riding New Zealand North island can be found in my NZ tour report.
12. Bar to Sarajevo, The Balkans. Superb scenery is just the start. The journey from Bar in Montenegro to Sarajevo in Bosnia combines beauty and history – both from old and the recent wars. A beautiful coastline, nice roads many wonderful sights along this route.
13. San Bernardino pass, Switzerland. A iconic Swiss road. It goes without saying you would never ride just one Swiss alpine pass, but let me start by suggesting the scenic San Bernardino pass and then the best also include: The Furka Pass (2,436m) which was used as a location in the James Bond film Goldfinger and offers fantastic views onto the surrounding glaciers. The Flüela Pass (2,383m) Ofen Pass (2,149 m) Albula Pass (2,315 m) Grimsel Pass (2,165m) Nufenen Pass (2,478m) Bernina Pass (2,328 m) Simplon Pass (2,005m) Oberalp Pass (2,044m) Susten Pass (2,264 m) and the Great San Bernard Pass are also all great riding. I rode a couple of these on my Euro tour.
14. Bandai Azmuma Skyline, Japan. In a country full of superb riding roads the area of Mt Bandai usually are said to be some of the best. A combination of great curves, lush forests and excellent views. On autumn weekends the area is also well known for it beautiful foliage. You can find more info about riding Japan elsewhere on my blog.
15. Vietnam North west loop. While the Central highlands have been featured on Top Gear and now have many tours operating to them the most spectacular visuals are the less visited northern mountains bordering China where a permit to access is still required. The very high mountains can be completely enshrouded in clouds and cold in the rain season so plan accordingly.
16. Icefields Parkway, British Columbia, Canada. This is not the most curvy road in the area but it is one of the most visually stunning roads on the planet. It is consistently rated one of the best drives in the world. For riders the great thing is between Vancouver and the Glacier national park you can enjoy some of the best riding roads in British Columbia especially if you ride via the Kokanee lakes region. For some more info on riding in BC see my my tour there.
17. Mae Hong Son loop, Thailand. Northern Thailand is very mountainous and offers some excellent riding options. The Mae Hong Son loop from Chiang Mai has thousands of corners and is an excellent ride with many sights and great food. The timing is important here, they burn off in March so try going sooner than this. While there I highly recommend the Nan district for further riding. For more info about riding Northern Thailand have a look at my tour there.
18. Garden Route, South Africa. The Garden Route runs along the south east coast of South Africa and is a wonderful ride through parks, mountains and along ocean cliffs. Also in SA the Cape Wine route 62 offering more glorious scenery and the chance to visit some of South Africa’s best vineyards. South African offers a number of excellent riding routes and has been a favourite location for manufacturers to host reporters when launching new motorcycles.
19. Fira to Oia, Santorini. Greece. Not every ride need be on a big bike. This is a ride around the famous caldera by scooter affording stunning views of the Aegean Sea and towns clinging to the walls of this breathtaking natural phenomenon. Not a big ride in it’s length but big in every other sense.
20. Nurburgring, Germany. For the speed or track day junkie a ride in Germany has to be on the list. Not only can you still go as fast as you want on many parts of the Autobarn you could do a lap of the famous Nurburgring. Built in the 1920’s and now used to benchmark car performance by almost every manufacture this is perhaps the most challenging racetrack in the world.
21. The Cat and Fiddle, East Midlands, England. Endless corners in the stunning peak district. It is one of the most popular riding roads in Britain running between Buxton, Derbyshire and Macclesfield, Cheshire, named after The Cat and Fiddle Pub, at its summit.
22. The Grossglockner toll road, Austria. This is a famous riding road to the Grossglockner mountain (3789m) Austria’s highest mountain. Austria like Switzerland has numerous amazing alpine roads, some of the best passes include: Fern Pass (1,212 m) Arlberg pass and The Nockalmstrasse. Also fabulous roads to ride are Trafoss to Birkfield, Sankt Oswald to Lavamund, Koflach to Twimberb, Grossfeistritz to Hirschegg and lastly one of Europe’s best scenic roads Tassenbach to Villach.
23. Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. Built by returned soldiers as a monument to the fallen soldiers of WW1. The GOR is the worlds largest war memorial. Along it’s 241 km you can enjoy coastal, forest and mountain roads which culminate with the spectacular rugged coast and the 12 apostles. More info about riding the GOR can be found in my tour report.
24. Ring of Kerry, Ireland. The Ring of Kerry is a scenic and historic series of roads that covers a 179 km circular route (N70, N71 and R562) from Killarney. Tour buses must run the loop counter-clockwise so you should ride clockwise. Offering fun curves and undulating roads this is ride to enjoy at a easy pace while soaking up the area’s attractions. Update: I see some of my ride there and the Wild Atlantic Way here.
25. Manali-Leh highway, India. If your going to seek out high mountain passes then why not ride the highest of them all. Kardungh La Pass (5,604 m) is claimed to be the highest road for conventional vehicles in the world. You could fly to Leh to then ride Ladakh but the traditional approach is overland on the Manali-Leh highway.
26. SS120 Sicily, Italy. This part of Italy has so many good roads that SS120 is just one of a half a dozen highly rated scenic rides. Mountainous roads to the north east and Mt Etna then the amazing south with rolling hills, sweeping curvy roads with incredible historic sights and preserved ancient towns at every turn.
27. Blue Ridge Parkway, USA. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a recreational national park road connecting the Great Smokey Mountains and Shenandoah National park that runs for 750km through the states of Virginia and North Carolina. It took 54 years to complete and is known for its scenic beauty in autumn. There are numerous sights along the way as well as the equally excellent riding roads that are nearby in this area. Almost too may riding options.
28. Gorges du Dades, Morocco. Also known as The Road of a Thousand Kasbahs this is a spectacular ride winding through stunning desert landscapes, villages and palm groves through the Dades Valley between the Atlas Mountains. While in the area you could also enjoy the Tizi n Test Road (route S501) which is one of the countries spectacular high mountain passes.
29.Picos de Europa, Spain. Picos de Europa are part of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. A beautiful less visited area compared to the south of Spain. Amazing rock formations and wonderful views with lots of curves and another side of Spain less seen by visitors. Also Garbo de Gato to Granada in Northern Spain presents you desert, mountains and untouched coastline for a beautiful ride.
30. Route des grande alps, France. From Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. The 684 km route between Thonon-les-Bains and Menton includes 17 mountain passes that are among the highest in the European alps and often featured in the Tour De France. This is an exceptional route that embraces the entire French alps with spectacular mountain landscapes, pretty valleys with local cultural features and gastronomic specialities. Update: I am advised that Napoleons Route in France is another contender for anyone’s bucket list so please consider adding this road.
31. TT, Isle of Mann. The word extreme gets over used for everything but the TT is the real deal. The original extreme motorcycle sporting event. Riders on public roads at mind bending speeds the TT is an incredible spectacle that draws bikers from every corner of the globe to view and ride the street course.
32. Stelvio pass (2757m), Italy. Perhaps the most famous mountain pass in the world? Personally I am not a fan of switchback corners however I still enjoyed to just be there and see ‘that view’, After this there are excellent riding roads in any direction so you will never be disappointed.
33. Interoceanic highway, Peru. Running from the coast of Peru to the high Andes mountain ranges this is an epic ride. Along the way you have the Nasca desert lines and 600km of endless curves on beautiful mountain roads to bring you eventually to the base of Maccu Picchu.
34. Vlora to Saranda, Albania. A beautiful ride along craggy cliffs with small villages. The road winds its way along the coast with wonderful views. When you reach Saranda you are a short boat ride from Corfu or the Italian peninsula.
35. San Juan Skyway, Colorado, USA. The San Juan Skyway is a scenic national forest byway offering both superb sweeping curves and well preserved towns descended from the ‘old west’. The loop passes over four mountain ranges and has been called the most beautiful road in the USA. The section from Silverton to Ouray is known as the million-dollar highway and you can visit many intact historic sights.
36. Betws-Y-Coed Triangle, Wales. Sweeping roads, rolling hills with the scenic backdrop of Snowdonia. North Wales is a very popular destination for British riders as well as car enthusiasts. There are many great pubs and interesting things along the route to explore if you can take your eyes away from the wonderful views.
37. Barcelona to Andorra, The Pyrenees. There are many riding options in the Pyrenees, both sides of the high mountains in France and Spain. Roads in this area feature every year in the Tour de France and are both scenic, well maintained and usually low in traffic. The road from Barcelona to Andorra is but one route example which also abounds in history from the Napoleonic wars. A wonderful riding area.
38. Reunion Island. Unknown to many travellers the French island is a unique land of contrasts with tropical beaches and an active volcano. Craggy high mountains form some natural amphitheatres, the three cirques - Salazie, Cilaos, and MafateFor are incredible sights. For riders this means a wonderful place to explore twisty mountain roads by motorcycle, somewhere really off the beaten track for those who might think they have been everywhere.
39. Zhongbu cross island highway, Taiwan. Taiwan is a island with very high mountainous inner that rises steeply from the ocean and has some incredibly scenic mountain roads. It has some amazing riding and the Zhongbu cross island highway also presents you with the rugged and beautiful Taroko Gorge.
40. Livorno to Livigno, Italy. Tuscany is riddled with great riding roads with wonderful views of the rolling hills. You can lose yourself in this region it’s like another world and you may find you cannot get enough of the serenity. The food and wine, the culture and seemingly endless options for motorcycle riding make this a special part of the world.
41. Colombia Highlands. Colombia offers the rider an incredible selection of mountain roads. Mostly unknown and still considered to be dangerous, bikers who have been there are reporting that the people are super friendly and the roads in the Andes mountains are just superb.
42. Greymouth to Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. A ride down the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island is by itself one of the best coastal rides you can do. However then you can enjoy Mt Aspiring national park before hugging the cliffs of the fiord like Lake Wanaka before descending into Queenstown via the Crown range. A truly awesome ride. See more photos of this on my New Zealand South Island ride.
43. Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador. Route of the Flowers, is a winding section of route CA-8 in El Salvador's coffee country. This scenic road is known for the beauty of its flowering coffee plants however it also offers mountain views, waterfalls and 5 unique villages with so many colourful and interesting sights. Nearby is the El Impossible natural park.
44. Alpine Route, Germany. Twisty roads for over 450 km from Lindau on Lake Constance to Schönau on Lake Königssee, this route is a magnet for bikers. Lush alpine meadows, soft rolling hills, towering mountain tops, thick green woods, romantic valleys and glistening lakes. This is a magnificent ride through the Bavarian Alps.
45. Shangri La, Yunnan, China. A ride in the Yunnan province of China will let you experience the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge. Visit the worlds highest city, historic Litang (4020m) before visiting the mythical Shangri La region via the dizzy 4700m Tuer mountain pass.
46. Riviera Corniches. France. The French Riviera stretches from St.Tropez to Menton. A ride along the upper two of three spectacular coast roads known as corniches allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.The Grand and Middle corniches both offer sensational views down onto beautiful coastline and the villas and luxury yachts. This is a ride suitable for scooters at a leisurely pace.
47. Venus Line, Nagano, Japan. The countryside of Japan is an amazing place for a motorcycle rider with many stunning roads to ride. The whole country is very mountainous and has excellent infrastructure which results in amazing roads like the Venus line being built to service remote areas with few vehicles. There are endless options for riding curvy roads in Japan. You can read about my riding in Japan and this road elsewhere on my blog.
48. Andalusia, Spain. Riding Andalusia on a motorcycle is an unforgettable experience. Andalusia has a varied terrain of rolling hills with forests which change dramatically to high deserts in the mountains. There are over 60 ‘good motorcycle roads’ listed for the area around Malaga alone. Well surfaced and low traffic roads that twist through the surrounding mountains with superb vistas. Some people come here to ride and decide they cannot leave.
49. El espinazo del diablo (The devils backbone) Durango, Mexico. The Devils Backbone is a scenic twisty mountain pass and favourite bikers road. Recently there has been a new bypass opened, the Durango-Mazatlan highway which while less twisty is still a spectacular ride. Also in Mexico consider riding highway 175 through the coastal Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains which is one of the most scenic drives and Hwy 182 from Fores Magnon to Tuxtepec.
50. Pacific coast highway, USA. A very popular and famous ride to finish this article with. There are plenty of other wonderful rides in the USA, perhaps route 66 might be on many peoples bucket list but that is much less of a riders road. Highway one is an excellent ride with a superb curvy road along the coast that is a joy to experience. Some photos and info of my ride south from San Francisco can be viewed here.
Hope you enjoyed this list and perhaps even get some ideas. Feel free to suggest the road you think is missing or your wish list place to ride in the comments.