The best motorcycle tours in Europe

Motorcycle holidays allow you to combine your love of riding with a chance to enjoy some wonderful sights far and wide. Whether you’re holidaying close to home or venturing further afield, a motorbike tour is a great way to see more of the world. And there are few better than European motorcycle tours.

Europe has a longstanding love affair with motorbikes of all shapes and sizes. And thanks to the stunning and varied scenery across the continent, riders in Europe are also particularly fond of a road trip or two. So why not load up your bike, get out your map and set off on a truly unforgettable journey?

Whatever type of tour you fancy, Europe will have something to whet your appetite, with countless scenic routes to choose from.

Cool coastal routes with the sunshine on your back, rocky mountainside roads off the beaten track and winding country roads – Europe has it all. And with climates and conditions to suit everyone, it’s easy to find the perfect motorbike holiday for you.


Scenic Road on Rocky Cliffs and Mountain Landscape by the Tyrrhenian Sea. Amalfi Coast, Positano, Italy. Adventure Travel. Panoramic View


Here are some of the essential items you’ll need for your next motorcycle tour of Europe.

The EU requirement is that your passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years. And you must have three months validity left ahead of your planned date of return.
UK driving licences are still valid in the EU and those from EU countries can ride in the UK without needing an International Driving Permit.
Make sure you carry your motorbike’s vehicle registration document, MOT certificate and insurance certificate at all times, just in case.
Country sticker
Country sticker
This needs to be clearly identifiable on the rear of your bike.
Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance
This is highly recommended even though it’s not obligatory. 
The GHIC should help you avoid hospital bills if there’s an accident. If you’re from the UK, the old EHIC is valid up to its expiry date.

It’s also a good idea to check up on the road conditions in the country you’re going to visit before you set off. You’ll experience a wide variety of weather conditions across Europe, depending on the country and time of year you plan on visiting. So, make sure you pack accordingly and consider specific weather risks for the route you’re planning, Winter Tyres are advisable within some locations depending on the time of year. Bear in mind that some routes may even have restrictions on them at certain times of the year.


Route des Grandes Alpes (Great Alpine Road)

Where does it start:
Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Where does it end:
Menton, France

What is the distance:
Over 683km (425 miles)

Road among Alps mountains, Klosters-Serneus, Davos, Graubuenden Switzerland
Scenic road under blue sky along Mediterranean sea coastline on French-Italian border.
Stunning view of Maloja pass road at autumn time. Colorful autumn scene of Swiss Alps. Location: Maloya pass, Engadine region, Grisons canton, Switzerland, Europe

Simply put, the Route des Grandes Alpes is one of the greatest motorcycle road trips in the world, not just in Europe. More than 683 km (425 miles) of picturesque mountainside biking awaits, starting on the shores of Lake Geneva and ending at Menton close to the Italian border.

The most popular route takes two to three days to complete and connects 15 passes through charming villages and towns, including Col de L’Iseran – the highest pass in Europe. But the beauty of the Route des Grandes Alpes is you don’t have to stick to one road. Many brave and more experienced bikers ditch the classic route in favour of riding to the monument at Cime de la Bonnette, 2,802m above sea level.

An ideal trip for owners of adventure and touring motorcycles thanks to its long open roads, highlights include the last stretch of the route, where you’ll travel from Val d’Isere to Lake Geneva, passing Lake Roseland and enjoying spectacular views of Mont Blanc.

The best time to tackle the Route des Grandes Alpes is June or September when the roads are relatively quiet, and the weather is still good. The roads in the winter months can become dangerous with snow or ice on the roads so best to avoid. August sits within the height of summer so also best to avoid if possible – it can get very hot and the French national holiday season means it can be a lot busier than usual.

Highway at the european alps - near garmisch-partenkirchen

Route 2: The Garmisch Run

Where does it start:

Calais, France


Where does it end:

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany


Passes through:



What is the distance:

1,150 km (715 miles)

Starting in Calais, France and ending 1,150 km (715 miles) later, it’s three days of biking fun, with some fantastic sights to enjoy along the way.

Day one ends at Pont-à-Mousson, in north-eastern France, where you can check out the 18th-century Premonstratensian abbey. On the second day, you’ll take the B500 through the Black Forest before reaching Baden-Baden in Germany. From there, you’ll pass the shores of Lake Constance and have a short trip into Austria, before finishing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in the foothills of the Wetterstein mountains.

In theory, you could complete the Garmisch Run in two days, but you’d miss so much along the way. This ride is all about savouring the sights and stopping to experience the local culture, rather than competing to get to the end first – but when you’re not stopped at one of the must-visit sights, taking to the road on an adventure or touring bike will ensure every twist and turn is enjoyed.

Aerial drone shot of the amazing and world famous Atlantic Road in Norway.

Route 3: Trans Euro Trail

Where does it start:

Top to the bottom of the continent or east to west


Where does it end:

27 countries, including Norway, Spain, Greece, Poland, Germany and Belgium


What is the distance:

More than 51,000 km (31,689 miles)

Looking for something slightly more taxing? The Trans Euro Trail comprises more than 51,000 km (31,689 miles) of dirt road, making it one of Europe’s most unique routes. Influenced by the Trans America Trail, this largely unpaved route stretches out from the top to the bottom of the continent and from east to west. It passes through 27 countries, including Norway, Spain, Greece, Poland, Germany and Belgium, so you’ll get to see the best of Europe on this trip.

How far you wish to travel, and how challenging you want to make it, is up to you. It could take months to complete the trail in one go, so many choose to ride different sections over several years.

Although there are lots of remote trails to attempt, there are some normal roads too, to make it less daunting. However, the many dirt roads you’re likely to encounter means this is the perfect route for those with adventure bikes, designed for taking on those dusty trails just as well as they can handle a long road trip.

However, you choose to tackle the TET, there are some amazing sights to see along the way, including castles, prehistoric monuments, beaches and endless cornfields. It’s up to you how easy you make each night, too – you could choose to stay in five-star hotels, or camp under the stars.


Sisteron in Provence - old town at the France

Route 1: Route Napoleon

Where does it start:



Where does it end:



What is the distance:

322 km (200 miles)

The Route Napoleon is legendary among bikers and steeped in historical significance. The 322 km (200 miles) adventure follows the journey Napoleon took when his exile ended. Starting in Macon and finishing up in Antibes, you can complete Route Napoleon in a day. It’s best experienced in May or September, as it can get very hot along the route through the summer.

Starting at Macon, you’ll head to Grenoble then down towards Laffrey, before you reach the stunning views with rising and falling roads between La Mure and Gap. Less experienced motorcyclists may want to take their time on the D4085 down to Castellane – it’s the fastest section.

After that, a detour to the gorgeous Verdon Gorge or around the Lake of Sainte-Croix comes highly recommended. And if you have time, perhaps peruse the Fragonard Perfume Museum in Grasse? If you’d prefer a more traditional historical site, there’s a former Roman Catholic cathedral in the old town just begging to be explored.

Route 2:
The Normandy Beaches

Where does it start:

Where does it end:
Mont Saint-Michel 

What is the distance:
547km (340 miles)

View over the D-day beaches at Arromanches les Bains, Normandy, France
Road to Mont Saint Michel at sunset, Normandy. France.
The Bay of Ecalgrain at the end of the day in France

Another fascinating way to experience history on a motorbike tour in France is to try the 547 km (340 miles) of the Normandy Beaches, a region with a rich history flowing through its waters. You’ll begin in Rouen, the capital of Normandy, with history dating back to medieval times. Then it’s to the beaches, including Omaha Beach, with its cliffs and scattered bunkers. If you have time, you can also visit the war graves of Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

The Normandy Beaches route finishes up with yet more fascinating history, courtesy of the medieval monastery at Mont Saint-Michel. It’s worth noting if you want to visit Mont Saint-Michel, you’ll need to take a ferry to the island. It’s recommended you set aside at least a couple of days for The Normandy Beaches, so you can experience its many sights to the full.

Gorges du Verdon (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France), famous canyon

Route 3: Verdon Gorge

Where does it start:



Where does it end:



What is the distance:

90 km (56 miles)

For a ride as thrilling as it is beautiful, hop on your bike and experience the 90 km (56 miles) loop of Verdon Gorge, a spectacular journey around ‘Europe’s Grand Canyon’, starting and ending in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

It’ll be tempting to take in every minute of the journey along the Verdon River in one go, as the 700-metre-deep canyons and bright turquoise waters are awe-inspiring. However, these roads are winding and bumpy at times, so you may want a break every so often.

Verdon Gorge is relatively short, so it’s achievable in one day. When you’re done, if you want to explore further, hit the D23 that heads south to the town of La Palud-sur-Verdon. There are plenty of campsites there to rest up and spend the night.


SS48 – The Grande Strada delle Dolomiti

Where does it start:
Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Where does it end:

What is the distance:
112 km (70 miles)

Wonderful alpine scenery with spring crocus flowers on the hill and spectacular mountains at sunset, Giau pass, Dolomites, Italy, Europe
Famous alpine place Santa Maddalena village with magical Dolomites mountains in background, Val di Funes valley, Trentino Alto Adige region, Italy
Passo Valparola, Italy. View of the serpentine in the Tyrol, Dolomite Alps. Mountain view Cima Cunturines (3.064 m) from Passo di Valparola with in autumn near Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno in Italy

The great Dolomite road through northern Italy is a breath-taking journey through some of Europe’s most spectacular mountains. This 112 km (70 miles) route stretches over three passes - Costalunga, Pordoi (the highest in the range) and Falzarego.

The scenery is so stunning along the Grande Strada delle Dolomiti route that you’re going to be constantly tempted to stop and take it all in. Those craggy peaks and slopes are crying out for you to take pics.

The Dolomite passes are usually open by the end of May. September is the ideal time to take the tour, after the peak holiday time of August. Expect the route to take around half a day to complete.

The arched bridge at Fiordo di Furore on the Amalfi coast, Italy on a sunny day

Route 2: SP71 – Chia Coastal Road SS163 - Amalfi Coast Road

Where does it start:



Where does it end:



What is the distance:

96 km (60 miles)

Starting in Sorrento and ending in Salerno, the Amalfi Coast Road takes in some extremely pretty sites in south-west Italy. It’s worth noting that some of the roads on this route can get very narrow, and you may need to take care riding through Positano and Amalfi town where you might meet with cars, but the tour is more than worth it.

The Amalfi Coast Road is more than 96 km (60 miles) long, so in high season it can take around seven hours. However, take this route in late September, or before May, and you’re in for a real treat on this classic coastal road showcasing Italy at its best.

Panoramic road from Alghero to Bosa in north Sardinia, ideal for moto travel vacation

Route 3: SP71 – Chia Coastal Road

Where does it start:



Where does it end:



What is the distance:

23 km (14 miles)

Located on the lush island of Sardinia, the Chia Coastal Road takes in 23 km (14 miles) of coastline that is a delight from start to finish. You’ll begin in the ancient village of Chia itself, before cutting along the southern coastline of the island – why not take the journey on a scooter for an authentic experience?

One of the most picturesque routes on the list, there’s beauty everywhere, from the 17th-century Chia tower to small coves by the emerald-green sea. The only issue will be the extra packing you’ll need to do. You’re going to need your swimming gear and a towel because taking a dip here is a must.

Any time of year is great in Chia, though you might want to avoid the hottest months of July and August.


Classic Spainish summer mountain landscape view with road

Route 1: Jaen

Where does it start:

Jaén, Spain


Where does it end:

Jaén, Spain


What is the distance:

281 km (175 miles)

Nestled between Granada and the Portuguese border, you’ll find stunning Andalusia. There are many routes you can take here, but a popular one starts and ends in Jaén. Taking around six hours and spanning 281 km (175 miles), riders can experience fantastic twists and turns among awe-inspiring scenery.


Route 2: Pyrenees Coast to Coast

Where does it start: Santander

Where does it end: Santander

What is the distance: 3147.8 km (1,956 miles)

The 12-night route is a 1,956-mile loop from Santander, offers something for the solo rider, couples on a relaxed tour and groups of friends. These roads provide a great mixture of quiet twisty mountainous roads, twinned with scenic views and the prospect of a beach break. Riders can look forward to some fantastic scenery.

Route 3: Potes triangle

Where does it start: Potes

Where does it end: Potes

What is the distance: 201.1 km (125 miles)

One of the most famous rides in the Picos de Europa: Potes to Riaño to Cangas de Onís and back to Potes. This route posses a combination of scenery. From mountain passes and gorges, to lakes and other stunning scenery. A trip that can be done in just 4 hours and spans 125 miles, the perfect trip for the weekend.


Classic norwegian scandinavian summer mountain landscape view with road, mountains and fjord with a blue sky, northern Norway, Finnmark County, shot from drone

Route 1: The Road to Nordkapp

Where does it start:

Olderfjord, Norway


Where does it end:

North Cape (Nordkapp)


What is the distance:

130 km (80 miles)

The most northerly point in the continent draws motorbike riders from across the world. And with good reason. The road to Nordkapp from Oslo, Norway, features endless awe-inspiring scenery, with mountains, fjords and sunny ocean views aplenty.

Be aware the route is long if travelling from Oslo and will take between five and nine days to complete the 1,962 km (1,219 miles). However, the road to North Cape (Nordkapp) officially starts at Olderfjord and spans just 130 km (80 miles). Whichever route you take, why not take it at your own pace and enjoy the long open roads on a touring bike designed to enhance an unforgettable road trip?

Before tackling this route, it’s important to consider the conditions. Even in summer, the weather can be unpredictable, so you should plan for all eventualities. From one day to the next, you could be riding in blazing sunshine, storms and even snow. But if you think you have what it takes, the road to Nordkapp is thrilling, and few motorcycle tours in Europe can match it.

The Iceland Ring Road

Where does it start:
Reykjavik, Iceland

Where does it end:
Reykjavik, Iceland

What is the distance:
1,332 km (828 miles)

The European Route 69 (E 69 for short) is a European road between Olderfjord and the North Cape in northern Norway. The road is 129 km long and contains five tunnels with a total length of 15.5 km.
Panoramic winter photo of road leading along coast of lake to volcanic mountains. High rocky peaks covered with snow layer mirroring on water surface. Driver's point of view on Ring road, Iceland.
Scenic road in Iceland, beautiful nature landscape aerial panorama, mountains and coast at sunset

The 1,332 km (828 miles) Iceland Ring Road is a great way to explore some wondrous, fascinating sights on the island. To get there, you can either take a two-day ferry from Denmark or ship your motorbike over. It’s a little extra effort, but you will be more than rewarded with a truly memorable adventure in Reykjavik.

You could complete the Iceland Ring Road in around 20 hours, but it’s advised to give yourself a week to be able to take in all the sights. Must see sights include, of course, the Northern Lights, which you can see if you travel in late September or October; the natural hot springs which are perfect to relax in after a long day of riding; and a range of incredible landscapes you can soak up along the route, including the impressive Hverfell volcano.


Road leading along the Swiss alps in Andermatt

The Three Passes of Switzerland

Where does it start: Andermatt, Switzerland

Where does it end: Andermatt, Switzerland

What is the distance: 128 km (80 miles)

The Three Passes of Switzerland is easy to navigate and takes in three Alpine passes in a single day. The 128 km (80 miles) route starts and ends in Andermatt. Bear in mind the passes – Susten, Firka and Grimsel – are usually closed between October and May because of snow.

This is a route best taken at your own pace, where the glorious Alpine scenery will take your breath away. If you have time, there’s also the Nufenen Pass, to the south of the loop, to enjoy.

Road leading along the Swiss alps in Andermatt

The Transfagarasan Highway

Where does it start: Cartisoara, Romania

Where does it end: Bascov, Romania

What is the distance: 150 km (93 miles)

Running up and over Romania’s highest mountains, the Transfagarasan Highway is an incredible route. The twists and turns bring you to an impressive 2,042m altitude. While it’s tarmacked the entire way, there are some bumps and patchy areas the further down the road you venture.

Weekends can get busy, so for a quieter ride, opt to take this route on a weekday. A quieter journey means you can enjoy sights including Poenari castle, the residence of Vlad the Impaler – the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Road leading along the Swiss alps in Andermatt

Windermere Loop - Lake District, UK

Where does it start: Windermere

Where does it end: Windermere

What is the distance: 104 km (65 miles)

Taking under two hours, this fantastic route will see riders venture around Coniston Water and Windermere. There are a number of cafes and points of interest to stop at here in the Lake District National Park, so be sure to bring your camera for capturing the tranquil atmosphere on the route.

NT1100 dynamic shot on coastal road


Before planning any European motorcycle tours, it’s important to start by getting up to speed on the local rules of the road and how to stay safe. If you’re going to be riding in another country, chances are there’ll be some differences you need to be aware of.


You may be well versed on the rules at home, but it’s important to note that there are some variations across Europe. Speed limits, for example, can differ a little from country to country:

· Germany’s national speed limit (not including the Autobahn) is 100km/h (62mph).

· The speed limit in the Netherlands is 80km/h (50mph).

· In France, the limit is 50km/h (30mph) in built-up areas. On urban motorways and dual carriageways separated by a central reservation, it’s 110km/h (68mph), while on motorways, it’s 130km/h (80mph).

· In Italy, the speed limit is 50km/h (30mph) in town, 90km/h (55mph) on A roads, 110km/h (68mph) on dual carriageways and 130km/h (80mph) on motorways.

· Taking to the roads in Spain, the national speed limit on motorways is 120km/h (75 mph), built-up areas have a limit of 50km/h (30mph), while outside a built-up area the speed limit is 90km/h (55mph).

· In the UK, the national speed limit is 112km/h (70mph) on dual carriageways and motorways, single carriageways are 96km/h (60mph), while built-up areas are 50km/h (30mph).

If you’re caught speeding in many countries, you could be issued with an on-the-spot fine, which must be paid immediately – you could even be escorted to the nearest cash machine to do so. If you don’t or can’t, you could have your motorbike confiscated.

Although many European road signs are similar, there may be some differences and variations, so be sure to do some research before you travel so you know what to expect.


· Filtering or lane splitting is illegal in France.

· You must carry a breathalyser kit in France, and if you’re caught not wearing gloves, you’ll face a €68 fine.

· If you wear prescription spectacles, it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare pair in Spain.

· Wearing in-ear speakers in Spain and France is illegal. But built-in helmet speakers are acceptable.

· Motorcyclists in Belgium must wear protective clothing.

· Motorcyclists in Germany must keep their passing lights on, whether it’s day or night.

· In the UK, both rider and pillion passenger must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, scooter or moped.

· Motorcycles not registered in Italy but being used in the country need to have EU-style number plates with the vehicle’s origin or a sticker of the home country beside the rear number plate.