Travel is all about freedom, and possibly a bit of adventure. Road trips offer an even greater sense of freedom as they allow us to travel at our own pace, ditch the public transport and tour buses, and uncover the lesser known gems of a destination.
While we often envision a vehicle when planning a road trip, a motorcycle road trip may just be the most liberating way to travel.
Not only does riding a motorcycle force you to travel light, it also allows you to experience a greater intimacy with the landscapes you pass through and the people you meet.
Whether you’re thinking of planning a motorcycle road trip within your own country or abroad, there are a number of things to consider including choosing a route.
There are a number of exceptional motorcycle destinations, some of which will require a generous amount of planning and others which offer easy to plan self-drive holidays or even more stress-free guided motorcycle tours.
Whether you’re a fan of Harleys, Yamahas, or BMWs, here are some of the world’s top motorcycle road trip destinations you should consider.
Best Countries for a Motorbike Road Trip
Things to Consider When Planning
Before we go full throttle into the best motorcycle destinations in the world, there are a few important points to cover. Starting with being properly insured.
Keep in mind that your motorcycle policy at home most likely won’t cover you when renting a motorbike abroad when planning that international ride, so you may need a separate policy.
A multi bike insurance policy is perfect if you have more than 1 motorbike. A multi bike policy will provide coverage for two or more bikes in a single policy which will often prove cheaper than purchasing separate policies for each bike, making this the ideal option for motorcycling couples.
You also will need to make sure you have the proper license for riding a motorbike as this can vary between countries.
If you’re considering bringing your own motorcycle with you abroad, you may need to obtain what’s known as a Carnet de Passages. This customs document is basically a “passport” for your bike which will allow you to temporarily import your bike for a set amount of time into another country. However, this is only a requirement in selected countries.
#1 United States
The United States has to be the top motorcycle holiday destination in terms of ease of planning. You can plan a route nearly anywhere in the U.S. and almost be guaranteed you’ll have access to hotels, restaurants, services, and attractions along the way.
There are also endless touring routes to choose from. You can make your way along sections of the Historic Route 66 which cuts through the heart of the nation as it makes its way through a number of states. There are countless historic and quirky landmarks to take in along this National Scenic Byway.
You also have ultra-scenic routes including the Pacific Coast Highway the runs along the California coastline, the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway that passes through North Carolina and Virginia, or Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 which takes in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Park.
The U.S. is of course also home to the world’s largest annual motorcycle rally. The 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is said to attract roughly a half million riders each year in August.
Italy manages to pack in a whole lot of culture, delicious cuisine, gorgeous scenery, and centuries of history in a rather small area, making it one of Europe’s most ideal motorcycling destinations.
Whether you love romantic cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan with their stunning mix of architecture and art or more natural landscapes like the Dolomites and rolling hills of Tuscany, there is a motorcycle route to suite your individual tastes.
Take in incredible sea views along the Almafi Coast or Cinque Terre, parking your bike at the village entrances and then stretching your legs a bit as you take to foot travel. There’s also the Ducati Museum and Factory in Bologna that motorcycle enthusiasts will want to check out.
Intrepid travelers will want to tackle Italy’s Stelvio Pass. This short motorcycle day trip along Strada Statale 38 will take you up to 9,000 feet above sea level in the Ortler Alps. There are dozens of hairpin turns to navigate along what many consider to be one of the world’s most scenic riding roads.
If pristine natural beauty and isolation is what you seek, look no further than New Zealand. Both the North and South Island offer wonderful motorcycle routes along well-maintained roadways that are often completely free of traffic and nearly void of wildlife to contend with on the roads.
On the North Island, you can bathe in Rotorua’s healing geothermal waters, experience Maori culture, relax on pristine beaches, and get a taste for the cities of Auckland and Wellington.
One of New Zealand’s top motorcycle routes is also on the North Island just outside Auckland. Known as the Coromandel Loop, this route in the Waikato Region offers up a network of somewhat challenging winding roads.
Things get a bit wilder on the South Island, where you have motorcycle routes like Arthur’s Pass which climbs into the Southern Alps, Mount Cook Road which will introduce you to the scenery portrayed in Lord of the Rings, or the scenic highway from Queenstown to Glenorchy which takes in Lake Wakatipu.
There’s also South Island’s West Coast Road which is New Zealand’s answer to Australia’s Great Ocean Road or America’s Pacific Coast Highway. This route will see you experience beautiful forests, Franz Josef glacier, and of course plenty of picturesque coastline.
Not to be outdone, the North Island also has a Pacific Coast Highway which starts in Auckland and ends in Hawke’s Bay.
Why settle for an ordinary motorcycle road trip when you can opt for a motorcycle safari. South Africa offers up some pretty epic road trips where you not only get to take in breathtaking scenery, but may also encounter some of Africa’s most notable animals.
A motorcycle trip through South Africa is never boring. Rich in biodiversity, you may find yourself riding past elephants, baboons, lions, kudus, leopards, and warthogs.
Take in the Cape Town Circuit, drive out to New Cape Point Lighthouse in the Cape of Good Hope, or head to Bloukrans Bridge near Nature’s Valley where you can be even more adventurous by taking a leap off the world’s highest commercial natural bungee jump.
You can ride past historic Zulu battle grounds and take in South Africa’s many diverse cultures, many of which have their own unique language. There are now even motorcycle tour companies that have been given permission to take riders into the world famous Kruger National Park.
Not to be outdone in terms of adventure, Morocco is another top motorcycle destination in Africa. You’ve got beautiful coastline, the Atlas Mountains, Sahara Desert, and Dadés Gorge to experience.
Riding R704 through Dadés Gorge offers the nation’s thrilling mountain pass road with plenty of hairpin turns and lookout points. Another adventurous route, connecting Marrakech and Taroudannt, is the Tizi-n-Test Pass that takes riders through the heart of the Atlas Mountains.
While roadway traffic can be a bit congested in and around the major cities like Marrakesh, the traffic thins out dramatically as you head off towards the smaller villages, especially when avoiding the major highways.
Palaces, Roman ruins, bustling markets, and ancient cities now classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites await. You can also swap your bike for a camel ride into the Sahara, where you’ll overnight at a desert camp that will allow you to rest your sore muscles from riding.
These are just some of the top motorcycle holiday destinations that await those spirited travelers who embrace freedom and the open road.
So the next time you’re considering a road trip at home or abroad, consider swapping four wheels for two in order to experience the road in a whole new way.