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Motorcylists ride not only for the adrenaline, but for the beauty of being so close to nature. That’s why mentioning mountains and motorcycles to them gives them goosebumps – just by thinking about it.
Our guide to the best motorcycle road trips in the Alps will give you bikers even more hairs-on-edge than usual.
There are some seriously hairy destinations on this list after all…
1. Col de la Bonette, France
With an elevation of 8,907 ft above sea level, the Col de la Bonette mountain pass is one of the highest in all of Europe and borders with Italy. Situated in the French Alps, this pass has been popularised by the Tour de France, having featured as part of the route multiple times.
Beginning easily before growing in difficulty and challenge, you have a really giving and interesting task on your hand as a motorcyclist. It isn’t the climb that gets you, but the length. You’ll need endurance and stamina to get through the Col de la Bonette, but the incredible scenery around you will make it worth the while. It’s not one of the best motorcycle road trips in the Alps for nothing, you know.
2. Col de Tende, France
Another French gem is the Col de Tende, coming in at 1,870 metres high. One of the most unique things about this French Alps pass is that the city of Nice is connected to the Italian town of Cuneo, Piedmont, which is provides a stunning vista.
In terms of adventure points, the Col de Tende scores high. The pass was specifically adapted with motorcyclists and bikers in mind, so your adrenaline needs are catered for. On the route are a lot of abandoned structures, making for somewhat surreal riding, but riding which doesn’t get old quick. Once at the top of the col, you can discover the networks of old military roads and derelict forts littering the sides of the tracks. Make sure to wrap up though with a warm motorcycle jacket as it can get pretty nippy at the top of the pass.
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3. Furka Pass, Switzerland
The name’s Bond. James Bond.
Remember it? In Goldfinger, of the James Bond franchise, Switzerland’s Furka Pass was used for the high-stakes car chase. The narrow track on the northern side of the Furkareuss Valley has been preserved in film and also in the hearts of many a motorcyclist. It is thrillingly hairy with two-lane switchbacks and a descent that squeezes you as tight as you and your bike can go. At the very end, though, you’re on a straight 2.5km stretch taking you straight to the beautiful, yet incredibly tiny, village of Zumdorf.
4. San Bernandino Pass, Switzerland
Connecting the Hinterrhein and the Mesolcina valleys between Thusis and Bellinzona, the San Bernandino Pass is another great alpine mountain pass. Motorcyclists – you’ll love this route. With a 2,066m elevation and a smooth road throughout, there’s something so classic and elegant about this road trip.
Kicking it off is the A13 in Gorduno, continuing on north with generous bends. Along this route are some truly stunning views of valleys and the Alps which become so fabulous you might want to stop and just take it all in. At the end of the first leg of the journey, you end up in San Bernardino. From here, you should turn off and head down the old route featuring a grand total of seventeen hairpin bends. Now that’s adrenaline for you.
5. Passo Rolle, Italy
One of the most stunning views on this list is found on the Passo Rolle track. This Italian dream features the brooding peak of the Cimon della Pala which is so eye-catching you’ll need to remember to look ahead. The Matterhorn is also visible as you reach the crest of the track – and it’s truly remarkable.
This pass is not only visually stunning, but its roads are too. Sweeping and curvy, there is a lot of variety and challenge attached to the Passo Rolle. And once you’ve conquered this one, there are many more of the Dolomites to try out too. For sights that will be etched onto your brain forever, the Passo Rolle tops the list.
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6. Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria
It may be a bit of a mouthful, but the Austrian Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse mountain pass is special. For motorcyclists, it is pure gold. 36 hairpin bends ensure the blood is pumping, as does the 2,500-metre elevation. There are no bones about it: this is Austria’s highest surfaced mountain pass, and it’s one you can complete confidently thanks to the smooth tarmac beneath you.
The views are also perfect and present alpine nature like you’ve never known. Replenished green pastures converge onto each other alongside flowering meadows, ice and snow. It’s all part of the versatile appeal of the Alps and their iconic natural beauty.
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