5 Nice Roads from the MD-communityMotorcycle Diaries
Out of the many submissions - some of them prize-winning - we’ve selected five Roads which we believe are true marvels. For all of you to enjoy, over and over again.
Havøysund (85 km, Norway)
The first marvel amongst your admissions is to be found high up north, in the little Norwegian fishing village of Havøysund. It is located at 71° north and quite literally is the end of the road.
The village suddenly pops up, which took contributor Chris Maillet by surprise: if you think about it, it ‘s quite special that there even is such a thing as a viable community situated at the spot where the northernmost point of the Norwegian Scenic Route plunges into the ocean.
The village is one thing, the road leading towards the town center another: its landscape changes constantly and even though it only rises a couple of hundred meters above sea level at its highest, you get the feeling of riding above the treeline.
Parts of the road traverses a moon-like landscape with the Arctic Ocean on one side and rugged outcrops on the other.
The landscape is stark and dramatic and there are few signs other than the road to show that anyone has ventured here before.
But in the middle of this apparently barren land, you can actually spot both sea eagles and reindeer.
The ride will thrill you from the beginning to the end, with a magnificently picturesque finale!
The road itself crinkles along the coast for the most part of the journey, but with a few short and steep hills across the fell. Grant yourself - and your bike, of course - a well-deserved rest at the amazing Lillefjord or Selvika. We’re sure you won’t regret!
Good to know: the Havøysund plateau is just as far north, but far less crowded than the North Cape.
Drag along your tent - wild camping is not an issue in Norway - and you might just experience the best of the midnight sun during the summer or even some stunning northern lights during winter.
Although we wouldn’t suggest riding your motorcycle to this edge of the Barents Sea at those temperatures…
See the Havøysund by Chris Maillet.
Kalin Dam (15 km, Bulgaria)
Even if you tried the road above during summer times, chances are you will want to look for more summerish vibes on a more southern destination.
Say no more: although Bulgaria might not be number one on your summer holiday shortlist, the country is luring more and more tourists towards its magnificent Black Sea shoreline and stunning mountainous backdrops.
Amongst them, quite a few motorcyclists - and with good reason. The road Peter Emilov sent in sweeps its way up the Rila mountain range, starting off from Pastra, devouring a serious series of switchbacks towards the majestic Kalin Dam.
The surface consists of terribly maintained concrete and gravel, shaped into narrow and steep shepherd roads.
So be careful: the rough road surface may demand something a little more heavy-duty than your run-of-the-mill road bike.
There are grueling drops along the entire length of this road and enough hairpins to make a whirlygig dizzy. Not one for the faint of heart.
Although we’re mainly riding up to the Kalin Dam at 2.398 meters above sea level - one of the highest mountain roads of the country - you can still continue a little further up the road for some extra hairpins and a look over the valley from Vintcheto.
To reach that slowly decaying water tower, which marks the summit, you’ll have to climb your way up for almost 18 kilometers at an average gradient of nine percent, with some parts mounting up to 12 percent.
It’s said to be the highest concrete-paved road on the Balkans.
Whichever you choose to do, the ride up there is definitely worth your effort: on a clear day, the summit offers simply stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
But beware: the area is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. So please, do yourself a favor and don’t travel this road in severe weather conditions.
The highest part of the road is closed between late October to the beginning of July due to snow.
See the Kalin Dam by Peter Emilov.
Norcia - Castelluccio - Arquata del Tronto (47 km, Italy)
A great MD-road, which is not too long - but totally satisfying. Each season baptizes the fields of Castelluccio in completely different colours - in July for instance, it gets covered by a thick blanket of flowers.
The region became sadly famous in 2016 after an earthquake destroyed all of the villages along the way.
Our road escapes the well in Norcia, a small town in Perugia - not too far from the capital of Umbria. Make sure not to overpack your motor beforehand, as this historical and artistic place has a lot to offer - especially in the food and wine section.
We’d recommend starting this trip with empty side cases or an equally vacant backpack. Back to riding, though.
The delightfully crinkling SS685 will lead you from the city into the impressive Monti Sibillini National Park - the area where the earthquake hit hardest, three years ago.
From thereon, the SP477 will take you further towards the northeast, direction Forca di Presta and Monte Vettore - the spot where the great curvature of the road kicks in, and the stunning surroundings will leave you gasping for air.
To catch your breath again, lower the pace and take in the magical landscape that lures you towards the plain of Castelluccio di Norcia.
Remember the flower blanket we’ve mentioned earlier?
Well, this is the place to florally feast your eyes, and see how the area is still recovering from the trembling of the earth…
After a short break, the SP89 descends towards Arquata del Tronto, which adjoins three regions (Lazio, Umbria, and Abruzzo) and is known for its medieval fortress which towers over the town.
It is also the only town in Europe enclosed within two protected natural areas: the National Park of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga South, and the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini north.
Which basically means you can enjoy twice as many natural gems: from steep rocky walls, over dense woods, to green pastures galore.
From its highest peaks, you can spot the summits of the Gran Sasso d'Italia and even the Adriatic Sea. One to cherish.
See the Norcia - Castellucccio by Francesco Scacchetti.
Westfjords (298 km, Iceland)
Time to cool down, right? Well, thanks to Christos Aspromatis, you’ll get the refreshment you have been waiting for: his nearly 300 kilometers of MD-road will take us towards the amazing Icelandic Westfjords.
A region cheekily named “the most famous unknown place in Iceland”, but - as it has obtained a prestigious European Destination of Excellence award, and has been named in Lonely Planet’s top 10 of regions in the world to visit - it won’t surprise you the Westfjords are making a name for themselves.
Lonely Planet, the well-known travel guide publisher, said the “oddly shaped” peninsula “as isolated as it is spectacular”.
Luckily for us, isolated does not mean inaccessible, even if most of this Motorcycle Diaries Road consists of gravel roads - which can be a bit hard to handle for heavily loaded bikes, but should be rather easy to take on if you travel light.
A bit of trail or offroad profile on your tires is a plus, though.
Anyway, the rewards are huge: if you manage to conquer every meter of this road, you’ll be spoiled by stunning seaside views, cliffs and valleys packed with birds and arctic foxes, desolate fjords where silence is king, thundering waterfalls and crystal clear streams.
The roads seem as endless as the fjords appear bottomless.
Need extra motivation? Well here it goes: the Westfjords are one of the best places on earth to watch the Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis if you want to be fancy - during the winter months and equally fantastic to experience the midnight sun during the summer.
No further questions? Off you go!
See the Westfjords by Christos Aspromatis.
Eastern Kissavos (17 km, Greece)
And while you are getting used to riding terribly paved roads, we’ll finish this shortlist with a road of the same caliber; the surface might be far below average, but the fun is definitely above!
The latter, also known as Ossa (the summit rises 1.978 meters above sea level), lies on the east side of Thessaly, facing mount Olympus - the two mountains being divided by the magnificent Tempi valley.
While the region is ubiquitous in Greek mythology, nowadays the majority of the Kissavos has been declared as ‘Ossa Aesthetic Forest’, as well as a special protection area by the Pan-European network Natura 2000 - as it is an area of exceptional natural beauty.
And rightfully so.
While the western side of the mountain faces the great plain of Larissa, to the east its slopes reach the sea, forming several little creeks and stunning beaches.
To the north, we find Tempi Valley and Olympus. On the south side of the road, you’ll be spoiled by Agia valley and the mount Mavrovouni.
The northwest side of Kissavos is rocky and barren, while the south and east sides are flourishing, grown with planes, beeches, chestnuts, and firs.
One more exceptional feature of the mountain is its countless canyons, eroded by the gushing streams. Added up, you’ll have a blast riding this one!
See the Eastern Kissavos by Dimitris Kyriakopoulos.
Be a part of the community!
As we’ve mentioned on top, an important part of Motorcycle-Diaries is the community.
Because you know your local roads better than anyone because you're all traveling to fantastic destinations and you probably discover many scenic roads on the way as well as great places to stay overnight.
Motorcycle-Diaries is a true inspiration haven and foremost a community platform. So to encourage members of the community to share their favorite roads on the site, we're organizing a monthly competition! Don’t hesitate, join in and send in your best trips - you might just end up with a great prize!