Ten scenic roads to discover in SpainMotorcycle Diaries
A226, Mas de las Matas - Cantavieja, 55 km
Did you ever sit on a pearly white beach, watching over a bright blue ocean, wind in your hair, sun on your face - you know where we are heading. Imagine a road which has all of the above. If you trade in the sand for your bike, that is.
Because that is exactly what the A226 from Mas de las Matas to Cantavieja has layed out for you: 55 kilometers of winding, fast roads, on perfect (and we do mean flawless!) asphalt, which carves through the mountainous Aragon region. Make sure to grab those brakes around halfway, as you wouldn’t want to miss the views from the Dam of Santolea over the turquoise Embalse de Santolea, a drainage-basin nested into the limestone mountains surrounding it.
Great views, amazing ride.
AL3102, Bacares - Velifique, 31 km
This is probably one of the best roads in Europe, which is exactly why we used it in our intro movie for the final shots - love at first sight, from the very first time we rode it. A delightful plate of grayish spaghetti, draped all over the Sierra de Filabres mountain range.
Around 31 kilometers which house many dozens of hairpin turns in the shadow of the Tetica de Bacares - the highest point (2.050 metres above sealevel) of the Almeria region. If you take a left around halfway this Road, you can climb the roughly asphalted way up the mountain and have a rest next to the communication towers on the summit.
On a clear day, this will provide you with a stunning view on the Tabernas Desert and the Sierra Nevada National Park. Just beware: it may very well be situated in the south of Spain - northeast of the Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada - but it can be really cold up there. Even when the temperatures rise to summerworthy levels, the relentless wind will cause some chills.
CA-9104, Zahara de la Sierra - Grazalema, 15 km
Over to Andalucia, for a short ride which never ceases to amaze. It starts off in Zahara de la Sierra - a former Moorish outpost which is nestled at the foot of the Sierra del Jaral, on a hilltop surrounded by the turquoise water of the nearby reservoir lake. At the top, the castle keeps watch over this whitewashed village and the surrounding area. If you like to shoot the perfect picture of a heart-catching white village, then you're absolutely in the right place...
After taking your time to discover the village, the CA-9104 twists its way up and down a rather narrow road towards the very cozy town of Grazalema. Make sure to keep your eyes open during the ride, as the road will feast them with dazzling scenery on at least one side of the tarmac.
Our suggestion? Stop for a coffee at the Grazalema Plaza and get back on the road. As from there, 45 minutes in the saddle will take you to the magnificent town of Ronda - an ideal starting place to descend towards Marbella. But that, kids, is another story.
A127, Sos del Rey Catolico - Sabada, 27 km
Back up north towards the French-Spanish border, just south of Pamplona, where you can find Sos del Rey Catolico. Located on rocky and elevated terrain, this important border town served well as a stronghold from the year 907 and was home to no less than a king (Ferdinand II of Aragon, early 15th century). Which makes it fair to say, this is not your average ‘old town’.
As much as we’d like to, we’re not tour guides but road planning addicts - which is exactly what we’ve done: the A127 which runs through Sos towards Sabada is a very fast and winding road in a nearly perfect condition, that ‘ll treat you to Pyrenee mountain views while cutting through the fairytale town of Castiliscar before heading towards Sabada. Crack that throttle and enjoy!
JA3107, Torres - Albanchez de Magina, 10 km
For our next Road, we’re moving southbound to the village of Torres, right in the middle between Murcia and Sevilla. The 10 kilometer stretch we’ve selected runs in between Torres and Albanchez de Magina - the latter being a town called after the national park in which this gem is hidden: the magnificent Sierra de Magina!
A massif which towers above the province of Jaen, with a snowy peak rising to 2.164 meters, called the Pico Magina. Prepare for a ride in absolute solitude, as the lovely little road is only used by locals - and Motorcycle Diaries subscribers, after reading this shortlist...
BV4031, La Molina - La Pobla De Lillet, 26 km
It must have been 2002 when we first had the opportunity to ride this amazing road, and almost two decades later, we’re still convinced it is one of the best roads at the border with France. It is situated right next to the Serra de Montgrony mountain chain, which is the geographical extension of Cadí Moixeró and the Ribes Valley.
If you’ve never been there, that doesn’t explain much, but rest assured: they are names to describe a beautiful mountainesque landscape which some traditional farmhouses, meadows full of cows and wild horses, supplemented with forests of red oak pine, which will enchant any visitor. Needless to say the views from the - by the way perfectly surfaced - road are a true joy.
In for some historical sightseeing? In that case, you might want to take a left towards Gombren in the hamlet of Castellar de n’Hug, which will take you to the ruins of the Mataplana Castle. Highly recommended.
A395, Sierra Nevada, 26 km
Do we really need to introduce you to the Sierra Nevada? It is a mountain range in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia, which contains the highest point of continental Spain (and the third highest in Europe) - Mulhacén, which rises 3.479 metres above sea level.
The stretch of 26 kilometers we’ve selected is only one of three MD Roads in the area, which will surprise you with a selection of fast corners, hairpin turns and breathtaking mountain views. But be careful, due to the vast amounts of traffic on the road, the surface tends to be slippery at times. That, and the fact that the mountain range is quite properly named: Sierra Nevada literally means ‘mountain range covered in snow’, which is exactly what it is, during winter months.
Make sure you check if the road is opened when weather conditions change for the worse...
Puerto de Tremendal, 17 km
In the northwestern corner of the Sierra de Gredos - on the left side of Madrid - you’ll find this - eh - perky little mountain pass. The sign which points out the 1.637 meters of altitude is placed right next to a cattle grid and some ancient walls, which gives the place a real sense of the name puerto (gate).
A gateway towards a roughly paved stretch of asphalt, but one which holds wonderful views over the Sierra and its inhabitants: wild horses couldn’t be bothered by tourists, which makes it a great place to go and watch them. As with the previous Road, please check the forecasts to be sure there’s no snow on top. That would ruin the riding part, which would be an absolute pity: the road crinkles violently from Becedas towards La Carrera - a small town with a nice surprise.
As a perfect ending to this ride we’d suggest a visit to the haunted house Casa Rural el Arroyo. If you dare…
N260 - Puigcerda - Campdevanol, 53 km
Si senor, me gusta mucho el N260… We have ridden this 53 kilometer long section of the road with a giant smile behind our visor, in both directions, as long as there was any glimpse of daylight. This one’s a true marvel: wide enough to build up some speed, but with very technical parts and - because of the trees next to the road - some shady, moist sections. So take care, but enjoy the Pyrenee mountain views by the roadside as much as you can.
In between your up-and-down rides, you might want to stop at the Café del Llac in Puigcerda for a steamy cup of coffee by the lake, or - if you’re coincidentally at the other end of the stretch - have a short but impressive walk around the Route Els 7 Gorgs, just outside the Campdevanol village center. The latter will spoil you with - nomen est omen - seven small but gorgeous gorges or canyons with adjacent pools, ideal for a quick but refreshing dip during summer months…
CC129, Garciaz - Berzocana, 22 km
Rarely do we stop that often to take pictures on a road as we did on this one - that would ruin the ride a bit, right? But we wanted to make sure to convince you to at least give this one a try. The Spanish authorities managed to clench 22 kilometers of motorcycle dream material in between the hamlets Garciaz and Berzocana, in the Extremadura region.
Prepare for a tiny, one lane road which endlessly slithers through the landscape, while making a bunch of altimeters over a perfect surface. Honestly, what more would you wish for?