Take your motorbike on a tour of North West Spain, through the sumptuous regions of Galicia, Asturias and Castille. Stumble across some of the best roads in Europe, sample delicious local foods and relax in spectacular Santiago de Compostela. North West Spain delivers a motorcycle adventure to remember.
Touring North West Spain on MotorbikeMotorcycle Diaries
Motorbike Touring in the Picos de Europa
Right on the edge of Asturias lies the Picos de Europa National Park, an area stuffed full of mountains. Any aspiring adventurer should detour into the Picos on their way from Central Europe, or from the UK ferries that arrive in Santander and Bilbao. Expect snow on the peaks here until May, but temperatures are definitely bearable on the main routes like the N621 and N625 by April.
All roads lead to Riaño. It's a town in a spectacular setting – surrounded on two sides by a vast reservoir. Stay overnight here and take advantage of the time off to take beautiful photos of the sunset. Incorporate the town into your route westwards: ride the N621 from Unquera south west into the mountains, and then ride the N625 back north west to Cangas de Onís.
Visit the Hermida Gorges. Be warned, this isn't a through road, so you'll have to head back the way you came. However, this has its definite advantages: less traffic and an overwhelming feeling of adventure. Take the CA-185 from the village of Potes all the way to Fuente Dé. Tarmac is surprisingly good, as well.
Road Spotlight: N625, Cangas de Onís – Riaño
Tracing the western edge of the Picos de Europa, the N625 scratches through leafy gorges southwards into the mountains. Keeping tight to the Sella River, the road twists and turns into ever steeper and deeper terrain. Try and maintain your cool as the scenery becomes vertical and your mind starts wondering about the chance of a rock fall. It's only as you ascend into the Castille and León region that the road leaves the Sella River behind and ascends towards the lakeside town of Riaño.
Touring Through Asturias
Asturias has some of the best roads in Northern Spain. Couple that with a very small population density and some of the best tarmac on the European mainland, and you're onto a winner. Get lost in the Somiedo area, where all the roads reward with flashes of fabulous views and little restaurants to relax at. Two other roads stand out: the AS-15 between Doriga and Caboalles de Abajo on the Castillian border, and the AS-14 between Grandas de Salime and the village of El Puelo. Where the AS-15 wriggles along following the paths of rivers, the tighter AS-14 bursts out onto mountaintops and rewards with spectacular panoramas. Make sure you enjoy the switchbacks between Peñaseita and Largo. Hungry? Hunt down the Casa de la Fabada in Cangas de Onís and feast on their local speciality: a sumptuous meaty stew.
Motorcycling in Galicia
Galicia in general is much flatter than neighbouring Asturias. Normally, fewer mountains mean more farmland and straighter roads, but Galicia is saved by its cracking coastline, which cuts in and out around Spain's north west headland. Ride to the north coast and you will come across smaller roads full of switchbacks. The LU-P-1502 from O Valadouro to Burela is a real challenge, with questionable tarmac and snakelike meanderings.
Some interesting roads can still be found inland. Take the Sil valley, for instance, and the tiny OU-0508 and OU-0605 that wriggle along on the south banks of the river. Smaller capacity adventure bikes will have a blast here.
Road Spotlight: DP2205, Carino – Cedeira
This Motorcycle-Diaries original is a twisty single-track ride through the coastal hills of northern Galicia. It's as if the landscape here hasn't changed for one hundred years, save for the phalanx of giant wind turbines you ride past. Expect spectacular views of the sea.
Staying in Santiago De Compostela
This city's old town must be seen if you're riding in the area. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, buzzing with life, thanks to a thriving university. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a destination for pilgrims from all over the world, as it supposedly houses the remains of St James. Whether or not you visit the relics, the cathedral and nearby Parador hotel make for a dramatic sight. Roads close by include the N-VI from Lugo to Ponferrada. This is the last mountain pass that pilgrims traverse before entering Santiago de Compostela and is kept free of traffic thanks to the nearby motorway.
Road Spotlight: AC550, Corrubedo – Fisterra
This rocky coastland, the Costa da Morte, has seen its fair share of shipwrecks. The AC550 traces the coast from the harbour of Corrubedo with its multicolour rowing boats, to the 18th Century Castillo De San Carlos in Fisterra, unofficially known as Finisterre. Take some time out to enjoy the natural beauty and stimulating water temperature of the Monte e Lagoa de Louro parkland.
Start creating your own trip now.