Power to the Picos
Our tour starts in Plymouth and with an overnight hop over to Santander we soon enter the jagged, deeply fissured Picos De Europa, a mountain range that offers not only some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery but some of the best roads a motorcyclist could dream of. We glide through sleepy little towns and empty bends towards the well-beaten tracks of the Pilgrim trail which will bring us to our first pit stop.
The next day brings scenery that will make you believe you’ve stepped into Jurassic Park with its craggy canyons and harsh mountaintops, we ride immersed in this dramatic landscape on winding roads towards Santiago de Compostela the final point on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Here we can have a day off the bikes to explore the quaint granite streets and alleys or if you’re still raring to go in the saddle there is a ride out to Cap Finisterre, believed in Roman times to be the end of the known world.
Spain & Portugal are just epic! From riding the Picos de Europa to the Duoro Valley and the Pilgrims route, there is something for everyone. Join me in May to experience the best roads in both countries!
Power to the Picos
On a route only known to the locals and us here at Magellan we ride across the border from Spain via the high hills of western Galicia and the Da Peneda-Geres National Park who’s rugged hills are home to deer, wolves and golden eagles towards Guimaraes, the ancient capital of Portugal. From there we cruise through the Duoro valley, one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world, but this world heritage site is not just a treat for the wine connoisseurs amongst you. With its beautiful scenery and quiet roads that wind alongside the Douro river it’s a bikers dream in every sense!
From one dream to another we then take on the Sierra de Estrella natural park situated in the largest mountain range in Portugal, here in the park we spend two nights and with one of the best ride out days on any tour we venture to the Torre. Standing at 1,993 metres this is the highest point of mainland Portugal and offers exceptional views for miles. If standing on top of the world isn’t enough did we mention the clear, smooth roads and hairpin after hairpin to get there?
As we cross back into Spain be on the lookout! We ride through the Sierra de la Culebra hunting reserve famed for being one of the last places you can see a subspecies of the grey wolf in the wild - The Iberian Wolf. A sighting of this animal from the seat of your bike is a real treat and with food left out for them by the rangers you may just get lucky! After an afternoon of pretending to be David Attenborough we cruise to our hotel in Zamora ringed by well preserved defensive walls and gates where we can relax over dinner and drinks with views of the castle.
We head north through the beautiful Spanish countryside to our lunch stop right beside the lake of Riano with its stunning mountains providing the backdrop for a well earned break. From here we carry on riding north to the place where our journey started the Picos De Europa and as we spend our last night reminiscing about hairpinned mountain passes, jaw dropping scenery, quaint villages, exquisite food and possible wolf sightings we can get on the ferry the next day having made wonderful new friends and wondering where our next adventure on the bike will be!
The Picos de Europa: A dramatically beautiful combination of geological magnificence, lush green vegetation and fantastic roads provides the setting for the beginning of our tour.
Santiago de Compostela: The capital of Galicia in the Northwest of Spain. A pilgrimage destination for 300,000 Caminos a year, the city is steeped in history and culture.
Western Galicia: The quiet, smooth hills are a bikers dream. With empty, perfectly tarmacked roads, bucketfuls of twisties and no traffic, this ride is incredible.
Da Peneda-Geres National Park in Northern Portugal: Inhabited by many different species, from long-horned wild cows to wolves- and we get the chance to see all of them as we drive our scenic route. Breath-taking scenery, granite villages and oak forests make this National Park a must-see.
The Wine growing region of the Douro Valley: One of the oldest wine regions in the world, but remarkably quiet and un-touristy. The region is full of quiet roads and steep mountainous climbs with wonderful views of traditional vineyards.
Sierra de Estrella: Undoubtedly home to some of the finest biking roads in Europe. So far it's managed to stay off the radar for most UK bikers and we hope it stays that way so we can keep enjoying it all to ourselves for the foreseeable future. That's all we’re going to say about it. You’ll see when you get there!
Sierra de la Culebra hunting reserve: One of the last places you can see the Iberian wolf in the wild and our groups always relish sharing stories of ‘almost spots’ over dinner afterwards.
Historic city of Zamora: Ringed by well preserved defensive walls and gates this historic city has been described as a ‘Romanesque Museum’, we stay in the old town and usually take a walk before dinner to go and explore some of the sights.
Starting in Plymouth we take the ferry to Santander. Relax in the comfort of an ensuite cabin, get to know your fellow riders and enjoy dinner in one of the on-board restaurants.
Day 2 114 Miles
Our first taste of the Picos de Europa.
Day 3 160 Miles
We wind via little sleepy Spanish towns along smooth ribbons of empty roads and onto our overnight stop on the Pilgrim Trail.
Day 4 169 Miles
The National park and it’s scented forests lead us towards the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela.
Day 5 Explore Day / Ride-out Day
Day off to explore this famous cathedral city or we’ll have a ride-out planned for those who want more saddle time!
Day 6 170 Miles
Across the hills of western Galicia we ride past Ourense and cross the border through the Da Peneda-Gerês National Park before heading towards Guimaraes the ancient capital of Portugal.
Day 7 177 Miles
We journey through the wine growing region of the Duoro valley and onto the blissful roads of the Serra de Estrela national park.
Day 8 Explore Day / Ride-out Day
Have a well-earned day off enjoying the scenery and local walks or an optional ride out through the national park to the Torre, the highest point in the Serra da Estela mountain range.
Day 9 215 Miles
We cross back into Spain through the Sierra de la Culebra hunting reserve in the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Day 10 195 Miles
Heading back north we cruise through the countryside and meet up beside the lake of Riano. We then journey north up to our hotel in the Picos de Europa.
Day 11 117 Miles
Hearty breakfast and then on through the rolling countryside towards Santander to get our overnight ferry for the final leg of the trip home.
Arrive home safe and sound and make your friends jealous with your tales of the tour!
What’s the weather like on this tour?
We pick the date of this trip to get the best mix of riding conditions on the different elevations we cover. As you go over the top of the Picos and the day in the Estrella mountains can be chilly while the days over the plains can be quite warm, a sensible mix of vented kit and waterproofs with some base layers should cover all eventualities.
Is what I hear about the Spanish not eating until 10pm correct?
The Spanish do indeed eat late, in fact it's not unusual for people to go out for dinner at 11pm or later. We've tailored the trip to take in English sensibilities and rumbling bellys after a long day’s ride through and normally eat between 8 - 8.30pm.
Can I get a different crossing on this trip?
Of course, while the crossing from Plymouth allows you to go on the nicer, larger boat, leave on days that fit easier with the trip and arrive at a sensible time we know that Plymouth doesn't suit everyone. If you would like to make your own arrangements to get over to Spain and meet the group at the hotel on the first night near Santander just let us know in the comments section of your booking form and we will deduct the cost of the included crossing from your booking.