Power to the Picos
Your tour starts in Plymouth and with an overnight hop over to Santander you 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. You glide through sleepy little towns towards the well-beaten tracks of the Pilgrim trail which will bring you to your 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 mountain tops, you ride immersed in this dramatic landscape on winding roads towards Santiago de Compostela the final point on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Here you have a day off the bike 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.
Power to the Picos
On a route only known to the locals and us here at Magellan you 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 you 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 you then take on the Sierra de Estrella natural park situated in the largest mountain range in Portugal, here in the park you spend two nights and with one of the best ride out days on any tour you 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 you cross back into Spain be on the lookout! you 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 you cruise to your hotel in Zamora ringed by well preserved defensive walls and gates where you can relax over dinner and drinks with views of the castle.
Your final day sees you sadly leaving this paradise but not before we throw in a few more treats for you! You head north through the beautiful Spanish countryside to your lunch stop right beside the lake of Riano with its stunning mountains providing the backdrop for a well earned break. From here you carry on riding north to the place where your journey started the Picos De Europa and as you spend your last night reminiscing about hairpinned mountain passes, jaw dropping scenery, quaint villages, exquisite food and possible wolf sightings you can get on the ferry the next day wondering where your 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 your 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 you get the chance to see all of them as you drive your 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 riders 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’, you stay in the old town can usually take a walk before dinner to go and explore some of the sights.
Starting in Plymouth you take the ferry to Santander. Relax in the comfort of an ensuite cabin 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
You wind via little sleepy Spanish towns along smooth empty roads and onto your overnight stop on the Pilgrim Trail.
Day 4 169 Miles
The National park and it’s scented forests lead you towards the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela.
Day 5 Explore Day / Rideout Day
Day off to explore this famous cathedral city or you’ll have a rideout planned if you want more saddle time!
Day 6 170 Miles
Across the hills of western Galicia, you 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
You journey through the wine growing region of the Duoro valley and onto the blissful roads of the Serra de Estrela national park.
Day 8 90 Miles
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
You 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 you cruise through the countryside and towards the lake of Riano. You then journey north up to your hotel in the Picos de Europa.
Day 11 117 Miles
Hearty breakfast and then on through the rolling countryside towards Santander to get your 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!
When is the best time of year to do this trip?
May to September as a rule (with August being too hot for most people) although April and October can work with a dash of luck. The limiting factor with these trips is the start and end dates of the Brittany Ferries timetable for their crossings over the Bay of Biscay.
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 and you will normally be able to find somewhere to eat around 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 join the route 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.