IMTBike Motorcycle Tours has published its full 2024 calendar. Destinations include Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, the Alps, and Morocco along with MotoGP tours and global tours in Turkey, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam. Check out the IMTBike 2024 tour calendar for dates, details, and pricing. Sign up now to lock in IMTBike’s current prices.
Many of IMTBike’s tours have new improved routing for 2024, and the company’s fleet of more than 200 BMW motorcycles will be updated with the latest 2024 models. Established in 1997, IMTBike has been conducting motorcycle tours for 26 years, and it has not only extensive experience but a reputation for high-quality tours. Check out the IMTBike testimonials page to find out what many satisfied clients have to say.
Make your plans and pack your bags, because the Edelweiss Bike Travel tour brochure is back for the 2024/25 travel season with new tours added to the list of beloved classics. Edelweiss Bike Travel has over 40 years of experience guiding motorcycle tours and currently offers tours in more than 180 destinations.
Edelweiss tours vary in terms of difficulty, length, and type of riding, as well as location. Detailed information about each upcoming tour is available in the brochure to help you pick the tour that’s right for you.
New tours this year include Motorcycle Dream Portugal, Southern Italy Delights and Twisties, Adventure Namibia, Best of Southern Brazil, and more.
Read the press release below for more information about the brochure and a link to download your digital copy or request a copy by mail.
The most wonderful time of the year has come again! With great pride and joy, we present to you the brand-new Edelweiss Bike Travel catalog 2024/2025, packed with unforgettable adventures, breath-taking landscapes, and loads of two-wheeled action.
Those who know us also know that resting on our laurels is not our thing at all. That’s why we already have big plans for the upcoming season. We are delighted to inform you that as of today, our brand-new travel program for 2024/25 is now available online and ready to be booked.
As a thank you for your loyalty and enthusiasm for our tours, we are offering an exclusive early bird discount: Book a guided tour in Europe in 2024 from our Edelweiss standard program until Oct. 31, 2023, and receive a $250 or €200* discount! To redeem, simply enter the booking code EBB2024,and the discount will automatically be deducted from your booking.
(*Valid for new online bookings of guided motorcycle tours in Europe from the standard Edelweiss program until Oct. 31, 2023. Not valid for motorcycle rentals or self-guided tours. The amount will be deducted automatically. No cash redemption possible.)
While you’re already dreaming of the next adventure on two wheels, our brand-new catalog for 2024/25 with all the tours and information about Edelweiss Bike Travel is on its way to you! Haven’t signed up to receive the catalog yet? Just click on the link below and get your free printed version delivered. If you prefer browsing through the digital version, you can also download the catalog directly from our website.
We have worked tirelessly to put together another spectacular program that will make all your dreams of exciting motorcycle tours come true. With our commitment to always offer the ultimate travel experience for all motorcycle enthusiasts, we have further enhanced our proven tours and expanded our program with a variety of new destinations.
The successful AMA Alps Challenge tours, where we conquer the 40 highest passes in the Alps, will be included in the program as fixed Edelweiss AMA Alps Challenge tours:
We have expanded our long-distance destinations to include tours in Namibia and Brazil, which not only offer breath takingly beautiful landscapes and cultural highlights, but also plenty of thrilling curves.
And also off-road fans have every reason to be excited: We have new Unpaved-Tours! Edelweiss now offers three new guided Adventure Country Tracks (ACT) tours in Italy, the Balkans, and Greece.
Whether you dream of exploring the majestic mountain roads of the Alps, traversing the wild and untouched Patagonia, visiting the charming villages of Europe, or experiencing the endless landscapes of the Australian outback – with Edelweiss Bike Travel, you will undoubtedly find the perfect motorcycle tour to turn your dreams into reality!
Taking my first guided motorcycle tour was a dream that was years in the making, and last fall, I took the plunge by booking a two-week trip with IMTBike to tour parts of Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, and France.
As an avid reader of motorcycle touring magazines, I was drawn to the siren song of companies advertising guided tours to exotic, faraway places. However, up until that point, my bike trips were confined to self-guided tours in the U.S. and Canada, which certain advantages over guided tours.
The pros of self-guided tours are:
Cost. A self-guided tour is a lot cheaper than a guided tour.
You can travel exactly at your own pace and set your own agenda.
In North America, I have lots of friends and family I can see along the way and cadge a free place to stay.
Also, my bike is here, and I don’t have to worry about transporting it overseas or renting.
The pros of a guided tour are more extensive and include:
Not having to worry about where you are going to stay, and enjoying excellent accommodations.
Not having to pack and unpack your stuff every day you are on the road; IMTBike has a tour van that follows you.
Going at a reasonable pace by avoiding the temptation to push yourself beyond physical and mental limits.
Never having to worry about where and when you are going to eat. With IMTBike, food was top-notch.
Using someone else’s bike and, in my case, getting one that was beyond my wildest expectations.
Having a gang of congenial people with whom to share the experience.
Leaving the decisions on where to go in the hands of seasoned and knowledgeable professionals with local knowledge.
The IMTBike Sardinia and Corsica Motorcycle Tour starts in Barcelona, a large industrial, commercial, and cultural hub located in northwestern Spain. After being met at the airport by our tour guide, Sergi, I was struck by seeing an airport parking lot with hundreds of bikes. Sergi explained that with two wheels, you can park at the airport for free, regardless of why you are there. Never had I encountered such a bike-friendly place – a fact that was reinforced by seeing bikes parked in the city on just about any available space that was not part of an established thoroughfare.
After checking into my hotel, Sergi and our tour assistant Paolo scheduled a briefing for our 16-member tour group, which included folks from New Zealand, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Argentina, followed by dinner at a restaurant built in what was once a bullfighting ring.
Following dinner, I had the misfortune of getting separated from my group and hopelessly lost. After a couple hours of aimless wandering, I encountered a German lady who spoke fluent English and hailed me a cab and wouldn’t leave me until I was safely ensconced in my hotel.
The following morning, we embarked on our first day of the tour, which included some fantastic riding outside Barcelona, a city with the Mediterranean to its east and mountains to its north, west, and south. Just 15 minutes from downtown we were in motorcycling paradise.
Our afternoon ride took us due north through the Montserrat Mountains to the Montserrat Monastery, which is literally built into the mountain range. I was riding a BMW R 1250 GS, and I was blown away at what a great touring bike it is. While there are faster, better handling, better looking, and maybe even more comfortable bikes around, the 1250 GS hit such high scores across the board that it wasn’t long before I started saying to myself, “I’ve got to get me one of these.” Don’t tell my wife.
After a 90-mile ride, we were back in Barcelona to wait for the ferry that would take us to Sardinia. The ferry was late, and we waited in light rain. Upon arriving in Sardinia, we disembarked in Porto Torres and spent the rest of the day in what the IMTBike guidebook billed as “without doubt one of the best places in the world for motorcycling.”
Having only taken long-distance bike trips in North America, I was in no position to argue, but I can say it was the best I had ever experienced. According to the guidebook, this is because “no other place offers such a density of perfectly asphalted and lightly traveled twisty roads. … It’s as if God decided to give this island the best possible combination of attributes for the sole enjoyment of motorcyclists.”
Our destination was Alghero, where our hotel rooms overlooked the vast expanse of the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. In fact, almost every hotel we stayed at on the two islands had the same type of view.
The following morning, our tour followed a familiar pattern. First, a daily briefing where our guides explained where we were going for the day, with a description of the historical and topographical highlights. Then we would hit the road around 9 a.m., stop for a coffee break about an hour and a half later, and then ride on for a couple more hours until we stopped for lunch.
After lunch, we rode again for another hour and a half, took another coffee break, and then completed our day’s ride in late afternoon or early evening. In this, our first full day of riding, we traveled 147 miles, where our lodging awaited us in the village of Arbatax.
While Sardinia is part of Italy, the island—the second largest in the Mediterranean—is an autonomous region, and its inhabitants consider themselves more Sardinian than Italian. It is sparsely populated with an idyllic climate and gorgeous mountains and seascapes, making it a true paradise for the long-distance biker.
For the next four days – and one optional rest day – we followed a similar itinerary throughout the length and breadth of the island. On Day 4, we traveled 215 miles from Arbatax to Su Gologone, where we stayed two nights. Some of the group took an optional tour, while others, like me, kicked back at an Olympic-sized pool.
On Day 6, we left Su Gologone and spent our last day in Sardinia, traveling 125 miles until we reached our destination, via a short ferry ride, to the spectacular natural port of Bonifacio, Corsica, an island north of Sardinia that is part of France.
On Day 7, we rode 135 miles from Bonifacio to Ajaccio, the administrative capital of the island and childhood home of France’s most famous citizen, Napoleon Bonaparte. Generally, the roads in Corsica were not as well-paved as in Sardinia, but I was grateful that the public restrooms on the island included toilet seats, as opposed to Sardinia.
We spent an extra day in Ajaccio, and this time, I took advantage of the optional rest-day ride offered by our guides. The following day, we left Ajaccio and headed up the western coast of Corsica, which is one of the most spectacular stretches of coastal road in Europe, to arrive 140 miles later at Saint-Florent. Generally speaking, the mountains of Corsica are higher than Sardinia, so the vistas tend to be more dramatic and breathtaking.
Mainland France and Spain
Upon leaving Saint-Florent, we had a short travel day of less than 70 miles to Bastia, where we boarded a ferry for an overnight trip to Marseille, on the French mainland. On this day we covered the most ground, traveling 222 miles, much of it on toll roads that appeared indistinguishable from a U.S. interstate. But after multiple days of traveling on sharp, twisty roads, I was ready for the kind of mindless monotony that this leg of the journey offered.
Our destination was Carcassonne, a spellbinding double-walled medieval town that can only be entered on foot and has cobblestone streets. In some respects, the beauty and serenity of this perfectly restored town was the highlight of the trip for me, giving me the sense that I was truly in a different time and place from my native country.
The next leg of the journey would take us through the Pyrenees Mountains and the tiny principality of Andorra, notable as a tax haven and playground for Europe’s elites. The Pyrenees were very rugged, replete with switchbacks and enough elevation to provide the only cold weather of the trip.
Our destination for the day was La Seu D’Urgell, just inside Spain and 140 miles from Carcassonne. The next morning would be the day that most of us would dread: the last day of our trip. After almost 12 consecutive days of motorcycle nirvana, my dream trip was coming to an end, but we still had one more day of intense riding in front of us – 130 miles through the mountains surrounding Barcelona to our final resting stop.
All in all, it was an outstanding journey that has only whet my appetite for more. As for IMTBike, I chose them because they were offering one of the most desirable places I would ever want to go on a bike. Fortunately, the quality of service provided exceeded my expectations. For example, of the whole group, I faced the biggest challenges health wise, with a heart condition and bad arthritis. The tour guides quickly recognized that and provided service above and beyond, like grabbing my luggage and taking it upstairs to my room in a hotel with no elevators, grabbing my helmet and cleaning the visor when all I asked for was a rag with which to do it myself, or parking my bike when I struggled to get it up off the curb.
I’m sure the other bike touring companies provide similar excellent service, but I can only go on what I know from IMTBike, which was founded 26 years ago by Scott Moreno, who, like me, is a native New Yorker and Mets fan – a piece of common ground that was icing on the cake when it came to choosing his company for my tour.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the biggest obstacle for long-distance bikers taking such trips is likely the price. But there are budget options. IMTBike rent bikes and offers self-guided tours where they provide the route and make the arrangements but you travel on your own. As for me, taking this tour was a no-brainer, and I have no regrets. In fact, all I can think about now is where and when my next trip will be. Iceland, anyone?
Lance Lamberton is a retired public relations professional and political junkie who once worked in the Reagan White House. He lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, and has been an avid long-distance motorcyclist since 1968. He has ridden across 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces and territories.
Rider magazine is inviting its readers to join Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt on the Adriatic Moto Tours Western Alps Adventure tour, July 8-16, 2023. Summer is right around the corner, so sign up soon!
This nine-day tour – which includes travel days on each end, six riding days, and a rest day – will explore the high passes and scenic backroads of the Western Alps in Italy, Switzerland, and France.
Based in Slovenia, Adriatic Moto Tours has been providing guided and self-guided motorcycle tours and motorcycle rentals in Europe for 18 years. With a passion for quality and adventure, AMT is in the business of creating memories, establishing friendships, and planning exciting vacations for loyal clients.
“There’s always a route waiting to be explored and character to be tested. Whether it’s riding the Alps, exploring the Balkans, indulging in Italy or taking in the Mediterranean vistas, we are here to make it happen!”
The Western Alps Adventure will take you right into the heart of the Swiss and French Alps, revealing more than just the exhilarating high alpine passes. Tune in!
From Milan, you will go through picturesque Switzerland to the stunning French Alps, experiencing all the main passes along the route. The narrow track of Swiss Furka Pass, the panoramic Col de la Bonette in France, and the highest paved pass in the Alps, Col de L’Iseran, will bring on the adrenaline rush, while sinuous roads will take you farther into less traveled parts of France.
Riding mountain ranges such as Chartreuse, putting your vertigo to a test on the Combe Laval balcony road, and admiring numerous French lakes along the way are just some of the gems you can look forward to on this unique journey. You are invited to join the ride and pick your own favorite moment to be remembered.
Welcome to Milan, the fashion capital of the world! AMT will meet you at the Malpensa airport and take you to your hotel on the outskirts of Milan, near the airport. Depending on when you arrive, you’ll have some time to relax and rest or do some sightseeing before the tour briefing. At 4 p.m., the group meet for the introductory briefing and in the evening enjoy a welcome dinner at a classic Italian Trattoria.
Day 2: Milan – Grimsel Pass
Leaving the flat city area, you will head north, immersing yourself in the beautiful scenery of the Alps. Passing Lake Como, riders will cross into Switzerland, conquering the famous Novena, Furka, and Susten passes and spending the night under the stars, right on the top of the Grimsel Pass.
Day 3: Grimsel Pass – Evian
From the Grimsel Pass, the tour will descend into the valley, passing Lake Brienz and stopping in Unterseen, Interlaken’s Old Town, before continuing into the Swiss rolling hills. Sweeping and curvy roads will carry you over Jaunpass and past Gruyères for a quick cheese tasting and a castle photo, and then spend the night at Évian-les-Bains, the French seaside resort on Lake Geneva.
Day 4: Evian – Vercors
Leaving the spa town of Évian-les-Bains, riders will head to Annecy, also called the “Alpine Venice,” to enjoy a stroll along the canals, before climbing up into the mountains again to ride through and over the Bauges and Chartreuse mountain ranges, following endless sweepers and diving in and out of the forests. You’ll end the day in a small village, high up in the heart of the Vercors Masiff.
Day 5: Vercors – Embrun
The famous road Combe Laval, will test your vertigo as you ride the narrow cliffside road carved into rock, staring down on Provence in the background. Descending into the valley, spend the night at the edge of the biggest artificial lake in Europe, Serre-Ponçon.
Day 6: Embrun rest day
This day will be spent beneath the peaks of the Hautes Alpes. You will have the choice of doing a nice ride around the lake of Serre-Poncon or exploring passes like Col de la Bonnette and Col de Vars. Should you prefer to spend your day off the bike, you will have plenty of options for leisure time in the environs of a magical castle.
Day 7: Embrun – Chamonix
An exhilarating ride awaits! After riding up Col d’Izoard, the group will make a short stop in the medieval town of Briancon. From here, you’ll experience rollercoaster riding in and out of Italy and France, alongside crystalline lakes and scenic views – not to mention the highlight of the day: climbing the highest paved pass of the Alps, Col de L’Iseran, before settling for the night in Chamonix.
Day 8: Chamonix – Milan
Before saying goodbye to Chamonix, the group will take the cable car to The Aiguille du Midi in the shadow of the majestic Mont Blanc. Then riders will go over the Great St. Bernard Pass on the way back to Italy. Expect a very scenic ride, with the mighty Alps staring down at you from every corner, while slowly descending to the valley and back to the starting point in Milan.
Day 9 Milan departure
Depending on the time of your flight back home, you may have time to stroll downtown Milan and walk on the roof of the famous Milan cathedral, which took nearly six centuries to complete and is the largest in the Italian state territory.
Pricing starts at 3,840 euros (approx. USD $4,210) for a single rider sharing a double-occupancy room on a Yamaha MT-07, Suzuki V-Strom 650, or BMW G 310 R. See website for pricing for single-occupancy room and other motorcycles.
Western Alps Adventure includes:
Late model motorcycle with lockable hard luggage and tank bags plus a third-party liability insurance and comprehensive vehicle insurance.
Experienced guide on a motorcycle. Support van for luggage, souvenir purchases and one or two passengers.
Eight nights’ accommodation in quality, mostly four-star hotels.
Eight complete buffet breakfasts in the hotel.
Seven dinners, mostly in traditional local restaurants.
Airport transfers up to five days prior to the tour start, on the last day of the tour and one day after the tour.
All maps with marked routes for the region being toured.
Extensive tour booklet.
GPS with all the routes uploaded.
Not included in the price: Air ticket, dinners on rest days, most lunches, drinks, gasoline, tolls, personal spending, and tips.
Tour cancellation insurance: more information HERE.
Edelweiss Bike Travel, a worldwide leader in motorcycle tours and travel since 1980, has organized an exclusive tour for Rider magazine. Join one of Rider’s editors on the Unknown Italy Tour, which reveals the secrets of the Appenines, the chain of mountains that runs down the spine of the boot-shaped country.
The 12-day vacation, which runs from Oct. 9-20, 2023, includes travel days on each end, seven riding days, and three rest days (which can also be spent riding!).
The tour begins in Florence, the capital city of the Tuscany region that’s world-renowned for its food, wine, and Renaissance art and architecture. Arrive a couple days early to allow time to visit the iconic Duomo, Michelangelo’s David sculpture, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” You’ll also want to stroll the historic streets and enjoy a gelato!
For the first two riding days, we’ll ride on twisty, lesser-known roads through the Appenines to Perugia, the capital city of Umbria that’s known for its defensive walls around a historic city center, and then it’s on to Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a medieval town located within the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park, where we’ll spend a rest day.
Next, we’ll continue riding south to spend a night in the small village of Serre di Conca, and then we’ll make our way to the legendary Amalfi Coast that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno. A popular holiday destination, the Amalfi Coast is known for sheer cliffs, secluded beaches, and pastel-colored fishing villages.
From the Amalfi Coast, we’ll explore more backroads on our way to the mountain village of Morano Calabro, which is located near a 3,600-foot pass. For the third and final rest day, we’ll ride to Matera, the European Capital of Culture for 2019. The city is perched on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, and nearby is the Sassi area, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside.
The tour concludes in Bari, a port city on the Adriatic Sea that’s the capital of Italy’s Puglia region. Bari’s mazelike old town, known as Barivecchia, occupies a headland between two harbors.
Day 6: Serre di Conca – Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast)
Day 7: Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) (rest day)
Day 8: Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) – Morano Calabro
Day 9: Morano Calabro – Matera
Day 10: Matera (rest day)
Day 11: Matera – Bari
Day 12: Departure from Bari
Pricing starts at $6,250 per person, including motorcycle rental for a rider in a double room (see below for what’s included in the price). See the tour webpage for tiered pricing for different motorcycle models as well as pricing for a passenger and a single room supplement.
Join one of Rider’s editors on this unique, once-in-a-lifetime motorcycle adventure. Space is limited, so make your reservation today!
The Edelweiss Bike Travel tour brochure is back with nearly 180 pages worth of tour information. With over 40 years of experience offering an extensive range of motorcycle tours, Edelweiss has added new tours this year on top of beloved classics.
Tours take place on six continents and range in difficulty, length, and type of riding, all of which is detailed in the new brochure. Tours also vary in ride time vs. sightseeing time, allowing riders a chance to dive into the cultural experiences of the countries and lands they ride through.
Riders can choose to ride their own bikes or rent bikes or gear from Edelweiss, with over 35 motorcycles to choose from. Edelweiss also offers custom tours in which you can customize your tour to fit the needs of your group along with world tours and self-guided tours.
In 2023 for the first time, Edelweiss is offering the Adventure Saudi Arabia and Jordan tour, a two-week excursion through the desert ending close to the Dead Sea. Also debuting in 2023 is the Adventure Country Tracks Tour in the Pyrenees.
The Edelweiss Bike Travel tours brochure is available for free either by mail or to download online. Riders can also get $250 off their tour if they book now until Oct. 31 using code EBB2023. For more information and to see available tours, dates, and pricing, visit EdelweissBike.com.
Having never been to Greece before, my mental postcards of the country consisted of the crumbling Parthenon in Athens and a cluster of white-washed, blue-roofed houses overlooking a turquoise sea.
The Parthenon, which my wife Carrie and I visited the day before the Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece tour began, looked like I thought it would. Well, except for the scaffolding. The temple at the Acropolis is nearly 2,500 years old and was partially destroyed by the Venetians in 1687, so a little sprucing up is in order.
Those white-washed houses are on Santorini, an island out in the Aegean Sea. We didn’t go there, and that’s a good thing. Places like Santorini are where huge cruise ships disgorge hordes of waddling tourists. The Edelweiss tour avoids crowds and takes the roads less traveled.
From Athens to the Oracle
Our tour began with meeting the guides, who gave us a safety briefing and an overview of the tour. Booklets, a hotel list, and a map of Greece were mailed to us in advance, but if I’m honest, I barely looked at them. The experts at Edelweiss have been running motorcycle tours since 1980, and they know what they’re doing. Since they take care of the preparation and planning, I enjoy letting the tour unfold from one day to the next.
Our group was small, just eight participants, all Americans. Three couples rode two-up – Bob and Ronnie from Virginia, Ken and Evelyn from Georgia, and Carrie and me. Two guys rode solo – Yoram from California and Dave from Virginia. (Check out Dave’s travel tips on European motorcycle travel.) Our guides Paul (from Minnesota) and William (from the U.K.) alternated days riding the lead bike and driving the support van.
The first day of any overseas tour is a little stressful. Some folks are still jet-lagged, others are getting used to an unfamiliar bike on unfamiliar roads, and everyone is adapting to a new routine. Even so, our small group and common language made it easy for us to gel and get along.
Athens is a big capital city that’s home to nearly 4 million people – more than a third of Greece’s population. It’s great for sightseeing before or after the tour, but our objective was to escape the city as quickly as possible. After battling some Monday morning traffic, we did just that, climbing high into mountains on a narrow, winding road, giving us a taste of what was to come.
Rainer Buck, managing director of Edelweiss, ranks Greece as one of his top three riding destinations because “it’s like a mountain range was dropped into the sea.” Greece is tied with Slovenia as the third most mountainous country in Europe after Norway and Switzerland. Nearly 80% of the country’s land area is covered by sloped terrain that motorcyclists long for.
Located at the southern tip of the Balkans, Greece has a peninsular mainland bordered to the north by Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and is surrounded on three sides by the Aegean, Myrtoan, and Ionian seas. The Peloponnese region is a large peninsula that resembles a fat, four-fingered hand, separated from the mainland by a narrow canal through the Isthmus of Corinth. Scattered around these land masses are thousands of islands. Our 1,500-mile tour followed a counterclockwise route around part of the mainland and much of the Peloponnese.
Not only is Greece a great place to ride, its significance in terms of human culture runs deep. Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, it has been inhabited since at least 270,000 B.C. Pick your historical era – Stone Age, Bronze Age, Dark Ages, Middle Ages – and Greece was the place to be. It’s the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and literature, theater, the Olympic Games, and a lot of the math and science we learned in high school. Heavy hitters like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Homer, and Euclid were all Greek.
Greece is lousy with brown signs pointing down empty roads toward historic sites. Temples, monasteries, necropolises, theaters, you name it – there are more than can be visited in a lifetime. This tour visits major or unique sites, including five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We visited two – the 10th century Monastery of Hosios Loukas and Delphi – on our first day. Established in the 8th century B.C., Delphi was where one would go to receive an oracle from the priestess of Apollo. It was also considered the center of the world, being the place where two eagles released by Zeus, one to the east and one to the west, came back together.
Bagging two UNESCO sites and getting our fill of switchbacks up and down steep coastal mountains, expansive views of the Gulf of Corinth, narrow roads winding through endless olive groves, and a high pass through a vibrant evergreen forest made for a full first day. The day’s heat was cooled by an afternoon thunderstorm and a post-ride “boot” beer – enjoyed while still wearing our riding boots.
For Your Eyes Only
By Day 2, we were finding our groove. Up early for breakfast, bring luggage down at 8:15, ride briefing at 8:30, and kickstands up at 9. From our mountainside hotel in Arachova, we summited a pass, cruised through a lush alpine valley full of ski chalets, wound our way up through evergreens to a ski slope, and then plunged down an endless series of hairpins to a hot, dry valley.
Early on, this tour taught us to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything. Like listening to enormous storks clacking their beaks in a nest above us while we ate lunch at a small outdoor cafe. Or passing by countless kandylakia, which are small roadside shrines erected to honor lost loved ones or saints for good fortune. We visited a monastery built into the side of a cliff, another built inside a tree, and others perched atop towers of stone.
On Day 3, after a picnic lunch overlooking a broad agricultural plain, we visited Meteora, a sprawling rock formation where dozens of monasteries were built atop sandstone pillars in the 14th century. Access to the monasteries was intentionally difficult, not only as protection from invaders but to test the faith of pilgrims, who had to ascend hundreds of feet by climbing ladders or being hoisted up in nets. Only six of the monasteries remain, hardy structures that have survived attacks by the Turks, bombing raids during WWII, a magnitude-7 earthquake in 1954, and the filming of a James Bond movie in 1981.
Day after day, we were surprised by the ruggedness of the scenery and tested by the trickiness of the roads. Edelweiss stitched together a challenging, convoluted route, so much so that it occasionally gave the tour guides’ GPS units fits. The width, pitch, and condition of the roads changed constantly, from smooth, wide highways to steep, narrow paths riddled with potholes, cracks, and dips. Although the route was almost entirely paved, we were kept on our toes by sand, gravel, mud, cow manure, fallen rocks, rain, fog, and even patches of snow.
Above all, we had to be on the lookout for animals. Traveling off the beaten path, we shared the road with cows, horses, goats (often in large, road-blocking herds), sheep (ditto), dogs (often lying on the road), cats, snakes, and turtles. What we rarely dealt with, however, were other vehicles. Outside of the few cities we visited, there were hardly any cars, trucks, or buses on the road. It was like having Greece to ourselves.
From the Mountains to the Sea
Our first few days were spent riding through mountains that seemed like they could have been in the Alps. On the fourth day, we rested. Some took advantage of the downtime to explore the mountain town of Metsovo, while others rode north into the Pindus Mountains near the Albanian border to visit Vikos Gorge, a cleft in the earth up to 4,400 feet deep and the world’s deepest gorge relative to its width.
From Metsovo we turned south, climbing up and over mountain pass after mountain pass, including one that was mostly covered by a snowbank and had opened just days before. After a full day of challenging roads, we crossed a small floating bridge to the island of Lefkada. As happened at the end of most riding days, we enjoyed a celebratory boot beer and then gathered for a group dinner. We sat outdoors at the Crystal Waters resort, savoring the salty breeze and local fare as we recapped the day’s adventures, topping it all with glasses of ouzo.
On Day 6, we rode along the southern coast of the mainland, the sea’s color ranging from topaz in the shallows to dark cobalt in the depths. We stopped for a morning coffee at a cafe on the edge of a small harbor, where a fishing boat pulled up and sold its catch directly to locals.
We left the mainland by way of the Rion-Antiron Bridge, crossing a narrow section of the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese peninsula. We wasted no time climbing back up into the mountains on roads full of twist and shout. Late in the afternoon on the way to Vytina, we hit rush-hour traffic – herd after herd of goats and sheep being led down the road by shepherds and dogs.
On the second rest day, our entire group rode to the ruins of Olympia, the ancient center of worship of Zeus and the site of the Olympic Games from 776 B.C. to 394 A.D. The temples and sports structures were mostly destroyed in 426 A.D. by an angry emperor and further damaged over the years by earthquakes and floods. Since the Olympic Games resumed in 1894, the Olympic flame has been lit at what remains of the Temple of Hera and transported by a torch to the host cities.
Prepare for Glory, and Olives
On Day 8, we sliced south through the heart of the Peloponnese, from Vytina in the mountains to Megalopolis in the valley. We made time on the motorway to reach Sparta, which, despite its legendary reputation as the home of courageous, self-disciplined warriors, is now just an ordinary city that’s well past its prime. A statue of mighty King Leonidas, who had the brass to take on the entire Persian army with 300 brave soldiers, overlooks an abandoned building.
Rising out of Sparta is a winding road that burrows its way into the Taygetos Mountains via the Langada Gorge. After ascending a few switchbacks, the road cuts into the side of the gorge through a series of tunnels and overhangs on its way up to a 5,000-foot pass. We wound our way down to the coastal city of Kalamata, known for its namesake black olives, and had lunch on the beach. It was a hot afternoon of riding along the coast, and after a boot beer in Areopoli, several of us cooled off with a swim in the Ionian Sea.
Our final rest day was in Monemvasia. We stayed in a beautiful resort hotel with two infinity pools, a gourmet restaurant, and views of vineyards and the sea – the perfect reward after logging so many challenging miles. It was also where Carrie and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. Paul and William had a special treat sent to our room, and the next morning we found our GS decorated with tissue paper, empty beer cans strung together with duct tape, and a “just married” sign.
Over our final two days, we made our way back to Athens, riding north along the Peloponnese coast, where we enjoyed coffee and lunch stops overlooking the sea and visited the theater at Epidaurus, built in the 4th century B.C. and renowned for its exceptional acoustics.
Our Bucket Overfloweth
Greece seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. If they’ve never been, they want to go; if they’ve visited before, they want to go back. It’s a magical, mysterious, romantic place that looms large in our imaginations and is rich in history, culture, cuisine, scenery, and so much more.
It is difficult to fathom the depth of history in Greece’s mountains and along its shorelines. Living in a nation barely two and a half centuries old on a continent “discovered” five centuries ago, seeing the remnants of kingdoms and empires that stretch back several millennia boggles the mind, like trying to comprehend the far reaches of outer space. Is this real? Did actual humans carve this stone and erect these temples, till this soil and fish these waters, worship gods and contemplate ideas of self-determination?
Spending two weeks in Greece engaged our senses, dispelled our preconceived notions, and tested our mettle. This tour is not a walk in the park. It is challenging and at times quite intense, with long riding days on technical roads with variable weather and conditions. Every night we collapsed into bed, dead tired but deeply satisfied.
Edelweiss Bike Travel’s next Best of Greece tour is scheduled for October 8-21, 2022. The tour will run twice in 2023: May 1-15 and September 29-October 12. For pricing, details, and information about Edelweiss’ full schedule of tours, visit EdelweissBike.com.
The mountainous, rugged islands of Sardinia and Corsica, situated in the Mediterranean Sea west of Italy, have some of the best roads, best scenery, and most unique culture in all of Europe.
Hilly and curvy, with a very jagged coastline and craggy rock formations, Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily) and is an autonomous region of Italy. It offers thrilling views while riding perfect bends of never-ending seaside cliff roads. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi – mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives. Not to mention a scattering of Roman ruins, Pisan churches, and Spanish Baroque architecture.
A ferry crossing reaches French Corsica, serving up more twists and turns as the roads wind their way through pine-forested hills and small villages.
This nine-day tour includes six riding days (covering a total of 850 miles) and one rest day (in Alghero, Sardinia) bookended by travel days. Here’s a day-by-day itinerary:
Day 1:Welcome to Sardinia! Day 2: Olbia – Ajaccio Day 3: Ajaccio – Corte Day 4: Corte – Bonifacio Day 5: Bonifacio – Alghero Day 6:Rest day in Alghero Day 7: Alghero – Cala Gonone Day 8: Cala Gonone – Olbia Day 9:Flight home from Olbia
Pricing starts at 3,580 euros (approx. $3,640) for a rider on a rental motorcycle sharing a double room – or 2,990 euros (approx. $3,040) if riding your own motorcycle. Single-room occupancy, higher-spec motorcycles, a passenger, and other upgrades are extra. See tour page for full details and pricing.
The price includes:
Late model motorcycle with lockable hard luggage and tankbags, plus third-party liability insurance and comprehensive vehicle insurance
Experienced guide on a motorcycle
Support van for luggage, souvenirs, and one or two passengers
Eight nights accommodation in quality (mostly 4-star) hotels
Eight breakfasts in the hotel
Seven dinners, mostly in traditional local restaurants
All (two) ferry rides and tolls
Airport transfers up to five days prior to the tour start, on the last day of the tour, and one day after the tour
Entrance fees to museums (according to tour program)
All maps with marked routes for the region being toured
Extensive tour booklet
GPS with all the daily routes uploaded
Not included in the price:
Air ticket, dinners on rest days, most lunches, drinks, gasoline, personal spending, tips.
Scott Moreno, the American-born owner of IMTBike, the motorcycle tour and rental company based in Spain, has one of the most infectious personalities of the many people I’ve met over the years in the motorcycle industry.
Born in New York City and raised in northern New Jersey, Moreno studied abroad in Spain. After getting his MBA, he made a good living as a currency trader, but he was miserable. When a friend asked him what he loved to do, he said “ride motorcycles and have adventures.” So, in 1997, Scott bought eight BMW motorcycles and started Iberian Moto Tours (IMTBike’s former name) from his apartment in Madrid.
This year, IMTBike is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Through the hard work of Moreno and his team, the company has grown to include more than two dozen staff members, office locations in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga, and Lisbon, and the world’s largest fleet of BMW motorcycles – 200 at last count (IMTBike is an Official Partner of BMW Motorrad). In 2021, IMTBike earned a coveted TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice “Best of the Best” award.
IMTBike specializes in tours of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), but it also offers tours in France, Italy, the Alps, and Morocco, as well as MotoGP tours (Catalunya, Jerez, and Valencia) and tours in Turkey, Thailand, Japan, and New Zealand.
To help IMTBike celebrate its “25 Years of Magic,” Rider’s Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt and his wife Carrie will be joining Moreno on the Southern Spain Andalusia Tour this fall, October 15-23. The tour starts and ends in Málaga, on Spain’s famous Costa del Sol (“Sun Coast”) on the Mediterranean Sea.
The 9-day tour includes seven riding days, one rest day (in Seville), and travel days on either end. Here’s the itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival in Málaga
Day 2: Málaga – Costa del Sol – Sierra Nevada – Granada
Day 3: Granada – Córdoba
Day 4: Córdoba – Seville
Day 5: Seville – rest day
Day 6: Seville – White Towns
Day 7: White Towns – Ronda
Day 8: Ronda – Serranía de Ronda – Málaga
Day 9: Flight home
We recommend arriving a couple of days early to get acclimated to the time zone and explore Málaga, one of the oldest cities in Europe, which is full of history, culture, and vitality. Walk the city streets and tour the Alcazaba, a Moorish palatial fortress built in the 11th century.
The region of Andalusia is home to some of Spain’s most famous cities, including Seville, Córdoba, and Granada, all three of which contain UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stay in Spain’s famous Paradors – castles, monasteries, fortresses, and other historic buildings converted into luxury hotels. The Parador in Ronda stands on the edge of a cliff and is next to the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting ring), and the town is surrounded by the Sierra de las Nieves National Park.
On this tour you’ll visit Spain’s iconic “White Towns,” villages full of white-washed houses, and you’ll enjoy Andalusian cuisine, famous for its jamón Ibérico pata negra (black-footed Iberian ham) and delicious tapas. You’ll also get your fill of curves and twisties in the Grazalema and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.
You don’t want to miss this tour. Pricing starts at just 3,225 euros (about $3,450), and includes transfer to/from the airport, motorcycle rental (BMW G 310 R), lodging, eight breakfasts, and seven dinners. Choosing a larger motorcycle, adding a passenger, and a single-occupancy room adds to the price.
Click HERE for more details and to book the tour. Sign up soon because this tour will fill up fast!
My husband, Steve, was facing a landmark birthday last August. He decided to celebrate on a motorcycle, and IMTBike had a Pyrenees tour that coincided with the date. The Pyrenees is a rugged mountain range that straddles the border of northern Spain and southern France, and it’s known for well-maintained but challenging roads and twisty mountain passes. The tour covers 900 miles over eight days and seven nights, with six riding days and one rest day.
IMTBike is a motorcycle tour and rental company based in Madrid with office locations in Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga, and Lisbon. Steve contacted IMTBike’s managing director, an American ex-pat named Scott Moreno (listen to our podcast interview with Scott), who happily answered questions during several conversations. We wanted to know about weather in Barcelona (where the Perfect Pyrenees tour begins and ends) and in the mountains, what type of clothing we should wear, and what types of motorcycles are available. As an official partner of BMW Motorrad, IMTBike offers BMW models ranging from the G 310 R up to the K 1600 GT.
Steve shared with Scott that I was hesitant about riding in the Pyrenees. I’d gotten my motorcycle license only two years prior, and I was worried the tour would be too advanced for my limited riding experience. This tour was the first since Covid-19 shut everything down around the world, and Scott said he was joining the tour to make sure accommodations and everything else was in order after such a long hiatus. He also said he’d look out for me and not to worry. “Just come,” Scott said with his characteristic enthusiasm and charm. “You’ll love it.”
Day 1: Arrival in Barcelona
IMTBike staff picked us up at the airport and drove us to a nice hotel in central Barcelona. The night before the tour started, everyone met in the hotel lobby for a briefing. Introductions were made, thorough handbooks were issued, and Spanish driving laws and road signs were reviewed. Our fearless guides, David and Mikel, described the quality of the roads, the increased amount of traffic in some areas due to tourism, and the daily fueling of our bikes. Then we enjoyed one of the late-evening dinners Spain is known for, with plenty of local specialties and vino tinto.
Day 2: Barcelona to La Seu d’Urgell
On the morning of the tour’s first day, we shuttled over to IMTBike’s Barcelona office, and everyone familiarized themselves with their bikes of choice. I’d booked a BMW F 750 GS, which I’d ridden before, but it felt top-heavy and unwieldy, so I opted for a smaller, lighter G 310 R instead.
Steve and California Joe, who has 40 years of riding experience and was on his third IMTBike tour, rode R 1250 GSs. Bill and Ruth, a young Midwest couple who rode two-up, were on an F 800 GT. Completing our all-American group were Jerry and her wife GiGi, experienced riders from Long Island who are frequent IMTBike tour participants. At 79 years of age, Jerry is an inspiration and still serves as a motorcycle safety instructor. She rode a G 310 R and GiGi rode an F 750 GS. Scott rode an F 750 GS, while David and Mikel alternated between driving the van and leading our pack on an R 1250 GS. The support van accompanied us the entire trip. It transported everyone’s luggage, provided a secure place to store our helmets and jackets during coffee and lunch stops, and carried a spare F 750 GS in case one of our bikes had an issue.
Our departure from Barcelona was the only time we rode on an autovía (freeway), and the mountains in the distance were beautiful and inviting. Before long we began to climb into the Pyrenees on twisty curves and sweepers with beautiful vistas. Steve and I had helmet communicators, allowing us to share our excitement, continuously exclaiming “Spectacular!”
Spain is known for its Paradors, historic buildings converted into hotels that are administered by the government. The Parador in La Seu d’Urgell is a former convent. It had a small swimming pool, which cooled us off after riding in peak summer heat.
Before dinner our group met for a briefing about the next day’s ride. With drinks and maps covering the table, David and Mikel explained the coffee breaks, where and how to park for lunch, and stops at scenic points for photos. This was a ritual repeated nightly at each Parador. We would be riding portions of the Tour de France route (though not during the race itself), so they warned us about hairpins or narrow roads where we might encounter groups of cyclists.
Day 3: La Seu d’Urgell to Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park
The roads on this tour were selected for optimum riding pleasure. There were plenty of challenging segments, and it was clear this was going to be an exciting adventure. After exhausting our use of “Spectacular!” Steve and I added “Magnificent!” and “Fantastic!” to our bike-to-bike exclamations.
I liked not worrying about navigation; David and Mikel took care of that. During every coffee break and lunch stop, our bikes were repositioned for ease of departure. I really liked that. At other times, one of the guides would stand in the street and direct traffic so we could cross lanes safely. I liked that too and felt spoiled.
After visiting the Baqueira-Beret ski resort high in the Pyrenees, on our descent we encountered horses trotting alongside us, as free and unfettered as we were. Our travel through tunnels and over mountain passes brought us into France and back into Spain, where we arrived at a Parador surrounded by mountains with a lovely view of a waterfall.
During our nightly briefing, Scott confessed that, yes, he needed to connect with the Paradors and restaurants, but like all of us following the lockdown, he wanted to get back out in the world and enjoy the ride. Scott is passionate about motorcycles, as are David and Mikel, and the latter has been a tour guide for IMTBike for 16 years. Stoke makes all the difference.
Day 4: Ordesa to Valle de Tena
The morning coffee break occurred in France, so naturally, everyone ordered crepes. On steep, narrow roads, we passed cyclists who impressed us with their strength and endurance, but pedaling uphill didn’t look to be as much fun as I was having. We reached Col du Tourmalet (6,939 ft), one of the highest passes on the Pyrenees section of the Tour de France, and it offered spectacular views.
Late in the afternoon, we traveled through the beautiful Pyrenees National Park. Spectacular twisties brought us to Col d’Aubisque (5,607 ft), another mecca for cyclists. During a short break, a burst of applause brought our attention to another group of motorcyclists circled around Jerry. They found out she’s a 79-year-old rider and displayed their admiration.
We mounted our bikes in dense fog. The descent was on a narrow road with no shoulders or guardrails, with one side of the road edged by a vertical cliff. There was no margin for error. It was scary. Steve and I kept saying to each other, “Don’t look down.” We couldn’t look down if we wanted to because the fog was so thick. That was a blessing, but also a curse because the fog filled our faceshields.
Our group formed a slow conga line. The taillight on the bike in front of me was my only guide. On tight turns, the red light in front of me would disappear until I rounded the bend. Finally, we dropped below the fog, only to encounter a herd of sheep crossing the road, forcing us to stop. They kept coming and coming, making us laugh. I also laughed with relief.
By the time we checked into our lovely Parador tucked in the mountains, I was exhausted yet exhilarated. On Day 1, our guides said if we needed, for any reason, to put our bike into the van and ride shotgun next to the driver, it was always an option. As scared as I was, I trusted Scott, David, and Mikel to get us down safely, and they maintained a careful pace and conservative lines. We all tackled the trying conditions. I did it! And the sense of accomplishment felt good.
Day 5: Valle de Tena (Rest Day)
Everyone decided to explore beautiful Tramacastilla on the rest day, while David and Mikel offered to guide a loop ride. Steve and I wanted to stroll and relax too, but I wanted to test ride the F 750 GS. We asked David and Mikel if a shorter jaunt was possible, and without hesitation, they reorganized the route. California Joe joined us.
It was fun to watch David and Mikel ride together so joyfully. And it was contagious; we had so much fun we decided to extend the route. We had lunch outside with tables overlooking a lovely ski area, and we shared laughs and stories. It was another great riding day, and I gained enough confidence on the F 750 GS to ride it the rest of the tour.
Day 6: Valle de Tena to Cardona
Another day of excellent riding. More twisties, more sweepers, more landscapes, and more exclamations between Steve and me. “Bonito!” was our new favorite.
The Parador de Cardona is a converted castle, which was fortuitous because it was Steve’s birthday. Before dinner, I asked David and Mikel to take the little birthday candles I’d brought to the kitchen for Steve’s dessert. They paused and then said, “Okay, we’ll tell you. A bottle of wine and snacks are being sent to your room, and we already have candles for the cake we arranged.” I was very touched.
Dinner was in a grand, vaulted banquet hall. The food was terrific, and dessert was even better. A birthday cake was ceremoniously set in front of Steve and luckily our motley chorus singing “Happy Birthday” was drowned out by Scott’s phone blasting the Beatles’ “Birthday.” Steve was embarrassed but delighted. Everyone, especially David, Mikel, and Scott, made Steve’s birthday fun, memorable, and just so damn cool.
Day 7: Cardona to Barcelona
The last day brought us more excellent roads, and another exclamation: “Awesome!” Less than two hours from Barcelona are the Sierra de Montserrat, distinctive saw-toothed mountains that are visible from far away. As we got closer, each peak became a thick, pointy finger jutting upwards. A steep, winding road brought us to the Montserrat Monastery. Wandering through the monastery complex is well worth the visit.
Then, reluctantly, we returned to Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong, Barcelona is a lovely city. But our fantastic trip was over, and it was time to say goodbye to new friends. My initial reluctance to ride the difficult roads the Pyrenees are famous for was replaced with miles of joy, laughs, and confidence thanks to Scott, David, and Mikel. They’re very good at what they do, and they’re new friends too. Steve and I have since done two self-guided tours with IMTBike, and we look forward to our next guided tour with them.
The Perfect Pyrenees tour runs in August and September, and pricing starts at 2,850 euros (about $3,200). For more information about IMTBike’s tours, visit imtbike.com.