The European Alps are, very simply, the most magical place in the world to ride motorcycles. Within their ramparts huddle villages and farms from the middle ages and winter resorts as new as tomorrow. The contrast of old and new is fascinating and amazingly comfortable. This tour focuses on that magic.
Welcome to Bavaria
Your arrival in Europe is planned to let you catch up with the time lost and be introduced to a new environment. Beginning and ending in Munich, the first day after arrival is a free day, allowing time to visit Munich city, the Olympic Park, the BMW Museum, lounge in the Englischer Garten or see the Glockenspiel.
Riders will find pleasant, relaxing rides through the Bavarian countryside. The scenery takes an exciting turn as the Alps come into view, dominating the horizon. The twisty roads in the foothills of the Alps only hint at the adventure to come.
The real introduction to mountain riding comes on the ride to Imst, Austria. Choose from the relatively wide, easy Fernpass or the narrow, wild Hahntenjoch. These high mountain roads that climb up and over the peaks offer unparalleled views and challenges to the rider. Indeed, only the second day of the tour and in every direction there are mountains!
A paradise of mountain passes
During the next few days, as you explore Switzerland, you may opt to ride the Klausen, Pragel, Brunig, St. Gottard, Lukmanier, Oberalp, Neufenen, Furka, Grmisel, or Susten passes, to name a few of the possibilities! These roads pass scenery that is with no exaggeration breathtaking. The villages on the pass roads depend on agriculture, and local farms blend into the landscape perfectly.
A free day in Interlaken allows an opportunity to see the world from the top, with cable car or cog-rail train trips to the Swiss peaks. The infamous Eiger, as well as the Jungfrau, the Monch, the giant, pyramidal Niesen and the Stockhorn are the “local” mountains, making the entire area a place of rugged beauty.
From Interlaken it is but a short hop to Andermatt, the next overnight. What isn’t traveled in horizontal distance is made up in vertical distance, as the only way into the Andermatt Valley is over a pass or four! Photo stops and picnic possibilities abound. The day time congestion of Andermatt, located at a major mountain crossroad, quiets in the evening, as the sounds of motorcycles disappears, leaving only the roar of the near-by river to permeate the night.
Swiss-German culture gives way to Swiss-Romanish upon entering the Engiadina valley, where enthusiastic pass riders may conquer the Flüela, Ofen, Splugen, San Bernardino, Bernina, Abula, Maloja, or Julier passes.
Then comes the beauty of Italy, where striking scenery and exciting riding compete for attention. The Dolomites are simply massive and the pass roads allow up close access to them.
Explore the Dolomites
Widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world, the intrinsic beauty of the Dolomites derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms with contrasting horizontal surfaces rising abruptly above more gentle foothills. A great diversity of color is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-colored rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below. Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 m and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world. The Classic Alpine Adventure follows the Dolomites from west to east, allowing enough time for a very thorough inspection.
Austrian towns steeped in history
The Dolomites give way to Slovenia’s Julier Alps, which form the southern backdrop to Villach.
Austrian culture comes alive here, and it seems that, of all Austrians, the people of Villach are the quickest to throw a public party. Festivals music, art, motorcycles, or beer seem to be ongoing all summer.
Heading north from Villach pierce the Alps once again, on the way to Salzburg, founded prior to 700 A.D. Work your way through the millennia on an optional guided walking tour of Salzburg. To the very end of the tour, the riding remains first rate. Austria’s Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse offers a taste of climes from temperate to Arctic in just a few hours of riding.
Motorcycles & riders are warmly welcomed
As the mountains in each of the Alpine countries differ, so do the people. For hundreds of years the inhabitants battled the elements and the land to wrest a living from these mountains. Today, for many of these hardy mountain folk, tourists are their lifeblood and are accommodated with pleasure and perfection!
There are mountains, glaciers, gorges, vineyards, waterfalls, hiking trails, picnic spots, gentle curves, switchbacks, tunnels and bridges, fortresses, castles, palaces, lakes, mountain streams, and both breathtaking and restful vistas. Enjoy scenes that could be straight out of Heidi or The Sound of Music. Dream of listening to the sounds of cowbells in mountain pastures; drinking in the landscape of wild flowers and the snow capped mountains; smelling fresh mown hay; tasting mountain grown vegetables and, from the top of a pass, almost touching heaven. So, dream about magnificent mountain riding on the finest roads in the world, awesome scenery, diet-shattering food, unique shopping opportunities and enough cultural overload to last a lifetime. It’s all there, providing a motorcyclists’ paradise.
After all those countries, all those passes, all that adventure and riding, the biggest problem you will face is deciding how to get back again, as soon as possible!
Classic Special Tour - June Only
Garmish, and the BMW Days, await!
Departing from the Dolomites, the Special MOA tour heads north, to Garmish-Partenkirchen, to join the festivities of BMW's annual BMW Days, the largest BMW motorcycle gathering in the world.
As BMW's Munich assembly-line is fascinating even to non-motorheads, the BMW Days are fascinating to drivers, and riders, of other brands. Participants may sample the full range of BMW and Husquvarna motorcycles, ride on a motocross or enduro course, enjoy a great meal at the Beer Tent, and rock to live music.
Excellent day rides will keep the restless busy, with excursions into Austria, Italy or the Bavarian Alps.
Finally, after a double overnight in Garmish, it is time to bid a sad farewell to newfound friends, and to put the Alps in the rearview mirror on the ride to Munich. A last celebration, a pat on the back, and all to soon, it is back to "reality." How could the time go so quickly?