Coastal Road to the East from Malaga
A great choice for this route is our rental touring motorcycle Suzuki V-Strom 650. However, our rental sport-touring Yamaha Tracer 700 is equally good too! To enjoy the coastal roads the route heads east from Malaga (known as Costa Tropicana), away from the built-up beachside resorts and towards the more empty roads that are so enjoyable on a motorcycle. Leaving the A7 motorway near Nerja one can visit Balcon de Europa before taking the coastal road through small, local villages all the way to Arda before Almeria. There are ample opportunities to stop by for pictures as well as some delicious food - and the prices tend to be way lower than on the overdeveloped Costa del Sol.
Jumping back on the A7 motorway before Almeria the route takes an A92 north towards Guadix before we take the first available exit to N-340 heading to Tabernas. The landscape around has changed - we have now arrived to the Tabernas Desert, said to be the only "real" desert on the European continent. The scenery around represents the mixture of the desert scenery and some Wild Wild West artifacts. In fact, the road is passing by several "Mini-Hollywood" exhibitions where some of the western movies were reportedly filmed. One can be tempted to wander off-road but best to avoid it- the riding in the sand can be unpredictable and many of the roads are prohibited for motorized traffic. Nonetheless, the area is a unique place to explore and definitely worth a short detour.
Cabo de Gata and Cartagena
The route brings us back to the coast where we can continue exploring the coastal road, taking a short side trip back towards Almeria to admire Cabo de Gata national park and then continue the journey along the coast all the way to Cartagena. Cartagena offers a lot of things to explore and a rich history - which isn't surprising at all given the city is over 2000 years old and has a lot of historical significance to it. After exploring the city one can take another short side trip to Cape Palos to admire a lighthouse before turning around and continue the journey inland.
Inland desert and hills
The inland landscape is a dry, hilly, sandy area with a lot of prettiness to it and many twisty roads to enjoy riding. Another upside that even in the height of tourism season one can have roads to themselves in this area and really enjoy riding the bike. We are constantly passing through remote towns - many have little changes since medieval times with the churches, castles, cobblestone streets and relaxed, sleepy vibe. We arrive to the winding and narrow roads of Sierra de Cazorla - with beautiful mixture of dry hills, green scenery and bodies of water around us - before turning south-west towards Alcala de Real (don't miss the fortress) and eventually to Granada.
Granada and Sierra Nevada
Granada deserves a full day to explore even the most basic sights it has to offer. The magical, impressive Alhambra (be sure to book the tickets in advance!), wandering in the old town streets, night market bazaar as well and stepping into historical neighborhoods of Albaicin and Sacromonte. We highly recommend to take one of the walking tours for exploring those areas of Granada - there is so much of rich history and cultural mix behind only the local guides can help understand the full breath of it.
After spending a day or two in Granada the route goes around Sierra Nevada - the highest mountain range in Spain! Unsurprisingly where there are mountains there are excellent motorcycle roads so one can spend a good time making a full circle around the Sierra Nevada mountains before arriving back in Granada.
Heading further inland and Ronda
If we have time and don't need to head back to Malaga just yet, we can ride back north to Alcala la Real before taking the road across to Cabra - a very pleasant, enjoyable hilly ride. We then wander into the agricultural plains towards Puente Genil and Campillos before hitting a hilly, picturesque area again taking the A367 towards Ronda. This area is also where one can do Caminito del Rey hiking route for those fans of hiking!
Ronda offers a relaxed vibe, great scenery around, plenty of places for meals with nice surroundings, an impressive gorge to admire and short hiking routes.
After exploring Ronda the route heads towards the coast again for a glimpse of Marbella and the posh Puerto Banus, before going inland again towards Ojen and Coin to avoid the busy coastal areas. Eventually we arrive back in Malaga from the west, closing the loop, full of memories and a desire to go on another trip!