1What is the Trans Euro Trail®?
Comprising of over 51,000km of dirt road, the Trans Euro Trail® is an epic motorcycle journey through some of Europe's most remote, diverse and inspirational landscapes.
Influenced by the pioneering Trans America Trail, the Trans Euro Trail® encourages adventurous riders to travel light and experience the rich diversity of Europe's land and culture.
Powered by a team of enthusiastic volunteers called Linesmen, the Trans Euro Trail® relies on its community to find and manage the evolving network of tracks that criss cross thirty countries.
We are not a tour company, we are not profit driven, we are a Community Interest Company. Everyone involved in the Trans Euro Trail® has the same goal, to celebrate lightweight motorcycle adventure and the rich experience of exploring landscapes, cultures and borders.
2Where does the Trans Euro Trail® go?
The Trans Euro Trail® has two arms, one East and one West. The Eastern route travels through Finland, the Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria before looping to the Bosphorus in Turkey and then entering Greece and running up through the Balkans, across Italy and into France where it joins the Western arm which has crossed Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Low Countries, the UK and France. After meeting in Southern France, the Trans Euro Trail® passes through Andorra, Spain and Portugal to reach Tarifa on the Straits of Gibraltar. We hope to add Austria, Hungary and Slovakia to the eastern route very soon.
3How much of the journey is dirt?
As much as possible! The aim is to avoid bitumen but in our crowded continent this is sometimes impossible. Where it does follow tar roads, they are minor and scenic.
4What level of skill do I need?
The route is challenging in terms of distance and sometimes terrain. It crosses remote backcountry areas and a degree of riding and mechanical competence is required. Tricky sections can be avoided by taking tar detours – that’s the adventure, it’s up to you!
5Is it risky?
Motorcycling carries risks which we are all familiar with. Adventure motorcycling adds to these.
It takes you into remote areas on unpredictable terrain and road surfaces.
Mobile phone coverage may be patchy or non-existant so summoning help may be limited. If help is summoned it may struggle to reach you and may incur high costs. Unpaved tracks vary from gravel to broken tar to sand to stone to boulder to grass. Each carries its own challenges of grip, stability and unpredictability all of which vary immensely with weather conditions which can change quickly especially in mountain areas.
The physical demands of riding a motorcycle, laden or otherwise, off road are not to be underestimated. If you drop it, picking it up can be hard work and recovering it from a hillside, river or mud hole where it has slipped can be exhausting. Add into the mix the variable climate in Europe - subzero to high 30s and above - and heat, cold and dehydration can impair performance and make a dangerous cocktail when mixed with the complex task of off pavement riding.
Navigation can be challenging, especially without practicing using GPS or map on the move, on the “wrong" side of the road or with signposts in an unfamiliar script.
Mechanical issues easily sorted out in one's own garage or home city can become much more of a challenge away from home in an area with poor infrastructure or dealer knowledge.
Local adults and children (and animals!) may be unfamiliar with motorcycles or their capabilities and misjudge situations. Driving standards and discipline vary hugely and often the perception is “might is right” with scant regard being paid to the little guy on a motorbike. Local wildlife both domestic and wild can pose risks. Bears and wolves are present in some areas, snakes in others, wild roaming reindeer in the far north and cattle and dogs are all over.
Laws and regulations are always changing across the continent, so a trail that contributors thought was legal, may not now be so. This may lead to conflict with the authorities, communities, landowners or other users - anything from a glance, a shout or a waved fist to arrest, bike confiscation, fine or loss of licence.
Concepts and practice of sanitation and hygiene vary immensely and medical facilities can be scarce, suboptimal or distant.
The seedier side of humanity can also impact on you through theft, assault or fraud.
Be aware that some areas of eastern Europe also have heightened awareness of mobile populations following the influx of refugees so you may come across desperately poor people or wary authorities. In Bosnia and Croatia the detritus of war still exists in the form of uncleared mine-fields. Snow, water and soil creep all shift these so that straying from established well used trails can be dangerous and, needless to say, stupid.
Does this all put you right off the idea of living the dream and exploring the Trans Euro Trail®? Perhaps, but there’s nothing new here and being aware of the risks allows one to prepare for them and mitigate them. Overland travel has never been the easy option, but, for those who have done it, the rewards far outweigh those of two weeks in Magaluf.
Some things to think about:
This is an adventure, not a package tour and there’s no one to hold your hand - isn’t that exactly what we want!?
By following the above simple advice (by no means all inclusive!) and planning your Trans Euro Trail® carefully, we are positive that you will have the adventure of a lifetime!
- Ensure you use the most recent version of the Trans Euro Trail® available on this website
- Get bike fit, not just fit
- Be licensed to ride your road legal bike
- Ensure your paperwork is in order whether it be bike, breakdown or medical/repatriation insurance, licences or passports
- Get some practice in to build confidence and competence (and respect for your own limits and those of your bike)
- Get properly equipped with the right tyres, spares, protection, first aid kit, communications devices (and batteries!), luggage and camping gear
- Think ahead and ask yourself, “What would I do if X, Y or Z happened?”
- Try and travel in groups of 3 or more (but not more than 5-6 please)
- Ride with an awareness of the terrain, surface and in anticipation of unexpected hazards
- Moderate your speed - it’s a journey not a race
- Keep yourself and the bike fuelled up and keep those fluids going on board
- If you’ve got a medical condition then think carefully and take some medical advice
- Get familiar with your bike, what daily checks to make and how to fix issues with it
- Ask for advice on the Trans Euro Trail® forum page or from many of the other resources out there
- Don’t treat the Trans Euro Trail® gpx as gospel. Use your common sense and obey traffic signs, rules and authorities
- Get familiar with your GPS device.
- Buy a back up paper map
- Take security precautions with your possessions and self
- Accept that you are master or mistress of your own destiny, safety and security. Only you can take responsibility for whatever happens.
6What do the trails look like?
You name it! Tar, gravel, mud, sand, rock, river and grass. Some are wide enough for a car but many are single track. It’s certainly not recommended that 4x4s use it – they will find there are points where it is too narrow or impossible to turn round or reverse.
7What will I see?
Castles, forests, prehistoric monuments, passes, snow, desert and meadows. Medieval towns and 21st century bridges. Remnants of the cold war and modern bypasses. Horse drawn carts and flocks of sheep scattered across hillsides. Fields of lavender and swards of maize. Poppies, war memorials, beaches, gorges and plains.
8What kind of bike is suitable?
The Trans Euro Trail® is aimed at small and medium capacity trail bikes - bikes such as Yamaha’s WR250R and XT600 and XT660Z Tenere, CCM’s GP450, KTM’s 690 and Suzuki’s DRZ400. Larger bikes can tackle it but riders need to be more experienced and competent. Soft luggage, travelling light is the ethos – leave those panniers and armchairs at home. This is overlanding in its purest form.
9How long will it take?
Phew! Have you got a few months? Many will choose to plan to ride sections of it over the years – a few will try the full Trans Euro Trail®. The country pages give an idea of how long it might take to cover each country’s section. Don’t hurry it. Take time to explore off the Trans Euro Trail®. Europe has so much to offer that it would be wasteful to focus on the destination and covering the miles rather than soaking up the experience.
10Do I have to do it all in one go?
Not at all! If you’re in Europe, pick a section and relish it and then come back for more in your next break.
11When is the best time to do it?
Each country’s Linesman suggests the best time on their country page. Weather plays an important part – snow blocks passes, roads are closed when fire risk is high. A dry trail easily covered in a day can become a slog of many in bad weather. Breathe deep of the European air and relax. Treat it as an adventure and come prepared for changeable weather.
12Can someone help me plan my route?
The Trans Euro Trail® is provided as downloadable GPX files. These can be transferred to phones, tablets, PCs or GPS units. They provide a spine, a starting point for your explorations and adventure. View them and explore them on your PC . Edit them on Basecamp or similar. There are a multitude of sites on the internet or guidebooks (suggested on Country pages) that enable one to tailor a unique trip. Our forums provide the medium to discuss options with other riders and Linesmen. Part of the fun of planning a trip is discussing, reflecting, researching and tailoring.
13What is the accomodation?
Carry a tent or bivvi bag. Camp wild or in campsites. Use local hostels, B&Bs or 5* hotels. Your budget, your dreams, your trip. One can download routable Open Street Map maps from the internet free which have accommodation marked and as the Trans Euro Trail® gets used, riders will recommend locations to stay along the route.
14Can I download a GPS map?
Have a look at the Navigation page which has links to sources of electronic mapping, often free, on the Internet. Otherwise use commercially available maps or paper versions. The Forum is a great place to find out the pros and cons of each and how to load and use them.
15How much does it cost?
The Trans Euro Trail® is Priceless! Free of charge, it is provided with the support of Adventure Spec through the generosity and hours of hard work of contributors and Linesmen.
16Why are you giving the tracks away for free?
A mix of good karma and practical common sense! This project is all about giving folk the opportunity to share a great adventure on the most varied continent on earth. We depend 100% on the freely given contributions of riders from across Europe and the freely given time and efforts of our Linesmen and women. The ripple effect of charging for the end product would travel right down that chain and, we think, taint the concept of the community effort. The end users are also the contributors after all. You are the Trans Euro Trail®.
On the practical side, we are all aware of the multitude of other file sharing GPX sites on the internet (indeed, we’ve used many of them to help create TET v1.0), but there is no guarantee that GPX files posted on these sites reflect the current status of routes. If we charge for accessing our routes, inevitably some folk will post them on one of these other file sharing sites or share them amongst their friends or groups. You then end up with out dated versions being touted or ridden as gospel (think GPSKevin and the Trans America Trail). This in turn leads to upset from users, local communities, authorities and a reinforcing of the perception that trail riders are just a bunch of law-ignoring, dangerous, inconsiderate hoodlums. By making our frequently updated files free to access and use, it minimises the risk of the GPXs being shared in any other fora. What would be the point when all folk need to do is download it straight from the source? We hope by this means to maximise the chances that folk will use the most up to date routes, minimise confrontation and upset and do something to improve the reputation of our community as responsible adventurous individuals keen to experience Europe in their own way.
Help us by emphasising this point and sign-posting people to this site.
17Are the trails graded by difficulty?
There's been lots of discussion about grading the trails a bit like they do on a ski map - green, blue, red and black - and double black diamond! But the Trans Euro Trail® changes with use, feedback and opinion. It would be an endless task to do so.
The bottom line is that it's designed for competent trail riders on the kind of bikes mentioned above. We have no idea of the skills, tyres, bravado, confidence, fitness or similar such things of individual riders so it would be a very subjective view - even if we had the time for it. If you don't feel confident in a section, turn around and find another route.
The Ride Reports and opinions on the Facebook Group and Trans Euro Trail® Forum will guide you on difficulty. If you're not sure of your skills then go on a course and practice, practice, practice. None of the trails are anywhere near Romaniacs level. But many are not for beginners. It's an adventure not a proscriptive route. The fun is in challenge and discovery. Independence and exploration.
18Is it legal?
The intention is to try to ensure that the Trail is 100% legal HOWEVER laws and restrictions change, laws are inconsistently applied and we are in a climate where motorised off tar travel often has a poor reputation with many hoping to stop it completely. Neither the Linesmen nor the contributors, Adventure Spec nor the Trans Euro Trail® Moderator or anyone associated with the TET® in any form or manner can take ANY responsibility for the legality of trails and users ride and follow the Trans Euro Trail® ENTIRELY at their own risk. Any legal issues arising out of following the Trans Euro Trail® or information on these pages are the sole responsibility of the rider.
19What if I encounter a problem with the route?
Tell us! Use the button on the webpage of the relevant country to tell the Linesman about blockages, problems, gates or detours. We will then update the TET® section for that country and publicise that we have done so on Trans Euro Trail® social media
20How did you develop TET v1.0?
TET v1.0 is the result over 18 months of concerted effort following years of thought and consideration. We’ve drawn together riders from across Europe with a shared passion and goal to create the route. We have used information gleaned from a multitude of sources - people’s archives of trips ridden, trail riding fora, clubs and groups, publicly accessible internet sources including Wikiloc and good old hours spent over Basecamp, Google Earth, Bing, overlays and topographical maps researching potential routes then recce riding them and adjusting them as required. For those of you that have ridden in Europe, you may recognise sections of the TETv1.0. It’s inevitable that with 34,000km of Trans Euro Trail® there will be some parts that are out of date or unrecce’d. Please bear with us and feed back any findings to the relevant Linesman. The Trans Euro Trail® is organic and will evolve as riders use it and tell us of issues.
21Is there somewhere I can share my journey?
We want to hear what you’ve seen, done and experienced. Adventures, dramas, highs and lows. Put a ride report on the forum or use the hash tag #transeurotrail and people can find photos and reports.
22Can I buy a T-shirt?
Sure! Stickers too. Take a look here.
23Can I use the Trans Euro Trail® logo and name?
The Trans Euro Trail® and the TET logo are trademarked. This isn't for the purposes of commercial profit but to protect this not-for-profit community project from hijacking, unscrupulous misuse or reputational loss.
We think we've worked hard to create something special. We are selling some merchandise via our supporter Adventure Spec to generate funds to cover ongoing costs (server, website development etc) - please see the "Support the TET" page.
If you want to throw the logo onto your own personal T-Shirt or bike please do, but it is not to be used for commercial or financial gain.
If you are interested in supporting this project and using the logo or name in a commercial sense whether it be for you or your company's monetary gain or to benefit from any implied or actual association with the Trans Euro Trail®, then please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your proposal and if it fits with our ethos and central tenets of "For riders, by riders" and "Respect for trails, environment and communities", we'll give your proposal serious consideration!
24The TET® Code of Conduct
Europe's open spaces are growing more and more congested. As well as those that live and work in the countryside, there are many leisure groups wanting to take advantage of our dwindling green spaces.
As Trans Euro Trail® users, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the riders that come after us to ensure that access is maintained.
We should aim to be ambassadors of Trail Riding – that is riding and using the trails respectfully and sensitively.
Trans Euro Trail® subscribes to the following Code of Conduct and we ask you to too:
- Use only vehicular rights of way and respect signs
- Motorcycles and riders must be road-legal, licensed and insured.
- Keep to the defined way across farmland as wheels can damage crops and grass - they are someone's livelihood.
- Give way to walkers, horses and cyclists by stopping and switching off engines as necessary on narrow trails and slowing down, giving a wide berth and avoiding sending gravel and dust flying on wider ones.
- Leave gates as you found them so as to safeguard stock.
- Travel at a safe speed taking regard of conditions and visibility – the Trans Euro Trail® is not and should never be regarded as a racetrack
- Ride quietly and use the throttle with discretion as noise does offend.
- Do not travel in large groups - six or less is the ideal.
- Respect the countryside and those who live, work and play in it.
- Remember that trails can be fragile and susceptible to erosion especially when wet. Please consider a detour.
- Acknowledge the presence of other trail users with a friendly wave and a smile - it doesn't cost anything!
- If you witness dangerous or irresponsible behaviour on the trails and it safe to do so, we would ask you to have the moral courage to have a chat – you might just sow a seed that will flourish
- Ride within your and your bike's capabilities.
- Contribute to the viability of rural communities by spending your money with local businesses.
We believe that if we measure our actions and Trans Euro Trail® use against the following 3 criteria, then we can all help to change people's perceptions of trail riders for the better:
1. Respect for the trails
2. Respect for the communities we travel through
3. Respect for the environment
Visit our Code of Conduct page for more information
25How do I know the file for the Trans Euro Trail® section that I am following is up to date?
The download available on each country's webpage country is the most up to date one. They are updated regularly as suggestions or issues come in. ALWAYS DOWNLOAD THE FILE JUST BEFORE YOU LEAVE TO ENSURE YIU ARE USING THE MOST UP TO DATE VERSION and keep an eye of the Trans Euro Trail® Facebook group during your trip in case a new version appears while you area way.