Here’s a rundown of what we believe are 19 of the most beautiful and challenging roads in the world.
If you’re a fan of negotiating challenging bends, with great views, long fast straights and little to no traffic — then it might be time to dig out your passport and book some time off work!
As always we love to hear your feedback, so if you’ve had the pleasure of driving any of these routes, or if we’ve missed out any gems — let us know in the comments!
#19. The Overseas Highway — Florida Keys
The Overseas Highway is a 127.5-mile (205.2 km) highway carrying U.S. Route 1 through the Florida Keys. Completed in 1938 along the course of an ill-fated railroad that had been destroyed by a hurricane, the Overseas Highway (Rte. 1) leaps from island to island across 42 bridges as it arcs southwestward through the Florida Keys.
The journey, mostly over water, can take less than four hours, however, if you take time to enjoy the ocean and mangrove vistas along the roadway, plus the glorious sunrises and sunsets, there is potential for the journey to take longer. And holiday traffic congestion can add to the drive time.
#18. Los Caracoles Pass — Andes
This road passes though the Andreas Mountains on the way between Chile and Argentina. Los Caracoles is a series of hard switchbacks on an extremely steep incline.
The harsh incline of the pass features a number of sharp hairpins, and with no safety barriers and snow forecast for most of the year, the Los Caracoles is definitely one of the more challenging roads on our list.
The tough terrain requires a lot of skill and patience to negotiate, but despite the challenging surroundings the pass has a strong safety record, and is well maintained with double-decker tourist buses travelling the route on a daily basis.
#17. Guoliang Tunnel Road — China
Built not by the government, but by 13 local villagers, the tunnel took around 5 years to build and cost the lives of many villagers in the process.
The Guoliang Tunnel is located high in the Taihanf Mountains situated in the Hunan Province of China.
At 1200 meters long by 5 meters high and 4 meters wide, the tunnel has earned its name as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Nevertheless the Guoliang Tunnel is hugely popular among Chinese tourists and is a stunningly beautiful scenic route.
#16. Grimsel Pass — Switzerland
Located near Gletsch, Switzerland, the Grimsel Pass offers yet another spectacular hairpin climb up the Alps. The Grimsel Pass is 2165 m high and is a mountain pass between the valley of of the Rhone River and the Haslital valley.
15. North Yungas “Road of Death” — Bolivia
The North Yungas Road (alternatively known as Grove’s Road, Coroico Road, Camino de las Yungas, El Camino de la Muerte, Road of Death or Death Road) is a 61-kilometre (38 mi) or 69-kilometre (43 mi) road leading from La Paz to Coroico, 56 kilometres (35 mi) northeast of La Paz in the Yungas region of Bolivia.
On average, there is a fatal accident every couple of weeks on Yungas road, with the visible remains of accidents and the skeletnons of numerous lorries and buses at the bottom of the abyss serving as a constant reminder of just how the Yungas earned its nickname.
Image Credit: Teacher on Two Wheels
Image Credit: verticalwayaround.com
Image Credit: verticalwayaround.com
#14. Trollstigen — Norway
Trollstigen, in the heart of Romsdal, is one of the best visited attractions in Norway. The mountains which encircle the Trollstigen road are enormous. Names like Kongen (the King), Dronningen (the Queen) and Bispen (the Bishop) confirm their majesty in this mountain world.
Drivers who manage to conquer the challenging road are rewarded with a viewing balcony at the top, offering spectacular views of the winding turns and the Stigfossen waterfall which also runs down the mountainside.
Image Credit: Terje Rakke – Nordic Life AS/Fjord Norway
Image Credit: photobucket.com
Image Credit: All-free-photos.com
Image Credit: photo.dv.no
#13. Transfagarasan Road — Romania
Transfagarasan is the most famous road in Romania, with differences of altitude and many curves that represent a challenge for both cars and drivers.
Not for the fainthearted, the route climbs up to an altitude of 2034 meters and links Transylvania with it’s neighbouring province Muntenia passing through dramatic scenery and offering spectacular views, particularly from the highest peak in Romania, Moldoveanu.
Looking back at the history of the road, it dates back to 1970 as a response to when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968. Former Romanian dictator Ceausescu ordered the construction of a route which would allow their military to easily cross the mountainous area should they need to protect the borders of Romania to a similar threat in the future. The Transfagarasan route was then built (also known as the DN7C), to this day still one of the highest roads in Europe.
#12. Hana Highway — Maui
The Hana Highway is a 60 mile stretch of road that connects the small town of Hana to the rest of Maui. The Hana Highway winds its way past waterfalls, beaches, bridges and spectacular ocean views.
With it’s 600 hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges, blind bends, and narrow pavement edged by cliffs, the Hana Highway makes for a challenging yet satisfying ocean drive.
#11. Great Ocean Road — Australia
The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was constructed to provide work for returning soldiers and dedicated as a Memorial to those killed in the First World War. It is one of Australia’s great scenic coastline drives. [wikipedia].
With impressive ocean views all along the way, you’ll also encounter a number of sights along the road ranging from resort towns and lighthouses to the Otways rain forest.
Image credit: seafarers.com.au
#10. Lysebotn Road — Norway
This is the Lysebotn Road in Lysefjord, Norway – complete with 27 switchbacks and a 1.1 kilometer long tunnel at the bottom, also with three switchbacks inside.
“The first half of this road was nothing too special, but then… then came the fun part! The last 30 km (18 miles) to Lysebotn were the most fun I have ever driven! This part of the road was a true roller-coaster! It was narrow but with a perfect surface, and you just sat there on the bike with a big smile on your face as you pushed on for some really active driving. Not a straight part of the road as far as you could see. It was up and down and left and right all the time! The road ends with a 27 hairpin serpentine road taking you from 1000 meters (3280 ft) above sea level down to Lysebotn and the Lysefjord. At the end of the serpentine road you go through a tunnel that screws itself 340 degrees through the mountain and as you come out of it (slightly dizzy) you have Lysebotn in front of you. If you ride a motorcycle in Norway, then this road is something you simply can not afford to miss!”
#9. Autobahn — Germany
Just like all European highways, autobahns have multiple lanes of traffic in each direction like a dual carriage way, separated by a central barrier with grade-separated junctions and access restricted to certain types of motor vehicles only. The diference is that the German Autobahns have no limits except at junctions and various danger points.
The first autobahn in Germany was used as a race track and sometimes still is. So when some people go to Germany, they are ready to put their car to the limit.
#8. Millau Viaduct — France
Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one mast’s summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft) — slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 37 m (121 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building.
The roadway has a slight slope of 3% descending from south to north, and curves in plan section on a 20 km (12.4 mile) radius to give drivers better visibility. It carries two lanes of traffic in each direction.
Image Credit: dannyogrady
#7. Nufenen Pass — Switzerland
The pass road from Ulrichen in canton of Valais leads to the Bedretto valley in the canton of Ticino, linking Brig to Airolo.
The pass is of relatively recent construction, having been opened to traffic only since September 1969.
#6. Irohazaka — Japan
Iroha-zaka winding road is a main access to connect central Nikko and Oku-Nikko. You will use the Second Iroha-zaka to go up, and will use the First Iroha-zaka to come down. Each corner has a letter of ancient Japanese alphabet, and you will see it in alphabetical order. The alphabetical order starts from I-ro-ha, while modern alphabet starts from a-i-u.
The road ascends more than 400 meters in altitude, and there are separate roads for uphill and downhill traffic.
#5. Oberalp Pass — Switzerland
In the summer months, the Oberalp Pass provides an important link between Central Switzerland and the Graubünden Oberland and is popular among both car and truck drivers, as well as being a Mecca for motorcyclists. Oberalpsee is located 20 m below, in direction of Andermatt.
In winter, on the other hand, the Oberalp Pass is closed to road traffic and the road itself used as a ski slope, toboggan run and hiking trail.
Image Credit: ski-epic.com
#4. The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road — UAE
Jebel Hafeet (Arabic: جبل حفيت) (variously translated Jabal, Jabel and Jebal) is a mountain primarily in the United Arab Emirates on the outskirts of Al Ain. The mountain actually straddles part of the border with Oman.[wikipedia]
With a mixture of fast straights interspersed with sweeping curves that merge perfectly from one to another, the Jebel Hafeet Mountain road is a tight, technical and thrilling driving experience.
#3. San Bernardino Pass — Switzerland
The San Bernardino Pass links the Posterior Rhine in Grisons to the north with the Misox valley, also in Grisons, to the south. Not far from the top of the pass is the little resort of San Bernardino with its many opportunities for hiking and winter sports. For eastern Switzerland, the Bernardino route is an alternative to the Gotthard Pass as a way into the Ticino.
The pass also features an impressive 6.6 km long tunnel with a limited speed limit of 80km/h (50mph).
With its beautiful scenic views, smooth roads and a good share of hairpins and bends, the San Bernardino Pass easily earns its place as one of the best Alpine driving experiences.
#2. Col De Turini — France
Located in the South of France, the Col De Turini is a famous mountain top range that is included as part of a 32 km rally stage starting from Sospel to La Bollène.
The Col De Turini is the highest point in the stage standing at 1607 metre, and is one of the most dangerous and challenging stages in the WRC.
Along its long straights the cars can reach speeds of upto 180 km/h, with the roads 34 tight hairpins and jaw-dropping scenery making the Col De Turini one of the most exciting and coolest driving roads in the world.
Image Credit: MotoringFile
Image Credit: rajdy
#1. Stelvio Pass — Italy
Il numero uno – or the number one route in the World! The top quarter of the Stelvio Pass, best driving road in the world according to Top Gear. This is about 2760m (9045 ft) up in the Italian Alps.
The Passo dello Stelvio is the highest pass in Italy. It is situated in the Alps Retiche, to the north-west of the Montuoso group of the Ortles-Cevedale.
It is possible to climb the Stelvio from two different sides; from Bormio and from Prato, both in Italy. However, it is also possible to reach the Stelvio from Switzerland, namely from St. Maria; see the Passo Umbrail (2501 m). The toughest, and to us most spectacular climbing is the one from Prato, with 48 hairpins, it is regarded as one of the finest continuous hairpin sectors in the Alps.
In our opinion – and not only our, this is the best of the best route in the world!
Again, if we’ve missed out any gems — let us know in the comments. Cheers!
Source: inautonews.com via Breakdowncover