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
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 south-westward 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
The Los Caracoles passes through the harsh terrain of the Andreas Mountains on the way between Chile and Argentina.
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
The Guoliang Tunnel is located high in the Taihanf Mountains situated in the Hunan Province of China. Built by 13 local villagers, the tunnel took around 5 years to build and cost the lives of many villagers in the process.
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
Deep into the Bolivian Andes is the North Yungas Road, widely regarded as the most the dangerous road in the world. Known as the ‘Death Road’ for its less than stellar safety record, the road covers a 70km stretch between La Paz and Coriocco over a decent of 3,600m which pits drivers against terrifyingly tight hairpins and narrow passages. All whilst trying to avoid a 800 m sheer drop.
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.
#14. Trollstigen — Norway
The Trollstigen or ‘The Troll Ladder’ as it’s known in English, is a steep winding mountain road located in the Rauma region of Norway.
With it’s steep 9% gradient and incredible 11 hairpin bends, the Trollstigen is a popular tourist location for driving enthusiasts alike.
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.
#13. Transfagarasanul Road — Romania
The Transfagarasanul is the highest road in Romania and it reaches almost 2000 m above the sea level. It connects Muntenia and Transilvania, two historic parts of Romania.At its top you can find Lake Balea, a glaciar lake formes thousands of years ago.
There are also ruins of Poienari Castle, Vlad the Impaler’s real castle, lurking on this route, to get your blood flowing.
#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 more than a road – it’s a whole region, stretching from Geelong near Melbourne, westwards to the Victorian-South Australian border.
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.
The 400-kilometre-long road was built between 1919 and 1932 by more than 3000 returned soldiers as a memorial for the 60,000 Australians killed in World War I.
#10. Lysebotn Road — Norway
The Lysebotn Road in Lysefjord, Norway includes 27 hairpins and an impressive 1.1 km long tunnel at the bottom — with 3 hairpins of its own. Awesome.
“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
First built in Germany in the 1920s, the Autobahns were the first high speed roads in the world. Unlike the autobahns in Switzerland and Austria which have speed limits, 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
The Millau Viaduct is the worlds tallest vehicular bridge. Spanning the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France, this cable stayed road bridge first opened for traffic on 16 December 2004.
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.
The Millau Viaduct has one piers summit at 1,118 ft (341 metres), slightly higher than the Eiffel Tower and only 132 ft (40 m) shorter than the Empire State Building.
#7. Nufenen Pass — Switzerland
The Nufenen Pass is a high (2478 metres) mountain pass in the Swiss Alps.
With good all round visibility the Nufenen starts in the west alongside a wild stream leading into the hairpin sections as you begin your ascent up the mountain.
#6. Irohazaka — Japan
The winding road of the Iroha-zaka in Japan is the main route that connects central Nikko and Oku-Nikko.
Comprising of 48 curves, the Iroha-zaka road has an ancient Japanese alphabet character displayed on each corner starting with l-ro-ha (hence the name).
#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.
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.
#4. The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road — UAE
The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is arguably one of the finest driving roads in the world. Spanning some 7.3 miles and climbing nearly 4,000 feet, the Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road boasts a whopping 60 corners and a road surface to smooth you’d swear you were on a racetrack.
The road is cut into the Jebel Hafeet mountain that spans the border with Oman and lies about 90 minutes’ drive south-east of the thriving city of Dubai.
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
At a height of 2065 meters, the San Bernardino Pass is a high mountain pass across the Swiss Alps that connects the towns of Hinterrhein and Misox.
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.
#1. Stelvio Pass — Italy
The Stelvio Pass is the second highest paved mountain road in the Alps (2757 meters), and has long been a firm favorite with travelling motorists.
Regarded by many as being one of the most challenging roads in the world, the Stelvio Pass offers its visitors 60 hairpin bends with 48 of them located on the northern/eastern ramp.
The northern side of the Stelvio Pass is by far more challenging, with the steep ascent offering little to no visibility for oncoming vehicles.
The southern/eastern ramp in comparison is far more gentle. Offering drivers wider, and faster hairpins with a more comfortable road surface.