In the 1978 movie “Foul Play,” Goldie Hawn was shown driving leisurely down the highways of San Francisco with a view of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge. Combine that with great driving music and you will have one of the most pleasurable drives in the world. A great driving road means having wide turns and an amazing vista of the terrace and landscape. It should elicit a smile and some thrill as it would jolt you out of the dullness of normal everyday ride.
So crank up the radio and absorb the view as you take part in and navigate the top 10 best driving roads in the world.
1. Denali Highway, Alaska
Also known as Alaska Route 8, this road stretches through 135 miles of undeveloped land and natural beauty. Services along the road may be scarce however and there are huge portions with gravel surfaces, but all these are made up for by the amazing view of Mount McKinley. There is a lot of unspoiled beauty along the way that should keep things interesting. Big game animals may also be sighted, though hunters have eliminated most of these.
2. Trollstigen, Norway
Also known as the “Troll Ladder,” one has to climb nine percent gradient slope to get to the top. The road also features 11 hairpin turns. But the reward is truly a delight, as you will get a full view of the Stigfossen Waterfall and of the valley below.
3. West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand
Remember those lush and verdant landscapes from the film trilogy “Lord of the Rings?” Peter Jackson, the movie’s director, surely took full advantage of the beautiful sceneries provided by his host country of New Zealand. Driving through the West Coast of the South Island will give you a view of the New Zealand Alps and green vegetation all the way from Karamea to Haast. You will also get to see along the Tasman side a view of untouched seasides.
4. Sani Pass, South Africa
This road connects KwaZulu-Natal to Lesotho. This is not for the faint of heart, however, as this is a hard road that has claimed a lot of unfit cars. The road is filled with the remains of these vehicles that did not quite make it. But if you have a vehicle that is strong enough, you will see the natural beauty of the area comparable to the coastline of California. The sights are otherworldly and simply magnificent.
5. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
In terms of visual impact, this road in China takes the cake. It is located in the province of Henan and the road is carved from the edges of the Taihang Mountains. The ride may be short at just three quarters of a mile, but it is definitely sweet because of the stunning path that you will have to traverse.
6. Amalfi Coast, Italy
This road is also known as the SS 163. It is a road with two lanes that snake through and hug the rough hills as it goes down to meet the shiny Tyrrhenian Sea. To further enhance the view, you will also encounter the extremely picturesque towns along the coast, namely Positano and Ravello. Be careful, however, as there are a lot of hazards along the road. These include wide eyed tourists having their pictures taken at the most unusual spots, or the local drivers in the area who have memorized the twists and turns of the road like the palm of their hand and who drive fast without any fear. At the end of the road, you can rest in the trattorias along the sea and buy ice cream in one of the gelato stands.
7. Khardung Pass, India
This is one of the highest altitude roads in the world. The peak of Khardung Pass reaches a height of 17,582 feet. Traffic in the area consists not only of vehicles, but also camels and horses. The road features an endless series of twists and turns, with glaciers adding to the difficulty of the travel.
8. Col de Turini, France
This mountain pass in the French Alps will simply take your breath away. It has hosted a few stages of the toughest cycling competition in the world, the Tour de France. Col de Turini also hosts a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally every year with its competitors passing through it as fast as possible on its way to the French Riviera. But if you are the one doing the driving, take your time and do not rush through it. Instead, enjoy the magnificent view that the road provides.
9. Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
This is a beautiful highway built in the 1970s by the late Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Dynamites were surely used to build this highway, as one look at it and you would know that it simply defies the mountains that surround it. A series of tunnels, spans, viaducts and bridges are used to connect various parts of the road that the hosts of the BBC show called “Top Gear” consider as one of the best in the world. The Transfagarasan Highway connects Transylvania to Walachia and the best thing about it is that it is still quite untouched by motorists.
10. Stelvio Pass, Italy
This is one of the highest altitude roads in the Italian Alps with a peak of around 9,000 feet. The Stelvio Pass has 48 switchbacks, each of which is numbered by a stone marker. These 48 switchbacks are packed within a distance of 15 miles. Driving through the road means slicing around the mountain from left to right, east to west, and then back again. The turns are just daunting, featuring several hairpins that will leave the driver and his passengers simply breathless. Driving Stelvio Pass has become a rite of passage especially for those who live in the area who are thrilled no end by the adventure that the road can bring.