There are those who drive from A to B through necessity, then there are those who love getting behind the wheel of their motor and hitting the open road. These are drivers who tend to love driving abroad, and are constantly seeking out roads around the world to cruise along and experience. With that in mind we sought out 10 of the most beautiful and enticing roads the world has to offer.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
This road is a single carriageway running for 150 miles sandwiched between Warrnambool and Torquay which has a fascinating history. It was actually built by soldiers returning from WWI, effectively making it the largest war memorial in the world. It runs along the stunning south east coast of Australia and takes in all the major tourist attractions that are found in the area including the 12 Apostles, a dazzling array of stacks of limestone that rise out of the southern ocean. There are also beaches, dramatic cliff drops and rainforests to savour as you drive along, and when you fancy a break there are a host of outstanding seafood restaurants to try.
Highway 1; AKA ‘Big Sur’, USA
We all actually know this road as it has featured in huge numbers of movies and TV shows. It is a stretch of the spectacular Highway 1 which hugs the ragged coastline of central California. It takes you through the fearsome Big Sur, which runs between Carmel and San Simeon. This is a drive that is renowned for the staggering view motorists have over the perilous cliffs. During the peak hours the road gets clogged with motorhomes and rental cars, a recommended detour is to take the less travelled Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. This cuts to the east but also offers an outstanding “bird’s eye” view of the coastline below.
Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany
This German road is arguably the world’s most notorious race tracks. The loop of tarmac is 12.93 miles long, and anyone with a need for speed, and 24 Euros, can fly around here on days when there are no races. Jackie Stewart once described Nurburgring as ‘green hell’ due to its treacherous landmarks. These include Carracciola Karussell, the carousel, and Flugplatz, which is referred to as ‘the airport’ due to its tendency to launch vehicles into the air. Any would-be Schumachers should take this road seriously as the series of 154 turns has a bad reputation for bringing down to earth even the most experienced drivers.
The Khardung Pass, India
Indian’s Khardung Pass is one of the highest roads in the world that you can drive a car along, peaking at 17,582 ft. traditionally a route that is travelled by camels and horses, this altitude sickness inducing road has it all. There is a wicked series of twists and turns along with craggy peaks, glaciers and all manner of both wheeled and four legged traffic – as well as views to, figuratively, die for.
Death Valley, USA
Heading north onto Highway 160 leaving Las Vegas you cannot fail to notice the landscape change; from bright neon lights to lunar rock structures baking in the Nevada sun. As you pass through Death Valley, the road climbs up the barren Furnace Creek before turning out towards the lushness of Mammoth Lakes, overlooking the Yosemite National Park. This trip can be done in a day but a stop off at the famous Furnace Creek Inn, home to the second highest temperature ever recorded, 56.7C is well worth while if you want to practice your lobster impersonation.
Ruta 40, Argentina
Ruta 40 in Argentina is one of the world’s longest stretches of road and connects 20 national parks with numerous passes through the Andes Mountains. Those who don’t have the time, or the penchant, to travel the full 3000+ miles should bypass the southern portion which is clogged with tourists. Instead, you should explore the upper elevations which are both gorgeous and harrowing, especially where Ruta 40 climbs to 16,000ft above sea level.
Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, United Arab Emirates
This is often listed as a contender for the world’s greatest driving experience in motoring magazines. It is incredibly short, only 7.3 miles long, but has an ascent of 4000 meters which ends, somewhat strangely, in a hotel park. This means that most of the time the road is completely empty. Thanks to the design which gave it 2 lanes, you can take the 60 or so bends as fast or as slowly as you want, the latter being the best if you want to admire the views over the desert. One thing to remember is that every January it becomes a veritable haven for cyclists when the Jebel Hafeet Mercure Challenge race takes place.
Davos to Stelvio via Bormio, Italy and Switzerland
This road that straddles the Swiss and Italian borders has been decreed motoring perfection by the Top Gear team. The Stelvio Pass is a 15 mile long spaghetti like trail through the mountains, and for most of the way there is only a pretty feeble looking barrier to prevent you from falling into oblivion. This is not a road for any thrill seeker who is not a highly experienced driver as even Sir Stirling Moss was wrong footed here while taking part in a vintage car event back in the 90′s.
Togue Road of Mount Fuji, Japan
When you look at the tree lined touge (pass) roads from afar as they ascend towards the caldera of Mt Fuji they look almost meditative. Don’t be fooled however, as the twisting passes are where ‘drifting’ was born. It is highly recommended that you don’t attempt to terrorise these twists at night as the pioneers did but there is nothing wrong with taking it easy through the day.
Friendship Highway, Tibet
The Friendship Highway forms the link between Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and the Everest Base Camp at Rongbuk. The journey takes 4 days and you will ascend out of the plateau that surrounds the capital and pass through tiny picturesque villages and giant peaks and pass by turquoise lakes and numerous monasteries. Without warning you suddenly end up staring at Mount Everest’s north face, of which the view alone is worth the trek. It is worth noting that on this drive you will have the opportunity to see 5 of the highest peaks in the world; Cho Oyu, lhotse, Makula, Shishapangma and, of course, Everest.
There it is, the ultimate driving list for all petrol heads. These roads are something very special, and there is one to suit every level of driving experience. Heed the warnings, enjoy the views, and have the road trip of a lifetime. And remember, if you’re travelling to any of these countries for a driving holiday you’ll need car insurance and just as importantly travel insurance – we’d recommend Columbus Direct!