There’s no denying, owning a pair of wheels gives us access to breathtaking beauty all around the world.
From spectacular coastal drives to challenging mountain passes, to the raw beauty of India’s Roof of the World, let’s take a look at some of the roads you should tick off the bucket list and drive in your lifetime.
Furka Pass, Switzerland
If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for us. Featured in Goldfinger, this stretch of road goes down in history as hosting one of the greatest car chases ever between the Aston DB5 and Ford Mustang. The Furka Pass stands at an elevation of 2429m and 22.5km long. Renowned for its winding hairpin bends, immaculate road surfaces, and exceptional views, go and follow in the footsteps of 007.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is not for the weak-stomached. One of the highest mountain passes in Europe, at 2759m, you’ll be driving around a staggering 46 hairpin bends. At each bend, the views are staggering and with a gradient of over 8% in some places, you’ll want to test your brakes before starting the descent.
Route 101, USA
Spoilt for choice, the USA has possibly the greatest variety of dramatic roads in the world. Glamourised through movies, the choice of drives is endless. Route 101, stretching from Washington to California, offers an unparalleled journey along almost the entirety of California’s coast. The drive takes you through 3 states on the West Coast of America, winds through stunning national parks, hugs the scenic coastline, and dips in and out of eye-catching towns and villages. Whichever way you drive, this is 600 miles not to be missed.
TianMen Mountain, China
There is no road curvier than this in the world. Relatively short, at 11km long, it packs in 99 bends. Yes, 99. Located in the Tianmen Mountain National Park, in the northwestern Hunan Province, this drive offers unrivaled views (if you can take your eyes off the road for a few seconds). Narrow, with a bumpy surface, this road isn’t for timid drivers. However, get to the top and your nerves of steel will pay off with a celestial welcome. Known to be a link between the mortal world and the gods, you’ll be met by a heaven gate in the form of a natural rock arch. Perhaps say a little prayer before the drive back down.
Leh-Manali Highway, India
Known as the drive across the ‘Roof of the World’, the Leh-Manali Highway covers 479km through the Himalaya mountain range. The drive puts you consistently at 2-3 miles above sea level. Besides the incredible scenery, as you travel along, cultural diversity is a vision of wonder. Expect changeable conditions, from snow to water crossings, to dirt trails, to some seemingly never-ending traffic jams. Persevere and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking mountain passes, jaw-dropping views, and an exhilarating drive.
Chapman’s Peak, South Africa
Stretching 9km between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, Chapman’s Peak is a spectacular drive. Known locally as Chappies and popular with both runners and drivers, the twisting roads provide scenic mountainside views out of one window, and sheer drops to the ocean through the other window. Break up the drive with a picnic at one of the many whale-watching spots.
Atlantic Road, Norway
Opened in 1989, the Atlantic Road will give you an insight into the raw beauty of Norway. Connected by some creative bridges, you’ll experience the vastness of the Norwegian Sea, the authentic, picturesque villages, the rugged coastline, and all the small islets in between. Undulating from one feature to the next, you’ll drive Norwegian’s ‘wild’ at its best.
Our Great British Roads, United Kingdom
Not to be missed are our British roads right on our doorsteps. History, landscapes, culture, our roads will not just take you on a physical journey, but an educational one too. There’s a whole raft of beautiful drives in the UK that you could jump in your car and do tomorrow. The A470 in Wales will take you coast to coast taking you through valleys, the mountains of Snowdonia, Cambrian, and the Brecon Beacons. Head to southwest England and follow the A39,
Atlantic Highway, exposing Cornwall and Devon’s rugged northern coastlines. Travel north to Yorkshire and the A169 for a combination of the exposed Yorkshire Moors National Park and the engineering feat of the North York Moors Railway, designed in 1836 by George Stephenson.
Our world is blessed with unspoiled, invigorating drives that open our eyes to beautiful landscapes. There’s no need for a supercar, just plan your adventure, get in your car, and drive.