Are you looking for the ultimate scenic road trip? Do you enjoy the exhilarating feeling that fresh alpine air can bring? Or maybe you’ve got a thing about driving on real life roller coasters, or locations used for motorsport drifting racing?
Whatever your enthusiasm, here are 21 roads around the world that include the marvels of engineering in amongst some of the most beautiful, but unlikely terrains and altitudes.
21. Irohazaka Winding Roads – Japan
The Irohazaka Winding Road, is actually two roads. One road is used for traffic travelling in an uphill direction, and the other road for traffic going down. The roads are located near Nikko, a two to three hour drive from Tokyo in Japan. Built in the 1950s and 1960s, between them the two roads will take you around 48 hairpin turns!
20. Col de la Bonette – France
Col de la Bonette is an alpine mountain pass in the southern French alps, not far from the border with Italy. It’s a popular route for cyclists, and has regularly been included in the Tour de France bike race. Reaching a height of 2802 meters (9193 feet) if you take the additional loop road at the top, or a height of 2715 meters (8907 feet) if you descend straight down the other side, it’s the highest paved road in France.
19. Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge – Japan
The Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge in southern Japan is an extremely clever way to get you from the side of one mountain to another. Travelling around its 1.1 km long double spiral takes you in no time at all, up or down, 45 meters (148 feet) – at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour!
18. Flüela Pass – Switzerland
The Fluelapass in Graubünden, Switzerland, takes you on a 13 kilometer ascent through some stunning scenery in the Swiss Alps. The pass reaches a height of 2383 meters (7818 feet), and may be closed in some weather conditions. In summer, you can jump aboard six-horse drawn postal coach for a leisurely and relaxed scenic trip!
17. Mount Aso – Japan
Yes, there is a road that takes you to crater edge of an active volcano! Mount Aso is located on the island of Kyushi, which is in southern Japan. If conditions permit, you can drive up and park your car next to the crater, and then get an even closer view the smoking activity in the center of the volcano.
16. Furka Pass – Switzerland
The Furka Pass in the Swiss Alps features more than a few hair raising hairpin bends and sheer drops to a height of 2429 meters (7969 feet). Depending on which side you start from, you can have the thrill of this breathtaking experience for a 42 kilometer or 57.8 kilometer ascent/decent.
15. Norikura Skyline Road – Japan
The Norikura Skyline Road is the highest public road in Japan at 2700 meters (8858 feet). From the road, you get panoramic views of surrounding mountain ranges, snow at any time of the year, and access to some spectacular hiking trails.
14. Grossglockner – Austria
The Glossglockner alpine road in the eastern Austrian Alps is this country’s highest road. You can reach a height of height of 2504 meters (8215 feet) by navigating many serpentine and hairpin curves.
13. Bandai Azuma Roadway – Japan
Also known as the Bandai-Asuma Skyline, the Bandai-Asuma Roadway in Honshu, Japan covers a distance of 28.7 kilometers (17.8 miles). Known as “the road that runs across the sky” this winding route takes you through a mountain range, past a volcanic crater, and will give you views of Fukishima City and surrounds.
12. Hochstrasse – Black Forest, Germany
The Schwarzwald Hochstrasse in Germany, aka the Black Forest High Road, is a beautiful journey that runs for 65 kilometers (40 miles) alongside mountains and the forest. Along the route you reach a maximum altitude of 1000 meters (3280 feet).
11. Hakone Hill Climb – Japan
The Hakone Hill Climb is sure to be a familiar name to motorsport enthusiasts. Once a year, this stretch is closed off to regular vehicles and race cars speed and roar their way to the top. The Hakone Turnpike is about 16 kilometers long (10 miles) that will take you through mountainous twists and turns.
10. Route de Gentelly – France
Route de Gentelley in the Alpes Maritimes region in the south of France is simply spectacular and an experience you will never forget. In places the road passes through carved rock, with sheer drops on one side of the road and cliff faces on the other. Be prepared to hold your breath along this 50 kilometer (31 mile) mountain pass.
9. Mikuni Pass – Japan
The Mikuni Pass is the highest mountain pass in Hokkaido, reaching an altitude of 1139 meters (3737 feet). This national highway is open all year round, and travels across viaducts, with views of spectacular mountains and pristine scenery.
8. San Bernardino Pass – Switzerland
A mule track once upon a time, the San Bernardino Pass in the southern region of the Swiss Alps is a favorite with vintage car rallies. It is also a fun way to get from Switzerland to Italy – you’ll be switching languages as you switch gears.
7. Stelvio Pass – Italy
The Stelvio Pass is in South Tyrol in the north east of Italy, and only 200 meters from the border with Switzerland. It is the highest pass in this region and reaches 2757 meters (9045 feet). If you’re keen on pedal power, once a year the road is closed to all traffic except cyclists, so you can experience the total of 48 hairpin turns by bike!
6. The Old Military Road – Scotland
The Old Military Road in the Scottish Highlands is 133 kilometers (83 miles) through a national park that encompasses views of mountains, moors, and more! Taking this route will give you the opportunity to navigate and steer your vehicle in both open road conditions, and roller-coaster like terrain!
5. Transfagarasan – Romania
The Transfagarasan route is a 90 kilometers (56 miles) trip through the mountainous region that divides the northwestern and southern regions of Romania. It reaches an altitude of 2042 meters (6699 feet) and includes S-bends, hairpin turns, five tunnels, viaducts, and some pretty sharp descents!
4. Tateyama Snow Canyon Road – Japan
Mount Tateyama is one of the Three Holy Mountains in the Japanese Alps. Part of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route encompasses the Snow Canyon Road. This section, done on foot, is through snow canyon walls of up to 20 meters (66 feet). Tramways and trolleybuses also transport you along the journey to minimize any impact on the environment.
3. Million Dollar Highway – Colorado, USA
The Million Dollar Highway in the United States takes you through much of the State of Colorado, right down to New Mexico. You’ll cover three mountain passes on roads cut into the sides of mountains, with sheer and unprotected drops to ravines on the other side.
2. Sea-To-Sky Highway – Canada
This route, in British Columbia, Canada takes you from sea level in Vancouver to 670 meters (2200 feet) in the mountains. If you just want to drive, the trip along the BC Highway 99 takes around two hours. Although the journey takes you past beaches and rainforest, that you’re bound to want to stop off at.
1. Great Ocean Road – Australia