Going on a road trip can either be the adventure of a lifetime or a great stress, depending on whether you’re the designated driver or just a passenger. I remember when I was about 10 years old, during a family road trip through Europe, we were passing Switzerland’s Furka Pass. My brother and I were screaming with excitement at the rollercoaster-like ride, while my father was sweating at the wheel, trying to concentrate on the sharp turns.
Unlike my father, I enjoy a good challenge on a road trip and, if you’re like me, you’ll find below some inspiration for your next adventure.
1. Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is a 46 km long road connecting Stelvio, in South Tyrol, and Bormio, in Sondrio, through the Ortler Alps. Reaching an altitude of 2,757 m, it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps and only 7 m below the highest throughout the overall Alps – France’s Col de l’Iseran. It features no less than 75 hairpin turns, most of which in the northern part, convincing Top Gear to conclude it satisfied “every petrolhead’s driving fantasies” and name it the world’s best driving road before it was dethroned by Romania’s Transfăgărășan.
2. Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 240-kilometre (150 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. The road is the world’s largest war memorial, dedicated to soldiers of World War I. It runs alongside the southern coast of the country, passing by rock formations, incredible landmarks, the Bass Strait and generally offering a mesmerizing view of the ocean.
3. Tail of the Dragon, USA
The Tail of the Dragon, also known as Seals Gap, is a 18 km long stretch of the US Route 129. The mountain pass along the North Carolina–Tennessee state line borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and runs near the Little Tennessee River. It is famous for its 318 curves, for which some consider it the road most resembling a racetrack.
4. Transfăgărășan, Romania
Named by Top Gear “the best road in the world”, Transfăgărășan is one of Romania’s toughest road challenges. It crosses the southern Carpathian Mountains of Făgărăș, hence the name. The 90 km long pass reaches an altitude of 2,042 m, close to the Bâlea Glacier Lake. Dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S curves and sharp descents, the winding Transfăgărășan has more tunnels and viaducts than any other road in Romania, including the country’s longest road tunnel – the 884 m long Bâlea Tunnel.
5. Atlantic Road, Norway
Norway’s 8.3 km long Atlantic Road connects Averøy with the mainland via a series of small islands and islets spanned by viaducts and a total of eight bridges. Dubbed Norway’s “Construction of the Century”, the route, which at places seems to be floating on water, is packed with coastal scenery, culture and history.
6. Heaven-Linking Avenue, China
The Tongtian Avenue, also called Heaven-Linking Avenue or Avenue Towards Heaven is an 11 km long road in China’s Tianmen Mountain, the name of which translate to Heaven’s Gate Mountain. It leads to the Tianmen Cave, or Heaven’s Door. Not coincidentally, the road has 99 sharp turns, as 9 is considered a lucky number in many Chinese culture, while the entrance to the cave, known as the Stairway to Heaven, has 999 steps.
7. Furka Pass, Switzerland
The approximatively 35 km long Furka Pass links Andermatt in the Canton of Uri with Gletsch in the Canton of Valais, going through the Swiss Alps and reaching an altitude of 2,429 m. It is part of the popular Three-Pass-Ride over the Furka, Grimsel and Susten Pass. One of the curves is famously named the James Bond Strasse, after the pass served as a filming location for the Goldfinger film of the Bond franchise.