Top ten roads to drive on in Europe
Driving can be a great pleasure sometimes, even if you’re only using Britain’s numerous A-roads and high streets. So just imagine how much fun you could have driving on some of the world’s most challenging, beautiful roads, many of which can be found almost on our doorstep, in Europe.
To whet your appetite and get you drooling over the idea of a European road trip, here’s our collection of ten European roads that are a dream to drive on – whether you’re a car lover or not.
Col de la Bonnette
One of the most famous roads in the Alps, the Col de la Bonnette is the highest road in Europe at 2,807 metres. The views are more sensational than you can imagine and, perhaps surprisingly, the road surface is incredibly smooth. On the way down from the summit, you can see the road ahead for 5km, and it looks much more like a race track than a mountain pass. The turns become more testing as you reach the base – which is probably better than the other way around for us novices.
The beauty of the Flüela Pass is the rhythm you’re able to get into – the pass encounters very few villages meaning there’s no stop-start needed and you can enjoy the stunning Swiss scenery, including an Alpine forest and the sweeping bends in the road which never interrupt the rhythm. Being Switzerland, you won’t be surprised to hear the road itself is immaculate too.
Stelvio Pass is one of those roads you see so often from the sky on Top Gear and the like. As one of the highest roads in the Alps, the Stelvio Pass offers delectable scenery, but it’s the testing turns in the road that are the real beauty here: bend after bend will test your driving experience to the limit, but you’ll love it all the same.
This Austrian stretch takes you directly through a wonderfully preserved national park, meaning the scenery is to die for. The road itself is sort of a large ‘u’ shape, with an artificial lake serving as a wonderful vantage point across the park. During the summer your journey may be interrupted slightly by coaches of tourists, but don’t let that put you off from enjoying this beautiful spot.
Arguably the best named road on this list, Napoleon road follows the route Napoleon took in 1815 from Elba to Grenoble. Of course he was marching and you’ll be a bit quicker driving the road that opened in 1932. The historical element of the road only adds to its beauty with fantastic Alpine views and, in comparison to other roads in the Alps Route, Napoleon really allows you to get some speed up – and enjoy not just the road you’re on, but the car you’re in, too.
It’s probably not that surprising that most of European’s best roads are in the Alps and here’s another one. Famous as the venue for the Aston DB5/Ford Mustang car chase in Goldfinger, the Furka pass takes you curving past the Rhone Glacier, source of the Rhone and enjoys a mixture of switchbacks and long straights – making it an incredible road to drive on, whether in a car chase or not.
Route 500 Schwarzwald Hochstrasse
Finally, a stunning European road that’s not in the Alps. The Black Forest is a stunning part of Europe and the Germans are lucky to have it. It often seems to contain an endless number of sweeping trails and roads that appear deserted and the Route 500 is just one of these. The best thing about the road is that it sweeps above the forest to enjoy incredible landscape views, before dropping down through the forest too. It can get busy as it’s a fairly major road, so it’s best enjoyed first thing in the morning.
Ah, a road with a name so mundane it could be in the UK. Well, it’s not – the N152 is a fantastic road across the Pyrenees, which (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your opinion) Jeremy Clarkson recently declared his favourite in the world. There are twists and turns – but nothing too arduous – and the traffic seems to be light at all times. Vertigo sufferers won’t appreciate the steep drop on one side of the road and nervous drivers might not appreciate the odd horse or sheep that bless the tarmac with their presence. But for sheer driving pleasure alone? Awesome.
Mont Ventoux, in the south of France, can be seen from almost everywhere in Provence. Literally meaning ‘windy mountain’ and the ascent is difficult enough in a car, so we dread to think how the many Tour de France cyclists who have taken it on have found it. It’s still popular with cyclists so drivers should be careful, but the climb, which for a large part never drops below 8%, offers incredible views across Provence and a distinct difference in scenery for the first half of the climb and the second.
Forres to Alford
Call us patriotic, but we felt the urge to finish this piece with a UK road. The Forres to Alford road in Scotland is 82 miles long with bends for the length of the road and stunning vistas throughout. The Cairngorms National Park offers great views, but really this is a road for testing your driving – the bends appear as if from nowhere and there are a number of them. If you love driving, you’ll love this road.
published: 31/07/2013 17:06:39