The Best Driving Roads In Europe

Driving to most people is a purely functional activity. It’s necessary to get you from point A to point B as quickly and conveniently as possible. Once you arrive, you step out, lock your doors and the car disappears from your memory. Most people don’t relish their driving. They don’t view driving as the perfect pairing of man and machine to form a symphony of noise, drama, beauty and exhilaration. We do. The world’s mountains, forests and plains hide some of the best driving roads ever conceived, and we’re about to reveal the five best European driving roads to you.

The Criteria

Trying to map Europe’s roads is like trying to make sense of a bowl of spaghetti. There are so many roads that lead into city centres, sleepy towns and dead ends that driving some of them would be as boring as doing the daily school-run or slowly weaving around a crowded car park.

What we wanted to find were the best driving roads Europe had to offer from start to finish. We want roads that feature artful corners, twisting bends, fast straights and scenery so beautiful that you’ll have an eyegasm.

So without further ado, the best driving roads in Europe (in no particular order) are…

St. Gotthard Pass — Switzerland

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Switzerland has given us so much: fine timepieces, amazing chocolate, beautiful culture, and some of the best driving in the world. The St. Gotthard Pass is one of the most impressive roads on the continent.

First completed back in 1830, the road represents the winding pass over the Gotthard mountain, which has an elevation reaching up to 2106 metres into the Swiss Alps. The Gotthard Pass is a 27 kilometre corner-fest between the Swiss towns of Andermatt and Airolo.

What’s unique about the Gotthard Pass is that it breaks between smooth, grey asphalt and cobblestones, making it an interesting challenge for the driver (or the traction control) as you navigate the tight, low corners of the Tremola, and because it’s situated in the heart of the Alps, the Gotthard Pass makes for some beautiful, snow-capped scenery.

As so often happens with Europe’s great roads, a human cost went into building them. In 1882 in a bid to complete an ambitious rail tunnel project underneath Gotthard, around 200 workers lost their lives in a tragic accident. The tunnel was completed and now stands as their legacy.

The Gotthard Pass’ mix of a unique surface, beautiful setting and challenging driving makes it one of Europe’s best roads.

Here’s a great look at a Ferrari 360 Spider navigating the Gotthard Pass:

Col de Turini — France

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The Col de Turini is a mountain climb worthy of a place in this illustrious list. It has served as a special stage in the World Rally Championship and has also doubled as a route in the Tour de France.

Col de Turini mountain pass is a 24-kilometre stretch of grey spaghetti draped across some of the world’s most beautiful mountains. Tight hairpins, winding bends, fast straights: the Col de Turini has it all.

The winding road is girt by trees, rock outcrops and small tunnels so you can kick the gear lever lower and listen to your grand tourer scream its way up and down the hill.

Watch a Lamborghini Gallardo navigate this perfect French road:

San Bernardino Pass — Switzerland

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The San Bernardino Pass like so many things in this digital world, is almost obsolete as a form of transport these days. After the San Bernardino tunnel was opened in 1967, cars rarely needed to take the steep mountain road to get between

It’s one of the highest paved roads in the world at an elevation of 2066 metres, and is possibly the prettiest way to get from Switzerland into northern Italy. It stretches for almost 100 kilometres against the stunning backdrop of a the plunging Rhine Valley and really puts drivers and their cars to the test.

Watch this Ferrari California tackle the San Bernardino Pass.

Transfagarasan Highway

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You may have heard of the oddly named Transfagarasan Highway before. It was named by the chaps at Top Gear as one of the world’s best driving roads. High praise, indeed, so what makes the Transfagarasan so special?

The Transfagarasan is the second highest paved road in Romania at a maximum elevation of 2034 metres, and weaves a delicate path around 90 kilometres of beautiful mountains, rivers and forests.

The road was opened back in the 1970’s as a route for the military to traverse the mountains for border protection activities. The terrain was inhospitable before the road was built, and as a result, many men died during the construction of the road.

It took 20 tonnes of dynamite to forge the path of the Transfagarasan, and now as it sits between Curtea de Arges and Cartisoara as the most majestic piece of road in the known world.

Watch Top Gear‘s voyage to the Transfagarasan Highway (action kicks off at 4:30):

French Riviera — France

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Sometimes, you don’t want a trip that’s going to terrify your passengers. Every now and then you want to take a drive where you can fold the top down on your convertible and gaze out at the beautiful scenery outside the car as well as inside thanks to the supermodel-esque beauty you brought with you. That perfect day of driving comes from the French Riviera.

This 200 kilometre stretch of road sees you weave in and out of seaside towns that are dotted along the coastline over the four-hour drive. Stop along the way for some lunch or a quick drink at any of them and you’ll be thrilled you got in the car that morning to indulge your four-wheeled passions.

Did we miss any amazing roads? Tell us in the comments.

Check out the Peugeot RCZ as it conquers the mountain in the Bathurst 12-hour.

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