10 Gorgeous Roads For The Drive Of A Lifetime

big sur highway one

Photo: Wikimedia/rodjonesphotography.co.uk

These spectacular paved tar creations from all over the world are an absolute pleasure to drive on!

The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

Imagine a stunning road that leaps from island to island, across 42 bridges over the unbelievably blue ocean. Built in 1938 along the course of an old railroad that was destroyed by a hurricane, this road may be old but it's stunningly well-kept and an absolute pleasure to drive through.

It's essentially a five hour drive over water and if you manage to coincide a part of your trip with a sunrise or sunset, chances are you'll just end up wishing you could cruise along this road forever! The only downside? If you happen to be here in holiday season, the traffic might bother a few but for the most part, the scenery is so spectacular there's no road rage here and being stuck hardly feels like a prison.

Red Rock Scenic Road, Arizona

Clearly the US' natural resources combined with their technical know-how have ensured some beautiful sprawling roads in its heart and the Red Rock Scenic Road is definitely in the top three.

It winds through Sedona's Red Rock County and offers a marvellous view of the rocks that are as rare as they are beautiful. Little wonder then as to why they call it the 'museum without walls.'

A drive which can still somehow connect you with nature this strongly is as unique as it is incredible so if you're ever passing through Sedona, you know what you absolutely can't miss.

Iroha-Zaka, Japan

This one is almost deadly to look at in its picture form but in reality, the 48 curves strong road is both thrilling and exalted to drive through.

The road connects central Nikko to Oku-Nikko and each one of the 48 letters is matched by the 48 letters of the ancient Japanese alphabet. Nothing like a little old-school culture to improve your drive even more, right?

Highway 1, Big Sur California

This is possibly one of the most famous ones on the list. Starting from the central Californian coastline right through Big Sur, it runs from the gorgeous San Simeon to the equally stunning Carmel.

Expect perilously dangerous cliff drops with unbelievable views and sudden glimpses of the entire Pacific Ocean in all its glory, not to mention the dark, intense rocks that speckle each side of the road.

It has simply awful peak traffic hours during which you should definitely avoid this highway but this bird's eye view is worth catching even when your bumper is knocking another.

Nurburgring Norschleife, Germany

We know, we know. It's unfair to have a race track on this list when we specified that it would only be of driving roads but seeing as this also happens to be a toll road, open to the public to drive on for a meager 24 euros, we think it definitely counts.

With a 12.93-mile long loop of tarmac, many also consider this to be the most notorious racetrack/road in the world, which only makes it all the more thrilling to drive on of course. It features several treacherous landmarks, including points like 'the carousel' and the 'Flugplatz.'

However, if you do get the opportunity to rip through this road, keep yourself in check. With a series of 154 turns, it has been known to humble even seasoned race car drivers.

Ruta 40, Argentina

Imagine a shockingly long stretch of highway that connects 20 national parks and a seriously large number of passes through the Andes Mountains as well. Mind-bogglingly beautiful, right?

Well, Argentina's Ruta 40 -- one of the world's longest highways -- provides drivers exactly this.

The route is over 3,000 miles long, so if you don't have the time for that long a road trip, we've heard it's best to bypass the touristy southern portion and spend whatever time you have exploring the unbelievable upper elevations. At some points this road climbs as high as 16,000 feet above sea level!

Karakoram Highway, Himalayas

They call it 'The Friendship Highway.' Built to connect China with Pakistan, this is an unforgiving road if ever there was one and many have met their maker on its tumultuous terrain as well. That doesn't mean it's not spectacular though.

I mean, come on. It's 800 miles of road paved through the Himalayas. You'll pass by several romantic, desolate locations like the ghostly town of Abbottabad (Osama Bin Laden met his demise here) and the ancient Silk Road. We have no doubt you'll be besotted by them either.

Transfagarasan Highway, Romania

Linking Tranylvania with Walachia through a series of tunnels, bridges and viaducts, even the hosts of Top Gear have admitted it's one of the best roads the world has to offer to any driver.

Thanks to its desolate location, it's relatively untouched by motormen, and the entire dynamite-forged highway seems to defy all laws of physics by existing in its precarious position between lofty mountain tops.

It was built by Nicolae Ceausescu in the 1970s and we're sure every man who loves to cruise is grateful.

Khardung Pass, India

Didn't think your own country would feature on this list? Think again. At its peak it exists 17,582 feet above sea level making this the highest road in the world.

It's so high it can literally induce nose-bleeds but the sight of all those spectacular glaciers, peaks and glorious hills and colours will leave you breathless both on account of the altitude and beauty.

Word of advice: Make this drive slow and steady, you'll need to acclimatize.

Guoliang Tunnel Road, China

China's Guoliang Tunnel Road was built by only 13 local villagers in just five years! Located in the Hunan province of China, this can be considered to be a sacrificial road of sorts.

Why? Many villagers actually lost their lives due to its construction, but the work went on.

The tunnel itself is 1,200 metros long, 5 meters high and 4 meters wide. It's called the most dangerous road in the world despite its scenic beauty and as a wise man once said, 'the road does not tolerate any mistakes.'

If you're tempted by these highways, find a car to take along.

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