From the Swiss Alps to the Amalfi Coast, Europe boasts some of the most enviable sights in the world. And, although many of us are fixated on visiting these destinations, we’re not as excited by the thought of getting there. But, choose correctly, and you will be.
The continent has over 10 million kilometres of road sprawling across it – which is a lot of tarmac to choose from – but here is our pick of the best driving roads in Europe.
Verdon Gorge circuit, France
A classic continental route, and one with drops of 2,000ft, Verdon Gorge is one of the most beautiful parts of Provence – arguably one of the most beautiful regions of Europe as a whole. Be it sprightly market towns or natural splendour, this circuit takes in views from Thoronet Abbey to Sainte-Croix Lake – and powers through the historically-rich villages that were built for defence high on the land, such as Tourtour.
Route One, Iceland
In recent years, this lonely Scandinavian island has seen something of a surge in popularity. From the Blue Lagoon to the numerous waterfalls dotted about the desolate landscape, there are hidden treasures galore scattered across Iceland – and chief among them is the road system that connects them. Route One, which circumnavigates the island, takes in ash deserts, hot springs, geysers and lava fields. Don’t miss it.
Colle del Nivolet, Italy
Potentially the most dangerous road on this list – but without doubt one of the most fun, and stunning. Blind corners keep things exciting – as long as you’re driving sensibly – and you can channel your best Charlie Croker as you take the turns. For this road, located in the beautiful and aptly-named Gran Paradiso National Park, was used extensively in The Italian Job, one of the greatest automotive movies of all time.
The Transfagarasan, Romania
A twisting ribbon of tarmac, packed with tunnels, bridges, turns and viaducts, this is the unpronounceably exhilarating Transfagarasan. You may not expect Romania to feature on this list, but this 50-mile stretch of thrills was created by communist-era leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted to build an escape route from a potential Soviet invasion through the Southern Carpathian mountains. It was never used for this purpose, but we’re sure glad he was a cautious man.
It’s got the word ‘troll’ in it, so you know it’s going to be both a big spectacle, and one that’s true to the mysterious myths and natural wonder than typifies Scandinavia. It’s no coincidence that this is the second Scandi route on this list – with steep inclines, breathtaking mountain views and unfathomable isolation (you won’t see another soul for miles) this is one of the most calming drives we’ve ever taken. And the 1,050 foot-high Stigfossen waterfall will win you some Instagram points, too.
Cheddar Gorge, Bath to Cheddar, England
As one of the best-known limestone features in the UK, the Cheddar Gorge is part of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The Cliff Road – or B3135, if we’re being technical – twists through the gorge, sheltered by towering limestone walls, which line the pass. Going can be slow on a busy day with walkers and wildlife unusually placed along the way but pick the right moment and it’s a drive on your doorstep you’ll never forget.