I Googled “World’s Great Drives” to see what was out there.
What did I find? Absolutely no consensus. It seems there is a good deal of disagreement about what constitutes a great drive. For many, it’s altitude. Find a place where the air is thin and you’ll probably have some great views.There are some drives in the world that actually go over locations that are higher than 15,000 feet in elevation. Why is that significant? Because, as anyone that’s had training as a pilot knows, that’s when you need to start giving some serious consideration to putting your oxygen mask on. For others it’s switchbacks. There are even people who calculate the average number of seconds between turns of a certain number of degrees. For them, a great road is a road that minimizes the number of seconds between changes in directions of 90 degrees or more. How weird is that? For some people that most significant criteria is that the road needs to be closed for an extended period of time during the year. This is another criteria that is a function of elevation, only even more so. This is for really obscure roads that can only be driven certain times of the year due to significant snowfalls during the winter months.
Luckily, a lot of people think like I do. I want a road that’s scenic with ooohs and ahhhs happening as often as possible. I want little exclamations of delight from visual stimulation, not shrieks of terror from the fear of going over a cliff. I want a drive I can enjoy, not one that puts me on the edge of my seat.
Anyway, I did some reading. I compiled a list of articles and many of the drives they cited. In the end, what I wanted was a drive that had a name. Think Route 66, my favorite road, one that I’ve driven on thousands of times as it runs very close too my home and one that we Americans affectionately refer to as The Mother Road. I’ve created a list of Roads. The most significant ones have a Wikipedia entry and a boatload of images. If you were to ask me if I saw any blatant sins of omission I’d state that I’m really fond of the cornich roads of the French Riviera. You pick the ones you like. Enjoy.
Articles: The world’s 10 best drives – The Telegraph; The world’s most scenic drives – dangerousroads; The 10 best drives or roads in the world | ShortList Magazine; The 20 Greatest Driving Roads in the World; World’s best road trips: The top 10 drives – Traveller.com.au; 10 Most Beautiful Drives In The World – 10 Most Today; Top 25 driving roads – World’s best driving experience | Avis; The world’s greatest road trips | Photo Gallery | Rough Guides; Top 10: most scenic drives in the world – the Luxury Travel Expert; World’s 10 ultimate drives | CNN Travel and 21 Roads You Have to Drive in Your Lifetime «TwistedSifter.
Roads (alphabetically): Amalfi Coast, Italy (Images); Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway (Images); Bealach-na-ba, Scotland; Pacific Coast Highway, USA (Images); Carretera de Sa Calobra, Spain; Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland; Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa; Col du Chaussy, France; Col de Turini, Italy; Combe Laval, France; Deals Gap, Tennessee, USA; Death Valley: Las Vegas to Mammoth, US; Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa (Images); Conor Pass, Ireland; Estrada Nacional 222, Portugal; Friendship Highway, Tibet; Furka Pass, Switzerland; Garden Route, South Africa; Glacier Point, USA; Going-to-the-sun Road, USA; Great Alpine Road, Australia; Great Ocean Road, Australia (Images); Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria; Guoliang Tunnel Road, China; Hana Highway, USA (Images); Highway 163, Arizona and Utah, US; Icefields Parkway, Canada; Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, UAE; Khardung Pass, India; Lysebotn Road, Norway (Images); Milford Road, New Zealand (Images); Million Dollar Highway, USA; Mount Barrow Road, Tasmania; North Coast 500, Scotland; Overseas Highway, USA (Images); Over-Water Highway, China; Port Jackson Road, New Zealand; Queen Charlotte Drive, New Zealand; Ring Road, Iceland (Images); Rohtang Pass, India; Route 66, USA (Images); Route de Napoleon, France; Route de Presles, France; Ruta 40, Argentina (Images); Ruta CH-265, Chile; Ruta de los Volcanes, Spain; Snaefell Mountain Road, Isle of Man; Southern Alps, New Zealand; Stelvio Pass, Italy (Images); Strada della Forra, Italy; Suhua Highway, Taiwan; Tianmen Mountain Road, China; Touge Roads of Mount Fuji, Japan; Transfagarasan, Romania (Images); Trollstigen (‘Trolls Path’), Norway; White Rim Trail, Utah, USA; Wild Snowdonia, Wales; Yukon Golden Circle, North America;