16th October 2018
Our Favourite European Drives
To some, driving is a chore. And it’s understandable when you consider the fact that most of us only ever experience driving in situations we’d rather not be in – the stop-start commute, queuing on British motorways – need we go on?
Outside of the UK is a wider continent that is best seen from the driver’s seat, and we’ve put together a list of our favourite drives, to give you some inspiration for next year’s bucket list.
Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
First in our list is Romania’s Transfagarasan Highway, a remote, hair-raising mountain road that stands over 2km above sea level. Located in the heart of the Carpathian mountain range, the road was originally constructed during the Cold War, with Romania’s then communist leader wanting a speedy (and scenic) exit out of the country if he ever needed to escape.
With eye-watering hairpins and numerous tunnels, bridges and viaducts, the Transfargarasan Highway is indeed a feat of modern engineering – perfect for those who dream of driving on a real-life Scalextric set.
The Military Road, Isle of Wight
The only UK-based contribution to our list, the Military Road (or A3055) on the Isle of Wight runs from Chale to Freshwater Bay. The road practically hugs the coast in places, allowing you to experience the incredible coastline in its entirety.
In total, the drive only takes around an hour (thirty minutes each way, give or take), the road is said to be best enjoyed in the early evening at the end of spring when the roadside is full of flowers, and you can bask in the evening sun.
It’s worth noting that if the Military Road is one on your bucket list, it’s probably best to do it while you still can, since coastal erosion is constantly crumbling the cliffs – meaning the A3055 is one cliff-fall from disaster.
Trollstigen (or Troll’s Path, if you’d rather know the translation) in Norway’s Rauma region is a dramatic road: with breathtaking views, awe-inspiring glimpses of the mountains, treacherous inclines and eleven (yes, eleven) tight hairpin bends – driving this road makes for a truly memorable experience.
Dotted along the route are a host of specially-designed viewing platforms, meaning you can safely stop along the route and take in the spectacular views. Naturally, the area is a photographer’s dream, so take a camera as well!
The road itself is only around four miles long, but it still has an overwhelming sense of isolation – but being surrounded by mountains and waterfalls can do that to you.
San Bernardino Pass, Switzerland
The San Bernardino Pass is an enchanting mountain pass that connects Splügen and Mesocco. At just twenty miles long, it is widely regarded to be Switzerland at its best, as the drive will take you through several charming Alpine villages, before finally ending up at the castle ruins of Castello Mesocco.
Along the way, you’ll be taking in the stunning Swiss scenery: cascading waterfalls and vast evergreen forests make up many of the vistas that you’ll see. It is recommended to be only driven by those who have their wits about them – it is sure to be a test of both your vehicle and stamina.
The German Autobahn is a road network with legendary status – which is because it has a recommended speed limit (which is 80mph / 130km/h), not an actual speed limit, meaning you can legally drive at over 200mph if you want to. If that has put you off, don’t worry – only 10% of crashes in Germany happen on the Autobahn.
The entire Autobahn network spans over eight thousand miles (so we won’t judge you if you don’t want to drive it all) and is the fourth longest highway system in Europe. Better yet, expect to see some of the rarest cars while driving (Germany is, after all, home to some of the best carmakers). No wonder it is widely regarded to be one of the best driving roads in Europe!
Stelvio Pass, Italy
A true classic, the Stelvio Pass in Bormio, Italy routinely tops the list as the best European drive – and it’s not surprising. Tucked in over 2.7km above sea level in the Italian Alps, the road packs 48 hairpin bends (move over, Troll’s Pass) into a mere fifteen miles of road.
Unsurprisingly the narrow road was not designed with modern cars in mind, meaning that you need to be super-aware of your surroundings when driving (especially when all the bends are nearly 180°) – but don’t let that put you off. You’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery, making it a fun feat of engineering for even the most experienced of petrolheads to conquer.
Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites!