Driving Bucket List: Iconic Highways Around the World
Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to ride. These 20 iconic highways are among the world’s fastest, curviest, steepest, most scenic or significant for their cultural or historic influence.
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Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada
This 185-mile scenic highway loops around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, offering breathtaking views of the coast. It also passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
The highest paved roadway in the eastern Alps at 9045 feet above sea level, Italy’s Stelvio Pass, with 60 hairpin turns is considered one of the world’s most dangerous roads.
Overseas Highway, Florida
Florida’s Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, runs 113 miles from Miami through the Florida Keys. You’ve seen it in countless car commercials and movie car chases. The Seven Mile Bridge - the longest bridge in existence when it was built - crosses Pigeon Key and connects the Middle Keys to the Lower Keys.
Karakoram Highway, China to Pakistan
Opened in 1979, the Karakoram or Friendship Highway, was built as a joint project between the governments of China and Pakistan. Crossing over 800 miles of often - rugged terrain, the Friendship Highway follows the path of the ancient Silk Road.
US Route 66
Is there any highway more iconic than U.S. Route 66? Established in 1927, the “Mother Road” runs from Illinois to Oklahoma and across the U.S. Southwest from Texas to New Mexico, ending in Santa Monica, California. According to pop music, you can get your kicks along the fabled highway, which was one of the most important routes west for those escaping the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa
Hailed as a feat of modern engineering when it was built in the 1920s, Chapman’s Peak Road or Chappie is just 5.6 miles long, yet still manages to squeeze in 114 curves as it hugs sheer cliffs that drop into the Atlantic on South Africa’s West Cape.
Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, United Arab Emirates
Sheer drops, steep rises and 60 hair-raising turns over just 7.6 miles make Abu Dhabi’s Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road one of the most dangerous – and exciting – drives in the world.
Scenic Byway 163, Arizona and Utah, U.S.
This 64-mile highway that cuts through the Navajo Nation and Utah’s Monument Valley has made numerous appearances on the big (and small) screen. Look for it in "Forrest Gump," "The Searchers" and "Easy Rider."
Ruta 40, Argentina
Running parallel to the Andes along the entire length of Argentina’s 3000-plus mile western border, Ruta 40 is among the longest highways in the world. Its southern section, which is largely unpaved, is a popular destination for adventure seekers.
The 34-mile-long Trollstigveien, which translates literally as Troll’s Path, crosses fjords, waterfalls, and frozen lakes as it dips and climbs (and makes 11 hairpin turns) through valleys and steep mountains near the western coast of Norway. Ice renders the drive particularly hazardous, so the road closes in late October and re-opens in May, weather permitting.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
An Australian National Heritage Site, the Great Ocean Road runs 151 miles along Australia’s southeastern coast between Torquay and Allansford. The highway, which was constructed as a monument to World War I soldiers, is the biggest war monument in the world. It traverses rainforests, beaches and limestone cliffs.
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado, U.S.
A 12-mile stretch of the San Juan Skyway (a leg of Route 550, which runs from new Mexico to Colorado west of the Continental Divide) has been designated The Million Dollar Highway. This pass, which runs from Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass, is treacherous, steep, winding and lacks guardrails.
Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania
Romania’s Transfăgărășan Highway, also known as Ceaușescu's Folly, covers over 50 miles of terrain through the Carpathian Mountains. It’s the second highest paved road in the country and was originally built as a strategic military road to defend against a potential Soviet invasion. The steep rises and hairpin turns as well as access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall make it a popular drive.
A network of over 8,000 miles of federally-controlled highways in Germany, the Autobahn is most famous for its absence of speed limits in many areas.
Hana Highway, Hawaii, U.S.
A national Historic Site, the Hana Highway traverses 64 miles of Maui’s lush tropical rainforest, passing through several tourist destinations along the way, including waterfalls and public beaches.
Rohtang Pass, India
A notoriously difficult-to-cross pass that connects cultures and trade routes in the Himalayas, the Rohtang Pass runs 32 miles at and elevation of 13,000 feet and is open only between May and November.
Pacific Coast Highway
California’s State Route 1 covers over 650 miles of Pacific coastline from Dana Point to Mendocino, making it the longest road in the state. The first section of the road to be built – and perhaps still the most stunning – is the stretch that includes Big Sur and runs from roughly Monterey in the north to Pismo Beach in the south.
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
Also known as the Road of Death due to the sheer number of traffic fatalities that have occurred along the 43-mile route, Bolivia’s North Yungas Road is an unpaved highway that passes along steep mountain drops between La Paz and Coroico.
Furka Pass, Switzerland
Made famous by a car chase in the James Bond movie Goldfinger, the Furka Pass winds its way through the Swiss Alps between the Canton of Uri and the Canton of Valais. Sheer drops, hairpin turns, and stunning views, including the one of the Rhone Glacier, make this a memorable drive.
Tianmen Mountain Winding Road, China
The road that ascends Tianmen Mountain and through Tianmen Cave in China’s Tianman National Park is just 6.8 miles long, yet manages to squeeze in 99 hair-raising turns as it climbs from just 656 feet to 4,200.