The most scenic roads from around the world are feats of engineering that transport you across some of the most beautiful landscapes on our planet. We have chosen 10 of the best roads in the world that are stunning destinations in their own right and offer breathtaking scenery. Whether you are in a sports car or SUV, all of these routes offer unique experiences, some more challenging than others.
10. Lysevegan Road, Norway
With grand fjord scenery and an intense stretch with 27 hairpin curves, the Lysevegan Road from Lysefjord to Sirdal in Norway is at the top of our bucket list. At a high of more than 3,100 feet (950 m) above sea level, you’ll be driving through the clouds as you descend into the village of Lyseboten that lies at the foot of the valley cradling the fjord. On the way, you’ll pass the mountain lake Suleskarvegan along with many viewpoints where you can pull over and take in the scenery. It should come as no surprise that the whole area is great for hiking and you can take fantastic cruises from Lyseboten across the fjord.
9. Leh-Manali Highway, India
The infamous Leh-Manali Highway passes through the majestic Himalaya Mountain Range. Be aware this route is 298 miles long and goes through mountain passes that are so high, you can get altitude sickness! Tourists flock here in the summer when the weather is more forgiving. And if you are planning a visit you’ll be happy to know the road condition has been improved in recent years. However, this is still one of the most challenging routes on our list!
8. Pacific Coast Highway, USA
This is one of the great all-American roads that winds down 128 miles of rugged California coastline transporting you across beaches and redwood forests with stunning views across the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you’ll pass through historic towns such as Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea while traversing two major state parks: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Garrapata State Park. Nature reserves like Point Lobos State Reserve are home to an extraordinary array of flora and fauna, and from December until April, you may even spot some migrating grey whales as you navigate the route.
7. Amalfi Drive, Italy
A drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy will transport you through a heady mix of glamorous coastal towns, expansive views over the turquoise sea, plunging cliffs and pastel-colored hillside villages. The Amalfi Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding Mediterranean scenery and a coastal road trip is one of the best ways to experience it. The road is famously narrow and winding, hugging the cliffside and giving you dramatic panoramas. The best stretch is between Salerno and Positano. This route allows you to take in the town of Amalfi itself and there are some excellent hiking opportunities in the surrounding hills.
6. Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
This highway takes you across the Fagaras Mountains, which at more than 6,500 feet (2,000 m) are some of the highest points in Romania. The road is 56 miles of steep vistas and hairpin bends; it’s a good route for a single day trip while stopping to look at the magnificent scenery and trying hiking routes along the way. Make sure you make a stop at the glacial Balea Lake and be prepared to encounter flocks of sheep along the way.
5. Route 1, Iceland
This unique scenic road takes you in a circular route around Iceland, passing most of the island’s most iconic natural sights. At 824 miles, it is not a short day trip, but there are just too many extraordinary experiences along the way to rush! We highly recommend stops at the Seljalandsfloss Waterfall and Skogafoss Waterfall. Although you will pass many waterfalls along the route these are two of the most impressive. You can also enjoy a variety of hot springs and rivers. Other unmissable sights include the cliffs at Dyrhólaey, the black sand beach at Vik, the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and the icy Diamond Beach.
4. Ruta 40, Argentina
Argentina’s Route 40 is one of the longest and most impressive scenic drives in the world, taking you 3,000 miles alongside the Andes Mountains. With its highest point at more than 16,600 feet (5,061 m), it breaks the world record for the highest national road. The route goes from the southernmost tip of Argentina to the Bolivian border and so the terrain is hugely diverse, from winding mountain passes to expansive open spaces.
3. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
This route crosses the Kunjerab Pass at a whopping 15,748 feet (4,800 m) above sea level, connecting Pakistan to China. A famous part of the Silk Road, the highway was once precarious for travelers but has now been modernized with a new roadway. The route is 810 miles long and gives visitors access to the best peaks in Kashmir and Xinjiang, as well as taking in incredible glaciers, mountain lakes and rivers. On the stretch in Pakistan, we highly recommend making a stop at the Naltar Valley for its dramatic mountain scenery.
2. Milford Road, New Zealand
The Milford Road is part of New Zealand‘s State Highway 94 and transports you to one of the country’s most beloved areas of natural beauty: Milford Sound. At around 80 miles the Milford Road route is an easy drive that takes you through the Fiordland and the national park of the same name, to Te Anau passing Alpine peaks and valleys and culminating in the vista over Milford Sound. The fjords of the Fiordland region are one of the most revered tourist destinations in the world, with writer Rudyard Kipling calling it “the eighth wonder of the world”.
1. Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa
This extraordinary trip takes you on a circular route around South Africa’s breathtaking southern peninsula. Start at Hout Bay south of Cape Town, climb to Chapman’s Peak and finish in Noordhoek. Chapman’s Peak Drive itself is only 7 miles long and winds tightly along the rugged coastline, giving you stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean. Pack a picnic because the route has some fantastic spots to park and take in the views.