The 10 Greatest Driving Roads in the World for your Mazda Miata MX5 roadster. Transfagarasan in Romania, Stelvio Pass in Italy-Switzerland or Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany.
Top Gear spent many a day searching for what they believed was motoring perfection — and they concluded that this road straddling the Swiss and Italian borders was it. The Stelvio Pass, a 15-mile long spaghetti trail, takes you down the rest of the way with little more than a small barrier keeping you from tumbling to oblivion.
The Road: The first 20 miles of this mountainous road is packed with tight corners and reverse camber bends. The last part of the road, however, is a 27-hairpin serpentine that drops nearly 1,000 metres before finishing off with a spectacular tunnel that turns 340 degrees before spitting you out in the quiet town of Lysebotn. If you don’t mind feeling a little dizzy at the end of it, this is as good as it gets.
The road is closed during winter, from October until May.
One of our favourite roads in Europe. Many might recognize this as the road Jeremy Clarkson said to be "The world's best road" in one Top Gear episode (S14E01), dropping the fabulous Stelvio Pass from first to second place. The road, that was built as a strategic military route, has 90 km of twists and turns and steep drops and climbs. It climbs up to 2,034 metres altitude and is the second highest paved road in Romania after Transalpina, which is also a recommended road to include in your journey. Ultimately it is the journey of discovery through exotic Romania that makes Transfagarasan one of the best driving roads in the world. It is a masterpiece to look at. The key to enjoying Transfagarasan is getting there the right time of the year, and also right time of the day. In summers it is crowded with tourist traffic but if you arrive before sunrise or do not mind driving it when the sun is starting to set, you should still be able to get some one on one time with the road.
From afar, the tree-lined "Touge" (or "Pass") roads that ascend to the caldera of Mount Fuji may look meditative. But these twisting passes are the birthplace of drifting, the automotive passion of choice for foolhardy youths in heavily modified rear-wheel-drive cars. Though we don't recommend terrorizing these twisties late at night like those pioneers did back in the day, there's nothing wrong with fantasizing about the illicit vehicular mayhem that inspired the motorsports phenomenon as you climb Japan's tallest mountain.
This stretch of U.S. Route 129 offers some of the sweetest curves outside of the Atlantic coast, with no fewer than 318 turns in the course of 11 miles. No driveways or intersections interrupt this forest-lined thoroughfare, though there are plenty of peg-scraping cruisers who knock down the average speed. While you're there, be sure to visit the Tree of Shame, where crashed motorcycle bits adorn the tree and dangle from its branches as a reminder of the road's dangers.
Arguably the most notorious racetrack in the world, this 12.93-mile loop of tarmac also happens to be a toll road that anyone with 24 euros and a need for speed can drive on non-race days. Racer Jackie Stewart once called the Nurburgring "the green hell," and it features treacherous landmarks, including the Caracciola Karussell (the Carousel) and Flugplatz (also known as "the Airport," for its tendency to launch vehicles airborne). But keep your inner Michael Schumacher in check: This series of 154 turns has a nasty reputation for humbling even the most seasoned drivers.
The current Route Napoléon, first opened in 1932, follows the route taken by Napoléon I (Napoléon Bonaparte) in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. Napoléon had abdicated in April of 1814 and gone to Elba (history). In March of 1815, he began his journey with the intention to overthrow Louis the 18th. The historical aspect makes this road even better, Napoleon traced the route through the Alps leading to fabulous scenery and views. The Route Napoleon itself begins in Grasse, the route then continues all the way to Grenoble over 150km away, tracing its way through both the Alps Maritimes and the Alps. The Route Napoleon road itself is a fantastic design, with cambered corners and fantastic scenery. In contrast with the mountain passes this route is more designed for speed and the ability to really appreciate the performance of the car.
The Road: A contender for motoring journalists’ ‘greatest driving road in the world’, it measures just 7.3 miles and climbs 4,000ft in its ascent, finishing in a hotel car park across the way from the ruler’s palaces. In other words, it’s empty most of the time. Thanks to the two lanes going up the mountain, you can take the 60 bends as fast or slow as you like, enjoying views of the desert. It’s a haven for cyclists, so try to avoid the Jebel Hafeet Mercure Challenge bike race every January.
The Road: If the thought of impending death and lugging around crampons bothers you, you can still get to Everest Base Camp without the aid of Sherpas and a rope. The Friendship Highway links the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with the camp at Rongbuk. Along the four-day journey, you’ll climb out of the plateau surrounding the capital through tiny villages, monasteries, turquoise lakes and giant peaks before finishing up staring at the north face of Mount Everest. You’ll have the chance to see five of the world’s highest peaks: Everest, Shishapangma, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu.
The Road: Route 66 is the most famous highway in the US (and, consequently, one of the most tourist-jammed) but it’s the lesser-known, yet arguably more stunning, route through California (pictured above and on page 34) that has motoring aficionados raving. Starting off in Washington State, the route brings you into the Sunshine State via the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco before hugging the coastline all the way past Los Angeles into Orange County. The stretch could be completed in as little as two days, but if you’re in a hurry, the picturesque 123-mile Big Sur Highway section could be tackled in a few hours. Drive north to south if you’re able to choose. That way you’re on the coast side of the highway, which means better panoramas, and it’s much easier to pull off into the best viewpoints.