Some rise to unimaginable heights after countless twists and turns; others extend thousands of kilometres and pass through parks, valleys and mountains, while a few are even romantic. They are all roads, and in our mind some of the most spectacular in the world.
The following is our own list, taken from the countless number of roads all over the globe. Ultimately though, the best road is always the one where you can enjoy your car, wherever it takes you.
We begin our selection in Romania, where SEAT recently carried out a series of test drives with nine Leon CUPRA models:
1) Transfagarasan, Romania
Some consider it one of the most beautiful roads, at least in Europe. Extending a length of 90 kilometres, it meanders through the rugged hills of the Carpathian mountains. It usually remains closed due to snow from late October to June. Besides its wonderful landscape, along the route is Castle Poenari, which some claim was home to the prince that inspired Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
2) Stelvio Pass, Italy
Located at an altitude of 2,757 metres, it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps. Besides its beautiful landscape, it is also famous for its 48 hairpin turns in just 24 km on an average slope of 7.6%. Cycling enthusiasts know it well as it is one of the most difficult stages of the Giro d’Italia.
3) Furka Pass, Switzerland
This pass became very popular after appearing in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. It is traversed by Road 19 and is one of the 30 highest mountain passes in Europe. Its location in the middle of the Swiss Alps guarantees spectacular views, including the Rhône Glacier.
4) Route Napoléon, France
This road is 325 km long and is currently a part of the N85 on the way to Paris. From Golfe-Juan in the Riviera to Grenoble, it crosses the regions of Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes, and is a portion of the route taken by Napoléon to recover his throne after a year in exile. The road traverses several major routes and picturesque towns.
5) Romantic Road, Germany
This road extends 400 km from Würzburg to Füssen in Bavaria. It crosses over 60 towns and cities, where visitors can stop to admire churches, cathedrals, castles, convents and charming medieval villages such as Dinkelsbühl, as well as vineyards and foothills until arriving at the Bavarian Alps.
6) Desfiladero de la Hermida, Spain
Its 21 km extension makes this gorge in Cantabria the longest in Spain. It can be reached via the winding N-621 road and features several lookout points with fantastic views of the sheer limestone cliffs all around, some of which rise to heights of 600 metres.
7) Atlanterhavsveien, Norway
The Atlantic Road extends only 8.72 km and joins several small islands with eight bridges, perfectly combining nature and engineering. It is only a few metres above sea level over the Atlantic Ocean, making it quite a challenge for the most daring drivers.
8) Ruta 40, Argentina
This is one of the world’s highest roads, reaching over 5,000 metres above sea level at the Abra del Acay mountain pass. The road stretches 5,200 km from south to north, running parallel to the Andes mountains, crossing 21 national parks and 18 major rivers. When crossing southern Patagonia it also becomes one of the most desolate roads in the world.
9) Great Ocean Road, Australia
This 243 km long motorway stretches along the Australian coast in the state of Victoria and features prominent landmarks such as London Arch or The Twelve Apostles, natural limestone and sandstone rock formations created by millions of years of erosion on the high cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean. Along the route there are also fishing towns, rainforests and national parks.
10) Route 66, USA
Also known as the Mother Road, it has probably inspired the most films in history, such as Easy Rider, Duel or a scene from Grease. It extends over 4,000 km, crossing seven states to join Chicago and Santa Monica in California. It is one of the most mythical roads on the planet.