x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Top 5: Driving roads in the world

From breathtaking scenery to pure driving joy, Motoring's picks of the best pavement on the planet.

The 24.5km-long Laerdal tunnel.
The 24.5km-long Laerdal tunnel.

Bergen to Oslo

There's more than one route linking Norway's largest cities but there's none more spectacular nor sensory-overloading than the E16. The mighty fjords: sheer mountainsides plunging into inky black bodies of water are staggeringly beautiful and there's no shortage of them here. And then there's Laerdal tunnel, above. At 24.5km, it's the world's longest road tunnel, making it the ideal place to hear a supercar's engine as there's nowhere for the sound to go except be bounced back into your eardrums. Put it onto your bucket list now.

Alpine Road

Germany's Alpine Road linking Lindau on Lake Constance and Berchtesgaden on Lake Königssee provides the perfect union between vehicle and route. Commissioned by Hitler in 1933, he wanted this to be the greatest highway in the world, enabling the populace easy access to the Alps and plenty of invigorating fresh air. The Second World War got in the way and, in 2002, it was finally completed. Lush meadows, mountains, lakes, forests, valleys and fairytale castles - there is something for everyone.

Transfagarasan Highway

Nicolae Ceausescu has a lot to answer for but this road is possibly the best thing left to us by the communist dictator. Built throughout the 1970s by conscripted soldiers, 40 of whom died in the process, it's a colossal amalgam of tight hairpin bends and narrow passages, climbing up between Romania's two highest peaks. Drive through Count Dracula's old stomping ground, stand at the top of one of its valleys, look down and pay silent tribute to those fallen soldiers. This incredible highway is their legacy.

Furka Pass

Linking the Swiss towns of Innertkirchen and Andermatt, this extreme stretch of tarmac climbs to 2,431 metres at Furka and bikers view this place as heaven on Earth. Deep, blue lakes, green, rolling hillsides, jagged mountain tops covered with snow and astonishing-looking glaciers - they're all packed into less than 50km of some of Europe's finest road. If you're into switchbacks and hairpins, forget Italy's Stelvio Pass - it's boring compared to this. Just make sure you take some suitable wheels.

Naples to Salerno

There's plenty of competition for the prize of being the Mediterranean's greatest backdrop but the Costiera Amalfitana (or Amalfi Coast)is surely in the running. Its SS163 road is a triumph of Italian engineering over common sense, clinging like a limpet to plunging cliffs and, in many parts, it's extremely narrow. Small villages cling to steep mountainsides, which slide almost vertically into the bluest sea imaginable and the road has more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti. It doesn't get better than this.