Everyday driving is forgotten when it comes to these top roads found world wide.
A great road challenges everyday notions, replacing the familiar–the dull grind of everyday commuting–with the epic: turns, terrain and landscape that adjust our perception of the world. But most of all, it elicits a thrill. These 20 mythic highways inspire us to hit the road.
Highway 1, aka “Big Sur”
This stretch of Highway 1 chases the ragged central California coastline through Big Sur, which runs from San Simeon to Carmel. This drive is renowned for its staggering views over perilous cliffs, revealing the Pacific Ocean’s whitecaps as they rush past immense dark rocks.
During peak traffic hours, lumbering rental cars and motorhomes dampen the pace. If you’re stuck in slow motion, we suggest a detour through the nearby but less-traveled Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, which cuts east and offers an amazing bird’s-eye view of the coast below.
Deals Gap, aka “Tail of The Dragon”
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.