Vehicle dynamics engineers and road testers evaluating a car in the UK can take a tour of the world’s best driving roads without leaving the shores, saving time, money and reducing the carbon footprint of a test programme. The team at Alfa Romeo have considered the 10 best driving roads in the world, identified their key characteristics, from scenery to length and corners, and shared their UK equivalents.
Transfăgărășan Pass, Romania
UK equivalent: Black Mountain Pass, Wales
- Black Mountain Road (A4069) is a famous road that twists, dips and climbs in the western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, in Wales, along the Black Mountains. This swooping mountain pass, a favourite of motorists and test drivers, is best tackled from north to south – especially the hairpin known locally as Tro Gwcw, or ‘cuckoo turn’- but the incredible views of the Tywi Valley are best appreciated driving the other way. The road has multiple tight turns, giving it a similar feeling to the stunning Transfăgărășan Pass in Romania.
UK equivalent: Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye
Only open during late spring, summer and early autumn months, the Trollstigen, or Troll Path, features winding corners and straights before tightening into a series of hairpins as the road climbs higher into the mountains in the Norwegian fjords. The A855 that heads to the Trotternish Peninsula from Portree, in Skye, comes with similarly stunning scenery, with drivers able to visit the Old Mann of Storr, before reaching the top of the peninsula.
San Bernardino Pass, Switzerland
UK equivalent: Snake Pass, Peak District
The San Bernardino Pass can be completed via the old mountain road or a new tunnel. Those opting for the twisty road are greeted with a stunning alpine lake that leads to long straights and very tight hairpin corners. The A57 ‘Snake Pass’ in the Peak District features a similarly beautiful landscape and enjoyable cornering opportunities.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
UK equivalent: Applecross Pass, Strathcarron
- The Stelvio Pass in the Tyrolean alps combines stunning mountain scenery with a series of tight switchbacks up the mountain that challenge drivers and dynamics alike. The Applecross Pass in Strathcarron, Scotland, offers a similarly dramatic setting. Nestled deep in the Scottish Highlands, this narrow and twisty road runs up to 600m with several hairpins before reaching a plateau for a much-needed rest for driver and brakes.
Julier Pass, Switzerland
UK equivalent: Mam Tor, Peak District
Another alpine road meets its match in the Peak District. The Mam Tor road can be found on a junction from the A623 Rushup Edge road. The road begins surrounded by a small woodland, before opening up to the stunning landscapes of the Peak District. With plenty of winding corners, it offers drivers similar thrills to Julier Pass in the Swiss alps.
Route 66, USA
UK equivalent: A82 through Rannoch Moor, Glencoe
Is there a more iconic road than Route 66 that runs from Arizona to Missouri? The A82 to Glencoe may not be as long, but it’s still a great drive. The A82 features several enjoyable corners with good visibility, and a long straight that leads towards the stunning Rannoch Moor moorland and the rugged Stob Dearg Munro. Like Route 66, the road is featured in many postcards.
Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway
UK equivalent: Isle of Mull, Scotland
The 5.15 mile Atlantic Ocean Road snakes its way across the Norwegian archipelago, with a series of bridges connecting the small islands that sit between its start and end points. The Isle of Mull also offers incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean, with the A849 and B8073 circling the island off the west coast of Scotland. This is more of a road for testing ride quality than cornering ability, and drivers will enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean along the way.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
UK equivalent: Military Road, Isle of Wight
Australia’s Great Ocean road snakes its way along the country’s South coast, combining long winding turns with lush green scenery and ocean views. The Old Military Road on the Isle of Wight runs along the island’s southwest coast, right next to the sea, with long stretches of open road and gentle corners to enjoy.
Sylvensteinspeicher, Isar Valley, Germany
UK equivalent: North Coast 500
While the Black Forest is often the go-to road in Germany, the Sylvensteinspeicher in the Isar Valley is also worth a trip. Near the Austrian border, it features similar long stretches of open road, surrounded by woodlands and forests as well as beautiful alpine mountains. In the UK, the North Coast 500 is quickly becoming a top driving experience, showcasing the best of Scotland’s stunning scenery, from the rugged and desolate mountain paths to coastal roads with sandy beaches and turquoise seas.
Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
UK equivalent: St Mawes, Roseland Peninsula, Cornish Coast
The A3078 from Trewithian, Truro, to St Mawes is a short and enjoyable road. This isn’t a fast road, but as part of Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the bay and seaside towns evoke the feel of the idyllic Italian location. A highlight is the small village of St. Mawes that evokes a feel of the Amalfi Coast in Italy with its colourful seaside houses, built right on the coastal wall, and sailboats and small fishing vessels at the seafront.
Road testers could justify the visit as being a good place to assess low-speed ride quality. No wonder people envy road testers, even those just staying within the UK.