Ultimate Guide: the Best Driving Roads in Europe


12th August 2020

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By
Anthony Moss

As purveyors of supercar driving holidays, we've been lucky enough to share many memorable road trips with our clients, enjoying incredible cars on the world's best driving roads and mountain passes. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

People often ask us, "where is the best driving road?", or "what's your favourite?". And the answer is more complicated than you might think.

So, we decided to put together an ultimate guide to the best driving roads. And here it is. Well, the first chapter of it, at least. Today, we're diving into Europe's greatest roads. You'll find some iconic names that you may have heard of from TV and movies, but also some lesser-known gems that we've found during our countless hours of research and reconnaissance.

Ultimate Driving Tours Select Europe's best driving roads

We're always looking for fresh routes and better driving roads to elevate the experience for our clients, so you won't find some of these roads in your travel guide. This one's an epic. Let's get into it.

The Best Driving Roads in Germany

We're big fans of the roads in Germany. Everybody knows about Germany's high-speed autobahns, but in the Black Forest and the region surrounding the town of Baden-Baden (near the French border), there are some incredible roads which bring out the best of a driver's car.

an aerial shot of colourful tree tops in Germany's Black Forest

Part of the charm is that this region feels very much like something out of a fairytale. Alpine forests shrouded in mist with treetops poking through, and historic towns and villages with their cobblestone streets.

The other part of the charm is that German roads are typically maintained to a high standard, making for a fantastic driving experience. The most famous road in this region is the B500.

B500 Route

The B500, Schwarzwaldhochstrasse, or literally "Black Forest High Street" connects the towns of Baden-Baden and Freudenstadt.

The B500 is reminiscent of a mountain pass, but with more flowing turns and fewer hairpins, many drivers actually prefer driving this to some of the more famous alpine passes mentioned here.

The lower sections closer to Baden-Baden can be quite technical. But as you get closer to the summit, the road opens up with long sweeping corners and some straights which allow you to take in the incredible views over the Rhine valley. It's an iconic drive for a reason, and one that sticks in the mind long after the journey is over.

A

For this road, I'd grab the keys to...

Something German, naturally. I'd be looking at the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT with its low-slung profile and brawny V8, or the Porsche 911 GT3 for its precision and poise—perfect for those technical corner sections.

You can experience driving the B500 on our Supercar Tour of Germany.

The Best Driving Roads in Italy

Roads in Italy can vary a lot more than their Swiss and German counterparts in terms of upkeep and driveability. Still, there's no shortage of incredible drives to choose from, and on our supercar driving holidays, we do all the planning, so you don't have to.

So, where are our favourite roads in Italy? We love the roads around South Tyrol and the Dolomites, but some of our favourites are the sweeping country roads around Italy's famous wine regions, think tumbling hills and gentle corners in Tuscany or Piedmont.

Of course, the food and wine in Italy are so good that when you're relaxing with a bottle of Barolo and a bowl of fresh truffle pasta after a long day's driving, you soon forget about the roads—or anything else beyond the dinner table.

The Dolomites and South Tyrol

The roads in the Dolomites wind their way through many historic villages in this rugged, mountainous region. The most well known road is the Great Dolomites Road, which covers nearly 100km.

As the Italian alpine passes can be tricky, we begin day three of our Italian Supercar Tour with a run on some fast-paced autostradas to get the adrenaline flowing, before making our way to the alpine passes in the Dolomites. The roads here offer stunning views, but they can be very narrow and quite challenging to drive.

For this road, I'd grab the keys to...

A Lamborghini Huracan. A Lambo is still the ultimate statement car, and the Huracan Performante with its 4WD system is perfect for the trickier roads found in the Dolomites. And the wail of the V10 engine reverberating around the valleys never gets old.

three supercars drive up a steep road with a valley and a mountain range in the background

Tuscany and Piedmont

Famed for their food and wine, we love the Tuscany and Piedmont wine regions equally for their culinary delights and beautiful country roads.

Over the years, we've spent a lot of time discovering the roads less-travelled. In Italy, there are some fantastic SR (Strada Regionale) and SP (Strada Provinciale) roads which are less crowded and more intimate than the big autostradas. Some of the best are SP30 and SP429, which finishes up at the incredible Castello di Guarene.

Stelvio Pass

Located in Italy's Ortler Alps near the Swiss border, the Stelvio Pass is perhaps the most famous driving road anywhere in the world. Much of that fame comes from a shoutout from Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear back in 2008.

This high alpine pass carves its way up and over the alps in a series of 48 hairpin turns to an elevation of 2,756m (9,045ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest paved roads in Europe.

Compared to some of the other Italian and Swiss passes, it's not the most beautiful alpine road, and because it's so famous it does get crowded these days, but it's a legend in its own right.

a fleet of Ferraris descend the Stelvio Pass, Italy

The road from Davos to Stelvio

What many people don't realise is that the great part of the road that Top Gear referenced isn't the pass itself, it's the road from Davos to Stelvio. And indeed, it is a great road. While 48 hairpin turns might sound cool on paper (and look cool in photos), we find guests prefer to drive more sweeping sections of road that inspire confidence when driving a modern, fast supercar. And that's what the road from Davos to Stelvio is all about.

On our Italian Supercar Tour, we approach the Stelvio Pass from Bormio, and run up the north side of the pass all the way to the top. We start the drive before 7am, before the road gets too busy, which can really sap the fun out of it. The morning sun makes for a stunning view and guests get the perfect chance for an iconic Stelvio Pass photo.

For this road, I'd grab the keys to...

It's hard to go past a Ferrari for a trip to the Stelvio. The 488GTB is blindingly fast and supremely competent on any road, but ascending the top of the Stelvio Pass in one cloaked in early morning sun... not much else on this earth compares.

Want to drive a supercar on the Stelvio Pass? Learn more about our Italian Supercar Tour.

The Best Driving Roads in Switzerland

Switzerland has some fantastic alpine passes and roads. Perhaps the best known is the San Bernadino Pass, but our pick for the best driving road in Switzerland isn't just one road, it's three; the Susten Pass and Grimsel Pass and Furka Pass. Roads in Switzerland are generally maintained to an excellent standard, and are not as narrow as some of the Italian passes. The biggest consideration here is that during the colder months, the high roads are all closed due to heavy snowfall.

supercars climb the snow-capped Grimsel Pass in Switzerland

Susten Pass, Grimsel Pass, Furka Pass

This trifecta of mountain passes in central Switzerland centre around the village of Andermatt (which is home to one of our favourite hotels, The Chedi). Each pass has its own unique characteristics and together they form an incredible combination, and a driving experience that is truly unforgettable.

The Furka Pass is best known for its silver screen moment in Goldfinger, where it was the backdrop to an alpine chase between James Bond's signature Aston Martin DB5 and a ‘64 Ford Mustang convertible. Today, it remains one of the world's greatest driving roads and a firm favourite with petrolheads everywhere.

The Susten Pass is known for its mountain views and epic bridge and tunnel combinations. It's perhaps the most picturesque of these three incredible passes thanks to its amazing variety—one moment you're passing through a forest, the next looking up at the alps, and then you're screaming through a tunnel. Truly epic.

The Grimsel Pass climbs the mountains on the opposite side of the valley from Furka. Thanks to its lack of blind corners and general good visibility, Grimsel is one of the more user-friendly alpine passes. The landscape is wild and rugged, leading to the historic Grimsel Hospiz hotel and the Grimselsee artificial lake.

San Bernadino Pass

One of the most famous passes in Switzerland, the San Bernardino Pass is characterised by smooth, sweeping stretches of road, making it popular with vintage car rallies. Driving over the San Bernadino is also a popular choice for visitors driving between Switzerland and Italy (and the iconic Lake Como), although like all of the Swiss mountain passes, the San Bernadino Pass is not open in the colder months between November and May. Snow, ice and bitumen do not mix.

Oberalp Pass, Nufenen Pass

These two lesser-known passes are not as famous as the other Swiss alpine roads, but they're no less beautiful and are worthy additions to any Swiss driving tour.

The Nufenen Pass runs close to the Italian border and is the second highest paved alpine pass in Switzerland, at an elevation of 2,478 m (8,130 ft). Stunning views of the rivers in the valleys below, and across to the Gries Glacier.

The Oberalp Pass connects Disentis with Andermatt. It's a well maintained road with plenty of space for overtaking, and less traffic than some of the more famous passes, so it's a great option for the keen driver.

Experience these roads on our Ultimate Driver's Tour and our Swiss Alps Driving Tour.

The Best Driving Roads in France

Our picks for the best driving roads in France include some more laid back affairs in the wine regions, mixed with more challenging alpine passes. Much like the French food culture, there's no need to be in a rush when you're enjoying the country back roads around the famous wine regions of Burgundy, Champagne, Beaujolais and Provence. We also love the alpine regions on the border of France and Italy.

An orange Lamborghini makes its way through a forest in France

Route des Grand Crus

The Route des Grand Crus ("great wine route") is a legendary tourist drive steeped in history and showcasing the best of the Burgundy region. Connecting the towns of Dijon and Santenay, the road passes through dozens of villages and passes by many famous vineyards along the way

For this road, I'd grab the keys to...

I'd be making a bee-line for the Bentley Continental GT. The big British GT is the king of comfort and dismisses long drives with total ease. And for a big car, it's got incredible performance. Nobody does effortless luxury quite like Bentley.

Jura Mountains

The Jura Mountains traverse the France-Switzerland border and separate the Rhine and Rhone basins. The famous A40 motorway (the "highway of the titans") crosses through the Jura and features many tunnels and spectacular viaducts along its route.

Provence/Maritime Alps: Route Napoléon (N85) and Col de Turini & Col De Braus

Famous for being the road once travelled by Napoleon, the modern N85 is a spectacular stretch of road in the Provence region. This road can be travelled in sections and takes you from Cannes in the French Riviera, up to Grenoble, at the foot of the French Alps.

The Maritime Alps border France's Côte d'Azur, and Italy's Piedmont region. The alps are home to several epic alpine passes, none more famous than the Col de Turini.

The Col de Turini and Col de Braus are known as balcony roads, so-called because they are cut into the sides of a steep cliff face, with dramatic hairpin turns offering them a spectacular view of the area below. High above Nice and Monaco, and famous for their use in the Monte Carlo rally, these roads deliver thrills and breathtaking vistas at every turn.

For these roads, I'd grab the keys to…

The Porsche 911 Turbo. More than 40 years since it was first introduced, it remains perhaps the best all-round driver's car out there. It just eats up mountain climbs like this and makes them a joy to drive.

Drive the most iconic roads in France on our Beautiful Cars and Michelin Stars Tour.

supercars climb up a hill with a series of hairpin turns on a clear day

The Best Driving Road in Austria

Austria has some excellent driving roads, the most famous of which is the legendary Grossglockner.

Grossglockner Pass

The Grossglockner is Austria's highest road, and it's a tour de force of everything good about alpine passes: fast sweepers become technical switchbacks, leading to an increasingly stunning view as you navigate each of its numbered corners on the way to the summit. Thanks to its wide seal and generous straights in between hairpins, the ‘glockner is a mountain road that wills you to drive it hard.

We have organised some bespoke and custom tours in the Austrian Alps which have been very well received, but currently don't offer a dedicated supercar tour there—yet. Watch this space. We're looking to change that in the future.

A Mclaren navigates a mountain road in Austria

Ultimately, the "best" driving road is subjective, and one person's dream road might be another's nightmare. What will best suit you depends on the car, the driver (and passenger), the conditions, and the intention.

On our supercar tours, we like to mix things up so every day and every session is unique. Uptempo autobahns one day, and a mountain climb the next. We think it makes for the ultimate holiday.

For this edition of the ultimate guide, we've focussed on iconic driving roads in Europe. How about a sequel with the best driving roads in the USA and beyond? Did I miss your favourite road? Where does your dream drive take you? Let us know what you think. Use the hashtag #ultimatedrivingtours on social media to keep the conversation spinning.

Book your luxury tour of Europe today and experience life at its most exciting. Places limited.