As purveyors of supercar driving holidays, we’ve been lucky enough to share many memorable road trips with our guests, enjoying incredible cars on the world’s best driving roads and mountain passes. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
People always ask us, ‘Where is the best driving road?’, or ‘What’s your favourite?’, and the answer is more complicated than you might think. Often, two people can disagree about whether a road is or isn’t a great drive, even in the case of some of the most renowned driving roads.
So, we decided to put together an ultimate guide to the best driving roads in Europe. In this article, we’ll share our favourite European roads, including some iconic names that may be familiar from TV and movies. But we’ll also reveal some lesser-known gems that we’ve discovered during our countless hours of research and reconnaissance.
Ultimate Driving Tours selects Europe’s best driving roads
We’re always researching fresh routes and hunting for undiscovered roads to elevate the driving experience for our guests, which means you won’t find some of the roads discussed here in your travel guide.
But before we dive deeper, at a glance, here are our picks for the top 10 best driving roads in Europe:
- Susten Pass, Switzerland
- Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria
- Col de Turini, France
- The Great Dolomites Road, Italy
- San Bernardino Pass, Switzerland
- Black Forest High Road (B500), Germany
- Route Napoléon (N85), France
- Transfăgărășan, Romania
- Furka Pass, Switzerland
- Stelvio Pass, Italy
Now, let’s get into it — beginning in Germany, one of the best destinations for a driving holiday.
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 in a driver’s car.
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.
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 as it has more flowing turns and fewer hairpins, we find many drivers actually prefer driving this road to some of the more famous alpine passes we’ll cover later.
The lower sections closer to Baden-Baden are 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.
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 drivability. Still, there’s no shortage of incredible drives, and on our supercar driving holidays we do all the planning, so you don’t have to worry about where to find Italy’s best roads, because we’ll do it for you.
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 the patchwork countryside of 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 to navigate, 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 up to the Dolomites’ alpine passes. The roads here offer stunning views, but they can get very narrow and are quite challenging to drive.
For this road, I’d grab the keys to…
A Lamborghini Huracán. A Lambo is still the ultimate statement car, and the Huracán Performante with its 4WD system is perfect for the technical roads found in the Dolomites. And the wail of the V10 engine reverberating around the valleys never gets old.
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.
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.
The real gem: the road from Davos to Stelvio
What many people don’t realise is that the great drive that the Top Gear crew referenced isn’t the Stelvio Pass itself, it’s actually the road from Davos (in Switzerland) to Stelvio. And indeed, it is a great road. While 48 hairpin turns might sound cool on paper (and look amazing 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? Discover 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: Susten Pass, Grimsel Pass and Furka Pass.
Roads in Switzerland are generally maintained to an excellent standard, and they aren’t 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.
Susten Pass, Grimsel Pass, Furka Pass
This trifecta of Swiss mountain passes centre around the village of Andermatt (where you’ll find one of our favourite hotels, The Chedi). Each pass has its own unique characteristics and together they form an incredible combination — a truly unforgettable driving experience.
Furka Pass is best known for its silver screen moment in Goldfinger, where it was the backdrop to an alpine chase between James Bond in his 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 enthusiasts everywhere.
Susten Pass is renowned for its mountain views and stunning 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 soaring alps, and then you’re screaming through a tunnel. It’s epic.
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 Bernardino Pass
One of the most famous passes in Switzerland, the San Bernardino Pass features smooth, sweeping stretches of road, making it popular with vintage car rallies. Driving over the San Bernardino is also a popular choice for visitors driving between Switzerland and Italy (often heading for iconic Lake Como), although like all of the Swiss mountain passes, the San Bernardino Pass is not open in the colder months between November and May. Snow, ice and bitumen do not mix.
Oberalp Pass and Nufenen Pass
These two lesser-known passes may not enjoy the same reputation as the other Swiss alpine roads, but they’re no less beautiful and are worthy additions to any Swiss driving tour.
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). Drive to the top and you’ll find stunning views of the rivers in the valleys below, and across to the Gries Glacier.
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 who wants to put a car through its paces.
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 roads in the alps near the Italian border.
Route des Grand Crus
The Route des Grand Crus (great wine route) is a legendary tourist drive steeped in history which showcases 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…
For country cruising, 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. No-one does effortless luxury quite like Bentley.
The Jura Mountains traverse the France-Switzerland border and separate the Rhine and Rhone basins. The famous A40 motorway (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 affording 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.
The best driving roads in Austria
Austria has some excellent driving roads, the most famous of which is the legendary Grossglockner.
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.
It would be remiss of us to leave out some roads that may not be visited so often, but once driven, you’ll never forget.
The Transfăgărășan is another road made famous by Clarkson and co. on Top Gear. High up in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, this serpentine network of switchbacks weaves up through pleasant, if relatively unremarkable, forested terrain before breaking through to the stunning upper reaches where the lush green mountainsides play home to grazing sheep.
The road has a wonderful mix of ‘esses’, challenging hairpins, and steep sections, so it’s no Sunday cruise; it’s a challenging and hugely rewarding drive. Like many alpine passes, the Transfăgărășan is only open to drivers in the summer months of July to October.
Ultimately, the “best” driving road is subjective: one person’s dream road could 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 each 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? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tag us @ultimatedrivingtours on social media to keep the conversation spinning.
Reserve your place on our luxury tour of Europe today and experience life at its most exciting. Places limited.