Are you crazy about driving cars and would you love to take a road trip across the most beautiful driving roads in all of Europe? If the idea of driving your favourite car through the scenery of mountain roads makes you just as excited as it makes us, then you will definitely want to read this blogpost.
Driving is more than just a way to get from A to B. It is an experience that you should enjoy and savour. You can take a road trip with friend, family or alone. You can drive any car you want. You can enjoy the ride and the view of amazing landscapes and the best thing about it: it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money!
If you are still reading this than we are just like you and we have listed out the most scenic, unique and thrilling driving roads of the Alps for you. Time to update your bucket list!
1. Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is located in Italy. The Stelvio Pass, at 2756 meter high, is the second highest paved mountain in the Alps. If you have watched Top Gear (British car show) you might remember one special episode in which the presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were on a mission to find the greatest driving road in the world. Guess what conclusion they ended up with? Yes you are right, they picked the Stelvio Pass as the road that would satisfy every petrolhead’s driving fantasies in the 10th season of the show. Although the three presenters only searched in Europe, the Stelvio Pass contains perfect roads for sports cars, astonishing views and driving here will create unforgettable memories.
2. Furka Pass, Switzerland
The Furka Pass is a legendary Swiss mountain pass at an altitude of 2431 meter. The Furka Pass is famous for the car chase scene in James Bond’s Goldfinger. In this car scene from back in 1964, the Aston Martin and the Ford Mustang chased this road. Now, 56 years later, the landscape has remained almost exactly the same, for it is definitely one of the best driving roads in Europe.
You can get to the Furka Pass from different directions.
You can approach the legendary Pass via the Nufenen Pass from the south. If you are coming from the north, you can drive over the Grimsel Pass to arrive at the bottom part of the Furka Pass. For the best driving experience you may want to climb from west to east (hairpin alert). When taking this route you can take a break at the old Belvedere Hotel to enjoy the incredible view or go for a walk in the Rhone Glacier Ice Grotto. This will be an amazing experience not just for James Bond Fans!
Note: In the winter this road catches a lot of snow so for this reason the road is closed from October to June.
3. Mont Ventroux, France
One of Frances best driving roads is the road that climbs its way up to Mont Ventoux. ‘Venteux’ means ‘windy’ in French. At the top of the mountain, wind speeds of 323 km/h have been measured, so you can kind of see why it carries its name. Because of the strong winds, the pass can sometimes be closed, but on a nice day, Mont Ventoux offers a panoramic view like you probably have never seen before. Mont Ventoux also has a nickname ‘’Beast of Provence’’ because it’s the highest mountain in the region.
So what about the road then? Well, it’s fantastic! It Is a surprising mix of exciting straights and thrilling corners when you are reaching the summit. You will literally feel like you are in the clouds, because you will drive trough some clouds before you get to the top.
Note: The climb of Mont Ventoux is one of the most challenging climbs in the Tour de France so it is quite popular among cyclists. It can be busy in the high season so if you want to be able to enjoy your driving experience to the fullest, you better go early or late in the season. Another bonus is that this will make stunning sunrise and sunset drives.
4. Nockalm Road, Austria
‘’Nockalm Road in Austria is one of the greatest driving roads we have ever experienced’’ (Colcorsa, 2020). It does not really matter from which direction you approach it. The road starts with challenging hairpins and as you climb, the road starts to open up and more straights will come and you will have an amazing view 360 degrees around you.
Note: Nockalm road is a toll road (open from May to October) and a car ticket costs €17,50. Our suggestion is to stop before the toll gate on the other side and turn around and drive the road backwards. This way you will have 60 kilometres of true driving experience.
5. Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (High Alpine Road), Austria
The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse is one of our own personal favorite roads in the Alps. The smooth tarmac sweeps through the astonishing Austrian scenery. This road, because of it’s gentle sweeping turns is true supercar heaven. The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse is open from May to November and it is a great drive at any time during the season. There are enough restaurants and snack bars if you want to stop for a minute and enjoy the incredible view. Whether you go in late autumn, or in the summer when everything is green, this will be an amazing drive on one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
Note: Tickets for the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse cost €37,- per car but you will have perfect tarmac conditions and 48 kilometers of driving joy.
Tip: At the toll gates you can find some charming hotels and book a room for a night. We would recommend the Edelweisspitze, a mountain inn with typical mountain cabins. You can stay here for a night and enjoy the stars from out of the alpine landscapes.
6. Nivolet Pass, Italy
Just looking at this picture you might be amazed by the beauty of it, but we can assure you that when you drive it yourself, you will realize that even the best pictures are nothing compared to the way it looks in reality. You will have to look very hard if you want to find a landscape like this anywhere else.
At the start, the road looks like another mountain passes you might have driven. However when you climb higher, views get more stunning and the roads start getting more thrilling because of the narrower roads and the absence of safety barriers.
The first lake you will pass is the Serrù Lake. From here the climb starts to go towards the highest peak of Nivolet Pass at 2651 meters above sea level. Just before you reach the top of the pass, you will see Lake Agnel.
don’t think however that the drive stops at the highest point of the pass. From here you can continue driving downhill and reach two small lakes in the valley where the road ends.
The Nivolet Pass also has some Hollywood fame. Some scenes from the movie ‘The Italian Job’ were filmed here on this road.
The Nivolet Pass is a breathtaking, dangerous but thrilling road like no other. When you go here, you might want to drive it early in the morning for the best experience. Because the road is narrow and has some blind corners, it can be dangerous to go fast on a busy day. Don’t let the danger scare you off, for this will be one of the most exciting and thrilling experiences of your life.
7. Route de Thorenc, France
The route de Thorenc is also considered one of the best driving roads in Europe. To get to the Route de Thorenc you may hit other scenic roads like Col de Vence and the famous Route Napoleon.
If you read car magazines, you probably have seen parts of this road in pictures, because this is a very popular shooting destination for car manufacturers.
By looking at the pictures you can probably see why. The Route de Thorenc has tunnels carved out in the rocks and beautiful valleys in the background, which makes a perfect shot.
When you want to take a break and really savour these surroundings, there are a couple of places where you can get coffee or lunch. We recommend Chateau Saint Martin & Spa where you can sit on their terrace and enjoy the view to the coast, or you can find some place in Gréolières.
We would definitely recommend you to go here once and carry this experience with you for the rest of your life.
8. Bernina Pass, Switzerland
Located on the border between Italy and Switzerland, the roads of the Bernina Pass are open all year. While the pas may be accessible 365 days a year, that does not mean that you should go there at any time you like without proper winter preparation. When there is snow, there is a whole lot of it.
That being said, the Bernina Pass might be the your best choice for an exciting mountain pass outside of the summer season.
With the proper winter gear, this is sports car territory . You will see breath taking winter landscapes with big walls of snow along the roads. The roads itself however are dry enough for a safe and exciting road trip with nice hairpin bends.
If you approach the Bernina Pass from Switzerland, drive towards Pontresina. From here you want to climb up and after you passed the lakes, you can drive to the end of Bernina Pass to end in a small Italian town Tirano. If you want to go to the Stelvio Pass, you are better of taking the Livigno Pass.
Most of the alpine mountain passes are closed in the winter so if you are planning a road trip outside the summer season, this one will give you the best experience you can get.
There you go, this is our top 8 Alpine driving roads. If you like driving or are looking for a budget road trip with astonishing scenery and mind blowing views, Pick any of these that resonates best with you. You will absolutely not regret it!
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Route Napoleon, France
Col du Galibier, France
Nufenen Pass, Switzerland
Füela Pass, Switzerland
Great St Bernard Pass, Switzerland to Italy
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