There is something very special about driving on a high road that makes you feel ‘on top of the world’ in every way, with challenging inclines, tortuous bends and lofty, breath-taking views to enjoy.
Kim Henson gets his motor running and gets out on the highway to take a look at some of the most spectacular European ‘high roads’ to be found…
Europe is blessed with more than its fair share of mountainous roads (passes taking roads over/around the high peaks), many of which date back hundreds of years and were hugely difficult to construct. Today such routes remain as testaments to their respective creators and builders, to be savoured and enjoyed by enthusiastic motorists and motorcycle riders.
The following summaries include some of the most rewarding roads taking travellers over, through and around some of the most impressive scenery in the world. We cannot hope to include all such roads here; there are dozens more, but the ones listed below give an idea of what’s available to enjoy.
The fun factor rewards of driving such routes are not just about sheer altitude, nor the tightness of the hairpins, nor the steepness of the gradients, although all such aspects can add to the experience. By contrast, in some cases the roads mentioned incorporate long sections with faster, sweeping bends plus more gradual inclines and descents. Such routes may seem ‘easier’ to negotiate, but can still allow truly exhilarating motoring (but TAKE CARE!).
Whichever type you prefer, ENJOY.
Tips for top drives
Take your time
Enjoyment (especially for your passengers) may be enhanced by deliberately not attempting a fast drive, but just to complete the route and take in the natural beauty along the way, at a more moderate pace. This will also save nerves and will place less strain on your vehicle.
Early morning motoring on these routes is recommended, not least because there is less traffic about.
Take a break
You may also wish to take advantage of the various stopping points along the way, incorporated into these roads; these provide many magnificent photo opportunities.
Make sure you read our SAFETY FIRST – PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE before setting off on any of these drives, so that nasties are easily prevented by a little forethought before you depart from the U.K.
Important note re. driving in Switzerland: You need to purchase a pass to drive on any Swiss motorways before using them (which you may need to do to get to the Swiss passes). On the spot fines can be levied if caught without one. They cost CHF40 (about £32) for a whole year, or part of. Full details from www.ch.ch/en/swiss-motorway-sticker/.
These roads present serious challenges and need to be treated with the greatest of respect, in terms of driving them and in preparation of your vehicle.
|Furka Pass, Swiss Alps (7,969 feet or 2,429 metres at its summit).|
|Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austrian Alps (8,215 feet or 2,504 metres at the top).|
|Route Napoléon, Alpes Maritimes, France, connects Grasse (just inland from Cannes, at the southern end of the route)|
|San Bernadino Pass, Swiss Alps (6,778 feet or 2,066 metres at its summit).|
|Stelvio Pass, Italian Tyrol (9,045 feet or 2,757 metres elevation).|
|Umbrail Pass (8,205 feet or 2,501 metres at highest point, and the highest paved road in Switzerland).|
|Klausen Pass, Switzerland (6,391 feet or 1,948 metres at the highest point).|
|In Brief: Other fun high roads, closer to home, to consider (UK)|