6 Best Mountain Roads in Europe
Europe boasts some of the most beautiful mountain passes in the world. If you’re looking to take a road trip in this part of the world, below are some of the most scenic routes you can take.
Col de la Bonette, French Alps, France
Col de la Bonette is a few hours’ drive away from Nice and is in the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps. At 2,807m it it’s the highest road in Europe and one of the most famous roads in the alps.
The road is regularly used as part of the Tour de France, so the road surface is mostly smooth tarmac and easy to drive. Sometimes the road is quite narrow, but thanks to the open landscape you can often see approaching traffic in good time. Although a challenging drive at times, the scenery is spectacular, making the drive well worth it.
Grossglockner Pass, Austrian Alps, Austria
Grossglockner Pass in the Austrian Alps is at the centre of the High Tauren National Park, on the border between Carinthia and East Tyrol. The highest point of the road is just over 2,500m and boasts amazing views of Grossglockner, the highest summit of the Alpine Republic.
This road gets some snow fall in late autumn and early spring, but usually melts quickly. The toll road is in excellent condition, with views of beautiful glaciers, waterfalls and lakes. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some of the local wildlife, like marmosets or eagles.
Stelvio Pass, Italian Alps, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is the second highest paved road in the Alps, at 2,757m above sea level. It’s located in the Orlter Alps between Bromio and Prato allo Stelvio, close to the Swiss border.
It has 60 hairpin turns, making it a hugely popular destination for driving enthusiasts. Whilst the scenery along the pass is not always as remarkable as other roads on this list, the excitement of the driving makes up for it. Traffic can be a problem, so it’s best to visit outside of peak season (which tend to be in July and August) so you can fully experience this road. Make sure to stop at the summit to take your souvenir photo.
Susten Pass, Swiss Alps, Switzerland
The Susten Pass is in the Bernese Highlands, passing along the foot of the Gotthard Mountain between Wassen and Innertkirchen. The road peaks at 2,260m above sea level and is seen by some as the best driving road in Switzerland.
The pass features 26 bridges and tunnels, which make for fantastic photo opportunities. The road takes drivers through dense forests as well as offering uninterrupted views across the mountain range. Although unfortunately eroding, the Stein Glacier is visible from the road and makes for a great viewpoint. If you’re able to drive this road early June, you may be able to enjoy walls of snow on either side of the road, for a truly Swiss experience.
Transfagarasan, Carpathian Mountains, Romania
The Transfagarasan Highway takes you through the southern section of the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. The road gradually rises to 2,042m between Romania’s two highest mountains.
The road up the mountain is well paved but driving can be tricky at times, with tight turns appearing quickly after long straights. The pass offers stunning views across the valley as you climb the mountain, so be sure to take a break to enjoy the scenery. The road leads to Balea Lake, a glacier lake, which is covered by thick fog for most of the year. Whilst this makes for a dramatic scene, take care to stick to the main roads as visibility can be very low.
Rossfeld Panoramastrasse, Bavarian Alps, Germany
The Rossfeld Panoramastrasse is located in the Berchtesgaden district in Bavaria. It’s one of the highest mountain roads in the country, peaking at 1,540 m. Unlike most of the mountain roads on this list, this drive is open all year round.
The road is top quality, with a smooth surface and all the twists and turns you would want from mountain driving. Although it’s a short drive, it offers spectacular views of the Alps, with lush greenery and Alpine flowers. You may recognise it as the backdrop from The Sound of Music and the road has many lookout points for you to stop and take in the views (and maybe sing if you’re that way inclined!).
Once you’ve planned your European road trip, Direct Car Hire Excess can protect you with European car hire excess insurance cover, so you won’t get stuck with extreme excess charges if you need to claim.