Asphalt ribbons winding through otherworldly landscapes, roads that defy conventional engineering, and routes that lead to hidden gems – the world is home to some truly extraordinary highways. While not everyone can venture to these often treacherous and the downright quirky paths, we hope you enjoy our little exploration of the world’s most unique roads!
Buckle Up for the World’s Most Unique Roads
The Atlantic Road
Our adventure begins in Norway, where the Atlantic Road dances gracefully over the Norwegian Sea. This engineering marvel, completed in 1986, weaves through a series of small islands, offering picturesque views of the surrounding coastal scenery. Known for its dramatic twists and turns, the Atlantic Road continues to capture the hearts of road trip enthusiasts worldwide. Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating facts that make the Atlantic Road a standout on the global map of scenic drives:
- The Atlantic Road, locally known as “Atlanterhavsveien” in Norwegian, stretches over 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles) and is a masterpiece of architectural ingenuity. It connects the islands of Averøy and Eide, utilizing eight bridges and several causeways. The road seems to float above the sea, creating an illusion of a journey through the open waters.
- The coastal landscapes surrounding the Atlantic Road are ever-changing. From serene fjords and sheltered bays to rocky shores and islets, each stretch of the road unveils a new facet of Norway’s natural beauty.
- Constructing the Atlantic Road presented significant engineering challenges due to the harsh weather conditions and the dynamic nature of the Norwegian Sea. The combination of high waves and strong currents required innovative solutions.
The Guoliang Tunnel Road
Venturing into China, we encounter the Guoliang Tunnel Road, a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance. Carved through the heart of the Taihang Mountains, this narrow passageway offers a dangerous yet captivating drive surrounded by towering cliffs. Each turn reveals the craftsmanship of locals who carved the tunnel by hand. At the time, they were motivated by the desire to connect their remote village of Guoliang to the outside world. The result is a testament to human determination and skill.
- The road’s construction involved chiseling through sheer rock faces. This resulted in sections where the tunnel is hewn directly into the mountain’s side. The precarious perch of the road adds an extra layer of thrill, making it an unforgettable experience for those daring enough to traverse its twists.
- Throughout the tunnel, small windows are carved into the rock, providing glimpses of the scenery outside, while also allowing sunlight to filter through.
- The Guoliang Tunnel Road gained international recognition after the Chinese film “The Groomsmen” featured it.
Returning to Norway, we navigate the legendary Trollstigen, aptly named the “Troll’s Path.” Carved into the steep mountainside, this road is not for the faint of heart. Hairpin bends, dizzying ascents, and cascading waterfalls set the stage for a roller coaster-like experience.
- The “Troll’s Path,” was officially opened on July 31, 1936, after eight years of construction. The road was a response to the increasing popularity of tourism in the region. It aimed to provide better access to the scenic landscapes of the Norwegian mountains.
- Trollstigen is not only a transportation route but also holds cultural significance. The road’s name is derived from Norse mythology, where trolls are mythical creatures associated with the mountains. The road’s twists and turns are said to resemble the path that trolls would take.
- In 2012, a modern Trollstigen Visitor Center was opened to enhance the visitor experience. The center includes a café, gift shop, and an impressive viewing platform that allows visitors to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls.
The North Yungas Road
Our journey takes a daring turn to Bolivia, where the North Yungas Road, also known as the “Death Road,” beckons the adventurous. Perched on the edge of cliffs and shrouded in mist, this road is notorious for its steep descents and narrow passes. Among our list of the world’s most unique roads, North Young’s is by far one of the most challenging.
- Paraguayan prisoners of war constructed “Death Road” during the 1930s to connect the Amazon rainforest region to the capital city, La Paz.
- The road, at its narrowest points, is only about 3.2 meters (10 feet) wide. The sheer cliffs and steep mountainsides make it extremely treacherous, especially during adverse weather conditions such as rain or fog.
- In the early 2000s, construction crews built a new and safer route (Yungas Road) to replace the original North Yungas Road. This new road offers a more secure journey for travelers, after decades of high accident rates.
5. The Great Ocean Road
Australia boasts coastal masterpieces, and the Great Ocean Road is no exception. Stretching along the Southern Ocean, this road combines scenic beauty with cultural significance. From the iconic Twelve Apostles to the lush rainforests of Otway National Park, the Great Ocean Road is a sensory feast that encapsulates the diverse landscapes of Down Under.
- WWI veterans built the Great Ocean Road as a memorial to fallen soldiers.
- The coastal drive begins in Torquay and winds west along the coast to Allansford, approximately 243 kilometers long.
- Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road has hosted an annual surf competition every Easter since 1962. The event attracts a wide range of tourists from all over the world.
The Dalton Highway
Our exploration of the world’s most unique roads concludes in Alaska. The Dalton Highway, a famous yet rugged route, leads to the remote wilderness of Alaska’s Arctic region. Traversing vast tundra, crossing icy rivers, and embracing the solitude of the Arctic Circle, it offers an epic adventure into the heart of Alaska’s untamed landscapes.
- Also known as Haul Road, this vast highway is one of the most northern roads in the world.
- The drive starts surrounded by boreal forest, but eventually runs over the 4800-foot Atigun Pass in the Brooks Mountain Range. Next you’ll adventure through the Arctic Foothills. And lastly, you’ll experience 55 miles of arctic coastal plain tundra, according to Alaska Department of Transportation.
- Those interested in the drive up Dalton Highway should be weary of the changing conditions. Recommend bringing extra food, water, and other essential resources along your journey due to limited nearby services.
Overview of the World’s Most Unique Roads
Whether you’re an avid road tripper, thrill enthusiast, or an armchair traveler, we hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the world’s most unique (and dangerous) roads. If twists and turns are your thing, you’ll be sure to add some of these remarkable attractions to your bucket list.
Have you travelled along one of the roads on our list? Share your experience with the Headlights community below!