There’s something about mountain roads that really get me excited. The appeal must be the combination of the grand views plus the challenge of getting my bike to the top. For many of these roads, I’m still indecisive about whether I’d rather enjoy the view slowly on the way up, or fast on the way down. It’d be pretty exhilarating bombing down many of these roads!
Without further ado, here’s my list of the best roads in the world!
I didn’t want to just give you the name and a photo, so I’ve made sure to find out exactly where these roads all are on a map, so that you can find them and ride them!
Zigzag Road to Zukuk, India
There’s not many roads as crazy as the zigzag road to Zukuk. Tucked away between Nepal and Bhutan in the Himalayas, this road makes the most of the super steep mountainside to get you between small villages. This road is actually known as the ‘Old Silk Road’ as it was once a major trading route from China to India.
Tianmen Mountain Road, China
The Tianmen road is world-famous, taking you on a journey of 99 bends over 11km (6.8mi) to Tianmen cave, a natural hole in the mountain with a height of 131.5 metres (431 ft). Alternatively you can take the 7.5km (4.6mi) cable car trip to the top for the most stunning views.
24 Zig Zag Road, China
The 24 zig zag gravel road in China played an important role during WW2 to help the Chinese resist the Japanese invasion. Currently it is not well maintained, making it a perfect climb on your bike!
Aizhai Winding Road, China
Gaining elevation on steep hillsides seems like a favourite pastime for the Chinese! The Aizhai winding road has stunning views the whole way up. These days the road is a bit less popular due to the construction of a gigantic bridge which connects both sides of the valley.
Jacob’s Ladder, Australia
Jacob’s Ladder in Tasmania goes right up to Ben Lomond Mountain. This dirt road climb is infamous in Australia – the towering dolerite cliffs dominating the landscape on either side.
Burr Trail, USA
Wedged between red sandstone cliffs, the Burr Trail was constructed by a rancher named John Atlantic Burr who wanted move his cattle between summer and winter grazing grounds.
Shafer Canyon Road, USA
This Hollywood-famous road descends from the rim of the Shafer Canyon. At the top of the canyon you enter the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, a huge mesa with great views of the surrounding canyons.
Mineral Bottom, USA
Another Utah scenic road, Mineral Bottom ascends 250m (800ft) up a series of switchbacks to get to the top of the canyon.
Gata Loops, India
The Gata Loops are a climbing section of the famous Menali-Leh Highway. There are 22 switchbacks in total, but the biggest challenge is perhaps trying to climb your bike when you’re up at over 4000m (13123ft)!
Moldo Ashuu Pass, Kyrgyzstan
There are too many amazing roads in Kyrgyzstan to include in this page! But the Moldo Ashuu Pass is considered one of the most beautiful, with its constant views across the Naryn Valley as it winds its way up to Lake Song-Kul at 3200m (10498ft).
Dizin Road, Iran
The Dizin Ski Resort is one of the biggest in Iran and has a great winding road to get you there. Given the high elevation of this road, it’s under snow for over six months per year!
Lawdar Mountain Pass, Yemen
The Lawdar mountain pass is in the unsuspecting country of Yemen. This road features 34 switchbacks which take you up to 2267m (7437ft). Given the lack of vegetation, the views are spectacular!
Sani Pass, South Africa
The Sani Pass climbs to the border between Lesotho and South Africa. This dirt road hits a maximum of 2876m (9400ft) elevation, and is only allowed to be driven by 4×4 vehicles.
Serra da Leba, Angola
The Serra da Leba asphalt climb features seven tight switchbacks near the top of the pass (1845m/6053ft). It is one of the only areas of the region that can experience snow fall.
Gorges du Dadès, Morocco
This famous picturesque road in Morocco is built into a unique rocky gorge landscape. It’s a popular destination for tourists to stop and enjoy the views.
The Transfagarasan, Romania
The Transfagarasan high is 90km long and is one of the highest paved roads in Romania. It features dozens of stunning switchbacks and some unlit tunnels which are almost a kilometre long!
The Transalpina, Romania
This winding road in Romania has just been resurfaced to be a modern highway which stretches 148km through the Carpathian Mountains. It was originally constructed in 200AD by the Roman legions, and was used to defeat the local forces.
Leqet e Hotit, Albania
This climb winds through the rocky landscape of the Albanian mountains along the Montenegrin border. It has recently been sealed to make the view-friendly ride more pleasurable.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria
The Grossglockner Alpine Road is the highest sealed road in Austria, reaching a maximum of 2504 m (8215ft). It has been named after Austria’s tallest mountain.
Forcella di Lavardet, Italy
These 14 sharp hairpin turns are some of the most famous in the world. As Forcella di Lavardet is an old military road, the gradient is as low as possible to get heavy machinery up and over the pass.
Passo San Boldo, Italy
Passo San Boldo is a unique climb because of the seven hairpin turns that have been tunnelled into the earth. Amazingly, this road was built in just 100 days by the Austro-Hungarian army during WW1. Due to time constraints, they ended up bringing in prisoners of war, the elderly and children to help out – 1400 workers ended up completing the project!
Passo Dello Stelvio, Italy
The Stelvio would have to be one of the most photographed roads in the world. This mountain pass reaches a maximum elevation of 2757m (9045ft) after you’ve ascended all 48 hairpin bends.
Old Gotthard Pass, Switzerland
The windy Gotthard Pass road was first constructed in 1830 to connect towns on either side of the mountain range. These days rail and road tunnels go right through the middle, but that doesn’t stop keen cyclists and drivers to enjoy the wild road up and down the mountain.
Furka Pass, Switzerland
This Swiss mountain pass drops into the valley and back up the other side to a maximum elevation of 2429m (7969ft). Like other Swiss passes, there are now tunnels which go straight through the base of the mountains to make this road a great option for cyclists.
Col de Tende, France
This 7km long stretch of road features 48 switchbacks on the border between France and Italy. The first part of the pass is asphalted, but the second half of tight turns is all dirt. There are forts along the ridge line in both directions.
Col du Turini, France
The Col du Turini is famous as it employs walled switchbacks neatly stacked on top of one another to ease the gradient. The walls actually doubled as a medieval fortress back in the day!
Col de Braus, France
This neat switchback climb in France reaches a maximum elevation of 1006m (3287ft) and is said to never be too steep.
Colle Del Sommeiller, Italy
The Colle Del Sommeiller mountain pass is the highest valley pass in Italy at 2993m/9819ft, and if you descend the other side you’ll find yourself in France. This 26km climb will flick from sealed road to dirt, as you ride through the varied landscapes.
Lacets de Montvernier, France
This rather unbelievable road of 18 hairpin turns climbs up the valley over 3.4km (2.1mi). The tight twisty section of the climb averages a 180 degree turn every 120 metres (393ft)!
Sierra Nevada Road, Spain
The road up to Pico de Veleta (3392m/11128ft) from Sierra Nevada Ski Resort is a beauty! This winding dirt road navigates around the ski resort infrastructure and across the high alpine plains to provide an amazing view.
Lysevegen Road, Norway
Lysevegen Road is a popular 29km (18mi) long stretch that was constructed in order to piece together the Tjodan hydroelectric power station. Prior to this 27 hairpin-road, the only access to the small town of Lysebotn was by boat!
In the height of summer, the Trollstigen in Norway can experience 2500 cars daily! It’s popular due to its steep gradients, 11 hairpin corners and unobscured views across the valley.
Portachuelo de Llanganuco, Peru
This ultra-high Peruvian Pass (4767m/15639ft) is surrounded by snowy mountain peaks and crystal blue lakes in the lower sections. 28 hairpin turns allow you to gain 527m (1729ft) over 8.5km (5.3mi) to access the Huascaran National Park.
Road 663, Peru
Road 663 is a relatively unknown single-lane dirt climb that is particularly dangerous due to its lack of guardrails and sheer drops into the valley. You’ll be rewarded with excellent views over the valley if you choose to take it on!
The Road To Cotabambas, Peru
Straight up the side of a mountain, the gravel road (route 3SF) to Cotabambas climbs for 9.8km (6.1mi) and features 24 hairpin turns. You’ll gain almost 639m (2096ft) elevation to reach a maximum of 2900m (9514ft).
Collpani Pass, Bolivia
Near Collpani in Bolivia is a dirt road climb that features 52 hairpin turns over 10.4km (6.5mi)!
Paso de los Caracoles, Chile
This pass connecting Chile with Argentina (3200m/10500ft) is one of the more famous roads in the world. The name of this pass actually translates to ‘snail’s pass’, which give you an indication for how fast you’ll be moving when you attempt to ride up this!
Cuesta del Diablo, Chile
On the 1240km long Carretera Austral highway you’ll find this 6km (3.7mi) twisty road dropping past the glacier and basalt walls of Cerro Castillo (2675m/8775ft).
Serra Rio Do Rastro, Brazil
The Serra Rio Do Rastro is a lush Brazilian road that winds its way up to 1460m (4790ft) from sea level. Despite being 100km (62mi) from the ocean, from the top you can make out the water on a clear day.
Gangwon Do Road, South Korea
This serpentine road in South Korea winds its way up a steep valley. A viewing platform at the top allows you to look down over what you have accomplished.