Ahh, road trips. Just thinking about those words paints a picture in your head, doesn’t it? Tunes made for singing along with at top volume, sugary gas station snacks, sunglasses with the perfect tint—these are all crucial elements for a successful drive. But even more important than the destination is the journey, especially if the road itself is the main attraction.
Don’t forget to install the roadside assistance app.
If you’re a driving enthusiast determined to see something unique on your next turn at the wheel, point your car towards these 10 wonderfully strange roads:
Stelvio Pass: Italy
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Elevate your experience on the roads with a cruise down Stelvio Pass in northern Italy. Clocking in at over 9,000 feet above sea level, the striking road has more than 70 hairpin turns to keep you on your toes. It’s the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps. While cautiously navigating its twists, know that you’re driving over what was once the border of the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
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Mysterious Road: South Korea
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Items are supposed to roll down downhill slopes because you know, gravity, but at some bizarre spots around the globe, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Dokkaebi Road in Jeju, South Korea is one such spot and has gained the nickname Mysterious Road for that reason. Put your car in neutral on what appears to be an uphill slope on the road, you’ll roll down instead of up. Is it an illusion or just magic? You be the judge.
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Hanshin Expressway: Japan
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What’s it like to commute to work when you can drive right through your building? That’s not actually what happens when the Hanshin Expressway goes through the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan, but the offshoot does serve as an exit ramp for the roadway. The highway occupies three floors of the 16-floor office building. Since it doesn’t make contact with the structure, workers can tap away at their desks oblivious of the exceptionally close highway, thanks to killer noise-proofing.
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Civic Musical Road: California
Motorists like to say they can hear the music of the road, but some thoroughfares are designed to actually play tunes. One place where you can experience the rhythm of the asphalt is in Lancaster, California on the Civic Musical Road (located on Avenue G) in the Antelope Valley. Drive into the far left lane and travel at 55mph to hear the rumble strips emit a take on the finale of “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini.
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Baldwin Street: New Zealand
Find a different driving angle by taking a trip down the steepest street in the world in Dunedin, New Zealand. Baldwin Street is at such a harsh gradient that it’s surfaced with concrete instead of asphalt because the latter would cause tar to trickle down the slope on a hot day. While you slowly steer down the incline, note how the homes lining the streets look lopsided.
If you don’t have the right car to get around this New Zealand road, you can find everything you need on this website.
Capulin Volcano Road: New Mexico
Wouldn’t you like to add “drove around the rim of a volcano” to your vehicular resume? You can do so by visiting the Capulin Volcano National Monument near Capulin, New Mexico. A two-mile road spirals around the extinct cinder cone to the top; it’s not a drive for those hesitant about heights, but it is a drive for those hungry for dramatic landscapes.
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Guoliang Tunnel: China
Get ready to practice exercising laser focus; you’ll need it to safely traverse the Guoliang Tunnel in China. This remarkable hewn tunnel in the Taihang Mountains was crafted by a mere 13 villagers over the span of five years. You can catch glimpses of the surrounding nature along the 3/4 mile tunnel through 30 gaping windows carved into the sides. Though it accommodates two vehicles, the tunnel is tight and gets quite slippery in inclement weather—it’s not for the faint of heart.
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The Atlantic Road: Norway
The Atlantic Road, or Atlanterhavsveien, will take you for an exhilarating whirl on the coastal edge of Norway. Seemingly designed to accentuate the most lovely parts of the surrounding ocean, the Atlantic Road hugs the Atlantic as it connects small islands like a gentle, winding roller coaster. Over the course of five miles, you’ll go up and down and possibly be knocked out of your seat by the scenery.
Did you know that pilots flying ww2 planes tried to destroy this road in Norway?
Lombard Street: California
San Francisco claims a number of angular streets with sharp turns, but Lombard Street is the most crooked of them all. The infamous one-block section of Lombard includes switchback after switchback with eight tricky turns. Watching vehicles descend the hill is like looking at an M.C. Escher painting. Tip: Drive this road in the spring for a floral spectacular.
Because of the curves on this road, it’s easy to get injured. So don’t forget to have a first aid and a bleeding kit in your car.
Sometimes a road is both a Grand Prix race track and a road the public can access. That’s the case with Nordschleife. Tucked away in a motorsports complex near Nürburg, Nordschleife is one of the tracks at Nurburgring and travels through the Eifel forests with steep inclines, changing road surfaces, and other challenges. If you want to take a spin in an everyday vehicle, you can book tickets and pay a toll for a trip around the 12-mile track.
For this trip, bring only essentials such as food and water in tote bags.
Let’s kick this party off the right way, with a foreboding and super curvy road through one of the most notorious places on the planet.
Transfăgărășan, as you’ve probably guessed, is a route through Transylvania, Romania. Mental Floss reports that it’s a 55-mile stretch of intimidating hairpin bends and other twisty sections, which is… well, it’s not one for that Winnebago I mentioned earlier. In a suitable vehicle, though, this is a high-octane, thrilling stretch.
If you needed more thrills, how about the fact that it passes through Poenari Fortress, said to be one of the possible buildings that inspired Dracula’s castle?
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The Yakutsk road: Russia
That’s right, friends. Some of the supposedly-pathed roads we use every day are awful (some I use on a daily basis have potholes so deep there are darn bats living in them), and those are main routes in a major city. What’s the situation like out in the sticks?
Well, very bad with several extra boatloads of very bad piled on top (and a couple of sides of very bad), that’s what.
The Yakutsk road is a remote highway in Siberia, Russia, a region where “temperatures get so low you can’t wear glasses—the metal will freeze to your face” (Mental Floss).
In these sorts of conditions, it’s no surprise that Yakutsk becomes a muddy quagmire in the summer and a treacherous icy nightmare in the winter.
After you’re done with this road, you will be left with sweaty feet from all the adrenalin, so make of you know how to remove smell from shoes instantly before you enter your home.
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Up in the Northern reaches of the United States, things can get pretty darn cold. Alaska is not a place known for its bountiful sunbathing opportunities and tropical climate, let’s put it that way.
Natural beauty and a whole heckola of a lot of snow and ice are the way here, and that certainly extends to the road network. The notorious James W. Dalton Highway (which was featured on the BBC’s World’s Most Dangerous Roads) covers over 400 miles, and stops for supplies and medical aid are very, very few and very, very far between.
Did I mention the possibility of polar bears, too?
Storseisundet Bridge: Norway
The thing about roads (and specifically river crossings) is, that it’s not just cars, motorcycles, trucks, and such that you’ve got to cater to. Where there’s water, there’s often ships, and where there are bridges, there are… well, ships that would probably rather not bash into the said bridge.
Fortunately, the designers of the Storseisundet Bridge in Norway had an elegant solution to this. The bridge arcs in a beautiful twist over the water, so as to enable boats to pass beneath safely. For drivers, this results in a fascinating optical illusion, as Mother Nature Network reports:
“Drivers cannot see the abnormal curve when on the road. In fact, they cannot see the road on the other side of the curve at all. The bridge appears to disappear, and it looks like any car that attempts to cross it will simply fall into the water.”
So, drive carefully on this road and install a fishing app to keep track of all the water activities you can do in spring in Norway.