From mountain passes to tight road rally circuits, you deserve to drive the best roads in the world—and these are just a few of them.
You only have so much time on this earth. Spend most of it driving. What follows is a sampling of our favorite driving roads, and the ones we vow to drive before we die:
Where: Bernese Alps, Switzerland
How long: Plan to spend an hour or so.
Why: Among the vaunted passes through Europe's tallest mountains, Switzerland's Grimsel Pass stands out for offering scenery to complement the killer driving experience. The elevation changes of the Grimsel Pass reflect the road's original use as a trade route during the Middle Ages, and the curvy sections don't disappoint. The Grimsel Pass is a great drive in its own right, but no less because it's connected to several of Europe's other great mountain passes. Allow the road to shatter any expectations you might have of it.
When: In the summer months, there's a greater likelihood that the area around the Grimsel Pass will be cleared of snow. Bring a performance car on summer tires.
Sea to Sky
Where: Vancouver, Canada
How long: From end to end: The highway is about 250 miles long.
Why: Think of it as the Pacific Coast Highway running through Malibu—but in Canada. The cliffside road is championed as an enthusiast's paradise for denizens of western Canada, accessible from Vancouver and stretching hundreds of miles. Come for the views, and stay for the curves.
When: Any time of year is a good one to experience Sea to Sky, although fog and inclement weather can be significant slowdowns throughout the year.
Highway 1, Big Sur
Where: Northern California, Monterey County, Calif.
How long: Depends on who you ask, but the Big Sur coastline stretches for just under 100 miles. Drive it all at once or spend the day and/or night.
Why: Why? Have you seen the California coastline? Craggy Big Sur exemplifies the historic prerogative to spend time slowly cruising the Pacific Coast Highway and to take in the beautiful colors, smells, and textures it offers. Big Sur is an attraction unto itself, with barely touched beaches and plenty of hiking to complement the inevitable driving you'll do along the route.
When: As soon as you can get there. Avoid summer tourist season, when RVs take over the roads.
Where: Chihuahua, Mexico
How long: Depends how adventurous you are. Some adventure trip planners argue that Copper Canyon comprises almost 1500 miles, doable in about a week's time.
Why: Unlike the Grand Canyon, for example, there is a canyon in north-central Mexico with fabulous driving roads. The driving at Copper Canyon, which is actually more of a collection of canyons, water features, and geological formations in an arid desert setting, is otherworldly. Bring a motorcycle or a traditional automobile and prepare to spend hours on dirt paths and paved roads alike.
When: Temperatures become bearable in the wintertime, although it's never a bad time of year to visit Copper Canyon.
Touge Mt. Fuji
Where: Japan, southwest of Tokyo
How long: Plan to spend a day.
Why: Every advanced driving culture has its mountain passes, and the Touge roads of Mt. Fuji are Japan's answer to the best ones that Europe can offer. The Touge roads are sharp reflections of the harshly shifting terrain near the mountain, and offer the most hair-raising hairpin turns this side of the Pacific. The Touge roads also hold special importance to the Japanese collectible car market, whose drivers honed their skills on the drift-happy passes.
When: From July to August, Mt. Fuji is in blossom and the weather is perfect for a long drive. Come earlier for cherry blossom sightings.
TT Isle of Man
Where: Isle of Man, United Kingdom.
How long: There are several ways to replicate the Tourist Trophy route, in 15-mile and 37.7-mile increments. The longer of the two is the current TT route.
Why: How often do you get to take advantage of the public roads on an island known for its road rallying? This is no carefully designed course: the streets of the Isle of Man wind with abandon, twist tightly, and are said to drop off without warning.
When: Visit during the summer, when the temperatures are warm, the sun is shining, and the crowds have thinned out.