Sometimes, it’s not about the destination, but the journey. While some roads offer no more than the dull grind of a dreary commute, a great road can totally change our perceptions of the world.

Epic turns and terrain get the heart pumping, while watching the landscape unfurl before you can be a tonic for the soul. So if you feel the call of the open road, you may as well hit some of the best roads on Earth.

The world’s greatest driving roads aren’t necessarily designed to get you from A to B quickly. That’s if there’s an A or a B in the first place - half of them appear stuck in the middle of nowhere, going from no place of interest to another.

But as all petrolheads know, that's not the point of the best driving roads. It's not about where you're going, or why, but about looking for that one moment of exhilarating, unbridled freedom. So which roads should be on your worldwide driving bucket list?

Here’s our pick of 20 magnificently jaw-dropping highways, from the heart-stopping Guoliang Tunnel Road in China to the world famous, near-mythical Big Sur, California. Hop in that car, roll down those windows and begin your adventure on the world’s most beautiful highways. What are you waiting for?

20 13. The Road That Tolerates No Mistakes: Guoliang Tunnel Road, China

The Guoliang Tunnel Road in China's Henan province translates to the "road that tolerates no mistakes.” Gulp. It certainly lives up to its name, too. The road literally cuts through the Guoliang Tunnel, which is built into the edge of Tailing Mountains, and while it might be short, at just short 3/4 mile, its visual impact will stay with you long after.

It took five years to build it, 4,000 hammers, 12 tons of steel, quite a lot of chisels and just 13 villagers in remote China. You will need monk-like focus to drive it...and survive it.

19 20. A Journey Through Middle-Earth: Milford Road, New Zealand

The Milford Road winds for 144 miles through Fiordland National Park, in the heart of the Southern Alps, taking in crystal clear lakes, mountain ranges, glacier-carved valleys, and native rainforest.

The road is part of State Highway 94 and connects the town Te Anau with Milford Sound - a place some will recognize as one of the filming locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It follows a path originally travelled by the Māori people, who journeyed by foot over the mountains to Milford Sound as early as 1,000 years ago to hunt, fish and search for pounamu, a type of jade stone. Be sure to factor in time for photo opportunities.

18 19. The High Alpine Road: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria

Only 30 miles long, the High Alpine Road, as it's known, winds through the Hohe Tauern National Park and offers up endless views and challenging bends. For drivers, all eyes on the road, please, but passengers feel free to gaze out on a frequently changing vista of lakes, glaciers, pine-clad hills, dramatic, rocky cliff faces and lush meadows.

Start at Bruck in the Salzburg valley, continue through the Ferleiten toll, and before you know it, the star of the show makes his appearance - the Grossglockner, the black mountain.

17 18. Through The Rugged Utah Landscape: Scenic Byway 12

At elevations ranging from 5,000 to over 9,000ft above sea level, Scenic Highway 12 curves 124 miles throughout the evocative landscape of southwestern Utah, and is one of the most scenic highways in America.

Nearing the town of Boulder, the road twists and turns through the Hogsback, a section of the byway where cliffs drop steeply into narrow canyons on both sides. Following the summit of Boulder Mountain, the byway travels a spectacular forested course where views of colourful Capitol Reef National Park, the Circle Cliffs and the Henry Mountains are framed by the trees of the Dixie National Forest.

16 17. The Most Beautiful Road In Madagascar: Avenue of the Baobabs

The dirt road linking Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina, in the Menabe region of western Madagascar, is one of the most visited places in the country. This some 260m stretch of track is lined with a row of about 20 - 25 rare and ancient baobab trees, many of which are more than 800 years old.

They look out of this world and are so valuable that the road was granted temporary protected status in July 2007 by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests - the first step toward making it Madagascar's first natural monument. This bumpy and curvy road demands an experienced driver, but it’s so worth it.

15 16. “Drifting” Through The Touge Roads, Japan

The tree-lined "Touge" roads that ascend Mount Fuji may look like a tranquil drive, but these winding passes are the birthplace of drifting, the illicit motorsports phenomenon. Drifting is a technique for which the driver intentionally oversteers, with loss of traction in the rear wheels or all tires, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.

While we don’t encourage playing stunt driver and taking these twisting bends at full pelt, this is a road built for petrolheads, with hair-raising hairpin turns followed by long passages of open road. From July to August, Mt. Fuji, an active volcano, is in blossom and the weather is perfect for a long drive. Visit earlier for cherry blossom sightings.

14 15. A Show Road For Super Cars: Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, UAE

Extending to just over seven miles long and snaking to the top of UAE’s second highest peak, the Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road gives visitors panoramic views of the town, Al Ain, below. The road carves a path through a mountain of limestone and ends at the mountain’s peak, and takes in 60 bends, serpentine twists and sheer drops as it climbs 4,000ft.

Measuring only 7.3 miles, it’s still a contender for one of greatest driving roads in the world, because it was built to be one and designed for rich residents to get their kicks in their million-dollar toy cars. The road doesn’t actually take you anywhere, except to an exclusive hotel.

13 14. The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Breathe in the crisp salty air and witness nature at its best as you drive along the rugged southeastern coast of Australia. The Great Ocean Road runs from Torquay to Warrnambool in the state of Victoria and offers dramatic, breathtaking coastal views.

The state’s coastline covers an incredible range of scenery. See the world-famous waves at Bells Beach or laze on the sand at Anglesea. Visit the charming old fishing village of Port Fairy and, of course, you can't miss the 12 Apostles. These craggy limestone stacks rising majestically from the Southern Ocean are a must-see.

12 12. California Dreamin’: Scenic Highway One

Clinging to mountains and cliffs, twisting and turning, soaring to 1,000ft and dropping back to sea level, the Pacific Coast Highway, as it’s also known, is one of the world’s most celebrated routes.

Stretching from Orange County to Mendocino County, this spectacular drive takes in the tourist town of Carmel, the famous Big Sur and the majestic Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, with its towering redwood groves and wave-pounded beaches.

During peak traffic hours, lumbering rental cars and motorhomes dampen the pace, so factor some extra time into your visit.

11 11. An Engineering Marvel: The Atlantic Roadway, Norway

Deemed a National Tourist Route, the striking Atlantic Roadway is a five-mile route and part of Norwegian National Road 64. The road, which opened in 1989, stretches across seven bridges and leapfrogs from island to island, connecting the towns of Kristiansund and Molde in midwestern Norway.

It now features four view and rest areas to accommodate the large amounts of tourists that come to view the picturesque route, which takes you from lush coastal landscapes and heaths to exposed rocks. It’s been voted the “Norwegian construction of the century,” and if you drive in calmer weather, you might even see whales and seals.

10 10. A Tropical Fly-By: The Overseas Highway, Florida

This totally tropical route was built in the 1930s and follows the path of a now obsolete railroad track that once crossed over the Florida Keys. Today, the 113-mile Overseas Highway operates as the southernmost leg of US 1 and extends from mainland Florida to Key West.

As the highway skips from island to island, drivers get a full view of the magnificent, turquoise waters surrounding them. Its 42 overseas bridges will make you feel like you're driving on the surface of the ocean. Sunrise or sunset drives are ideal, as the sun casts a spectacular reflection on the water.

9 9. Transiting The Transfagarasan: Romania

Built by Nicolae Ceausescu in the 1970s, this dynamite-forged highway defies the mountains that surround it, linking Transylvania and Walachia through a series of windy hairpin turns, tunnels, bridges and viaducts.

The road is famous for its numerous dips and drops, and is heralded as a challenge to motorists and cyclists. More than 150km in length the highway is now one of Romania’s most visited tourist attractions, thanks to an appearance on BBC Top Gear in 2009. A must-see for motoring enthusiasts from around the globe.

8 8. The Spectacular Cabot Trail: Canada

At 185 miles long, the Cabot Trail curls around the northern tip of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, and is unquestionably one of the most scenic drives in Canada, if not the planet.

Rising from the sea and clinging to mountains, the Cabot Trail is a winding staircase that will take you from majestic ocean vistas to quiet fishing villages, via serene lakes and cliff-top panoramas. The most breathtaking scenery is found on the island's northwestern shore as the trail slopes down to Pleasant Bay and Chéticamp, and if you can drag yourself from the main road, there are plenty of places to stop. Why not take in a hike or a whale watching tour?

7 7. The Ultimate Driving Test: Stelvio Pass, Italy

Located in northern Italy near the Swiss border, Stelvio Pass is one of the most visited and dangerous roads in the world, and is often ranked as the ultimate test of driver and machine. It was built in the 1820s and is now the highest drivable pass in the Eastern Alps, zigzagging to just over 9,000ft above sea level.

The road features 60 hairpin turns, 48 of them on its steep northern face alone and you can enjoy some of Europe’s most dramatic scenery from the summit, before heading back down the pass towards Bormio.

6 6. The Dizzying Heights Of The Karakoram Highway, Pakistan and China

The 800-mile Karakoram Highway is one of the highest international paved roads in the world. It runs through the Karakoram mountain range, connecting Pakistan and China, took 27 years to build, and its route traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.

It's regarded as one of the world's hardest alpine climbs. Drive with care as this is a mountain road with hairpin curves and dangerous drop-offs. You might want to take this into consideration if you have passengers that don't like heights.

5 5. Cruising The Hana Highway, Hawaii

The Hana Highway is a 64.4-mile-long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. The coastal road consists of 620 sharp turns and 59 bridges, almost all of it through lush, tropical rainforest. With its one-lane bridges and breathtaking views that alternate between mountain streams and soaring sea cliffs, the Hana Highway is less a roadway than an event in itself.

A few things to remember - there’s no gas and not much in the way of food between Pa’ia and Hana, so you’d best fill your tank and belly before setting out.

4 4. The World-Famous Col De Turini, France

If tight turns and heights thrill you, you must drive this road. Col de Turini coils through the Alpes-Maritimes in the south of France and reaches an elevation of 5,200ft. It ends in Sospel and has been featured in three Tour de France tours and is a stage of the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. But don't go there for the celebs and champagne - the Col de Turini has challenged everyone from Stig Blomqvist to Sébastien Loeb.

Helter skelter corners and changeable weather conditions mean this road is far from safe. It can often be covered in snow and ice making it one of the most treacherous roads in the world.

3 3. Motoring Through The Andes: Ruta 40, Argentina

Ruta 40 is a classic road in western Argentina, stretching all the way from Puna to Cabo Virgins. It’s an incredible 3,045 miles long and is one of the longest stretches of highway in the world, connecting 20 national parks with countless passes through the Andes mountain range.

Running parallel to the mountains, Ruta 40 reaches almost 16,000ft above sea level and also crosses 236 bridges, 18 major rivers, and 13 great lakes. If you don't have time for the entire span, we recommend bypassing the tourist-clogged southern portion and exploring the harrowing and gorgeous upper elevations.

2 2. Driving On Top Of The World: The Khardung La Pass, India

With a peak of 17,582 feet, the Khardung La Pass is one of the highest altitude roads that can be driven in a car. Unpaved, and with a frozen mix of ice and dirt for a surface, the road has a nosebleed-inducing series of twists and turns, glaciers, craggy peaks and, due to the proximity of the Pakistani and Chinese borders, army truck convoys are a regular hazard.

It's located in the Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India, and it's not for the squeamish.

1 1. The Mother Of South African Mountain Passes: Sani Pass

South Africa boasts beautiful roads aplenty but the Sani Pass is a very different beast. Connecting KwaZulu-Natal with Lesotho, the pass was built circa 1950 and remains a challenging drive in 4x4 vehicles, with all the drama, scenery, bad weather and treacherous conditions expected of a pass with a summit altitude of 2876m ASL.

The trail is littered with the carcasses of vehicles that didn't quite have the hardiness to make it to the end, but experienced drivers with the right steed will be rewarded by otherworldly views and ultimate bragging rights.

References:, businessinsider