12 of the Weirdest Roads in the World
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- Baldwin Street
- The Stelvio Pass
- The Hanshin Expressway
- Guoliang Tunnel
- The Atlanterhavsveien
- Civic Musical Road
- Lombard Street
- Swindon’s Magic Roundabout
- Yungas Road
- The Magnetic Hill
- Capulin Volcano Road
- Winston Churchill Avenue
- Roadside assistance
From New Zealand’s Baldwin Street to Bolivia’s “road of death,” the world’s weirdest roads range from adventurous uphill workouts to downright dangerous drives.
Some of the world’s strangest roads are carved out by nature (or dictated by it), while others are extraordinary feats of engineering designed to push the limits of human ingenuity. If you’re looking for unique holiday ideas, head out to see some of the most impressive, most extreme, and most bizarre roads in the world.
But before you pack up and hit the road, make sure you’re protected. Even the wackiest roads can lose their charm when you’re stuck at the side of them. Having car insurance with roadside assistance can be the lifesaver (and trip-saver!) you need.
Jerry can help you find that coverage at rates that won’t break the budget. And the savings? Well, use it for souvenirs from the world’s weirdest roads, of course.
No one on this block skips leg day
Located in the bustling city of Dunedin in the south of New Zealand, Baldwin Street has the proud distinction of being the steepest residential street in the world.
While the street is only about 1,150 feet long, its incline clocks in at 19 degrees—which means for every 10 feet forward you travel, you’re also ascending or descending around 3 feet.
This Guinness World Record-certified trek is especially popular with tourists looking to take on the arduous climb to the top.
The Stelvio Pass
A road that might actually make you seasick
Boasting 75 hairpin turns, this road is draped over the Alps between Italy and Switzerland and is one of the most challenging drives in the world.
Beyond its many twists and turns, it boasts a gradient that would actually be illegal in the US—7.4 degrees—making it even more perilously tricky and dangerous to drive. It’s also the site for a number of cycling Grand Tours.
The Hanshin Expressway
That’s one way to shorten your commute!
Japan has always been a country of innovation, especially when it comes to getting the most out of its limited geography. The Hanshin Expressway takes this to the next level with the Umeda offramp, which actually goes through three floors of the Gate Tower Building in Osaka.
You might be wondering how a freeway passing through an office building affects work performance.
The off-ramp doesn’t make any physical contact with the Gate Tower, so there’s no vibration. And office workers are unperturbed by the flurry of cars passing through thanks to some killer soundproofing!
Taking mountain passes to a whole new level
This tunnel in China’s Taihang Mountains is already notorious for its tight squeeze, but the small tunnel’s party piece is that it was carved out into the mountain itself.
Over five years, 13 local villagers dug out the tunnel with nothing more than hammers and tools to link the mountain village of Guoliang to the outside world.
Windows carved out of the surrounding stone allows drivers a glimpse over the sheer cliff drop—if they aren’t too busy navigating the tunnel’s tight corners and extremely narrow passage.
If Dr. Seuss designed a bridge
Otherwise known as Norway’s Atlantic Road, this scenic highway along the country’s picturesque coast is punctuated by a bridge that looks lifted straight out of a roller coaster.
The Storseisundet bridge has a sharply angled lift up into a wonky curve that makes it look like something out of a Seuss book.
The steep incline was designed to allow ships safe passage beneath it, but it may make unsuspecting drivers a bit antsy. On the approach, it gives the illusion that the bridge simply disappears—and the cars traversing it disappear along with it.
Civic Musical Road
Unfortunately does not come with apples
There are a few musical roads around the world these days, but the Civic Musical Road in Lancaster, California was the very first.
When you drive at 55 mph, the grooves cut into the road vibrate when you drive over them in varying pitches to play the William Tell Overture.
Its original iteration, carved into a residential road in 2008, was paved over after nearby residents complained about the noise. It was subsequently moved a few miles away from the nearest residence, in the far left lane of Lancaster’s Avenue K.
Both iterations shared an error, in that the intervals between the notes are spaced too far apart. So while drivers will still recognize the infamous Overture, the song is off-tempo.
Key Takeaway There’s plenty of creativity to be found in street designs beyond visual appeal.
The King of switchback streets
San Francisco, California has many iconic roads, some of which were contenders for the title of steepest road in the world (but fell short of Baldwin’s hair-raising gradient). One especially infamous road can take the title of most crooked street: a block of Lombard Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood.
This block takes Lombard Street down a steep hill, which isn’t particularly abnormal in San Francisco. But this stretch of road is beset with eight hairpin turns and flanked by beautiful florals and greenery.
And despite the peril, Lombard’s status as a major thoroughfare between the Embarcadero and the Presidio means a high amount of daily car traffic navigating its twists and turns.
Swindon’s Magic Roundabout
Five is apparently the magic number
If you’re easily confused by roundabouts, you’ll want to give Swindon’s legendarily complex ring junction a pass.
Voted the fourth scariest junction and the worst in England by motorists, Swindon’s Magic Roundabout nevertheless has an excellent safety record and is well-regarded for its efficiency in moving traffic.
Roundabouts in England have always been popular (there’s an actual society dedicated to their appreciation), but what makes Swindon’s stand out is that it combines one large central roundabout with five smaller surrounding ones—all united by a series of feeder roads that move traffic in different directions depending on which circular road you end up on.
Despite being designed for folks of driving age in mind, the roundabout got its name from the popular British children’s show, “The Magic Roundabout.”
Definitely not for the faint of heart
Bolivia’s Yungas Road, known rather ominously as the Road of Death, is one of the top contenders for most dangerous road in the world—and is certainly the most dangerous on this list.
The road links the Yungas region and the city of La Paz, one of two seats of the Bolivian government. At one point, Yungas claimed the lives of 200–300 travelers per year.
Yungas Road earned its nickname for a number of reasons: it runs along a steep drop with no guardrails, is unpaved in many sections, crosses with waterfalls, and is not always wide enough for two cars to pass. It’s the only road in Bolivia that has left-hand traffic, allowing motorists in the outside lane to gauge how close they are to the edge.
Despite its ominous reputation, Yungas Road is still a popular tourist and cycling destination. While improvements have been made to circumvent the most dangerous sections of the road, it still retains its lethal reputation.
The Magnetic Hill
Houdini would get a kick out of driving here
Magnetic hills, or gravity hills, are scattered around the world—but the one located in the Indian region of Ladakh is especially well known. Although there aren’t any magnets involved, the Magnetic Hill is an optical illusion thanks to the surrounding terrain.
A sign tells travelers when to put their car in neutral and to let it roll “up” the hill (slowly—the incline isn’t particularly steep). While the car is actually going downhill, the optical illusion gives drivers the impression that they’re rolling uphill.
Capulin Volcano Road
Don’t worry, that rumble is just your engine—maybe
For any motorist who’s dreamed of driving up a volcano, Capulin Volcano Road is the closest you can get. Located in New Mexico’s Capulin Volcano National Monument, this narrow road takes you up and around the circumference of a long-extinct conifer volcano.
The trek itself is not for the faint of heart and necessitates plenty of caution. The road is narrow, there are no guardrails, and tour buses have right of way, so visitors have to pull over to make way for them.
If you’re worried about a volcanic eruption midway up, rest easy—Capulin is extinct and hasn’t erupted in at least 55,000 years.
This may not be the thrill that some seekers are after, but don’t let that deter you, either. The views from the volcano’s summit are still nothing short of breathtaking.
Winston Churchill Avenue
All cars must yield to incoming planes
Imagine sitting at a red light and then having a 747 cross right in front of you before it takes off. Then imagine that being a normal occurrence. In the tiny British territory of Gibraltar, this is just morning rush hour.
Clocking in at just 2.6 square miles, Gibraltar packs a fair amount of infrastructure in its tiny space—including an international airport near its northern border with Spain.
Winston Churchill Avenue is the only road into Gibraltar, and the airport’s location coupled with the narrowness of the territory means that the road crosses directly with the airport’s main runway.
This means that all car traffic is beholden to air traffic and comes to a full stop whenever a plane takes off or lands.
It’s considered one of the most extreme airports in the world, but it won’t hold that title for long. A tunnel is currently under construction to divert traffic beneath the runway—so if you want to experience yielding to an incoming passenger plane, get to Gibraltar while you can.
Roadside assistance to help you on the road
If you find yourself stuck on the road—be it one of the wonderfully weird ones we’ve listed here or a “regular” one—having roadside assistance can help get you back on your way. And with Jerry on your side, finding the coverage you need for the cheapest price is effortless.
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