Buckle up: The world's 10 scariest drives for tourists

 Want to test your driving skills and nerves without getting too wild? Then tackle these regular, surfaced tourist roads if you dare.

TROLLSTIGEN MOUNTAIN ROAD, NORWAY

Iconic serpentines of Trollstigen mountain road, Norway credit: istock
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Although only 11 hairpin bends take you up the Troll's Ladder near Åndalsnes, they're so tight that if it rains (which it frequently does in Norway) waters cascade from the upper bends onto your car roof. The road is narrow – beware tourist buses – while the carpark at the summit sits on a clifftop and isn't for those with vertigo. See visitnorway.com

MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY, USA

W2CFYX USA, Colorado, between Silverton and Ouray, The Million Dollar Highway part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway Credit: Alamy
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This section of Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton in Colorado is a hugely scenic road that links former gold-mining towns in the San Juan Mountains. It's sometimes cut out of cliffs, and snakes via three high passes, each well over 3000 metres. Don't look down. RVs trying to navigate narrow turns challenge oncoming drivers. Rock falls, unpredictable weather and erupting waterfalls add to the excitement. See durango.com

PASEO DE LOS LIBERTADORES, CHILE

CX73AW The Terrific Chilean Zig-Zag Car Test Drive - Serpentine road up to Paso Cristo Redentor between Argentina and Chile. Image shot 02/2007. Exact date unknown. Credit: Alamy
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At 3200 metres above sea level you almost need an oxygen tank to drive this pass that leads across the Andes into Argentina within sight of 6962-meter Mt Aconcagua. More likely the switchbacks, trucks, high winds and lack of guardrails will make you breathless; one short section known as The Snails has 20 hairpin bends. The Argentine side is much gentler. See chile.travel

PASS OF THE CATTLE, SCOTLAND

2ABB40D View of single track road and passing place on Bealach na Ba pass on Applecross Peninsula  the North Coast 500 driving route in northern Scotland, UK Credit: Alamy
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Bealach na Ba, as it's called in Gaelic, runs 18 kilometres from Tornapress to Applecross in the Highlands and might be compared to an alpine pass for its abundant bends. But the real challenge is that it's all single lane with few passing places: not for the inexperienced driver or anyone wary of reverse gear. The views are magnificent if you dare to look. See visitscotland.com

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TSUGARU IWAKI SKYLINE, JAPAN

Credit: By Copyright © National Land Image Information  / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: National Land Image Information/Wikimedia Commons

With 66 sharp bends, most of them hairpin, this 10-kilometre toll road in Aomori Prefecture is the very definition of winding, and is liable to make you carsick as it leads from the base of Mt Iwaki volcano through beech woods and out to 1247 metres on its bare slopes. After that, you have to abandon the car and take a cable-car to the summit. See aomori-tourism.com

LOMBARD STREET, USA

Famous street in San Francisco, Lombard Street credit: istock
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This San Francisco street – or a section of it – shows can get zigzagging even in an urban setting. Eight hairpin bends in just 600 metres take you down a hill with a 27-degree incline; you're only allowed to drive in the downhill direction. Often you can't see the plunging road immediately ahead. The street's red-brick paving and surrounding flowerbeds make it seem like a mini-golf course. See visitcalifornia.com

ALPE D'HUEZ, FRANCE

The famous hairpin curves of Alpe d'Huez - Tour de France credit: istock
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This D211 alpine road is a famous cycling challenge that features regularly on the Tour de France. In summer, swarms of aspiring cyclists cutting the corners of wider bends make the corkscrewing drive by car even more hazardous. The gradient is 13 per cent in sections and there are 21 hairpins. Concrete walls and crash barriers mostly block the view – not that you should risk looking. See alpedhuez.com

TONGTIAN ROAD, CHINA

A view of the dangerous  99 curves at the Tongtian Road to Tianmen Mountain, The Heaven's Gate at Zhangjiagie, Hunan Province, China, Asia credit: istock
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China has a number of crazily perilous roads but this one through the jagged landscape of Tianmen Mountain National Park in Hunan Province takes the prize. You have to navigate 99 sharp bends that raise you 1100 metres in altitude in just 11 kilometres, partly on a cliff face and partly through very narrow tunnels. The timid can take a cable car instead; the scenery is stunning. See m.china-zjj.cn

STELVIO PASS, ITALY

Mountain pass in northern italy, September credit: istock
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Don't be deceived by the gentle first third of this road in the Ortler Alps. It eventually corkscrews like crazy to the point where each zigzag seems to sit on top of the other like balconies in an opera house. The road's narrowness and low safety barriers are nerve-wracking. The pass tops out at 2757 metres, making this Italy's highest road pass. See passostelvio.eu

OUTENIQUA PASS, SOUTH AFRICA

Rear View of a fit female with a backpack enjoying a hike in the great outdoors. She is hiking above The Outeniqua Pass, connecting the coastal town of George with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo credit: istock
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This mountain pass on the N9 in Western Cape is a fine detour from George on the touristy Garden Route. It heaves you only to 800 metres but 40 steep curves provide the challenge – as do frequent cloud or mist, rock falls and heavy commercial traffic. The steepest sections have a one-in-ten gradient. The scenery is distracting, so make use of the regular laybys to gawp. See visitgeorge.co.za

The writer has travelled as a guest of numerous tourism offices and at his own expense.

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