The world we live in has almost 18.4 million km of paved roadways. However, not all of them are worth driving. While most of us often complain about the road travel we are forced to take, to reach our workplace, there are some roads where people come just to drive on it from all across the globe. Road trips define the famous old adage where the journey itself is more beautiful than the destination. In no specific order, here is a list of some most scenic, beautiful, and sometimes hair raising road trip you must take in your lifetime.
- Iceland’s Ring Road
Iceland, as such, is an exotic country in itself. So you can very well imagine how a road trip in this exotic locale is going to be. This is unofficially the “ultimate” road trip. It encapsulates some of the most breathtaking views and landscapes in the world. This magical island can and does surpass even your wildest imaginations when it comes to the plethora of natural phenomena you witness while you drive here. Enchanting fjords, black-sand beaches, geothermal pools and volcanoes are just some of the gems you get to see there. The lagoon of Jökulsárós is certainly a photographer’s paradise. And most importantly, if you happen to be travelling in between August and April, your route will be covered by the ever so captivating Northern Lights. This stunning road trip generally lasts for around 15 days; however, you are bound to be left longing for more. Myvatn Geothermal Area Skogafoss waterfall, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Horseback Riding Skagafjörður Region, Seljalandsfoss, are some more sites which you ought to visit and see for yourself. Do this trip and it will be hard for you to find a place that could match this one.
- Evo Triangle, Wales (32 Km)
It is only a half an hour drive over this triangle of roads, which lies in the east of the Gwydyr National Park. It doesn’t matter if you drive a classic or a beaten up car. The bends and turn and ups and down of the roads makes it an exhilarating drive. In the short span of 30 minutes it gives you a beautiful insight into the Welsh countryside. For those who love to eat, you can visit The garlicky fish soup and homemade bread at The Lion Inn. It is an absolute winner.
- Ticlio Pass, Peru (132km)
If you drive nonstop, it will take you around 3 hours to complete the trip. This one is not for the faint hearted. However if you are a fan of driving on roads with sudden bends and mountains prone to landslides, dodging giant boulders and being accompanied by a beautiful scenery, this road trip is especially for you. While driving you get to see the Ticlio railroad, one of the highest railway lines in the world. However, all this life threatening stuff is worth it, when you get to the end of the journey.
- The Atlantic Road, Norway (8km)
This is probably the shortest road trip, rather a drive to make it into the top lists. This high octane drive along the Norwegian coastline is full of belly flips and abridges. If that’s not enough, the regular vicious storms and overpass dips further intensify the rides. And for the nature lovers, you don’t get a more “orange” sunset anywhere else in the world. If you have time, you must visit the dark 80-meter long Bremsnes Cave, found at the Bremsneshatten Mountain. For others, you could also try Scuba diving off the shore during the winter months when the visibility reaches up to 60 meters.
- Route 62, South Africa (748km)
This stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and the 65 wineries make you wish, you weren’t the one driving. It also has a dozen of non alcoholic stops such as cliffs, fauna, rivers and valleys diverging from the main path. Along the trip you can also hike on the famed donkey trail over the Swartberg Mountains or visit the Klaasvoogds Game Reserve to spot a leopard tortoise. And if you have a sore shoulder after long hours of driving, you ought to visit the hot mineral springs and private Roman baths at the Warm water berg Spa.
- South Africa’s Garden Route
It boasts of some of the most pristine coastline, filled with various activities to indulge in along the way. It is a 150 miles drive along Africa’s southernmost tip from George to Plettenberg Bay. Be prepared to be enchanted by the elephants on land and whales near the shore. Thrill seekers can also enjoy bungee jumping, cage diving with sharks, caving, ostrich riding and many such activities along the way. Knysna Elephant Park, Tsitsikamma Reserve, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn and Nature’s Valley are not to be missed at any cost.
- The Alcan Highway, Canada to Alaska (2167 km)
If you were wondering about the shorter trips being described above and happened to be a long haul driver, this one is sure to catch your interest and imagination alike. This trip in the moody North American Wilderness at sub zero temperatures and harsh weather conditions are not for the novice. If you happen to have a clear visibility enjoy the classic mountains, sparkling lakes, dog-sleds, wolves and the odd grizzly bear on the way. Hiking tours are as amazing as the drive itself. If you are fit enough to complete the hike up to the Muncho lake and the Liard River, you can treat yourself with a dip in the hot waters too.
- Transfagarasan Road, Romania (116km)
This is an exuberant drive with an element of mystic and horror. The long dark tunnels (some of them 800 meters long and pitch black), and continuous twists and bends catch the wildest imaginations of the drivers. The road from Cartisoara goes south to Curtea de Arges then from Transylvania into Muntenia, and later to the highest peak in Romania (Moldoveanu Peak). The Balea Waterfall and Vidraru Lake and Dam offer extraordinary views. If you are with friends you can climb to the Poenari Castle, the former residence of Vlad III and also the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
- Great Ocean Road, Australia (253 km)
As the name suggests it truly is great and all along the ocean. It takes a full day to take a round trip on this road and is well worth the time and money. Mountains, oceans, rainforests, dramatic cliffs, lighthouses and national parks; you have it all on this drive. Bells Beach — made famous by the epic surf flick “Point Break will come right on your way, although, it is often attacked by the sharks. The climax of this journey is, of course, the breathtaking Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks towering 65 meters above the water. Once you reach the end, all you will want to do is return back on the same path and capture all beauty which you might have missed the first time.
- Amalfi Coast Road, Italy (56km)
Do not rent a super expensive sports car on this drive because you might just crash it while trying to see the pastel villages, old yet beautiful churches and the long pristine coastline. It is one of the prettiest routes and yet has enough hairpin bends to make you scream in excitement. You must also not miss the Grotta dello Smeraldo, a cave with Jade waters, that literally looks like they glow.
- Milford Road, New Zealand (120km)
New Zealand, as such, is the most beautiful country in the world. And hence it is quite natural to have on the prettiest and most scenic drive right here in this part of the world. It is a drive through the mountains of New Zealand’s South Island, from Te Anau towards Milford Sound into Fiordland National Park. You thought you saw it all in the Lord of the rings. Here, while you drive, you realize that was just the tip of the iceberg. Huge and mighty cliffs, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and the fern trees, you have it all on this route. Add to it the beauty of Eglington Valley and the Mirror Lakes and the mystery of The Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain and you are left spellbound wanting to stay here forever.
- Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
Carved into China’s Taihang Mountains, this incredible Guoliang Tunnel was entirely built by the village locals and is greatly admired for its craftsmanship. On May 1, 1977, the tunnel was opened to traffic. The wall of the tunnel is uneven and there are more than 30 ‘windows’ of different sizes and shapes and so be ready to soak in all the beauty because ride is over in less than 15 minutes.
- China’s Overwater Highway
Overwater highway is a stunning route in Hubei province, Central China and the you get treated with breathtaking views of the valley and the river. You literally travel over water on the 6.8 mile motorway built in the middle of the river valley. It connects Xingshan County in Hubei to G42, a high-speed route that connects Shanghai in eastern China to Chengdu in south west China.
- Route 66, USA
It is probably the most famous of all. It is rightly called as the mother of all road trips, this one crosses 8 states from Illinois to California via Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and covers 2448 miles. You pass through three different time zones and get to experience a wild variety of all that is American. If one were to do just one road trip in his life, this should be the one.
- Trans-Andean Highway
This is a picturesque 226 mile long road which begins from Santiago, Chile and ends in Mendoza, Argentina. It is probably, rather, most certainly the best way to experience the majestic and spectacular Chilean Andes. As you climb up the peaks, you get to witness the beauty in its most natural form provided you do not suffer from car sickness. And then as you move ahead, you are greeted with a 2 mile long tunnel which takes into the wonderland that Argentina is. While you are driving on the Highway do not miss Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere.
- North Coast 500, Scotland
North Coast 500, otherwise known as NC500, is Scotland’s answer to the Route 66 of USA. It runs along the coastline of Scotland and covers 500 beautiful miles of Scottish landscape. It runs from Inverness, to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the West Coast, via the rugged north coast to John O’Groats, and then heads down the east coast, completing the loop in Inverness. It is primarily the brain child of North Highland Initiative (NHI) which was set up by Prince Charles to promote the area, and it basically attracts the car and motorbike enthusiasts, as well as cyclists and walkers. It is a celebration of everything that is Scottish. It links the natural heritage and scenery, promotes local food and wine and sheds a light on the crafts and other attractions of the region. The mountain ranges of Ben Hope and Suilven, the fairytale grand castle and the prisitne Achmelvich and Dornoch beaches. Do not forget to get yourself clicked on the stunning Kylesku Bridge.
- Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland
The arch-shaped Causeway coastal route follows the coast road between Belfast and Londonderry and is a only 130 miles long. However this small stretch is jam packed with sites like Dark Hedges, Ballycastle, Ballintoy Harbour (used in GoT as The Iron Islands) Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge and many more. You might get tired of taking photographs but the scenery will not stop mesmerizing you.
- Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway One is a sensory overload of scenic, ocean-side enchantment, with drivers treated to memorable views for most of the journey. It moves along the dramatic coast and the experience lives long in the memories. While Route 66 is the most iconic drive in the America, this one holds the rank when it comes to mesmerizing natural beauty.