If you're dreaming of setting out to hit the open road, look no further. This is our pick of the best road trips in the world, from majestic day-trips to week-long epics.
This 298km road traverses the island of Cape Breton Dropdown content, arguably the most beautiful part of Nova Scotia. The highlight of the trail is the northern section. This takes you through the magnificent Cape Breton Highlands National Park, home to bald eagles, moose and black bears. Take the journey at a leisurely pace to explore charming small villages where the French and Scottish influence is still obvious.
The lush, slender stretch of coastal plain between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth makes for an easy and beautiful introduction to South Africa Dropdown content. As you drive you'll see mountains and vineyards on one side and rocky shores and sandy beaches on the other. The coast is at its most dramatic at Storms River Mouth. Abandon your wheels here to walk the trails, with the surf pounding the rocks below you.
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Travelling east out of Portland Dropdown content, Oregon, Interstate-84 winds its way beside the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Though it’s just 112km long and easily covered in one day, a few days will enable you to get the most out of the area. Take your time soaking up the views of the USA’s second-longest river, and its many dramatic waterfalls.
This 380km drive through Colorado’s dramatic San Juan Range will take you past gushing streams and waterfalls in spring, bright wildflowers in summer, and snowy slopes in winter. However, this fabulous route is at its most spectacular in autumn, when the landscape is ablaze with the yellows, oranges and reds of the leaves. It's also one of the reasons that we think makes Colorado one of the most beautiful states in the USA Dropdown content.
Off-road to your heart’s content in the Gobi Desert Dropdown content, where kilometre after kilometre of nothingness stretches out around you. This truly remote region has a rugged beauty – not least the sand dunes of Khongoryn Els. When you get tired of being behind the wheel, explore on camelback and spend your nights at a traditional Ger camp.
The South Island is where New Zealand Dropdown content’s landscape is at its most remarkable. Driving around it at your own pace allows you to really soak up the many varied vistas, stopping for an adrenalin fix every now and again. Arguably the most stunning part of the drive is between Te Anau and Milford Sound, which crosses tranquil Fiordland and some of the Southern Alps.
Driving across the perfectly flat white expanse of the world’s largest salt lake Dropdown content, it’s easy to believe you’re on another planet. After it rains, the salt flats are turned into an enormous mirror. In the reflection, you'll see the mountain peaks that surround the area. When dry, the surface is so intensely white that it appears to be ice. At night, the landscape is illuminated by the eerie white glow of the moon. There are plenty of adventures to be had in Bolivia, too – start with these beautiful journeys across the country Dropdown content.
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Sardinia’s beautiful northern coast, the Costa Smeralda Dropdown content (or “Emerald Coast”), sees the meeting of dramatic headlands and turquoise waters. This is the island’s best-known resort area, with a reputation for glitzy opulence. Visit in late spring or early autumn for the best experience; quieter roads, beautiful weather, and uncrowded beaches.
A 1,339-kilometre road that runs right around the island, the N1 enables you to enjoy Iceland Dropdown content’s awe-inspiring scenery. Drive past fertile valleys and snow-capped mountains to lava fields, vivid blue fjords and volcanic craters. This beautiful, if brutal, landscape of big open spaces is perfect for exploring on four wheels.
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The highest paved road in the world, the Karakoram Highway Dropdown content connects China and Pakistan. Along the way, it crosses the rocky mountain range that separates the two countries. Undoubtedly one of the world’s most stunning routes, the journey takes you through some seriously epic scenery. You'll see towering snow-capped mountains, rocky gorges and pale blue rivers, not to mention past numerous pieces of rock art, which date back as far as 1000BC.
This southeastern corner of Tasmania Dropdown content is one of the most stunning parts of Australia. It boasts a rugged coastline that leads down to crystal clear waters of the many beaches. Self-driving is the best way to explore. Allow plenty of time for stops to get up close to the spectacular scenery, not least to see Tasman’s Arch and the Devil’s Kitchen.
There’s no greater musical odyssey to be had in America than that of the Blues Highway – one of our top 5 road trips in the USA Dropdown content. Running south for 2,300km from Wyoming to New Orleans, Louisiana, it follows the course of the mighty Mississippi River for much of the way. The greatest stretch for music lovers is undoubtedly that from the Blues city of Memphis Dropdown content to intoxicating New Orleans Dropdown content.
A road-trip for beach-lovers, taking you between Jericoacoara, with its fine white-sand beach and turquoise lagoon, and Salvador, second only to Rio for the magnificence of its natural setting. In between stretch kilometre after kilometre of unbroken beaches that are undoubtedly among the most beautiful in the world. This is unspoiled Brazil Dropdown content, from sheltered reef beaches to wilder ones backed by mountainous sand dunes and palm trees.
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Running parallel to the spine of the Andes in Argentina Dropdown content, this is one of the longest roads in the Americas and one of our top 6 journeys in South America Dropdown content. The route takes you from tranquil lakes and lush national parks to salt flats and the wilds of Patagonia. Best of all, you can relax at the end of the day with a glass of delicious local wine.
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Undoubtedly one of the best road trips in the world, travelling from the southernmost tip of Argentina to Alaska Dropdown content. In other words, it takes you from the Antarctic to the Arctic and covers an astounding 48,000km. The world’s longest driving route (only broken in Panama by the rainforested Darién Gap Dropdown content), you'll encounter almost every ecosystem and habitat on earth along the way.
Trace ancient footsteps through the heart of the historic Silk Road in Uzbekistan. An eight- to ten-day trip, it's best experienced by hiring a 4WD. The Golden Road journeys through breathtaking landscapes and historic cities – nowhere more impressive than your end goal, Samarkand, home to the beautiful turquoise-domed Registan.
The route may be short – a mere 8.3km – but it's incredibly impressive. Eight low bridges link the islands between Molde and Kristiansund in the western fjords of Norway Dropdown content. The most beautiful is Storseisundet, curving scenically above the water. In summer you can spot seals and whales, while autumn brings its own appeal, with dramatic rainstorms that pound the road.
The single-track road that runs down this island chain is one of Britain's greatest driving experiences. Rugged, windswept and jaw-droppingly beautiful, this route shows Scotland Dropdown content at its best. Travelling both by road and sea, you can do a bit of island-hopping, experiencing beautiful beaches like Luskentyre, ancient standing stones, and the justifiably renowned Hebridean hospitality.
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The Netherlands Dropdown content is renowned for its flowers, and there’s no better way to experience them then on the Bollenstreek – or Bulb – route. The best time of year to drive the road is, unsurprisingly, spring, when brightly-coloured flowers carpet the plains. And there's more than just tulips – you can expect to see narcissi, hyacinths, irises and dahlias, among many others.
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The A39 from Bridgewater to Bude runs along the northern coast of Devon Dropdown content into Cornwall Dropdown content. You get some of the country’s best sea views on one side, and wild, dramatic hills on the other. With pretty villages and sweeping beaches to explore, not to mention the great expanse of Exmoor National Park, this is perfect for a leisurely few days of exploring.
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Arguably Germany’s most picturesque region, with sweeping evergreen forests and rolling hills dotted with pretty villages and historic towns, the Black Forest Dropdown content is ideal driving territory. At the end of a long day exploring, retreat to one of the spa towns like Baden-Baden for a restorative soak in the local waters.
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This 480km route through northern Spain Dropdown content takes you through some of the country’s (many) highlights – Bilbao Dropdown content, Pamplona Dropdown content, the Pyrenees, and back along the coast, with the beautiful Bay of Biscay on your right. You’ll want plenty of time to explore – not least to sample some of the wonderful local food – and to allow for the views to distract you along the way.
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Extending 285km between Torquay and Warrnambool in southwestern Victoria, the Great Ocean Road Dropdown content was conceived as a scenic road of world repute to commemorate the soldiers who died during World War I. The most spectacular part of the drive is undoubtedly the appropriately named “Shipwreck Coast”, home to the dramatic rock formations of the Twelve Apostles.
This barren stretch of coast in Namibia Dropdown content is named for the countless shipwrecks that have occurred here over the centuries. Many of the sun-bleached wrecks can still be seen – often shrouded in mist. The Skeleton Coast's appeal lies not only in its dramatic scenery but also in the hostile remoteness of its location. In addition to windswept sand dunes, expect black lava ridges and granite massifs. You might even spot elephants, black rhinos and springboks from your 4WD.
This dusty road in western Madagascar Dropdown content, between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina, is lined by remarkable baobab trees. Their stark silhouettes are especially striking in contrast to the low shrubland that surrounds them. Reaching up to 30m height and 11m diameter, and up to 800 years old, the majesty of the baobab can only really be appreciated by seeing them in person – a truly extraordinary sight.
There’s nothing quite like driving through the brilliant red, parched desert of Australia’s Northern Territory Dropdown content and seeing Uluru rising up in front of you for the first time. Despite being one of the most recognizable sights in the world, it’s hard not to be awestruck. Whether drenched in fierce Australian sunlight, or softened by the colours of sunrise and sunset, it’s a memory you won’t ever forget.
Driving this route is a wonderful way to explore this fascinating country. I will allow you to experience the full range of its beautiful landscapes, from deserts and dunes to cave systems and exotic souks. Be sure to take a break from the road to spot turtles on Ras Al Jinz Dropdown content beach, or to try wild-swimming in the river at the bottom of a wadi.
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British Columbia’s Powder Highway is the perfect road trip for lovers of the white stuff. The roads that make up this 1,094 km loop run through the heart of western Canada Dropdown content take in traditional ski resorts – including Kicking Horse and Fernie – and backcountry ski lodges, with fabulous mountain views that unfold with every turn in the road.
There’s no denying that Portland Dropdown content, Oregon, is currently one of the coolest cities in the USA , so start your journey with a few days here, soaking up the vibrant music scene, before heading south down the coast. As you drive, mile after mile of beautiful – and empty – beaches await, complemented by quaint towns. You might even be able to spot grey whales just off the coast.
Following the road 10km northwest of Madaba leads you to Mount Nebo, said to be the final resting place of Moses. It's a place of unique resonance to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Though there’s nothing to see in terms of remains, this journey through Jordan Dropdown content is more than worth it to see the special mountain, which is crowned by an ancient church that houses some marvellous mosaics.
This is an epic drive, covering an impressive 2,100km, from New York City Dropdown content to Niagara Falls Dropdown content, before returning to the bright lights via the Amish farms and vineyards of Ithaca. It's a fantastic route throughout the year – you'll see snow in the Catskills, the lush green countryside in spring and summer or the irresistible colours of the autumn leaves in the Adirondacks.
The USA is full of iconic drives, and undoubtedly one of the most famous is that along California’s Highway 1. The road's undoubted highlight is Big Sur. With 145 km of wild and undeveloped coastline, the road curves through bedrock cliffs above the ocean. Below hide sandy beaches, while inland are grand redwood groves lining river canyons in the shadow of the Saint Lucia Mountains.
There’s a rugged beauty to Badlands National Park Dropdown content, where the layered rock formations, ravines and mesas provide particularly striking panoramas. The classic route through the park is on Highway 240 – or the “Badlands Loop” – where the 51km drive takes you past fourteen different viewpoints where you can appreciate up the sheer scale and isolation of the national park.
Undoubtedly dramatic, the Road to Hana on the Hawaiian island of Maui Dropdown content encompasses six hundred twists and turns, and fifty narrow bridges, making it surprisingly white-knuckle at times. The pay-off is more than worth it, however, as you pass lush jungle, cascading waterfalls and steep cliffs that lead down to stereotypically picturesque Hawaiian beaches.
An unforgettable road that runs from Nogales, on the US border, to the seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta Dropdown content – once you hit the Pacific, expect ocean on one side and anything from desert to rainforest on the other. You’ll need at least five days to do the stretch justice, allowing time to take in tiny seaside pueblos, colonial villages and the vivid blue of the ocean.
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The 112 hair-raising kilometres of the D81 from Calvi Dropdown content to Cargèse Dropdown content takes you through jagged mountains with unique, savage beauty. Ten days will allow you to really make the most of the journey, from Calvi’s bustling port to the vivid-red rock gorge of the Fango River, and the fabulous views of the Scandola headland to be had from the Croce Pass.
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