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Top Scenic Drives: The 17 Best Road Trips in the World

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There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the open road. With a tank full of gas, friends filling the passenger seats, and some top tunes on the radio, you almost feel invincible when you get behind that wheel (or handlebars).

Confucious said that “roads were made for journeys, not destinations,” and never was a truer word spoken when it came to the most scenic drives on the planet. Since roads were a thing, we’ve been exploring them, not so much concerned with getting from A to B, but rather finding out what happens in the middle.

Road-tripping is one of my lifelong passions. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a number of epic journeys and road trips around the world. As both pilot and co-pilot, I have thousands of miles under my belt, having driven vast distances in the US, Canada, Central America, the UK, Europe, Iran, and Kyrgyzstan.

With a charity team, I’ve rallied an ambulance from San Diego to Siguatapeque in Honduras. I’ve hitchhiked from Germany to Cambodia. And – most impressive of all – I’ve negotiated the sheer terror of Midwest roads in winter.

Writing this article has only made me want to get out there and drive even more. So, buckle up, channel your inner Kerouac, and prepare to dream big as I take you on a journey through the best road trips in the world. But some words of warning – don’t forget your travel insurance, and prepare yourself for serious wanderlust!

TL;DR

  • Long road trip – The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
  • Short road trip – The Hải Vân Pass, Vietnam
  • Budget-friendly – Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
  • For families – Red Rocks and Sycamore Canyon Loop, Arizona
  • For couples – Iceland Ring Road, Iceland
  • For seniors – The North Coast 500, Scotland
  • For RVs – The Pacific Coast Highway, California

Best Road Trips in the World

1. Trollstigen Road, Norway (Route 63)

Trollstigen aerial view
Andreas Levers / Flickr

Route 63 in Norway is one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic drives. Otherwise known as the Trollstigen Road, it’s a narrow, twisting mountain route that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

As an alternative to a fjord cruise, driving the Trollstigen is a great way to see Norway’s spectacular scenery. Located in the remarkable Møre og Romsdal county, be prepared for a dizzying landscape of sheer cliffs, towering mountains, thundering waterfalls, deep valleys, and brilliant blue fjords.

Arguably, the most iconic section of this Nordic road trip is the steep, winding switchbacks of the Trollstigen Road. Translated as “trolls path,” it features a ten percent incline and 11 hairpin bends, which offer plenty of challenges to even the most skilled drivers. Motorcyclists, in particular, will find it especially thrilling.

Other must-see sights include the famous Ørnesvingen Viewpoint near Møllsbygda, the Trollstigen Foothill Viewpoint, and any of the numerous cascading waterfalls you’ll discover en route. And take every opportunity to get out of your vehicle, lace on a pair of quality hiking boots, and explore the world-class trails in the region.

Aerial view of Geiranger, Norway
pelillos / Adobe Stock

The route begins 10 minutes from Åndalsnes, where the Grand Hotel offers beautiful views of the Romsdalsfjord from its restaurant and bar. The Valldal Fjord Lodge is a cozy way to break up the drive if you decide to stop in Sylte. And try the Grand Fjord Hotel in Geiranger if you’re looking for jaw-dropping vistas from your bedroom window. Norway is also famous for its camping, so don’t forget a good tent if you’re traveling on a budget.

See Related: How Much is a Trip to Norway?

2. Great Ocean Road, Australia (B100)

The Great Ocean Road, Australia, is a 151-mile road that hugs the coastline of the southeast state of Victoria. Constructed by World War I veterans between 1919 and 1932, the road was initially named the “Great South West Road” but was later renamed by the Premier of Victoria, Sir Stanley Argyle, in 1925.

This incredible trip includes some of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes with spectacular views, gorgeous beaches, and exotic wildlife. Just don’t let the locals convince you that those deadly “drop bears” exist…

Road-tripping anywhere in Australia is like a rite of passage for surfers, backpackers, and sun worshippers, given the stunning beaches. The Great Ocean Road does not disappoint, and popular sandy spots include Bells Beach, Lorne Beach, and Point Impossible – which is clothing optional for those who dare to bare.

The famous 12 Apostles are not to be missed for a quintessential Great Ocean Road photo – especially the famous “London Bridge.” This group of limestone stacks in the ocean is part of a marine national park located close to Princetown. Head to Loch Ard Gorge to find a popular spot for swimming and fishing, and the Live Wire Park in Lorne is a great place to take kids if you have them.

Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles, Australia
Alvov / Sutterstock

For accommodation, campsites are plentiful, but to really get away from it all, try the Twelve Apostle Motel & Country Retreat. The highly-rated Chianti Cottages are a great option to kick off your trip from Torquay, while the Allansford Hotel Motel is perfect for the end of it.

3. Transfagarasan Highway, Romania (DN7C)

If you’ve ever wanted to hunt some vampires while driving one of the best road trips in the world, then the Transfagarasan is for you. Located deep in Transylvania, Romania, this winding road snakes through the mysterious Carpathian Mountains and is as challenging to drive as it is to pronounce. If you’re struggling, just call it DN7C.

Connecting the cities of Sibiu and Pitesti, the Transfagarasan is around 103 miles long and will take three to four hours to drive. And given that Romania is one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe, it should definitely be on your driving bucket list.

There are no shortages of attractions on the Transfagarasan highway. Poienari Citadel is an ancient fortress on a cliff overlooking the Arges River. Once home to Vlad the Impaler, it is considered to be the original inspiration for Dracula’s castle.

At the top of the pass, you’ll find the glacial Bâlea Lake and its sparkling waterfall, which is a great place to get out and stretch your legs. Nestled in the dramatic Făgăraș Mountains (the highest range in the southern Carpathians), the lake is only accessible by cable car in the winter.

Author Stuart Jameson near Bâlea Lake in the Carpathian Mountains
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

Located in the shadow of Poienari Citadel, a stay at Dracula Camping is a must for fans of the folklore. And although the Transfagarasan is typically closed from November to May, I highly recommend a visit to the Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel when in season. Just remember to bring a suitable winter coat, because I didn’t, and I damn near froze to death.

4. Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria (107)

Pasterze Glacier in Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria
anatoliil / Adobe Stock

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is one of the best road trip destinations in the Austrian Alps. Opened in 1935, it was built purely to boost tourism and provide access to its namesake – the highest mountain in Austria.

The road connects Bruck in Salzburg and runs to Heiligenblut – one of the most beautiful small towns in Austria. Rising to an altitude of 2,504 meters over the Hochtor Pass, the 107 crosses the High Tauern National Park for 30 miles of breathtaking alpine scenery. Without stops, you’ll finish in well under two hours – so make sure you take your time.

The main attraction on this gorgeous route is the route itself, so don’t expect it to be filled with kitschy tourist traps and fluff. The 12th-century Burg Kaprun Castle is a good place to start on the Salzburg side. At the foot of the mountain, the village of Kals am Großglockner is a popular base for hikers and climbers exploring the area.

There are plenty of dramatic waterfalls to enjoy, as well as alpine lakes, stunning viewpoints, and icy glaciers. The most impressive of these is the Pasterize Glacier in the Hohe Tauern National Park, and you can experience an incredible view from the distinctive Kaisr-Franz-Josefs-Hohe viewpoint and visitor center.

Incredible scenery of European Alps in sunny morning. Heiligenblut church in Austria with Grossglockner peak in background Grossglockner High Alpine road
jenyateua / Adobe Stock

For alpine accommodations, try Bergerhof, a unique renovated farmhouse 10 minutes walk from the center of Kals am Großglockner. Heiligenblut, located at the bottom of the mountain, has the excellent Hotel Rupertihaus – 650 feet from the cable car and provides saunas and steam baths. For something even more remote, skiers, hikers, and snowshoers will want to head to the Wallackhaus hütte, which is perfect if you’re in a private group.

5. Pacific Coast Highway, California, USA (State Route 1)

Bixby Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

When I first arrived on the West Coast of the United States circa 2012, I decided to splash out. And one of the most memorable experiences of my life was renting a black convertible Mustang to drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. Belting out Tom Petty’s American Girl as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge with the top down was a particular highlight.

Otherwise known as Highway 1, the PCH is a scenic drive that runs along the coast of California. The route begins in Dana Point, just south of Los Angeles, and travels north to Leggett, a distance of just under 659 miles. I came the opposite way and drove from San Francisco, eventually returning my rental car to a branch in San Diego.

One of the best road trips in the world (and certainly, the number one road trip in California), Highway 1 is overflowing with attractions and points of interest. Be sure to give yourself enough time to explore some of the wonderful parks you’ll pass along the way, including Point Lobos, Big Sur, and Morro Bay.

Monterey is well worth a stop with its outstanding aquarium. For fans of the grape, you’ll discover an abundance of world-class wineries en route (so long as you have a designated driver). And don’t miss the iconic Bixby Bridge, the poster child for this epic road trip and a seriously photogenic piece of architecture.

Pidgeon Point Lighthouse in California
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

I’ve stayed in a lot of hostels, and one of my all-time favorites is at Pidgeon Point Lighthouse, mere yards from the wild waters of the Pacific Ocean. Cambria Pines Lodge is a wonderful retreat in the delightful seaside town of Cambria. El Capitan State Beach Campground, located near Santa Barbara, is a great place for kids and adults alike.

See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids

6. The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland (Various)

Cliffs of Moher Ireland sunset sun light Irish landmark amazing beautiful view
Cristi / Adobe Stock

Ireland stakes a claim for boasting one of the best road trips in the world with the Wild Atlantic Way. Running the full length of Irelands’s magical western coast, it’s a 1500-mile trip that makes it one of the longest-defined coastal routes on the planet.

A bucket-list destination for millions of people, the Emerald Isle has it all, and the best way to see it is on a stunning scenic driving tour. You’ll need one or two weeks minimum to do it all, but you could easily take a lifetime exploring everything that this incredible road trip offers.

I’d need to write a dedicated article on Ireland’s west coast attractions; suffice it to say there’s something at every turn (which is most likely going to be a cliff edge, a castle, or a combination thereof). Don’t miss the Cliffs of Moher, Dog’s Bay Beach, or any number of the sleepy coastal towns you’ll encounter along the way.

And it features a road trip within a road trip, with the more relaxed Slea Head Loop on the Dingle Peninsula. Perfect if you’re short on time, this bite-sized scenic drive is like a condensed version of the Atlantic road, with rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and lush green hills.

Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Penisula
Helen Hotson / Adobe Stock

You’re never too far away from cozy, welcoming accommodations in Ireland. Try The Piper’s Rest in Doolin, which is close to the village’s traditional Irish music pubs. Fancy staying in a castle? The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is set in beautiful gardens in a great location.

And here’s a top tip – don’t set up a tent on the edge of a cliff on the Atlantic coast when there’s a storm coming in. Speaking from experience, you won’t sleep a wink from fear.

7. Amalfi Coast Road, Italy (SS163)

Italy’s Amalfi Coast stretches for just over 30 miles on the Sorrentine Peninsula, just south of Naples. With picturesque fishing villages, rugged cliffs, beautiful beaches, and brilliant blue waters, there’s no better way to experience it than to drive the Amalfi Coast Road.

With the Tyrrhenian Sea on one side and rocky cliffs on the other, motorists swing their vehicles around the tight, narrow curves that hug the mountain. A word of caution, however: of all the routes I’ve included in our list of the best roads in the world, this is by far the busiest. The road trip might be a dream, but parking can be a nightmare.

As one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, there’s plenty to see and do on the Amalfi Coast. The charming town of Positano has brightly colored houses and a stunningly scenic coastline. Lofty Ravello is perched high atop a cliff, offering amazing views of the area. The village of Maiori is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the region’s best beaches.

But honestly, there’s nothing better than to do nothing in these parts. With ferries from Naples or Sorrento, you can head to the beautiful island of Capri and simply enjoy living La Dolce Vita.

Atrani town on Amalfi coast, Sorrento, Italy
Boris Stroujko / Adobe Stock

You’ll feel like you’re in a Bond movie when driving this road, so try the luxurious Hotel Santa Caterina. Dramatically built into the rock face, it’s almost like a villain’s lair. Casa Maresca Residence is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Positano. The delightful Sapore di Sale guesthouse in Atrani is a bright and breezy vacation home boasting an excellent location.

See Related: Best Pompeii Tours From Naples

8. Milford Road, New Zealand (State Highway 94)

Mountain view in Milford Sound Road
Neville10 / Flickr

From James Bond to Lord of the Rings. Milford Road is a scenic route located in the Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. The winding road travels through truly gorgeous scenery and rewards motorists with views from another world.

Milford Road is approximately 158 miles long and takes about two hours to drive, starting from Te Anau and heading into Fiordland National Park. Feast your eyes on massive snow-capped mountains, thundering waterfalls, and the most perfectly reflective glacial lakes you’ll ever see.

Experience New Zealand’s unparalleled beauty along one of the most scenic roads you’ll ever drive. Take time to reflect at the Mirror Lakes, a beautifully serene setting that lives up to its name. Take a hike to Sutherland Falls – the third tallest waterfall in New Zealand, which features in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. And don’t miss the glowworm caves at Te Anau for a magical day out.

Milford Sound itself was named by Captain James Cook, who described it as “the most beautiful fiord in the world.” It’s also one of the wettest places on earth – but that’s good. When it rains, the water cascading down the mountainsides is spectacular. Make sure you pack a good raincoat!

Milford Sound in Fiordland New Zealand
Imogen / Adobe Stock

At the beginning of the Milford Sound road stretch, the town of Te Anau is a great place to jump off from. The Tasman Holiday Park has hot tubs and wooden saunas with a great view of the lake. If you’re looking for adventure, Kepler Oaks Chalet sits on 13 acres of the Fiordland National Park. And Milford Sound Lodge is less than 20 minutes away from the Sound itself and a great place to relax after your drive.

See Related: Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand

9. Red Rocks and Sycamore Canyon Loop, Arizona, USA (Off US 89A)

Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing in Sedona, Arizona
Leilani / Adobe Stock

As one of the most unique road trips in the world, the Red Rocks and Sycamore Canyon Loop will take you into the heart of Sedona’s colorful countryside. Situated as part of the Coconino National Forest in Arizona, this beautiful scenic road offers sweeping valleys, rivers, and waterfalls.

This year-round route is only around 23 miles long, making it one of the shorter and more manageable drives out there. But I highly recommend that you extend your visit with side trips along the way and explore four spurs that lead off the main road to some of the region’s most impressive rock formations. Tours from Sedona are plentiful if you don’t have your own vehicle.

The distinctive red hue of the stones in this part of the world is the main tourist draw. Best viewed at sunset (when the temperature cools off), try hiking in any number of stunning canyons, including Sycamore, Boynton, and Oak Creek.

Bird and wildlife watching is extremely popular, and more adventurous types can enjoy horseriding, mountain biking, ATV tours, and rafting. And there’s plenty to see and do in and around Sedona for families, which makes this one of the best road trips for kids.

Red Rock State Park in Arizona
Wendy from Pennsylvania, USA / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Verde Valley offers accommodations to suit every palate. Arabella Hotel in Sedona has a pool and hot tub, as does the super fun Sedona Pines Resort – just 20 minutes drive from the iconic Cathedral Rock. For something even more private, the Serene Sedona Desert Rose Retreat is a beautiful, pet-friendly vacation home. Perfect if you’re bringing every member of the family.

See Related: Where to Stay in Sedona: Best Areas and Neighborhoods

10. North Coast 500, Scotland (Various)

Kylesku Bridge along the NC500 in Northern Scotland
Lukas / Adobe Stock

Given the fact that I have deep family roots in Scotland, I might be more than a little biased with this entry. But the North Coast 500 is included here purely on merit. Aptly named, this gorgeous road trip is a relatively new tourist route that covers a little over 500 miles of the country’s north coast.

Officially opened in 2015, the NC500 is sometimes dubbed “Scotland’s Route 66” and has quickly become a big hit with motorists. A round-trip route, it starts and ends at Inverness Castle and takes in the very best of Scotland’s world-famous highland scenery, hospitality, culture, and traditions.

Where do I begin for things to see and do? The trail passes through the kind of scenery you’ve only ever seen in the movies, including the Cairngorms National Park, Cape Wrath, and Rogie Falls. Durness has one of the best beaches in the UK, and adults can enjoy plenty of brewery and Scottish Whiskey distillery tours – like the world-famous Glenmorangie.

Sleepy fishing villages are at every turn, including Ullapool, Clachtoll, and Helmsdale. And there are castles and historic buildings galore, such as Cawdor, Dunrobin, and Sinclair Girnigoe. And the iconic Eilean Donan Castle is well worth the slight detour from the official route.

City Of Ullapool With Old Fishing Boat At Loch Broom In Scotland
grafxart / Adobe Stock

Scotland is famous for its hospitality, and there’s no shortage of it along one of the world’s most scenic drives. Live like a Laird in the beautiful 17th-century Bunchrew House Hotel near Inverness. In Ullapool, the charming Harbor House Hotel offers rooms and loch-side cabins.

And with its pleasingly vintage vibe, the Seaview Hotel is the perfect road trip accommodation, located in the most northern town in the United Kingdom.

11. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina, USA (Various)

Sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway
anthony heflin / Shutterstock

John Denver put it best when he sang about the roads of West Virginia, and if you’re not playing that song at least once while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’ll be very upset. Running from Afton in Virginia to Cherokee in North Carolina at 469 miles, this is one of the world’s most spectacular roads, with plenty of time for tunes on the radio.

The road links the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers incredible vistas of the Blue Ridge section of the Appalachian Mountains. The drive will take you around three days as the crow flies, but if you only stop at the overlooks, you’ll still need extra time off work!

The longest linear park in the US, the parkway is rich in flora and fauna and famous for its biodiversity. And as the Appalachians offer some of the finest hiking trails in the world, there will be plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs and soak it all in. Try a self-guided tour so you don’t miss a thing.

The Linn-Cove viaduct is one of the most photographed stretches on this scenic drive, which hugs Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and climbers will be rewarded with breathtaking views. Bristol Caverns will take you beneath it all, and you can learn about the Cherokee at the Oconaluftee Indian Village.

Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, USA
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

When it comes to accommodation, the Blue Ridge Parkway has it all. Cabins, campgrounds, hotels, B&Bs, and resorts are all well-represented. Try this simply gorgeous cottage in Little Switzerland. Linville Falls Campground is just off the road in a great location. And at the other end, Grey Pine Lodge is close to the start point in Virginia.

12. The Ring Road, Iceland (Route 1)

The Ring Road, Iceland
grthirteen / Adobe Stock

In the land of missing vowels, ice and fire sculpt the dramatic landscape. Nature’s raw power is on full display in Iceland, with volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, lava fields, mud pools, and windswept valleys all demanding your attention. One of the best road trips for couples, the Ring Road is a popular honeymoon drive.

Colorful Rejkiavik will likely be your entry and exit point. The most northerly capital on the planet might be expensive, but it feels like a breath of fresh air. From here, you can drive clockwise or anti-clockwise around the island, and if you complete the 825-mile circuit, you’ll be able to say you’ve driven around an entire country.

How do you like your volcanoes in the morning? Personally, I prefer them not to be erupting, but that’s not necessarily guaranteed in Iceland. With 32 active volcanoes, you might not be too far away from one of the greatest shows on Earth. Of these, Eyjafjallajökull is arguably the most famous, not least because you can only pronounce it if you’re a native.

Aside from expressive land rumblings, Iceland is home to some world-class attractions. Whale watching is hugely popular, the Northern Lights show up almost on cue, and the famous Blue Lagoon is a great way to unwind after a drive. But if you’re a fan of trees, you might want to go elsewhere. Centuries ago, the Vikings cut them all down to build their longboats.

Lake in central highlands, Iceland
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

Our Iceland Road Trip Itinerary contains some of the best places to hang your hat on your journey. That gives me plenty of space to tell you my number one tip for visiting Iceland – make sure you have travel insurance. Eyjafjallajökull last erupted in 2010 and caused widespread travel chaos throughout Europe. There are worst places to be stranded, but you don’t want to be out of pocket if you are.

See Related: How to Book Cheap Flights to Iceland

13. The Garden Route, South Africa (N4 Highway)

Garden route, drone aerial view of Kogelbay beach Western Cape South Africa, Kogelbay Rugged Coast Line with spectacular mountains
fokke baarssen / Shutterstock

In a continent as giant as Africa, you can expect your fair share of epic road trips. Perhaps the most famous, popular, and safe is the Garden Route in South Africa. The name is taken from the Garden Route National Park that it traverses. And for just over 186 miles, you’ll experience a remarkably diverse range of natural beauty.

South Africa is welcoming, with Cape Town as the vibrant capital. The official start of the route is in Mossel Bay, ending at Storms River – but there’s no reason why you can’t do Cape Town to Port Elizabeth for a longer vacation drive.

If you’re interested in extreme sports and adventure travel, then South Africa is the place to be. Paragliding, skydiving, surfing, mountain biking, sand boarding, canyoning, rafting…this country has it all. En route, you can stop to Bungee jump from the Bloukrans Bridge, ride the waves at Victoria Bay, and hike the Dolphin Trail at Storms River.

Of course, a visit to South Africa wouldn’t be complete without a safari, where you can see some of the world’s most beautiful and majestic creatures up close. Try the Panorama Route and Chapman’s Peak Drive for more epic road trips in this country.

Beautiful South African Coastline along Garden Route
Smaks K / Adobe Stock

After a long flight, you’ll want to decompress for a day or two, and the Anew Hotel Green Point in Cape Town will help you do just that. Diaz Hotel and Resort, located at the route head in Mossel Bay, is a great place to gear up for the official drive. To finish, the Misty Mountain Reserve in Storms River is just 16 miles from the Bloukrans Bridge and is a great location for couples.

See Related: Best Bungee Jumping Locations in the World

14. The Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana, USA (Glacier Route 1 Road)

A view from Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park
tusharkoley / Shuttertsock

Big Sky Country awaits anyone making the trip across Glacier National Park, Montana. The Going-to-the-Sun Road (or simply “the sun road”) winds its way through a section of the Rocky Mountains, over the Continental Divide, and edges ever closer to the Pacific Northwest.

Named after one of the mountains of Logan’s Pass, the road was first conceived in 1917 and completed in 1932. It takes in the very best of Glacier National Park, beginning on the western edge of the Blackfeet Reservation at St Mary. Fifty miles later, you’ll finish in West Glacier but still be memorized by the surrounding landscape.

Hikers, bikers, and kayakers are going to love exploring one of the finest national parks in the United States, and Montana is the very definition of the great outdoors. Scenic rafting is popular, but you can also try whitewater for more of an adrenaline rush. Keen anglers should remember to pack a travel fishing rod.

With an abundance of rivers, lakes, and mountain scenery, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Don’t miss Lake McDonald – one of the best lakes in Montana. The Trail of the Cedars is an awesome walking route. Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and, of course, Going-to-the-Sun Mountain itself. If you get the chance, ask about its alternative Blackfeet name.

Go To The Sun Road - A Spring evening view of an east section of Go To The Sun Road at Saint Mary Lake, with rugged high peaks towering in the background
Sean Xu / Shutterstock

For accommodation, St Mary Village Lodge is a great place to start if you’re heading from east to west. There are plenty of campgrounds available on this road trip, including Rising Sun, Renolds Creek, and Apgar. And try the Great Northern Resort for a comfortable place to crash in West Glacier.

See Related: Where to Stay in Big Sky

15. La Cuarenta, Argentina (National Route 40)

The dust road of ruta 40 between Cachi and Cafayate. The road cuts through the quebrada de las Flechas in the Salta region in Argentina
Jeroen / Adobe Stock

There are hundreds of epic road trip options in South America, but I’ve gone for the legendary Route 40 in Argentina. Translated as “the forty,” La Cuarenta begins near the Bolivian border and stretches over 3,100 miles almost to the southern tip of Patagonia.

In a country where the motorcycle is king, this is the best road trip for bikers (and for anyone who’s ever read anything about Che Guevara). Of all the road trips listed here, NR40 is the most eclectic regarding scenery – and road quality. Not for the faint of heart, this drive demands respect – and extensive preparation. Check out this article on the best travel insurance for South America.

There are hundreds of points of interest along this adventurous road trip. Be sure to visit the vineyards of Mendoza, one of the nine “world capitals of wine.” Budding archeologists will not want to miss the ancient handprints in the Cueva de las Manos. It’s essential you make the relatively slight detour to the breathtaking Los Glaciares National Park.

Argentina is one of my favorite countries, not least because of the scenery, the wine, and the barbecue. But for a journey through truly epic, unspoiled nature that boasts a dizzying number of wildlife species across 13 national parks – La Cuarenta is surely one of the best roads in the world.

Glacier Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares National Park
Kushnirov Avraham / Adobe Stock

Bring four-season sleeping bags and gear if you’re camping, as even in summer, Patagonia’s temperatures can plummet at night. I’ve never been so cold in all my life.

But worry not, as there are plenty of comfortable accommodation options en route should you ever need to warm up. Try the Hotel Lago Grey for exploring the ice fields in the Glacier National Park.

See Related: The Best Digital Nomad Destinations in the World

16. The Hải Vân Pass, Vietnam (National Route 1)

A beautiful road of the Hai Van Pass, Da Nang, Vietnam
Oskar Hellebaut / Shutterstock

Asia has no shortage of stunning road trips, including the nose-bleeding grandeur of the Pamir Highway. But I’ve gone for the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam – a little more tourist-friendly and much more manageable.

The official route is a short road trip at only 13 miles long, but you can incorporate the Hai Van Pass section on a longer trip from Da Nang to Hue (or vice versa). And like Argentina, Vietnam is a country run by motorcycles and scooters, so two wheels are better than four when exploring the country’s most scenic roads.

Da Nang offers plenty to see and do, so be sure to spend some time there before setting off. Marble Mountain and the giant Lady Buddha are particular highlights and don’t miss the chance to drive over the iconic Dragon Bridge. On the other end, a visit to the ancient Imperial City of Hue is a must.

Traversing a spur of the Annamite mountain range, the Hải Vân Pass cuts through tropical jungle, along the stunning coastline of the East Vietnam Sea, and into the hills. There are plenty of photo opportunities en route, so be sure to make regular stops. If you don’t fancy driving one of the world’s best road trips, you can take a similar route by train instead.

View of Da Nang city in South Central Coast of Vietnam
monticellllo / Adobe Stock

Kick your journey off in Da Nang and stay at the Golden Lotus Luxury – notable for its excellent location only three minutes from My Khe Beach. After the main section of the pass, head to the gorgeous Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa, with its overwater villas. Alternatively, you can push on to Hue and stay at the striking, five-star Melia Vinpearl Hue.

17. Route 66, USA (Various)

Scenic view of famous Route 66 in classic american mountain scenery at sunset
Shambhala / Adobe Stock

Little actually remains of the “main street of America,” but Route 66 is rumored to be making a comeback. A route that inspired a thousand road trips, it was decommissioned in 1985 and fell into disrepair. Interstate routes swallowed up large sections of the once iconic thoroughfare.

But given its legendary status in American folklore, Route 66 has seen a surge in interest in recent years. Infrastructure looks set to be renewed, largely thanks to the efforts of the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. A new generation of beat poets will hit the road and get to “burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Originally running from Chicago to Los Angeles by way of St Louis, Oklahoma City, and Santa Fe, Route 66 offers some seriously fun and fascinating attractions. From historical sites to classic Americana kitsch, from tales of infamous gangsters to giant bottles of Catsup. This is a kaleidoscopic cross-country road trip equivalent of an acid test.

Located in Clinton, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is a great place to stop and learn about the history and lore of “the Mother Road.” The Cadillac Ranch is one of those unmissable roadside attractions located in Amarillo, Texas. And the Santa Monica Pier marks the traditional end to getting your kicks on the west coast.

Famous seligman town of Route 66, Arizona
jon_chica – stock.adobe.com

Lodging on Route 66 is as iconic as the route itself, and there’s only one type of accommodation you should be staying in. Don’t miss the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, established in 1939 and still going strong. The Route 66 Inn at Shamrock, Texas, offers affordable comfort. And the Wigwam Motel is a kitschy landmark with rooms that resemble tipis.

Top Travel Tips for Road Trips

Author Stuart Jameson on a Road Trip in San Francisco
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers
  • Make sure you have adequate travel insurance. Accidents happen, and driving on unfamiliar roads carries a certain amount of risk. Get yourself covered for any eventuality with the right kind of travel insurance.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. If using your own car, get it checked out before you leave for your road trip and serviced if required. I’d also highly recommend investing in an emergency roadside kit – just in case.
  • Make a packing list. Be sure to include supplies like food, water, a first-aid kit, and a map (technology can fail you). Don’t forget sunscreen and hats, and bring some extra blankets if you’re taking on a winter road trip. Check out this article for more top packing tips.
  • Plan your route. This will help you avoid any unnecessary stress and make the most of your time on the road. Learning how to use Google Maps properly is very useful for route planning.
  • Always obey the speed limit. Learn the rules of the road in the country you’re driving in and stick to them. Getting pulled over by police – especially if you’re abroad – can be a daunting and intimidating experience. It might also cost you more than your pride.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Remember, anyone can make a car go forward; road sense is important.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather. Roads can be slippery in wet conditions, and areas might be prone to flooding and/or landslides. Driving in winter can be particularly challenging. Stay alert, use a good weather app, and be ready for anything.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas. The sinking feeling of the fuel light coming on when you’re up the backside of beyond is not pleasant. Gas stations might be in short supply for certain routes, and you should consider packing extra fuel cans when driving in remote areas.
  • Time management is important. If you plan on stopping at attractions along the way, be sure to leave enough time to make it to your home base. These roads are popular tourist spots and can be congested during peak times.
  • Be aware of the wildlife. This is particularly true if you’re driving at night. Many of these roads cross national parks. Depending on the country, there are a lot of deer, raccoons, foxes, badgers, kangaroos, escaped axe murderers, and other critters that can be found on the road at night. I hit an owl on a road trip once. It wasn’t happy.
  • Take regular breaks. Driving safely is your number one priority. Seeing beautiful sites is a distance second. Make sure you factor in regular breaks – especially on longer drives. Get out, stretch your legs, and switch drivers if you can. Play road trip games with your significant other to relieve long-distance stress.
  • Don’t drink and drive. It might go without saying, but when you’re touring Californian vineyards or hopping around quaint Irish pubs – it’s a mantra that can easily be forgotten. Try using a breathalyzer key chain if you’re in any doubt, and have a backup plan if the party gets out of hand.
  • Consider renting an RV. One of my dreams is to sell up, buy a motorhome, live off-grid and road trip the US until I’m dead. In the meantime, renting an RV is a great alternative! Follow that link for some top tips on how to do it like a pro.
  • Keep a journal. I wrote a travel blog for most of my global wanderings, more for myself than anyone else. Get a road trip journal and fill it with pictures, stories, and memories. It’ll become a treasure you can look back on.

FAQs

Which country has the most beautiful road in the world?

The answer to this question is entirely subjective and depends on personal preference (and a little national pride). There are world-class routes on every continent and almost every country – and nobody has driven them all.

Where is the best place to drive in the world?

In a country built on the motor car (and thanks to its vast size), you’ve got to say that the United States is up there as the best place to drive in the world. But for the sheer “roads to scenic routes ratio,” the likes of Norway, Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand give it a run for its money.

What are some of the best scenic routes in the United States?

Aside from those included above, other great road trips in the USA include Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway and Trail Ridge Road, Utah’s Monument Valley, scenic roads through Zion National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Grand Circle Road Trip, the Seward Highway in Alaska, the Key West Overseas Highway, and the Hana Highway in Hawaii.

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