Jul
13

40 Best Road Trips in the World (The Last One is Epic!)

If you love hitting the open road every now and then, you’re at the right place. Here’s an ultimate list of the best road trips in the world for your bucket list recommended by travel experts.

#1 Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse stretches between the Austrian states of Carinthia and Salzburg. You are in for an unmatched adventure, as you wind around the sharp curves to climb the 3,000 feet in just about 3o miles.

The best time to drive this route is from early May to late October.

While you can drive the entire stretch from Salzburg to the Grossglockner or the other way round in about 3 hours but it takes half-a-day to fully appreciate the beauty called the Grossglockner! Because It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!

The ride takes you into the wilderness called Hohe Tauren National Park, the oldest and biggest nature reserve in the Austrian Alps. There are a couple of awesome stop-offs and lookout points on the route with Edelweiss-Spitze, Fuscher Törl, and Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe being the most beautiful.

There are some great accommodation options in Lienz, Heiligenblut, Zell am See, and Bruck for those who want to take on hiking in the region.

grossglockner high alpine road austria

#2 Icefields Parkway, Canada

The Icefields Parkway runs from the town of Jasper through Jasper National Park and down to the iconic Lake Louise in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It is one of the most iconic roads in the world.

You could drive this 268 km stretch of road in 3 hours if you stick to the speed limits and don’t stop, but where’s the fun in that when you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world? You’ll be able to enjoy spectacular mountain views from your vehicle, but you shouldn’t miss the most popular spots of natural beauty.

Stops to make on the trip include the beautiful turquoise lakes (Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, and Moraine Lake). The cascading waters of Sunwupta and Athabasca Falls are a sight to behold as is the Athabasca Glacier. If you have time, maybe take a hike or two – although make sure to brush up on your bear safety knowledge.

The best time to take the trip would be from June to September when you can appreciate the spectacular blue lakes and not have to worry about winter road closures. If you are there during the summer months, in particular July and August, expect to deal with hordes of tourists (and mosquitoes). You will also need to get up in the very early hours to find a parking space at the most popular lakes.

While Banff town, located in the National Park, is a beautiful town and a convenient place to stay, you may want to consider the nearby town of Canmore for slightly cheaper accommodation.

Recommended by Jacquie Hale of Flashpacking Family

Icefields Parkway Canada best road trips in the world

#3 Route 66, USA

Driving America’s Route 66 is one of the most iconic road trips in the world. This 2500 mile road starts in Chicago, Illinois, and ends in Santa Monica, California, winding its way through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona on the way.

The route was historically referred to as the “Mother Road” and was a key avenue of Americans moving from east to west to settle the western half of America. It’s featured prominently in Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, as well as countless films and popular songs.

Today, the appeal of a Route 66 road trip is its kitschiness and connection with vintage Americana. Along the way, travelers stay at Mid-Century Modern hotels, eat at classic dives and diners, and stop for typical roadside attractions.

Some important stops along the way include the Catoosa Whale, the Twin Arrows, and the Arcadia Round Barn. However, nearly every town or city along the route has something worth stopping to see.

You can drive either a portion of the route or the whole thing. The most typical way to take a Route 66 vacation is to start in Chicago and drive to Santa Monica over the course of about two weeks. However, you can opt to do it shorter or faster, seeing as much as you can or having long days on the road. You can also choose to drive the entire route and back or rent a car and drop it off at your final stop. While it’s the most popular in the summer, you can enjoy a Route 66 road trip year-round.

Recommended by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl

historic route 66 usa

#4 Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Great Ocean Road is a world-famous road that runs along the coast for about 150 miles just outside of Melbourne, Australia. It passes through a variety of landscapes, from sleepy surf towns to dramatic and steep sandstone cliffs, arches, and rock islands right off the shore.

Many people have heard of the well-known Twelve Apostles lookout, but there are actually tons of other incredible viewpoints and points of interest along the Great Ocean Road that are worth seeing. To name a few, the Bay of Martyrs, Cape Otway Lighthouse + National Park, Loch Ard Gorge, and Castle Cove Lookout provide fantastic Views.

While exploring the Great Ocean Road, many choose to explore or stay in Lorne, Apollo Bay, or Port Campbell, which are the most popular places to stay along the Great Ocean Road. There are however a variety of more secluded accommodation options as well. The best time to drive the Great Ocean Road is in Australian summer – when the days are long and the climate is warm(er). Melbourne is known for having temperamental weather, so make sure to always check it!

It is possible to do the entire Great Ocean Road trip in one (long) day, and many day tours from Melbourne accomplish this (which is the best option if you are short one time). However, I recommend renting a car and doing a self-drive Great Ocean Road Trip yourself in 2 or even 3 days. This will allow you to see more, spend more time checking out small towns, and visiting different lesser-known points of interest at your leisure.

Recommended by Kimmie of Adventures n Sunsets

great ocean road australia
© Kimmie

#5 Cairns to Sydney, Australia

A Cairns to Sydney road trip is one of the best road trips in the world due to the diversity of the numerous world-class sights you will see along the route. The best time to drive the nearly 2,500 kilometer route would be Spring or Autumn avoiding soaring Summer temperatures.

You need at least 4 weeks to fully appreciate this road trip – even longer would be better! Plus, if you explore the east coast of Australia in a camper van or motor home, you have the added bonus of accessing quiet, rural locations to enjoy unparalleled starry night skies.

Starting in Cairns, the world-famous Great Barrier Reef is an unmissable experience. A short drive inland provides a contrast to the reef with the hazy rain forests of Mossman Gorge. Further south, it is worth making a detour from the popular coast road to visit the rolling landscapes and pretty waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands.

The Queensland coast is lined with charming towns and expansive beaches. Leave your car behind to take a sailing trip around the stunning Whitsunday Islands or hire a 4 wheel drive vehicle to explore the world heritage listed Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Enjoy whale watching at Hervey Bay or admire the colorful strata at Rainbow Beach. Spend a few days exploring cosmopolitan Brisbane and take a detour into the flat, red landscapes of the Australian outback.

From Brisbane, it is a short hop to bohemian Byron Bay to visit its famous lighthouse and hike the gorgeous Cape Byron Track. The New South Wales coastline offers a host of activities ranging from dolphin spotting and sandboarding in Port Stephens to watching migrating humpback whales in Jervis Bay. Before arriving into the metropolis of Sydney, visit the iconic Blue Mountains and enjoy some of the hikes of this beautiful region. 

Recommended by Sinead Camplin of Map Made Memories

cape byron lighthouse cairns to sydney road trip

#6 Perth to Esperance, Australia

Hands down one of the best 2 weeks! The whole trip is around 1800km, and a return trip to Perth will make it a round trip then it’s another 697km back from Esperance. This trip is so iconic as it is so scenic, rugged, and nature-filled!

The best time to take this road trip is during the Australian summer. The West Coast of Australia is full of incredible beaches and walks, much better in the sun! In February it was already getting a bit colder. The best way to do this trip is by van! Either from Wicked Campers for cheap and cheerful yet a slightly uncomfortable bed or Travellers Autobarn for more comfort. There is an app called Wiki Camps where you can find campsites on the day of your arrival, no need to book in advance, so you can choose to stay in some places for longer if you aren’t ready to leave!

Top highlights of this trip include Eagle Bay in Dunsborough, sunset at Sugarloaf Rock, seeing the stingrays at Hamelin Bay, and hanging out with kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay in Esperance. On the way back to Perth your drive will be broken up with the incredible Wave Rock, a rock formation in the middle of nowhere. The list could go on!

This trip can also be done in 7 days or 10 if time is a constraint. However, this will include a lot of driving. 14 days is perfect to spend two nights in each place. Sleeping in a van under the stars at a campsite on the beach or with kangaroos jumping around makes all the driving worth it.

The top tip is to book the Lucky bay campsite well in advance as this is the only one that gets full! Also, if you have time head to Rottnest Island once you get back to Perth to meet the famous quokkas!

Recommended by Hanna Thomas of SolarPoweredBlonde

Lucky Bay Cape Range National Park Perth to Esperance Road Trip

#7 North Coast 500, Scotland

The North Coast 500 is one of the most famous road trips in the UK and Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66. On 500 miles of pristine coast and Highland landscapes, the NC500 leads past some of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches, iconic mountains, and picturesque villages.

From discovering fairytale castles to driving up awe-inspiring mountain roads – this road trip offers a quintessentially Scottish experience. It takes at least 5-6 days to drive the North Coast 500, but it is worth spending more time as there is a lot to discover.

How could you miss the thrilling drive up the Bealach na Ba pass road or an easy hike at Loch Maree? Stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge near Ullapool and go on a boat trip to the Summer Isles – maybe even in a kayak? Dig your toes into the warm sand at Achmelvich Beach and explore the intricate system of Smoo Cave. Visit John o’Groats, long believed to be the most northerly point of mainland Britain, and stop at one of Scotland’s largest castle, Dunrobin Castle.

An absolute highlight is a detour to Orkney, an archipelago north of John o’Groats, or adding a few extra days to explore the Isle of Skye.

The best time for the NC500 is off-season because the route can get very busy during the summer. April, May, September, and October are awesome months to visit Scotland. Many people choose to drive the NC500 with a campervan for the ultimate road trip experience, however, be warned of the narrow mountainous roads along the coast.

You can move accommodation each night – there is plenty to choose from – or base yourself in 3-4 central locations and explore from there, ideally the areas around Gairloch, Lochinver, Durness, and Wick.

Recommended by Kathi of Watch Me See

north coast 500 scotland best road trips in the world
©  Kathi

#8 Amalfi Coast Road, Italy

A road trip along the Amalfi Coast is one of the most iconic drives in the world thanks to its dramatic cliffside roads, spectacular landscapes, and a plethora of picturesque towns along the route. Officially speaking, the Amalfi Coast runs from Salerno to Sorrento along a 50-mile stretch of nerve-racking-windy roads, but many visitors choose to add Naples, Capri, Pompeii and sometimes even Rome to their trip.

While 50 miles doesn’t sound like a long journey, the joy of driving the Amalfi Coast is that the narrow, cliffside roads ensure drivers take their time along the route. Instead of ‘completing’ the drive, the pleasure of the Amalfi Coast is enjoying the journey!

The numerous stop-off points along the way allow travelers to soak up the scenic views and the must-see towns such as Positano, Praiano, and Ravello are wonderful places to stay overnight to experience the local Italian way of life.

The panoramic vistas of azure waters, rocky outcrops, and pastel-colored houses teetering on the cliffsides are what make the Amalfi Coast one of the best road trips in the world. Ideally, you’ll want to put aside at least four or five days for driving the Amalfi Coast, but you could easily while away weeks stopping off at each of the little villages and towns along the way.

You don’t want to spend the majority of each day on the road, so spread out your journeys choosing which destinations are must-sees for you. Some of the highlights include the beaches at Sorrento, the Path of the Gods hike near Agerola and the Duomo di Amalfi in the coastline’s main town. If you get the chance, try to take a boat trip or two too so that you can see the beauty of the coastline from a different angle!

Recommended by Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

Positano amalfi coast road trip italy best road trips in the world

#9 Dolomites, Italy

If you’re looking for a road trip to experience some of the best views nature has to offer, consider a Dolomites road trip. Nestled in the north of Italy is a stunning alpine landscape with snow-capped mountains, lush meadows, and crystal clear lakes. A drive through the windy mountain passes affords some of the best alpine views you’ll ever see.

A 5-night journey through the Dolomites will allow you to experience the highlights of the region. Plan to spend 3 nights in the town of Ortisei. A cute little town surrounded by the Dolomites mountain range, it makes a wonderful base for a few days of exploration. Spend a day driving around the iconic mountain passes of Gardena and Sella.

These drives are not for the faint-hearted, with a myriad of twists and turns as you ascend up and then down the mountains. The views are worth all the effort. Make your way to see the alpine lake of Lago di Carezza. The green water contrasting against the jagged mountain peaks is picture-perfect.

The next day, give the driving a break with a journey by cable car up to Europe’s highest alpine meadow, Alpe di Siusi. Leaving Ortisei, make your way to Cortina d’Ampezzo. An upmarket village, it will be your base for the next 2 nights. On your way, visit Lago di Braies, a famous lake where you can ride wooden rowboats. Spend a day journeying up to Tre Cime di Lavaredo. These mountain peaks that appear like daggers into the air can be viewed on a stunning half-day hike.

As you’re visiting the European alps, the best time to travel is during the warmer months from late June until early September. However, with unpredictable weather, ensure you stay up to date with any current warnings.

Recommended by Kristen and Jeff of Our Passion For Travel

dolomites road trip italy best road trips in the world

#10 Ring Road, Iceland

Iceland has only one route that goes all around the country. It is the iconic ring road that goes through all the charming places in Iceland, from Reykjavík to waterfalls in south, glaciers on east and stunning landscapes in north.

The whole trip is 1330 km long. It might sound like a lot but it is possible to do this whole trip in 7 days, although 10 days or 2 weeks are recommended. During these adventurous 2 weeks, it is possible to visit the best of Iceland: Famous golden circle – a combination of Geysir, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland (Gullfoss), and national park Thingvellir.

Waterfalls in the south – Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall where you can walk around it and Skogafoss, beautiful waterfall, that appeared in several movies and series. West fjords – longest fjords in the world filled with birds. Ideal for anyone who loves birdwatching.

There are a couple of interesting places to stay around. One of the most favorite accommodation is hotel Ranga in south Iceland. It is a luxurious accommodation with their own restaurant. Which is great because there aren’t too many restaurants around that area.

The best time to do this road trip would be in summer when the weather isn’t too bad and at the same time, there is a lot of light during the day, so it is possible to visit more sights during one day.

For this trip it is also better to get car 4×4, that can go even to highlands without any bigger problems.

Recommended by Albi from Ginger around the globe

ring road iceland best road trips

#11 Transfagarasan Road, Romania

One of the most exciting road trips in Eastern Europe is definitely Transfăgărășan Road Trip. While planning a summer Transylvania itinerary, you should add this fantastic experience to your schedule.

Transfăgărășan road was built under governments of Romanian dictator – Nicolae Ceaușescu in the XX century. Today it’s one of the most popular tourist spots in Transylvania and a must-see point during the road trip through Romania.

If you start the road trip from the Northern side, you will get the most exciting experience at your first stop. The crazy serpentines climb the Făgăraş Mountains to the altitude of 2,042 meters. This is the very best part of the route for every automotive fan. At the top of the route, you can make another stop, next to the chilly cold Bâlea Lake.

By continuing the ride, you will be driving through the green forests and wide mountain clearings inhibited by flocks of sheep. You will eventually reach the next stop – the impressive Vidraru Dam separating the Lake Vidraru from the 166 meters abyss.

Another stop on the road requires a little bit of better conditions. It’s one of the most famous castles in Romania – the ruins of Poenari Castle. In the former times, it was the mansion of Vlad the Impaler – the cruel inspiration for the famous Count Dracula. His unsubdued fortress was built on the top of the mountain and can be reached only by climbing on ~1500 steps.

The Transfăgărășan is around 150 kilometers long and one day is enough to see all its wonders. The road, because of the altitude and the winter snows, is open only during the summer and early autumn. It’s quite hard to reach it with public transportation, so the easiest way is to rent a car or take a dedicated trip form any big city such as Bucharest or Brașov.

Along the way, you will find some nice and cozy places to stay if you would like to enjoy this region even more. Făgăraş Mountains are perfect for treks and other activities as well. Here are some cozy places to consider: Cabana Capra, Cabana Zimbru Transfagarasan, or Hotel Posada Vidraru.

Recommended by Dominika of Sunday in Wonderland

Transfagarasan Romania best road trips in the world

#12 Queenstown to Milford Sound, New Zealand

The Milford Road (State Highway 94) is a scenic and stunning journey to get to Milford Sound. This road takes visitors through Fiordland National Park and the Main Divide of the Southern Alps of New Zealand.

It follows the path of the native Maori people through unforgettable landscapes and amazing picture opportunities, thus making it one of the best road trips in the world. The trip from Queenstown to Te Anau will take you 2 hours and 10 minutes one way, driving a distance of 172km. The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound will take 1 hour and 45 minutes each way, a distance of 119km. In total, the trip is 582km.

The best time to take this road trip is during the summer months of November to March. To break up the drive and have more time in Milford Sound, spend one or two nights in the town of Te Anau. Prior to embarking on the Milford Road, make sure you have a full tank of gas as there are no gas stations between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

Milford Road has many gorgeous stops along the way. The first part of the journey takes you past the Remarkables, a stunning mountain range, and past Lake Wakatipu. After departing Te Anau, the first must-see stop is the Mirror Lakes. These lakes reflect the mountains in the background for some amazing shots. Next, pull over at Knobs Flat, which offers gorgeous views of the mountains.

Along the way, you will drive through the Homer Tunnel. This 1.2-kilometer tunnel is the only way in and out of Milford Sound. After the Homer Tunnel, stop at the Chasm. This 10-minute hike will bring you to a gorgeous waterfall. The final stop of the Milford Road is Milford Sound itself with its stunning views and reflective water. These stops make the Milford Road one of the best road trips in the world.

Recommended by Francesca Makana of Homeroom Travel

queenstown to milford sound road trip in new zealand best road trips in the world

#13 Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the world’s most famous road trip destinations following the west coast of Ireland from the very north at Maiden Head (Donegal) to the very south at Mizen Head (Cork).

It also connects with many of Ireland’s iconic tourist destinations including the Ring of Kerry, the cliffs of Moher, Galway City, Connemara, the Burren, and the list just goes on. The full coastal length follows a 1,553-mile stretch of the west coast of Ireland, traveling either north or south, with many opportunities to travel inland to locate some of Ireland’s most iconic tourist sites and attractions.

And while the journey could easily be covered in under a week, it would be closer to 3 weeks to make the most of both the coastline and nearer inland attractions along Ireland’s West Coast. Most visitors will choose the summer months to take on this road trip when the weather is sunnier, the days are longer, and there is more time during the summer holidays.

This also means the attractions will be a lot busier. At the same time, Ireland’s rugged coastlines and warmth in traditional Irish hospitality are awe-inspiring year-round. There are definitely advantages to every season.

One of the trickier decisions with this road trip is exactly where to start. From the north or the south, as it is a linear route. Dublin itself is more central and on the east, so it doesn’t make the best starting point for arrivals by flight. However, Belfast in Northern Ireland has the perfect vantage point for the northernmost point of the Wild Atlantic Way, and the Causeway Coastal Route also leads to Donegal, to cover two of the island’s best road trips in one.

Recommended by Allan of Bangorni

cliffs of moher wild atlantic way ireland

#14 Ring of Kerry, Ireland

One of the best road trips in the world is one which visits the Ring of Kerry. While part of the route is included in the Wild Atlantic Way, the inner section and the beautiful Killarney National Park are not. They are exclusive to the area encompassed by the Ring of Kerry.

The Ring of Kerry is a 180-mile circular route that starts and ends in the beautiful town of Killarney. It is a route that is extremely popular in summer and many tourism companies run tour buses around it. While they tend to go in an anti-clockwise direction, if you are driving it, you are best to go in a clockwise direction to avoid getting stuck behind them, although you may need to reverse on
narrower sections to let one past on the other side of the road.

While you can technically cover the entire route in a day, you will be pushed for time with the stops you will want to make. Points of interest include Muckross House, the Torc Waterfall, the Gap of Dunloe (only accessible by jaunting car, on foot, motorbike or bicycle), Kate Kearney’s Cottage and Ladies View.

The Gap of Dunloe is a not-to-be-missed part of the Ring of Kerry. This valley runs between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountain Group and has no less than 5 lakes connected by the River Loe. A popular thing to do is start at Kate Kearney’s Cottage at the top and take a boat down to the bottom.

Ideally, you will want to allow two full days to explore this region of Ireland. One day to drive the outer perimeter and one day to explore the inner parts including the Killarney National Park. If you’d like to hike Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, allow another day for that.

The best place to stay overnight is Killarney with many hotels and guesthouses. The Ring of Kerry is a part of Ireland that needs to be on your bucket list.

Recommended by Cath from Travel Around Ireland

ring of kerry ireland

#15 The Karakoram Highway, China and Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway is one of the highest paved roads in the world, completed in 1979, and opened to the public in 1985 with the name of China-Pakistan Friendship Highway

The Karakoram Highway snakes across incredible high altitude Central Asian mountain scenery for 1300km between Hasan Abdal, just beyond Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, and Kashgar, China’s Xinjiang Province second-biggest city.

It must be clarified however that, given current trouble in Xinjiang and the need to get expensive permits and a guide on the Chinese side, the part of the Karakoram Highway that travelers mostly visit these days is in Pakistan up to the Khunjerab Pass, the world’s highest land border at4,800 meters of height.

It can take anything between a couple of days and a couple of weeks to travel on the Karakoram Highway – it all depends where you want to stop, as there are so many incredible mountainous boasting peaks that are rarely smaller than 7,000mt — and don’t forget the mind-boggling high-altitude desert scenery, and diversions to side valleys like Shimshal and Chapursan, which add several days to your itinerary.

It’s recommended you explore the Karakoram Highway on a motorbike for maximum enjoyment. The best time to travel on the Karakoram Highway is certainly in the summer when the weather is best, but you’ll have to share the experience with the highest number of tourists. The shoulder spring season is good too, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan, as you’ll find lower prices and no local tourists, And don’t worry, as the Ismaili Muslim population of the Hunza Valley will definitely offer you food.

The must-see stops are definitely azure Attabad Lake, born out of a tragic landslide in 2010, and now a proper tourist spot, and the Passu Cones, also knows as the Karakoram’s Highway rock cathedrals. The Eagle Nest viewpoint over the town of Karimabad, with its two UNESCO-inscribed ancient forts, offers incredible sunset vistas over an amphitheater of eternally snow-capped peaks.

Try to stay at Rehman Backpackers Hostel, in 10 minutes drive from the Passu Cones and a hike to its glacier, run by a very friendly family in the idyllic village of Gulkhin.

Hunza Serena Inn is a good option for families traveling with kids.

Recommended by Marco Ferrarese of Monkey Rock World

attabad lake karimabad gilgit baltistan pakistan karakoram highway

#16 Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Route, in South Africa, certainly is one of the best road trips in the world. You will love the incredible landscape you will encounter as you drive along; the quaint villages and cities; the beautiful beaches; the forests of Tsitsikamma National Park with its many hiking trails; and the wildlife.

You can expect to see anything from seals, whales, and dolphins to elephants and various species of birds, and if you stop at places such as Jukani Conservation Center, a wildlife rescue project, you will also see big cats.

Starting from Cape Town and ending in Port Elizabeth, this road trip is best enjoyed in 7 to 10 days, which is plenty to take in all that it has to offer. The best time to drive is late spring when the temperatures are mild, and you will be able to make the most of the beaches. November is also an excellent month to admire whales.

Among the unmissable stops along the Garden Route, there is Hermanus, an excellent place to admire whales (which is done in a perfectly responsible way); Wilderness, from where you can access many easy yet enjoyable hiking trails; Knysna, home of the mighty Knysna Heads; Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can spend days hiking; Plettenberg Bay, where you can enjoy some of the best beaches in South Africa.

As you will have to make several stops, there are various places where you can sleep along the way. In Wilderness, Waterside Lodge is a nice family-run guest house with a spacious room furnished in a traditional way, set around a lush garden and in a beautiful setting, right along the river. In Knysna, the best place to stay is by far the Turbine Hotel which is located in Knysna Lagoon.

Recommended by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World

garden route south africa best road trips in the world

#17 Namibia Road Trip

A road trip through Namibia is an unforgettable experience. Crossing the country from south to north you get to see different landscapes from the red-sand dunes of the Namib desert to the lush green jungle of the Caprivi Strip. The total distance of the road trip across Namibia is around 1200km.

The ideal time for the trip is one month but it’s possible to shorten it to two weeks. The trip can be done during any season, but for watching wild animals in Etosha National Park, the end of the dry season is the best time.

This time of the year there is very little rain and animals in search of water come to a couple of waterholes in the park. The best way of road tripping in Namibia is to rent a 4×4 with a roof-top tent and a kitchenette.

There are many camping sites all over the country some of them are spectacular e.g. Spitzkoppe,
Sesriem, Cape Cross, and Ngepi campsites. Most of the main tourist attractions have lodges and hotels but those are usually quite pricey.

Out of hundreds of incredible sights in Namibia, there are still some highlights not to be missed.
In the south, it’s Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world and Colmans Cop an abandoned ghost town that once was a prosperous German settlement.

The spectacular red sand dunes of the Namib desert is an incredible attraction that draws thousands of tourists every year. Some parts of the desert are absolutely surreal. Dune 7, the largest dune in the Namib and Sossusvlei, a white salt pan with putrefied trees surrounded by the massive dunes are the highlights here.

The wildlife of Namibia is incredibly diverse. To see African animals, Etosha National Park is a
great place, you can spend days camping inside the park and do safari drives through the vast territory of the park. There are thousands of mammals and birds in the park including; lions,
elephants, rhinos, zebras, hyenas, jackals, wildebeest, eagles, thousands of antelopes, eagles,
etc.

Another unique place to visit on the road trip through Namibia is the Cape Cross Seal colony on Skeleton Coast. One of the largest mainland seal colonies in the world. In the breeding season, up to 20,000 seals gather here.

The humid north of Namibia is totally different from the south. The stunning Epupa Falls, giant baobab trees growing along the Kunene River and the lush jungle. Caprivi Strip is home to large populations of hippos and water buffalos.

Recommended by Alya of Stingy Nomads

namib desert namibia road trip

#18 Leh-Manali Highway, India

Driving the super curvy and risky 490 km stretch between Manali and Leh is what you call a pure adventure! Leh-Manali Highway takes you through some of the most difficult and high-altitude passes in the world. The journey shows you the beauty and crudity of life at the same time.

The highway starts in Manali and ends in Leh, twisting its way through Rohtang Pass, Keylong, Jispa, Baralacha La, Sarchu, Gata Loops, Nakeela La, Lachulung La, Pang, More Plains, Tanglang La, and Upshi on the way.

The most beautiful stop-offs include Chandra River, Deepak Taal, Suraj Taal, and Tsarap River.

The drive is treacherous with severe weather conditions where atmospheric oxygen drops as one climbs further making it difficult to breathe so it’s recommended to go slow on this route. Spend at least 3 to 4 days on the route to acclimatize better. Plus, you’d definitely want to take time to drink in the beautiful views.

The highway was built and maintained by BRO (Border Roads Organization), Ministry of Defence. It remains open from May to October. I’d say, the ideal months to drive the road are July and August.

leh manali highway india best road trips in the world

#19 American Southwest

The Southwest USA is hands down one of the best road trip destinations in the world. This classic road trip is loaded with iconic states, unique natural wonders, and the best national parks in the USA. This unique region covers the US states of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.

If you plan to cover all the major attractions on the way, you’d need a minimum of 10 to 14 days though we covered a part of American Southwest in 5 days.

The best stops on the American Southwest road trip include Death Valley National Park, Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and the list goes on.

This epic road trip is best driven in fall and springtime!

monument valley utah southwest usa road trip

#20 Big Island, Hawaii

If you’re looking for a fun road trip around the Big Island of Hawaii, you can do this as a nice long day trip or do stays along the way. A fun way to start is to explore the areas around Kona town and then head south to check out the cool small towns along the way like Kainaliu and Kealakekua for some fun thrift shopping and checking out the shops and vibe in that area.

Visit the famous Place of Refuge or Honaunua and take a snorkeling break close by at the famous Two Step. Further down is South Point and the stunning cliffs of the southern point or the gorgeous green sand beach made of olivine crystals. If you’re into national parks, Volcanoes National Park is a must-do visiting the caldera and exploring this wonderful park or doing some easy hikes.

Towards the side is Hilo with lovely coastal areas, a cool historic district, and many waterfalls you can explore in the area or further down the Hamakua coastline like Akaka Falls, Onomea historic trail, or the scenic gardens of the Hawaii Tropical botanical garden.

You keep driving down the lush Hamakua coastline to another sleepy town at Honokaa and check out the stunning lookout point at Waipio valley – one of the largest and gorgeous gulches that you can also hike down to. Stopping at the historic paniolo capital at Waimea, you can explore the town or grab a nice bite to eat and head back to Kona with stops at the many beautiful white sandy beaches of the Kohala coastline. There’s so much to see and do on a fun road trip around the islands and you will love doing this.

A round trip route around the Big Island is approximately 300 miles or more for detours to different attractions from the main circle route that goes around the island. You can easily base yourself at the two main cities in Kona or Hilo and take breaks along the way at any of the many small towns if you want to break up the road trip visit.

Since the park is a year-round visitor attraction, there is no one specific time of the year to visit but the most ideal time is in spring when there are more wildflowers, endemic trees, and other local plants in bloom and the weather is nice but not too hot. Spring events and celebrations at the park are also a nice factor in visiting at this time of the year.

Recommended by Noel of This Hawaii Life

Waipio valley big island hawaii road trip

#21 Atlas Mountain Road, Morocco

If you’re ready for a real adventure, head out on what is considered one of the top five most dangerous drives in the country, and some might say in the world. Tizi n’Tichka is a mountain pass that runs 120 miles (157 km) through the spectacular High Atlas Mountains from Marrakech to the city of Ouarzazate.

The drive takes just under 4 hours if you go directly, though there are many places along the way to stop and enjoy this incredible landscape of craggy, jagged peaks with precipitous drops.
 
There are many pullouts to stop to enjoy the beautiful views and dramatic scenery on this narrow and tightly-winding road. Stop at the tallest point in these mountains and the highest peak in northern Africa locally known as Idraren Darren, or “Mountain of Mountains.” It’s quite cool, even in the summer.

You’ll pass a number of Berber villages, where descendants of ancient nomadic tribes still live. They are very welcoming and may invite you in for hot, sweet mint tea and bread. There are also a number of women’s argan oil co-ops where you can learn more about making this oil in the traditional way by hand. 

The Atlas Mountains are a hiking paradise from May to October and there are many beautiful places to go. You do need to be cautious if you plan to go during the winter as the passes are steep and narrow and they will something be closed with significant snowfall.

Most people head through this mountain range to visit Marrakech and Merzouga, the location of the Sahara sand dunes in Morocco. Enjoy a special treat to break up this long ride of ten hours and stop for the night in Ait Ben Haddou.

This ksar, or fortified old city, is a picturesque place featured in many movies and worth visiting. Tizi n’Tichka is an exhilarating drive so fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the adrenaline rush!

Recommended by Sam of My Flying Leap

High Atlas Mountain Road Morocco best road trips in the world
©  Sam

#22 Miami to Key West, USA

A 150-mile drive for the road-trip from Miami to Key West along the Florida Keys is very popular among Southeast USA taking around 4 hours. The Keys are connected by Overseas Highway or U.S. Highway 1 with 42 bridges over it including a seven-mile bridge which makes it one of the best road trips. With the Atlantic Ocean giving you company throughout the drive providing majestic views, what else can you ask for?

The Florida Keys is an archipelago of many islands with major being Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Key West in the order from North to South. Every island is a gem with natural beauty that will make your heart sway.

The busiest and the most lively time to take the road trip is from November to February, but if you want to beat the crowds then we would recommend Feb – March. Florida, being the sunshine state, has the advantage of warm and sunny weather throughout. Florida keys is prone to hurricanes, so it is better to avoid June to September.

We would highly recommend making halts and staying at different islands over a span of 3-5 days to make the most of it. There are great accommodations in Key Largo and Key West to opt from. We loved our stay at the Hampton Inn at Key Largo and DoubleTree by Hilton in Key West. The free shuttle service is available from the hotel to the downtown Key West.

The major attractions along the route include John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Bahia Honda State Park, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Southernmost point of US in Key West, and Everglades National Park. Indulge in water sports or take a deep dive into the colorful aquatic world or relax on the beaches or enjoy the magical sunset in the cruise.

seven mile bridge florida keys miami to key west road trip

#23 The Romantic Road, Germany

The Romantic Road or Romantische Straße as it’s known in Germany is a lovely network of roads that stretches over 350 kilometers, from Würzburg and Füssen in the regions of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The Romantic Road passes by some of the most picturesque towns in Germany as well as spectacular castles from medieval times. It’s definitely one of the best road trips in Europe and in a few days, you can explore some of the best destinations in Germany, including Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, which inspired Walt Disney when he created the Disney Castle.

Nördlingen, Dinkelsbuhl, and Burg Harburg are some other famous stops along the route. There are a wide number of hotels and guesthouses where you can overnight. Hotel Müller is a great hotel located next to Neuschwanstein, which allows you to visit the castle early in the morning without the crowds.

The Romantic Road was originally promoted by travel agents in the 1950s but has since become one of the most iconic routes for international travelers to Germany. The best time of the year to go is definitely during late spring or early autumn. Early summer is also great since you will likely get great weather but still be able to avoid most of the crowds that travel through the region in July and August.

For travelers without a car or those who prefer to not rent a car in Germany, there are also guided bus tours that one can join. Although it should be noted that the Romantic Road is best enjoyed while driving on your own, with special guided tours on places of interest.

Recommended by Alexander Waltner of Gourmand Trotter

Neuschwanstein Castle romantic road germany best road trips

#24 Andalusia Road Trip

Perfect to uncover one of the most known and touristy regions in Spain, an Andalusia road trip will delight nature and architecture aficionados as Andalusia is as diverse as it gets.

You can make it as long or short as you want. Depending on how you are getting around and how many days you have to spend in the region, the route could take you anything from a couple of hundred km to over a thousand.

I’d suggest a week at least. It will make you enjoy Andalusia as it deserves to be experienced: slowly, and taking time to absorb its unique heritage and traditions. Of course, if you have more time, you can extend it to up to one month. It truly has lots to offer its visitors. On my Andalusia road trip guide, I have written about different itineraries to take depending on what interests you the most.

Avoid high season (from late Spring to early Autumn) if you don’t want to deal with crowds in the most famous places such as Seville and Granada. Other than that, be well aware that temperatures in Summer can reach 40ºC, and, on the other hand, some places in Andalusia have a rough Winter (ie. the Sierra Nevada, 30min away from Granada).

Hands down, an Andalusia road trip for first-timers should include Seville, Granada, Malaga, and Cadiz. Everything else you throw in the mix will be an added bonus. As a recommendation, and if you have time, check Cordoba, Tarifa, Ronda, and the Sierra Nevada.

Being one of the most touristy regions in an already very touristy country, the accommodation options are endless. I have great memories from TOC Hostel Sevilla and Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada. They belong to different worlds but each one is charming on its own. Highly recommended.

Avoid weekends in the most touristy spots and book your Alhambra passes well in advance. They tend to sell out quickly. Other than that, taste as many Andalusian dishes as you possibly can, and don’t forget to check the nightlife of towns and cities you pass by. Spaniards are social animals and for sure love a good party or two a week.

Recommended by Inma of A World to Travel

Alhambra palace Granada Spain Andalusia road trip.

#25 Bergen to Oslo, Norway

The drive from Bergen to Oslo lets you experience the striking mountain passes and out-of-this-world (literally) fjord countryside.

The road starts in Bergen and ends in Oslo or the other way around, traversing its way through Voss, Gudvangen, Aurland, Flam, Borgund, Gol, and many other small Norwegian towns depending upon the route you choose. We found Hardangervidda route the best!

The direct drive takes about 7 to 9 hours depending upon the route you follow. Though, it’s wise to spend 3 to 4 days on the road to enjoy all the major attractions on the way.

There are quite a number of routes to choose from while traveling from Bergen to Oslo or Oslo to Bergen, each more beautiful than the next.

Late spring through to early autumn is the best time to take a road trip in Norway.

#26 Montenegro Road Trip

Home to historic old towns, winding mountain roads, and reflective alpine lakes, Montenegro will make for an incredibly picturesque road-trip. There are various different routes to take in one week, but I recommend going from the West (Podgorica) to East (Kotor).

In between, highlights include Skadar Lake, Durmitor National Park, Sveti Stefan, and the famous Lovcen to Kotor road – best known for it’s striking 25 hairpin bends!

The best time to visit Montenegro for a weekend away might be the summer months when the bays and sea surrounding the historical old cities become warm enough to swim in. However, for a road trip, this may be less advantageous as the roads are tight and with many stomach-churning cliff drops – not the best time to cross seventeen tour buses on the congested roads!

Similarly, in the Winter there will likely be many road closures due to bad weather. I visited in the shoulder season and, despite some rain, it was very peaceful.

The most iconic spots on a Montenegro road trip have to be the Pavlova Strana lookout of Skadar Lake and also a visit to Crno Jezero (Black Lake) – one of the 17 glacier lakes in Durmitor National Park. While in this area, you should also visit the photogenic Durdevica Tara Bridge and Tara Canyon, which is the largest canyon in Europe at 1300m deep

The most famous road in Montenegro is the Lovcen to Kotor road. The main section is 17km of startling hairpin bends. As you snake up the mountain, the views get ever more dazzling with spectacular panoramas from the dramatic, mountainside drops. Thankfully, there are clearly marked places to pull in and take a photo. Stay safe and enjoy the ride!

Recommended by Cassie of Cassie the Hag

piva canyon montenegro road trip

#27 Alsace Wine Route, France

The Wine Route of Alsace, in the French region of Grand Est, is one of the best areas to explore on a road trip in France. The route is dotted with picturesque Alsatian towns, beautiful hikes through the vineyards, and of course wine tasting! This road trip is also perfect to get a taste of the Alsatian cuisine to pair with the best Alsatian wines, mostly whites.

The best time to do this Alsace Wine Route is after the harvest and with the fall colors. It is recommended starting this road trip from Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, and spend at least one day visiting the city, with musts like the Gothic Cathedral, or La Petite France.

The distance between Paris and Strasbourg is 550 km. Along the route, there’s so much to see and do that it is recommended at least 3 days for this Alsace Wine Route, plus the full day visiting Strasbourg.

The drive is easy and there is no need for any special car for this road trip. Along the route, you can admire the stunning green foothills of the Vosges Mountains and the various Alsace vineyards. The cutest villages to visit in Alsace are Colmar, Kaysersberg, Mittelbergheim, Dambach-la-Ville, Ribeauvillé, and Riquewihr.

The first two are very popular with tourists, especially on the weekends, so going off the beaten path exploring lesser-known towns may be a good idea to avoid the crowds.

As for accommodation, Strasbourg and Colmar are two good places to say, with a wider choice of hotels and guesthouses.

Recommended by Elisa from France Bucket List

Alsace wine route best road trips in the world
©  Elisa

#28 Pacific Coast Highway, USA

If you’re on the hunt for one of the most iconic road trips in the world, then you can’t go wrong with taking a drive on Highway 1 in California, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway! Though the most popular stretch of this route is the road from Los Angeles to San Francisco, this incredible coastal road spans over 650 miles (1,000 + kilometers) and has so much to see and do along the way.

The PCH begins in the town of Dana Point in Orange County, about 60 miles (around 100 kilometers) south of LA and ends in the town of Legget in Northern California’s Mendocino County, a few hours north of San Francisco. While the road is long and there is so much to see, some of the most iconic stops and spectacular scenery takes place on the stretch between Santa Barbara and Monterey and, in particular, the incredible region of Big Sur.

If you want to do the entire PCH drive, your best would be to plan for at least five days to one week to be able to enjoy it to the fullest, especially if you want to explore the towns and cities along the way. Enjoying the laid back vibes of Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach is necessary, as is hiking in Big Sur and taking in the quaint towns of Monterey and Carmel.

The Pacific Coast Highway is easily the most iconic road trip in the US and it is the quintessential way to see and experience coastal California and to enjoy just how diverse this beautiful state is.

Recommended by Maggie of The World Was Here First

bixby creek bridge pacific coast highway california

#29 Johannesburg to Tanzania

Easily the most epic road trip we’ve done with our kids has to be the 101 days Overlanding Africa in a Land Rover Defender. At the time, our boys were just 2 and 4 years old and we had no 4×4 experience whatsoever.

This African road trip starts in South Africa, through to Mozambique, Malawi, up to Tanzania, and back down through Zambia and Namibia, returning to South Africa. A total of 15000 kilometers and 5 border crossings. We traveled in a Land Rover Defender with roof tents and camped almost every night.

Expect to deal with corrupt officials, impassable roads, once-in-a-generation weather events, and of course the usual toddler tantrums along the way. But I found that all that paled into insignificance when I think of the seemingly endless nights camping under the African stars, the incredible wildlife experiences, the warm welcome from villages we passed, and the tighter bond we formed as a family.

Top tips if you plan to do a trip like this is to plan your route the night before and always have a plan B in case you can’t reach your destination before sunset. Supermarkets are few and far between, so stock up when you get the opportunity. The same goes for fuel. Make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations and take antimalarials. For safety, only stay at fenced and secure campsites.

Lots more information about this road trip can be found in our post about Overlanding Africa with kids. Africa stole our hearts, and the experience will forever change us.

Recommended by Jenny of TraveLynn Family

Overland from Johannseburg to tanzania ruaha national park
©  Jenny

#30 Tbilisi to Kazbegi, Georgia

Road trip from Tbilisi to Kazbegi takes through Georgian Military Road which is a must-do road trip in Georgia. This is one of the most scenic roads in the South. It has an ancient historic past which has witnessed historic trade, wars, and legends.

Located in northern Georgia, just a few kilometers from Russia Kazbegi (also known as Stepsminda) town is famous for Mount Kazbek and Gergeti Trinity Church. Not only this town is very beautiful, but the road from Tbilisi to Kazbegi has many beautiful stopovers in between.

First, stop from Tbilisi while going to Kazbegi comes Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta town which you can skip and do it while returning also. But the view from the top of the monastery is amazing. Then after few kilometers comes another beautiful spot which is Zinvali Dam and Reservoir. The road now passes along hilly farmlands and view of the river which is picturesque.

Even sometimes, you can spot a herd of sheep or horses crossing the road, which is a truly amazing spot. Then comes the third stop – Ananuri castle and church, which has an amazing view of the river and hills. This stop is the most photogenic spot of the road trip. Just before you are about to reach Kazbegi, the final stop in between comes which is a small hilly town of Gudauri.

Gudauri is a ski resort and has wonderful hilly adventure options like paragliding, biking along the hills, and horse riding across the green hilly slopes. Once again, I must say, this road trip pass through wonderful nature, ancient monasteries, and lovely villages.

Tbilisi is about 150 km away from Kazbegi and the drive takes anywhere between 3 to 5 hours depending upon how much time you spend on the stop-offs. Late spring to early autumn is the ideal time to take this drive.

Recommended by Yukti of Travel with Me 247 Blog

Trinity Gergeti Church, Kazbegi Georgia

#31 Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa

One of the most famous and romantic coastal roads in the world is Chapman’s Peak Drive close to Cape Town in South Africa. It runs a bit south from Hout Bay along the Atlantic coast towards the Cape. The road is fondly called “Chappies” by the locals.

The 9 km long route, which leads in 114 curves around the 596 m high Chapman’s Peak, was blasted into the partly vertical rock walls between 1915 and 1922. This masterpiece of bold road construction runs approx. 150 m above the roaring Atlantic and 450 m below the Chapman summit.

The road was carved into the rocks exactly on the rock boundary, where the harder granite base merges into the softer sandstone of the towering rocky peaks. There are many beautiful viewpoints along the way that you just can’t miss. In the area of ​​Chapman’s Peak, there are at least two options for a shortstop. From Noordhoek, you have a wonderful view to the south towards Kommetjie over the white, spacious and deserted Long Beach.

The whole tour lasts about 30 minutes. It can be recommended to do it either very early in the morning or at sunset. If you want to stay nearby, you can do so in The Twelve Apostles Hotel, which is absolutely top-notch.

Recommended by Clemens of Travellers Archive

chapman's peak drive south africa best road trips

#32 Jordan Road Trip

You can’t get much more iconic than a road trip in Jordan. Imagine traveling to float in a perfectly still Dead Sea as you gaze across to Israel on the other side. Another stop on and you will find
yourself hiking through the ancient sites of Petra, marveling at the ruins of the Monastery and the Treasury as well as numerous tombs.

Yet Jordan has even more to offer than just these two places. From the Roman ruins in and near Amman to exploring the desert landscape of Wadi Rum just like Lawrence of Arabia to relaxing and snorkeling in the Red Sea – there’s so much to do.

To tour Jordan is around 900 km if you take in the main sights of Amman, Jerash, the Dead Sea,
Madaba, Petra (Wadi Musa), Wadi Rum, and the Red Sea (Aqaba). The roads are of good quality and hiring a car is relatively easy.

It is worth keeping your documents handy as there are several security checkpoints on the main roads. There are a few different Jordan itineraries depending on how much time you have. To really do Jordan justice, a road trip is best done in 10-14 days but it is possible to do it in around 8, particularly if you skip Aqaba.

There are many good quality hotels in Jordan – consider staying in Movenpick hotels and take advantage of their 2 for 1 deal using the Entertainer App. There are also many glamping options in Wadi Rum such as Sun City Camp which is a must-do for any Jordan trip.

The best time to go to Jordan is before April or after October – the summer months get swelteringly hot. Winter is much less crowded but can be quite cold and many hotels/restaurants will be closed or doing renovations.

Recommended by Emma of Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

king's highway jordan road trip

#33 Split to Sarajevo, Balkans

This trip is a dream because it includes all the highlights of the Balkan region: turquoise beaches, roman and medieval towns, stunning nature, and interesting history. It’s ideal to set aside 10 days to fully enjoy the roughly 400 km road trip.

Start in Split, Croatia, where you can explore Diocletian’s palace (a 1700 years old fortress, where the roman emperor lived), enjoy the forest and the beaches of Marjan park, and visit a few art museums (don’t miss the Meštrović Gallery). From Split, you can do a few day trips.

The must-see places are medieval Trogir, Krka waterfalls, and at least one of the islands (there’re island hopping tours to cover more in less time). Then drive alongside the coast to Croatia’s capital of adventure: Omiš. Have fun doing ziplining, rafting, or rock climbing.

After a few days in the Adriatic coast, head to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first stop will be in Kravica waterfalls. Spend a few hours wandering around them and go for a quick swim in the cold water. Then visit Poćitelj, the first sight that you’re entering a Muslim country.

This village looks like an open-air museum: medieval towers and mosques in a cliff overlooking the Neretva river. The next stop is Blagaj. A historical Tekija –a Dervish monastery– is set in a cliff in the spring of the Buna river.

Stay in Mostar, the best place to learn about the history of Bosnia, especially about the Yugoslav wars. The contrast between Western Croatia and Eastern Bosnia gets palpable here. The river divides the town into two different worlds.

The last stop is Sarajevo. Bosnia’s capital is a treat. The best from every conqueror stayed in the town. Walk around to discover layers from Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, and socialist times.

Recommended by Constanza of Experiencing the Globe

split to sarajevo balkans road trip mostar

#34 Carretera Austral, Chile

Carretera Austral (“Southern Highway”) or Road no. 7 is the most famous road in Chile that stretches from the port-city Puerto Montt to the tiny village of Villa O’Higgins, some 1,200 km or 750 miles south. As fjords interrupt the Carretera Austral, you need to take three ferries in between to drive the whole distance.

From dense rainforests and spectacular fjords, over mountain passes with views on snowy peaks, through vast steppes with vivid wildlife, to lush green hills, impressive glaciers and gorgeous lakes – Carretera Austral is breathtaking. Opposite of what the name might indicate, Carretera Austral is anything but a highway.

The road is still mostly unpaved, which alongside the stunning landscape of Chilean Patagonia adds a unique charm and without argue makes it one of the best road trips in the world. Two weeks is a bare minimum to experience the highlights, but if you’d like to include camping or several hikes in the national parks dotted along the road, add at least another week to the itinerary.

Weather in Patagonia can be unpredictable and harsh during the winter, therefore summer months (December to February) or early Autumn when nature dresses up in dazzling colors, are the best to embark on this journey.

Some of the best stops along the way for hiking are national parks Pumalin, Patagonia and Cerro Castillo, and a few highlights you shouldn’t miss are hanging glacier in national park Queulat, marble caves and glacier Exploradores near Rio Tranquilo and one of the most unique towns in Patagonia, Caleta Tortel.

Campsites, cottages, homestays, hostels, and B&Bs – there’s no shortage of accommodation along the Carretera Austral, but many are not bookable online, so just ask around once you arrive in a town. And as wild camping is allowed in Chile, you’re able to find your own place to sleep with “a-million-dollar-worth-view” as well.

Recommended by Sandra from BlueMarble Vagabonds

Carretera Austral Chile South America Best road trips in the world

#35 Southern Finland Road Trip

Finland is well known for snowscapes and sleigh rides but this Nordic country has much more to offer. Visit during the summer months and you’ll be rewarded with endless forests, myriad lakes, and long sunny days that last forever.

The best way to experience everything that Finland has to offer is on a road trip and the loop around the southern half of the country is the best. Spanning more than 1,000km this road trip combines cool cities with plenty of time in the Great Outdoors and even the chance to meet some Moomins.

Two weeks is the minimum you want to allocate for your Finland road trip. Start your travels in Helsinki, the capital, swimming in the Allas Sea Pools, and visiting the island fortress of Suomenlinna. From here, travel north towards the Finnish Lakeland region.

During the summer months, Finland is awash with blues and greens, the forested landscape scattered with patches of brilliant blue water. Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in the country and the fourth biggest natural freshwater lake in Europe.

Swim, sail, and paddle on the lake waters, and then go in search of the rare Saimaa Ringed Seal. There are also castles to visit and Santa’s summer hideaway to find. The next stop on the road trip is Tampere, on the west coast of Finland. This city is home to some fun museums (both a Moomin themed one and a Spy Museum) and some great food.

Your next stop is Turku, one of Finland’s hippest cities and the country’s original capital. This is also where you’ll find Moominworld, the home of Finland’s most famous residents. Your final stop on the trip is Helsinki and it’s worth spending a day or two more in the capital.

Recommended by Katja of Globetotting

lake saimaa southern finland road trip

#36 Pisa to Ascoli Piceno, Italy

If you’re looking for a great overview of Italy, taking in famous art history but also some hidden gems, an Italy road trip from Pisa in the west to Ascoli in the east is a great idea.

Pisa makes an excellent base for your first few days in Italy: visit the Leaning Tower, take a day trip to Florence or Lucca or head to the beach at Viareggio. The drive from Pisa south to Siena takes you past a host of lovely towns including San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

From Siena, you can travel west past Pienza and Montepulciano (great wine) and into Umbria. There’s plenty to see in Perugia and Assisi but find time for the smaller towns such as pretty Spello and the excellent wine town of Montefalco.

If you’ve had your fill of art and history in Tuscany and Umbria, the drive into Le Marche is a real treat for road trip enthusiasts. The road weaves through the stunning Sibillini Mountains taking in carpets of wildflowers and dramatic mountain peaks. Ensure you start the drive in Norcia and drive along the SP477.

Spring and early summer are the best times to take this trip. Once through the mountains, Ascoli Piceno makes for an enjoyable stop. Enjoy coffee in Piazza del Popolo, possibly one of Italy’s most beautiful squares. If you’re yearning for some beach time, the east coast of Le Marche offers long stretches of sandy coastline.

This drive is best done over two weeks but if time is short you could fit it into 10 days. Depending on the exact route, the distance is around 450 kilometers.

Recommended by Annabel of Smudged Postcard

Pisa to Ascoli Piceno road trip italy

#37 Porto to Lisbon

The countryside of Portugal has some of the most beautiful scenery and landscapes which makes it perfect for road tripping. The drive from Porto to Lisbon is full of gorgeous little villages, amazing medieval castles, and an incredible UNESCO heritage-listed wine region.

This road trip can easily be completed in 10 days but it is possible to spend up to 2 weeks, it really just depends on your time frame. The total driving distance covered will be around 600km or 370mi.

The best time to road trip through Portugal is during the spring or summer months to ensure better weather for sightseeing. Fall is also a good time to go because there are fewer crowds and still a good chance of having nice weather.

Start off the trip by spending a few days in Porto before carrying on to the first stop on your road trip which is the stunning Douro Valley wine region. Only a 2 hour drive inland from Porto, this historic wine region has some spectacular scenery and is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. With rolling green hills and vineyards growing up the side of the steep slopes, it’s no wonder the Douro Valley is considered one of the most beautiful drives in Europe!

Stay in the Douro Valley for 1-2 nights in the town of Lamego before continuing the road trip to Tomar. The small town of Tomar is famous for its Castle of the Knights Templar which is a UNESCO listed site. There is also a beautiful ancient aqueduct near the castle which is particularly nice to visit at sunset. These sites can be visited in a day before carrying onto the next stop of the road trip, Obidos.

To fully explore this picturesque little town, aim to stay in Obidos for 2 nights. Obidos gets very busy with tourists visiting from Lisbon on day trips, if you spend some extra time here you’ll be able to avoid the peak tourist hours. From there, continue to the colorful town of Sintra and spend 2 nights.

Full of stunning palaces and mansions, some of your highlights will be visiting Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and Monserrate Palace. Sintra is very close to Lisbon which will be the endpoint in this epic Portugal road trip. Spend as much time as you like exploring Lisbon before ending the trip.

Recommended by Ann of The Road is Life

Castle of the Knights Templar Tomar Porto to Lisbon road trip
©  Ann

#38 Adelaide to Darwin, Australia

Road-tripping Australia from Adelaide in the south through the outback to tropical Darwin in the north is a 3000 km (1865 mile) introduction to iconic sights, vast distances, world exclusives, and a cross-section of classic Aussie scenery.

It’ll only take a few days if you prefer long hours on the road and limited stops but plan for about two weeks if you want to see the sights. Take the trip during the cooler months – that’s May to September down under – summer temperatures can be extreme, so some attractions may be closed.

Take the Princes Highway from Adelaide to Port Augusta, then the Stuart Highway north. From there, it’s all outback salt lakes, claypans, and mesas to Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world. Stay underground overnight, before detouring to the Breakaways where several movies were filmed, and past the Dingo Fence, longest man-made structure on earth!

After the South Australia/Northern Territory Border, take the Erldunda turnoff for Uluru and Kata Tjuta, a three-hour drive west. Curtin Springs offers cheaper accommodation than Uluru, but it’s an hour’s drive away from the Rock.

Return to the Stuart Highway and Alice Springs, half-way point and gateway to Central Australia’s amazing mountain ranges, gorges, and red rock formations. A few hours further north stay at Wycliffe Well, Australia’s UFO capital, and watch the sunrise or set at the nearby Devils Marbles.

As the scenery turns more tropical, several roadhouses and small towns further north offer meals, accommodation, and entertainment, but stay at Bitter Springs or Mataranka and soak away your travel tensions in the thermal pools.

Stay in Katherine to tour its famous gorge, take a detour to Litchfield National Park, then it’s north to Darwin, a gateway to the ‘Top End’ and the end of the road trip.

Recommended by Marion of Redz Australia

Uluru Adelaide to Darwin road trip australia

#39 India to Myanmar

One of the most epic road trips that you can take is the India Myanmar Road trip crossing the international border at Moreh in India. It was only in May 2018 when the India-Myanmar Land Treaty was signed between India and Myanmar that facilitated an easier crossing of the border by tourists.

But this road trip across the Asian Highway will take you across two different countries of diverse culture, people, and landscape. While you travel across Manipur in India, you will also explore the various parts of Myanmar like Mandalay, Bagan, Inle, and Yangon. In fact, taking the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, you can take a road trip from India to Thailand via Myanmar.

The total distance covered in this epic road trip is about 2600 km starting and ending at Imphal and covering Moreh (India), Tamu, Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon (All in Myanmar). The entire trip can be covered in 10 days.

The best time for this trip would be from November to March. The climate remains pleasant during this time in both India and Myanmar.

All the stops on this road trip have their own attractions. Imphal is a beautiful city in Manipur while Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon are known for their own beauty. Imphal, Tamu, Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon will be your stops for the night and all these places have hotels and homestays catering to all kinds of budget. Only Tamu is a small town and has lesser options for accommodation.

Some tips for doing the India-Myanmar Road Trip:

  • Since on this road trip, you have to cross land borders, and please make sure that you have your passport and visas in place.
  • Self-drive in Myanmar requires a carnet fee and an escort vehicle. Please enquire about them if you wish to self-drive.
  • The distance between Tamu to Mandalay is about 470 km, and that is the longest you might have to travel in a day. The road between Tamu to Mandalay is not yet in excellent condition, and it takes about 12 hours to cover the distance. 
  • Even though you are taking a road trip, keep sufficient days in hands for Bagan and Mandalay so that you do not miss the attractions of these places.

Recommended by Amrita of Tale of 2 Backpackers

india to myanmar road trip hot air balloons in bagan

#40 Pan-American Highway

If you are looking for an epic road trip like no other, then the Pan American Highway could be for you! It will be a journey of your life, simply because it’s the longest continuous road in the world.

But don’t choose the PanAm for your next annual vacation, it’s too long for that. I know of one couple who drove it in 6 months – but you will not see much at such pace! Their photos were mostly blurred pictures taken out of the moving vehicle. The shortest feasible time to drive the PanAm might be a gap year.

Even the most direct route passes so many varied and fascinating sights that you might want to spend much more time. Why not set off slowly and visit some of the diverse National Parks in the USA and Canada?

Mexico and Guatemala are the first exotic destinations that can keep you enthralled for months with their colorful customs and amazing old Aztec and Mayan ruins. Costa Rica and Panama are perfect countries to camp on tropical beaches with crystal clear water.

Colombia is an interesting introduction to South America: chaotic cities contrast with colorful relaxed towns and villages. Its people are the most friendly and helpful anywhere. One thing most Latin American countries have in common are beautiful colonial towns with Spanish or Portuguese style architecture. Ecuador’s capital Quito is a World Heritage-listed example.

Peru is considered a “cradle of civilization” and has fascinating historic sights, many of which are much older than the famed Machu Picchu. You could spend months zigzagging through this country and never see it all.

nazca desert peru pan american highway

The further down you travel in South America the taller the mountains of the Andes become. It takes some time to acclimatize to altitudes above 3000-4000 meters (~10-14000 feet), but it’s worth it. You will find clear blue skies, incredible mountain formations of sometimes unbelievable colors, and solitude you have never experienced before.

The final leg of the Pan American Highway will take you either through Chile or Argentina. Either side closely follows the Andes; you either have mountains to your left or to your right. Many of these are still capped by ancient glaciers. Your most southerly destination, Ushuaia in Patagonia, is the departure point for ships into the Antarctic Ocean.

Interesting facts before you begin planning your Pan American trip:

  • the official start of the Pan American Highway is Prudhoe Bay in Alaska; it ends in Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina
  • the most direct route passes through 14 countries and is over 24000 kilometers (15000 miles) long; with detours, most people travel between 40 and 60000 kilometers
  • you will have to ship your vehicle across the famous Darian Gap between Panama and Colombia – there’s no road connection
  • you can make the PanAm trip with any vehicle; choose one that is reliable and can be serviced along the way (so nothing too exotic)
  • you can drive the PanAm with a regular RV, as long as you choose a compact model
  • you don’t need any special papers to drive the PanAm
  • no vehicle insurance will cover the entire route, you will need to buy local insurance
  • people of all ages travel the PanAm, from families with small children to retirees.
     

Your expenses for the trip will very much depend on your lifestyle and traveling pace. Fuel, road tolls, and shipping can be the highest costs. The slower you go, the cheaper it will be per month. The author of this contribution traveled the Pan American Highway for nearly 7 years and spent on average $1000/month for 2 people camping.

Recommended by Juergen of Dare2go

pan american highway in brazil best road trips in the world

Over to you! How many of these iconic road trips have you taken? Share in the comments section.

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