20 Spectacular Road Trips Around the World

Fresh air, great sights, the feeling of wind blowing through your hair – these are just some of the highlights associated with going on a road trip. Luckily, the world is full of iconic roads that every traveler should be familiar with. Here are just 20 of the most spectacular ones:

1. Route 66, USA

Highway shield for US Route 66 painted on the pavement in Amboy, California
Symbolizing the very idea of escape, Route 66 should be on every adventure seeker's bucket list © Stefano Politi Markovina / Shutterstock.com

Sometimes referred to as "The Main Street of America", Route 66 plays a significant role in modern American culture. Its chief infrastructure goal lies in linking the nation's west coast to its Midwest epicenter, but historically Route 66 came to symbolize the very idea of escape and adventure. It has been immortalized in countless classics ranging from The Grapes of Wrath to Easy Rider, and numerous businesses have sprung up along its length to capitalize on the mystique. Among the many highlights you'll encounter as you make your way from Chicago to California are the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, the Painted Desert landscapes of Arizona, the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum in Illinois and Roy's Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California.

2. Great Ocean Road, Australia

Morning view of the Great Ocean Road on the shores of the Otway Ranges
Unforgettable views and serene beauty are on display along the Great Ocean Road © timobalk / Shutterstock.com

If you love watching the vast expanse of the ocean, your ideal road trip will likely be the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Hugging the coastline of Victoria between Torquay and Allansford, this supremely scenic drive will offer you unforgettable views of the Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. You'll get to catch a glimpse of imposing rock formations such as Loch Ard Gorge and the Twelve Apostles, alongside stretches of dense rainforests and crowded beaches. The Otway Ranges are another can't-miss proposition thanks to their lush landscapes and serene beauty, while picturesque towns such as Lorne and Apollo Bay provide a handy respite when you get road-weary.

3. Pacific Coast Highway, USA

The iconic Bixby Creek Bridge along the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur
Show-stopping vistas such as the Bixby Creek Bridge are a common occurrence along the Pacific Coast Highway © FiledIMAGE / Shutterstock.com

The twisting, cliff-hugging beauty of the Pacific Coast Highway truly showcases the best of what California has to offer. It connects two of the state's most popular cities in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and also encompasses several key California locations such as Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Along the way, you can expect to witness plenty of show-stopping vistas while you skirt by the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Among them, Bixby Creek Bridge stands out thanks to its panoramic views, while Morro Bay boasts the towering Morro Rock, an extinct volcano cone that sits right off the coastline.

4. Transfagarasan, Romania

Balea Lake close to the top of the Transfagarasan, Romania
The glacier Balea Lake is a popular stop along Romania's iconic Transfagarasan © Melinda Nagy / Shutterstock.com

Mountain roads are always impressive, if only for the sheer amount of effort and planning that must've gone into constructing them. But few can rival Romania's Transfagarasan, an incredible stretch of road located high up in the Carpathian mountain range. Views of the awesome Fagaras Mountains abound, as the road reaches a maximum elevation of over 6,000 feet. While some stretches are quite barren, there are several attractions located along the road, including the massive dam on Vidraru Lake and the tourist hotspot of Balea Lake, with its corresponding Balea Waterfall and spectacular Ice Hotel.

5. North Coast 500, Scotland

Kylesku Bridge along North Coast 500, Scotland
A road trip along the scenic North Coast 500 is one of the best ways to explore the Scottish Highlands © Susann Guenther / Shutterstock.com

If you're travelling by car, there's no better way to explore the Scottish Highlands than by venturing out on North Coast 500, a 516-mile long scenic route that showcases almost everything the region is known for. The road starts in Inverness and then loops around the north coast, connecting charming villages such as Muir of Ord to small towns like Dingwall, while also offering access to famous Scottish landmarks such as Dunrobin Castle and the Castle of Mey. Other potential pit stop locations include the church ruins of the Beauly Priory and the spectacular Smoo Cave.

6. Milford Road, New Zealand

RV driving on Milford Road through Fiordland National Park towards Milford Sound
With Milford Road both the journey as well as the destination are equally exciting © rafaGalvez41 / Shutterstock.com

New Zealand on the whole is about as scenic as it gets, but the stretch of road that leads to Milford Sound might just be the most enticing of all. This winding road will take you into the Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its distinctive glaciers as well as for housing gorgeous natural landmarks like the Mirror Lakes and the hidden waterfall known as The Chasm. In addition, you'll also be driving past Eglinton Valley with its steep rock sides and golden tussock floor. But the star of the show is Milford Sound itself, a spectacular fjord with notable points of interest such as Mitre Peak and the Stirling Falls.

7. Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland

Scenic view of the Causeway Coastal Route along Northern Ireland's coastline
Drive the Causeway Coastal Route to experience Northern Ireland at its most beautiful © Nahlik / Shutterstock.com

Connecting the cities of Belfast and Londonderry, the Causeway Coastal Route is a great way to experience Northern Ireland at its most beautiful. The route's name comes from the Giant's Causeway, one of the nation's most remarkable natural landmarks, a unique geological formation that consists of thousands of basalt columns that appear to form a staircase pathway to the sea. Aside from that, taking the Causeway Coastal Route will expose you to several other quintessentially Northern Irish attractions, including the Glenarm Castle with its lush gardens, and the spectacular Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

8. Ring Road, Iceland

Bridge along the Ring Road in Iceland
Lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and much more - all work together to provide a rich experience along Iceland's Ring Road © Christian Schwier / Shutterstock.com

With over 800 miles and a route that pretty much circles the entire country, Iceland's Ring Road is quite the undertaking, but one that will leave you immeasurably richer should you decide to take it on. Along the way, you'll see your fair share of glaciers, lakes and wide open plains. Some of Iceland's most notable attractions are found next to the Ring Road, including the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. What's more, you'll also be passing through several Icelandic cities of varying sizes, with the capital of Reykjavik and the gorgeous fishing village of Hofn being just two of the most notable examples.

9. Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, UAE

View of the Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road from the observation point at the top of the mountain
After an adrenaline-pumping drive stop at the viewpoint at the top of the Jebel Hafeet Mountain for some awe-inspiring views © Sergey Vovk / Shutterstock.com

Awe-inspiring roads aren't found solely in the Western world. In fact, as far as pure adrenaline-pumping adventure is concerned, Jebel Hafeet in the United Arab Emirates can give any American or European road a run for its money. Scaling up the Jebel Hafeet Mountain provides an excellent test for your driving abilities, with several hairpin turns and a smooth surface that will make you feel like a Formula 1 driver. Along the way, you can stop and take in the beauty of the Arabian desert landscape, replete with touches of vegetation thanks to the presence of the Green Mubazzarah oasis.

10. ALCAN Highway, Canada/USA

RV pulled over to the side of the road along ALCAN Highway near Destruction Bay, Canada with Mount Cairnes in the background
You can enjoy some of the most beautifully rugged terrain in both Canada and the US along the ALCAN Highway © Reinhard Tiburzy / Shutterstock.com

Officially the Alaska Highway, this impressively long stretch of road connects Canada to the US state of Alaska, all while blazing through some of the most handsomely rugged terrain in either country. With this much length, you'll have your choice of potential pit stops. Some of the most noteworthy ones are found in British Columbia, which boasts the highway's origin point in Dawson Creek, as well the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park. Moving into Yukon Territory, the Sign Post Forest and the city of Whitehorse are both excellent places to visit, while the Alaskan portion features the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and the highway's official ending point at Delta Junction.

11. Road 62 Road, South Africa

Highway sign along the Western Cape section of Route 62 with the Swartberg mountains in the background
From mountain ranges to vineyards, Route 62 will give you a glimpse into what makes South Africa so special © emjaybea / Shutterstock.com

Going on a tour of South Africa is an enticing proposition no matter how you go about it. The fact that there's a road that pretty much links the Western and Eastern Capes of the country makes this a no-brainer. Between its starting point in Cape Town and its end in Port Elizabeth, Route 62 takes you on a tour of everything that makes South Africa special, from excursions into the nation's wine country to wilderness detours inside the Swartberg mountain range. Among the many points of interest you'll encounter along the way are Ronnie's Sex Shop, the underground Cango Caves and the spectacular Sanbona reserve, where you can watch the only free-roaming white lions in the world.

12. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Sunset view of the lighthouse at Fanad Head County Donegal along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way patiently awaits to impress you with its towering lighthouses, stunning natural landscapes, historic castles, and much more © Christopher Hawhins / Shutterstock.com

A truly epic journey that stretches over 1,600 miles, Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way covers virtually the entirety of its nation's west coast. The sheer number of historic castles, charming villages and stunning natural landscapes you'll encounter along the way is incredible, but even if you pick and choose you'll still walk away impressed. After all, who can resist the beauty of Portsalon Beach, or the towering Fanad Head Lighthouse in North Donegal? Add to that historical towns such as Clifden and the jaw-dropping Cliffs of Moher and you have all the makings of a truly legendary road trip.

13. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Group of bikers riding through Positano, a village on the Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast provides numerous photo opportunities at every turn © danieleorsi / Shutterstock.com

Even in a nation as touristically-rich as Italy, the Amalfi Coast still stands out due to its beauty and all-around popularity. So it comes as no surprise that a road that crosses the area is among the world's most highly regarded. Short and sweet, the Amalfi Coast highway stretches over just 43 miles, but it has so many twists and turns that it will feel much longer than that. From the intricate villas of Ravello to the glamorous beaches of Atrani, this scenic drive is filled with photo opportunities and places to relax and unwind. Its centerpiece is undoubtedly the cliffside village of Positano, whose colorful seafront has been immortalized in countless pictures and videos.

14. Garden Route, South Africa

Railway Bridge over the mouth of the Kaaimans River near the town of Wilderness along the Garden Route
For a glimpse into South Africa's spectacular scenery, the Garden Route is the road to take © Terence Stubbs / Shutterstock.com

Although it has certain elements in common with Route 62, another popular South African road trip, the Garden Route focuses on different locations and aims to highlight another side of the country. As the name implies, that attention is now directed at South Africa's amazing biodiversity and spectacular natural scenery. For evidence of this look no further than the Tsitsikamma National Park or the aptly-titled Wilderness, a seaside town situated at the mouth of the Kaaimans River. Other highlights include the gorgeous Mossel Bay with its dramatic cliffside, and Plettenberg Bay, also known as the adventure capital of the Garden Route.

15. Atlantic Road, Norway

Sunset over the iconic Storseisundet Bridge along Norway's Atlantic Road
Driving down Norway's iconic Atlantic Road really does feel like you're exploring the edges of the world © Fabio Zapata / Shutterstock.com

A marvel of engineering, the Atlantic Road surges beyond continental Norway, connecting several smaller islands to the country's mainland. In doing so, it also creates a supremely enjoyable driving experience, one that will have you feeling like you're exploring the edges of the world. While relishing your ride, be sure to stop and view the impossibly-wavy Storseisundet Bridge, while also admiring the remote beauty of Eldhusoya island with its distinctive elevated trail. And don't forget to stop for a breather at the Askevagen viewpoint, which allows you to peer into the never-ending length of the Atlantic Ocean.

16. Atlas Mountain Road, Morocco

The winding Atlas Mountain Road at the Tizi n'Tichka pass
Head over to the Atlas Mountain Road for a good test of your driving skills © Fernando Privitera / Shutterstock.com

The Atlas Mountains in Morocco offer some of the most spectacularly jagged landscapes in northern Africa, and there's no better way to cruise around them than by venturing on the Atlas Mountain Road. This 116-mile route starts off in Marrakech and then climbs more than 6,000 feet before it reaches the desert oasis of Ouarzazate. During the course of this road trip you'll be expected to test your driving skills as you navigate innumerable steep curves, but it's all worth it once you reach jaw-dropping locations such as Tizi-n'Tichka Pass, where the beauty of the arid landscape comes into full view.

17. Turquoise Trail, USA

Ortiz Mountains seen from the Turquoise Trail as the road approaches Santa Fe in New Mexico
If New Mexico's landscape is calling your name, then the Turquoise Trail is the road to drive © Bonita R. Cheshier / Shutterstock.com

If you've got a taste for wide-open spaces and desert landscapes, New Mexico's Turquoise Trail will be right up your alley. While quite short at approximately 50 miles, this scenic drive offers breathtaking views of the Ortiz Mountains, particularly from vantage points such as Sandia Crest. It also blazes through an assortment of old mining towns including Golden and Cerrillos, both of which are steeped in history and lore. But the star of the show is undoubtedly New Mexico's landscape, filled with craggy rock outcroppings and juniper-dotted hills that combine to create some incredible vistas.

18. Dempster Highway, Canada

Sunset over Tombstone Territorial Park near the southern end of Dempster Highway, Yukon Territory
Let Dempster Highway show you Canada's northernmost area with its tundra landscapes and jagged peaks © FloridaStock / Shutterstock.com

The only all-weather road that crosses into the Arctic Circle, Canada's Dempster Highway offers a rare glimpse into the nation's northernmost areas. It starts off east of Dawson City and then ventures deep into the Northwest Territories, with several worthy locations sandwiched in-between. A great example is the Tombstone Territorial Park, a land of jagged peaks and surprisingly abundant wildlife. There's no better road in Canada to witness wide stretches of tundra landscapes, which look especially spectacular during summer and spring. And don't forget about the many charming towns you'll encounter, with Fort McPherson and Inuvik as two of the main potential pit stops.

19. Cabot Trail, Canada

Cabot Trail seen from one of the view points towards the end of the Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island
You'll have to pull over and park your car for stellar views such as this one, but it's definitely worth it © Damian Lugowski / Shutterstock.com

For a different side of Canada, one characterized by lush greenery and warmer temperatures, look no further than Nova Scotia's Cabot Trail. Creating a loop around Cape Breton Island, the route is filled with warm communities and stretches of untamed nature. In the former category, be sure to stop in places like Pleasant Bay, the whale watching capital of North Breton, and Ingonish, home of the Cape Smokey Provincial Park. And if it's nature at its fullest you crave, don't forget to park your car and enjoy some stellar views from the top of the Skyline Trail.

20. Death Road, Bolivia

Group of cyclists on a bike tour of the Death Road in Bolivia
With a nickname like "Death Road" this clearly isn't for the faint of heart, but, approached the right way, it can turn into an exhilarating experience © Mark Pitt Images / Shutterstock.com

Some road trips are light, family-friendly affairs that cater to tourists looking for a breezy time. But others, like Bolivia's aptly-titled Death Road, exist primarily to challenge drivers and push them to their limits. While no one would describe this stretch of land as easy, braving it can be an exhilarating experience as long as you go slow and follow all safety measures. At numerous points you'll be staring down a cliff as you seek to navigate your chosen vehicle as far from the edge as possible. Although a safer, paved bypass of Death Road has recently been implemented, some drivers still pick the one-lane route that ventures through the pass of La Cumbre. Whatever you choose, take every precaution and stay safe out there!

If, as they say, the journey is more important than the destination, than chances are you'll love experiencing the road trips we've listed here. Of course, there are many more like them out there in the world, so feel free to do some research and come up with your own plans for a road trip extravaganza.

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