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The 12 Best Road Trip Routes In The World

Summary

  • Road trips offer freedom and flexibility, allowing travelers to explore at their own pace and stop as long as they want. No schedules or time constraints to worry about.
  • The world is full of incredible road trip routes, from scenic coastal drives to traversing challenging mountain passes. There are options for every type of traveler.
  • Some of the top road trip routes include Route 66 in the US, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Ocean Road in Australia, Trollstigen in Norway, and the Ring Road in Iceland. These routes offer amazing views and unforgettable experiences.

Traveling by train, like enjoying an adventure on Amtrak’s epic sleeper train routes around the world, can be a comfortable way to explore a destination (and multiple, at that!). However, there’s far less freedom when traveling by rail because passengers are limited to the time constraints and stops on the journey. What’s better than rail travel for folks with wanderlust hoping to be free from the clutches of time limits? Road trips, of course!

Going on a road trip is an amazing way for travelers to discover the world at their own pace; explorers can go wherever their hearts desire and stop for as long as they wish without having to worry about schedules. Moreover, there are countless options for road trip routes that range from scenic coastal drives to traversing rugged mountain passes and immersing oneself in the culture and history of an area (or an entire country, in many cases).

For aspiring roadtrippers looking to see the world, here are the top ten best road trip routes around the globe to add to the bucket list. From the breathtaking vistas of Scotland’s North Coast 500 to the remote and challenging terrain of Pakistan’s Karakoram Highway, these amazing bucket list road trips offer unforgettable experiences and awe-inspiring views for those who crave adventure on the open road.

UPDATE: 2023/11/30 12:40 EST BY NOAH STAATS

Who’s Up For A Drive? These Are Some Of The Most Beautiful Routes To Take

This list covers a number of the most beautiful road trips in the world (in other words, the best!). However, there’s always room for more! As such, this article has been updated with two new bucket list road trip routes, both in the US and the most beautiful to embark on ASAP. From Route 66 across the Western United States to the Blue Ridge Mountain Drive, there are endless places to travel by vehicle. Have fun!

Related: Road Trip Bucket List: 12 Major Cities To Stop At Along Route 66

12
Route 66, United States

Welcome to the Wild West: Route 66 is the perfect desert adventure

Photo by Elizabeth Villalta on Unsplash

Route 66 Sign In Seligman Arizona

One of the most famous road trips in the world is Route 66 in the United States. Not only has this iconic road-inspired movie like Cars, but it also boasts endless scenery, history, and communities worth stopping in for the night. Most notably, Route 66 offers tons of epic stops and spans over 2,400 miles across states like Arizona, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico and ends in Los Angeles, California.

This is undeniably one of the best driving ideas for a road trip itinerary and should keep everyone occupied from mile one to 2,488. Moreover, Route 66 boasts an eight-state coverage, with something to see and do at nearly every turn. However, much of this route goes through desert landscape, so make sure and bring plenty of water!

  • Distance: 2,448 miles
  • Time to Drive: 10 days (minimum), but 2 weeks is an ideal timeframe

11
The Blue Ridge Parkway, United States

This road trip route is known to be the most scenic drive in the United States

Photo by Alex Diaz on Unsplash

An Aerial View Of Autumn Colors And Beautiful Fall Foliage On The Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip In The Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most stunning drives in the United States and arguably North America. Here, people can embark on a 469-mile adventure through this famous mountain range, traveling through states like Virginia and North Carolina. Moreover, the Blue Ridge Parkway detours into places like Shenandoah National Park and the Smoky Mountains National Park system. This makes it a perfect choice for mountain lovers and hikers, plus it is a pretty scenic route from start to finish.

It’s also worth noting that while on this road trip route, you will drive through countless towns, including Linville Falls, Blowing Rock, Boone, Sparta, Roanoke, Virginia, Bryson City, Mouth of Wilson (Grayson Highlands State Park), West Jefferson, and so on.

  • Distance: 469 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9-10 hours

10
Great Ocean Road, Australia

Coastal views and cliffside driving make the Great Ocean Road a top road trip

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Great Ocean Road coastline in Victoria, Australia

Covering a distance of 413 miles, The Great Ocean Road is a picturesque coastal route that starts from Torquay and ends in Allansford, near Warrnambool, located on the southeastern coast of Australia.

Constructed by Australian soldiers in remembrance of their fallen colleagues, the road is renowned for its scenic beauty, with stunning oceanic views, cliffs, and rainforests. Exploring this road with its gorgeous scenery is one of the best things to do in Australia.

  • Distance: 413 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~9.5 hours

9
Trollstigen, Norway

Get ready to turn (a lot) in Norway while driving Trollstigen

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Trollstigen or Trolls Path in Rauma Municipality in Norway

Trollstigen, which translates to the “Troll’s Path” or the “Troll’s Road”, is a mountainous road located in western Norway, running from south to north from Sylte in Fjord Municipality to Åndalsnes in Rauma Municipality. It is approximately 20 kilometers long and contains 11 hairpin turns that ascend the steep mountainside, with gradients as steep as 10%.

The road was built between 1925 and 1936 and has since become a popular tourist attraction due to its breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, earning a spot on many lists of the world’s most scenic drives. Even though it is not included as one of the things travelers should not miss out on in Norway because it’s a bit off the beaten path (and tourists without a car will have to rent one), it provides a breathtaking experience for road trip fans.

  • Distance: 31 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~1-2 hours

8
Ring Road, Iceland

Also called Route 1, this route offers glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and falls

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Driving along ring road or route 1 in Iceland

The Iceland Ring Road, also referred to as Route 1 or simply the Ring Road, is an 828-mile-long highway encircling the entire island country of Iceland. The road provides access to some of Iceland’s most popular tourist spots, such as volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.

Completed in 1974, the Ring Road has emerged as a major tourist attraction in Iceland, offering visitors stunning vistas of the country’s diverse landscapes and unique geological formations. Several charming towns and villages in Iceland (other than Reykjavik) dot the road, providing essential services and accommodations to travelers. From Icelandic culinary adventures to marveling at Iceland’s unique beaches, Iceland’s Ring Road is worth the bucket list because it promises a deep exploration of the entire country.

7
The Garden Route, South Africa

190 miles of beaches, mountains, lagoons, and forests

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Knysna on the Garden Route, South Africa

Located on the south-western coast of South Africa, The Garden Route is easily one of the most scenic drives in the world; it’s a 190-mile-long scenic route between Mossel Bay and Storms River, passing through a range of breathtaking landscapes such as lush forests, pristine beaches, towering mountains, and tranquil lagoons.

As a popular tourist spot, The Garden Route offers visitors an array of attractions and activities throughout the journey, making it an ideal road trip destination. Drive down this road and discover what South Africa is really like.

  • Distance: 190 miles
  • Time to Drive: 2-3 hours (but it’s recommended to take a few days to complete it and appreciate the sights along the way)

6
Amalfi Coast, Italy

High-class living and Mediterranean views make the Amalfi Coast an upscale road trip choice

Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

Amalfi Coast, Italy 

The stunning Amalfi Coast is a 31-mile road that winds along the southern coast of Italy, connecting the cities of Sorrento and Salerno. The road passes through a series of charming coastal towns, such as Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi, each with its own unique character and attractions.

The narrow, winding road features hairpin turns and steep drops, providing breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and cliffs. Travelers can stop at scenic overlooks, indulge in local cuisine, and explore historical sites and cultural attractions.

  • Distance: 31 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~2 hours

5
A82, Scotland

Catch a glimpse of the Lochness Monster on Scotland’s A82 route

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Sunset over the mountains of Skye, Isle of Skye, Scotland

In Scotland, the A82 is a major road that spans approximately 167 miles from Glasgow to Inverness, passing through some of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes, such as Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and Loch Ness.

Initially constructed in the 18th century as a military route to the Highlands, it has become a vital transport link and popular tourist route. The A82 goes through several towns and villages, including Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis, which is the highest mountain in the UK.

  • Distance: 167 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~3 hours (but it’s better to take one’s time to enjoy the stops and views along the way)

Related: Discovering The Beauty Of The Palisades Parkway: A Road Trip Adventure In Northern New Jersey

4
The Karakoram Highway, China/Pakistan

Peaks, glaciers, and valleys from Kashgar, China to Islamabad, Pakistan

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Karakoram highway, Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway, is one of the best travel routes for road trippers on this list for those who crave adventurous terrain. The route spans over 1,300 kilometers from Kashgar in China to Islamabad in Pakistan. The road traverses through some of the most remote and rugged terrain on earth, including the Karakoram mountain range, which houses some of the world’s highest peaks, such as K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

The construction of the Karakoram Highway was completed in 1986, and it is recognized as a remarkable engineering feat involving the construction of numerous bridges and tunnels through some of the planet’s most challenging terrain. The highway provides breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and deep valleys while also providing an opportunity to experience the culture and history of the region.

  • Distance: 810 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4-5 days (but travelers can spend longer if they wish to take their time)

Related: From Canyons To Wildflowers: Discovering Anza Borrego On A Scenic Road Trip

3
The North Coast 500, Scotland

Castles, cliffs, pubs, and water views in the Scottish Highlands

Photo by ID 216732125 Zeytun Images | Dreamstime.com

Dunnottar Castle, a ruined medieval fortress located upon a rocky promontory 50m above the sea near Stonehaven, Scotland, UK

The Scottish Highlands is a picturesque region in Scotland that boasts natural beauty, rugged landscapes, and historical landmarks. Many scenic routes and roads are scattered throughout the area, offering visitors breathtaking views of the region’s unique culture and history. However, none are quite as enchanting as the North Coast 500 drive, which easily earns its place among the world’s best road trips for its scenery alone (and the quintessential Scottish pubs en route!).

One of the best road trips in Scotland (or indeed the UK overall) is the North Coast 500, a 516-mile road trip showcasing some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. The journey begins and ends in Inverness, taking travelers through small villages, historic towns, dramatic mountain ranges, and rugged coastlines. There are plenty of ancient castles, scenic overlooks, and traditional Scottish pubs to stop and enjoy along the way.

2
The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys, USA

This is THE drive between the Florida Keys and Miami Beach

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Overseas highway to Key West island, Florida Keys, USA

The Overseas Highway, located in the Florida Keys of the USA, is a 113-mile-long road that connects Miami to Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States. The highway spans a series of islands, providing awe-inspiring views of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

Originally built as a railroad track in the early 20th century, it was later converted to a highway to connect the Keys’ islands. Today, the highway is one of the best road trips in the world for coastal scenery, passing through several towns and villages, including Islamorada and Marathon, each with its own unique attractions and activities.

  • Distance: 113 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~4 hours one-way

Related: From Waterfalls To Wildlife: Exploring The Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway On A Road Trip Adventure

1
The Atlantic Road, Norway

This route in Norway makes its way to the little island of Averøy

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The Atlantic Road bridge (Atlanterhavsvegen) going through Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway

The Atlantic Road in Norway is a 5.2-mile road that runs along Norway’s coast, connecting the mainland to the island of Averøy with eight bridges. It passes through some of Norway’s most stunning coastal landscapes, offering views of the open sea, rugged cliffs, and tiny islands.

This road is an engineering marvel, completed in 1989, as it required the construction of several bridges and causeways in one of the most challenging marine environments in the world. The Atlantic Road is a popular tourist attraction that offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery to those visiting Norway.

  • Distance: 5.2 miles
  • Time to Drive: ~10 minutes

This road is short but sweet; however, if travelers want to extend it, they can drive the whole of the super scenic Route 64 (Route 64 includes the Atlantic Road). Doing so will add around an hour and 15 minutes to the journey.

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