Hitting the open road is a great way to discover hidden corners, soak in scenic vistas, make pit stops to taste local delicacies, experience the essence of passing towns, or drift in your thoughts. With millions of miles of roads circling the globe, now more than ever is the best time to roar and trundle that engine for a road trip. Not only are you in the safety of your vehicle, but it’s only one of the safest ways to travel, keeping the pandemic in mind. Experience the thrill of the best road trips with this guide. It details some of the best road trips in the world.
19 Best Road Trips In The World
Below are the best road trips in the world in no particular order with their highlights, distance, ideal time take and when you should take on the journey. Make notes of the what you find the most interesting so you can ultimately go on the road trip or trips of your lifetime.
2448 miles / 3940 km
Does the name Route 66 ring a bell? Have you heard the famous song Get your kicks on route sixty-six, by Nat King Cole? As the lyrics say, the road ‘winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way,’ across eight American states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois), and three-time zones. Popularly known as the Mother Road, this road trip gets you closer to the classic dives and diners, vintage cars, and roadside attractions- the ensembles of mid-American towns. During the Great Depression, people relied on this route to migrate from the east to the west, making it historically significant.
Road conditions: Only a fourth of the original route- mostly on state highways and local roads, remain intact. Modern roads connect most of the route.
Travel tip: Have your playlist ready and decide on your must-sees in advance.
827 miles / 1330 km
If you’re looking to get going in Iceland, nothing like taking the Ring Road on a road trip. This route starts at Reykjavík, circling a plethora of natural attractions, giving you a chance to explore every nook and cranny of the country. You’ll be driving by cascading waterfalls, natural geysers, rare wildlife, glaciers, volcanic landscapes- lava fields and craters, black sand beaches, vivid blue fjords and so much more!
Road conditions: Roads in Iceland are in excellent condition
Travel tip: Rent a 4×4 car as this choice will make your drive to the highlands seamless.
187 miles / 300 km
The southwest tip of South Africa is one of the most scenic places in the region. The Garden Route is known for covering contrasting topographies- diverse vegetation, lagoons, lakes, mountains, forests and beaches. The coastal road trip from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town will have you admiring scenic vistas of flora, fauna and diverse wildlife! Expect to spot seals, whales, dolphins, elephants, and different species of birds.
Road conditions: The stretch is in a good condition and can be driven in any type of car.
Travel tip: Don’t leave anything valuable in your unattended car as South Africa has a high crime rate. Avoid driving at night as you might encounter wildlife. If you are a nature lover, carry binoculars to watch birds and animals.
82 miles / 132 kilometers
This high mountain pass of the Cordillera Central of the Peruvian Andes is located almost 15,807ft above sea level at its highest point. The route begins approximately 100 km northeast of Lima and sweeps through bends in the Andes and has wild llamas dotting the scenic stretch. Since the region is prone to landslides and falling boulders, it is advisable to check weather conditions before hitting the highest paved road in South America. The summit also marks the Continental Divide of South America.
Road conditions: The surface of the road is asphalted, and chains or snow tires are required throughout the year.
Travel tip: Stop by a roadside cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee - this region is known for their coffee beans. Altitude sickness on this route is very common so it is advisable not to take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition.
5The Atlantic Road
5 miles / 8.3 km
The Atlantic Road in northwestern Norway is a unique stretch of road that takes you to the ocean’s edge. Eight bridges on the 8274 meters stretch make this route one of the world’s most beautiful drives. You can choose to begin your ride at Karvag on the island of Averoy, and drive to Vevang on the mainland or vice versa. The Storseisundet bridge that curves scenically above the water is an absolute stunner! Experience coastal sceneries, bare rocks, cultures and histories, and spot seals and whales as you embark on the shortest of the best road trips in the world!
Road conditions: The roads are tarred and in good condition.
Travel tip: You can park your car at designated stopping places to climb a hillock or just enjoy the salty air and the view. Stop by to enjoy some local culinary treats like blue cheese, fresh fish and the bacalao-dried, salted cod.
94 miles / 151 kms
The Transfagarasan Road winds through two of the highest peaks in Romania and is one of the spookiest road trips one can ever go on! This stretch in the Transylvanian Alps winds through dark tunnels, endless zigzags, and twists and turns, lush greenery and meadows with flocks of sheep. The stretch covers Cartisoara, Curtea de Arges, Transylvania, and Muntenia. The climb to the Moldoveanu Peak (Fagaras Mountains), at 2,042 meters above sea level, is a must for every automotive fan.
Road conditions: The roads are well paved.
Travel tip: If you’d like to enjoy this region to its fullest, plan to spend a night en route. You can also plan a trek around the Fagaras Mountains.
7Great Ocean Road
150 miles / 243 kms
Australia’s Great Ocean Road, which starts just outside of Melbourne, is world-famous. Think dramatic sea cliffs, rainforests, oceans, idyllic beaches, sleepy surf towns and majestic rock formations. Stunning national park sceneries and the wildlife that inhabit them make Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne a good option to escape the hustle-bustle of city life with friends, families or just solo!
Road conditions: In excellent condition.
Travel tip: Go on a hike in the rainforest at Great Otway National Park. Maintain your speed as you drive this stretch as the route has speed cameras.
8Amalfi Coast Road
35 miles / 56 km
Cliffside roads dotted with azure waters, pastel-colored houses, quaint fishing villages, historic churches, and a pristine coastline make the Amalfi Coast Road one of the most iconic drives in the world. The hairpin bends from Sorrento to Ravello, makes the drive hairy, adding a spot of adventure to this scenic route! Take a break from driving to admire the picturesque beauty of the Mediterranean. Put aside a few hours for a boat trip to see the cliffside from a different angle and soak in the culture of this famed region.
Road conditions: The roads are narrow and steep but in good condition. This stretch has hairpin bends and can be high on traffic during peak season.
Travel tip: Pick up food and wine and enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach in Positano. While you can drive through the route in a couple of hours, it’s recommended you stretch this road trip over a few days to experience all that Amalfi has to offer.
9West Coast & Milford Sound
75 miles / 120 kms
New Zealand’s South Island is known for its diverse landscapes. The west coast has glaciers, beaches and rainforests, but the stretch that stands out is the drive from Te Anau towards Milford Sound into Fiordland National Park. The high-altitude route zips through cliffs, rainforests, snow-capped peaks (the Ailsa Mountains), waterfalls, and marine reserves home to penguins, dolphins, and fur seals.
Road conditions: Two-lane sealed roads with a few challenging curves
Travel tip: To enjoy the Mitre Peak that juts straight out of the water, opt for a boat tour of Milford Sound.
31 miles / 50 kms
The Black Forest in the German state of Baden-Württemberg gets its name from the canopy of evergreens that cover the forest floor. It offers a unique opportunity to experience dense pine forests, pastures, castles and fairytale-like villages with traditional wooden houses and lakes. This road trip takes you through charming towns like Baden-Baden (known as a spa town), Calw, Freiburg and Kinzig and Gutach valley (famous for cuckoo clocks). Top up this beauty with a black forest dessert and enchant your senses with this panoramic road trip that links Baden-Baden to Freiburg.
Road conditions: Roads are in good condition
Travel tip: What we know as ‘Black Forest Cake’- the moist chocolate cherry piece of deliciousness, was created in the Black Forest. Don’t miss out on indulging in some of the best Black Forest here.
11Grossglockner High Alpine Road
30 miles / 50 kms
For a unique mountain experience, hit the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with sharp bends ascending 3,000 feet in under 50 km! As the stretch curves through the Austrian states of Salzburg and Carinthia, it blends harmoniously with the landscape. This unmatched adventure overpowers your senses with vistas of eagles and vultures circling the Alpine peaks. Sit back and enjoy the joyride through the wilderness, aka Hohe Tauern National Park.
Road conditions: The wide roads promise a comfortable ride.
Travel tip: The wide roads promise a comfortable ride.
141 miles / 227 km
Icefield Parkway links Lake Louise with Jasper in Alberta’s Canada. The breathtaking stretch takes riders through almost 100 ancient glaciers, rocky mountain peaks, waterfalls, icefields, emerald lakes and vast sweeping valleys, all dotted with pine and larch forests. Behold the pristine wilderness of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. You can also opt for hikes to breathtaking viewpoints or just revel in the bounty of nature’s splendor with every turn.
Road conditions: The roads are tarmacked, making your ride smooth and comfortable.
Travel tip: Buy enough non-perishable snacks in Calgary as supermarkets in Banff and Jasper can prove heavy on your pockets and are hard to find. If you want to choose just one hike, go for Peyto Lake.
China and Pakistan
808 miles / 1300 km
Also called the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway, the Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world. As it snakes across Central Asian mountains on both Pakistan and China’s sides, it promises high-altitude desert sceneries, idyllic valleys, snow-capped mountains, gorges, and rivers. Despite numerous hairpin bends and dangerous drop-offs, this highway connects Hassan Abdal (near Rawalpindi) to Western China’s Kashgar and is a stretch to paradise.
Road conditions: Roads are in paved and good condition.
Travel tip: It’s best to explore this route on a motorbike. Attitude acclimation is required as the highest point on the route can reach as much as 4800 m.
305 miles / 490 km
Experience the beauty and crudity of life as you journey across the Leh-Manali Highway, one of the most adventurous roads in India. Starting at Manali, in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, this adventurous drive will keep you on your toes. Drive through changing landscapes, high-altitude mountain passes, rivers, and gorges. You'll encounter some of the friendliest of locals on this route. Road closures on this route are common so make sure to check in advance.
Road conditions: Decent roads with dirt tracks in some spots
Travel tip: Stay warm and hydrated as the route involves high passes, Carry extra fuel. If you love bike rides, you should cover this route on your bike.
15 Silk Road
622 miles / 1000km
Discover the lost beauty of the Silk Route as you drive along this ancient route used by traders and caravans millennia ago. Once the world’s superhighway, the Silk Route takes you across deserts, semi-arid landscapes, mausoleums and splendid monuments in historic cities like Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Exploring the bustling marketplaces here will allow you to experience the local hospitality and cultures.
Road conditions: You can expect good roads although a few sections may have potholes.
Travel tip: Uzbekistan uses propane as its main fuel. Hence it is advisable to rent a vehicle in the country instead. In isolated regions, you can find fuel sold in plastic bottles on roadside stalls.
16 Gobi Desert
365 miles/586 km
If you’re looking for an off-the-beat adventure, the answer is a road trip beyond the massive dunes of the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. Think breathtaking terrain: dunes, craggy canyonlands, blood-red cliffs hiding fossils, sun-scorched valleys, and Mongolian yurts. The drive starts in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s Capital City, through desert lands that have barely changed since the Mongol Empire. The thrill of this trip is to find the closest Mongolian village to end your day.
Road conditions: Combination of rough and almost non-existent as you’ll be driving through a desert
Travel tip: Stock up on food unless you want to survive on camel cheese available en route. Make sure to have a reserve of petrol. Try the local tea or airag (made using fermented horse milk).
17 Skeleton Coast
311 miles / 500 kms
The Skeleton coast is named after debris and bones washed along the sea over the last few hundred years. It is no wonder that Portuguese sailors dubbed this hostile stretch, from Windhoek to Skeleton Coast (National Park) ‘the Gates of Hell’. For stretches, all you see is wrecked ships and sun-bleached bones of seals, whales, seals, and some humans. One of the few places on Earth where the desert meets the ocean, the mountainous sand-dunes, skeletons and wildlife make the place attractive, irresistible and daunting. Watch out for the Cape Cross Seal colony on this Coast. It is the largest mainland seal colony in the world.
Road conditions: Road conditions before the park are in good conditions
Travel tip: Ensure your vehicle is in good condition and has all the tools required to fix your car just in case as the route stretches through an arid landscape with no one in sight for long distances.
18 Carretera Austral
750 miles / 1200km
Journey to the bottom of the world on Route 7 or Chile's Carretera Austral. It stretches from port-city Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins, a tiny village and packs Patagonian adventures of a lifetime. The drive involves taking three ferry rides in between to get past the fjords that interrupt the Carretera Austral. Human-sized rhubarb leaves, fjords, vivid wildlife like dolphins, cascading waterfalls and lakes, glaciers, tropical plants and marble caves will shout for your attention in this breathtaking route.
Road conditions: Much of the road remains unpaved
Travel tip: This route has beautiful hiking spots throughout. Don’t miss out on hiking in the region.
19 Basque Circuit
280 miles/480 km
Running 480km through northern Spain, Basque Circuit delivers a scenic drive through Bilbao, Pamplona, the Pyrenees, and back along the coast. The circuit also allows you to explore a small section of Biarritz in France. It’s advisable to start this route from Basque Country to Pamplona and the gorgeous Pyrenees. This allows you to end your journey with some stunning coastal vistas. Explore food and wine, nature and culture as you cruise through Spain’s rugged geography, forested hills, and plains.
Road conditions: Roads are in good condition.
Travel tip: Plan a trip to Spain in August. During this time, fiestas are common across multiple cities in Spain.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter
Your dose of travel fix - from hacks and deals to travel tips and everything in between, delivered monthly to your inbox
Manali to Leh, Shimla to Manali, Chennai to Pondicherry, Guwahati to Tawang are some of the best road trips in India.
Tilico Pass in Peru, Norway’s Atlantic Road and Amalfi Coast in Italy are a few short road trips you can choose from.
Austria’s Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Australia’s Great Ocean Road, Karakoram Highway in China and Pakistan, and Icefields Parkway, Canada are amongst the most scenic road trips in the world.
Ticlio Pass, Jebel Hafeet, the Atlantic Road, the Alcan Highway, and Gread Ocean Road tour are some of the best road trips for beginners.
Route 66, Blue Ridge Parkway, Overseas Highway, Anchorage to Valdez, and Olympic Peninsula Loop are considered the best routes for road trips in the USA.