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If you’re up for an adventure and don’t mind a few twists and turns along the way, a road trip is just the thing for you. From meeting new people to seeing tiny villages and getting off the beaten track, a road trip can be a journey of a lifetime. We’ve rounded up the 10 best road trip destinations in the world, from driving around the whole of Iceland, through to driving through bamboo forests in Hawaii:
1. The Ring Road, Iceland
Have you ever wanted to circle a whole country? Well, you can on the Ring Road in Iceland, which is a road that covers the entire circumference of the island. Iceland is a country where you can see mighty mother nature at her finest, from epic glacial lagoons through to otherworldly waterfalls. There are tons of car hire offices in Reykjavik, so hire a car or a camper van and get ready for the adventure of your life!
Remember that around the world, it’s normal for a person hiring a car to be held liable for the first part of any claim should the rented car be damaged — and this can quite easily be $1,000 or more. MoneyMaxim offers Car Hire Excess Insurance that provides cover for car rentals and is certainly worthwhile before you head out onto the road.
Duration: The ring road covers 828 miles of ground and we recommend taking at least a week to complete the route. Most people start at the country’s capital of Reykjavik, before driving south, and making the circle in a clockwise direction.
Highlights: Absolute must-stops include the Jokusarlon glacial lagoon, the Skogafoss waterfall and witnessing geothermal activity in Hverageroi.
Tips: Conditions of the roads vary greatly in the summer and winter months, and driving on the Ring Road can be difficult between the months of November and March. We suggest doing the route in summer.
2. Hana Highway, Hawaii
Hana Highway is just a short road trip route, however, its stunning scenery makes it one of the best road trips in the world. The road twists and turns through stunning bamboo forests and waterfalls and you’ll be wanting to stop for plenty of photos along the way.
Distance: The highway is mainly one lane across the north coast of the island, from Paia to Hana, and takes around three hours to complete without stops.
Highlights: Be sure to stop at the Haleakala National Park, take a dip in the seven sacred pools and take a selfie in the bamboo forest.
3. Route 66, United States
Not many people can actually say they’ve completed the epic Route 66, which is essentially a cross-country route across the US. Some people just do a small portion of the route, while others tackle the whole thing. The historic route passes through eight states.
Duration: The enormous road trip covers 2,500 miles between Chicago and Los Angels, and we recommend spending around two weeks on the trip.
Highlights: See the stunning red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona, witness the kitsch hotels of Tucumcari, New Mexico, and explore the eerie ghost town of Texola, Oklahoma.
Tips: Gas stations appear pretty regularly along the route, however, to the west of the route, particularly in Arizona, gas stations can be as far as 100 miles apart.
4. The Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route in South Africa hugs the coast on Africa’s most southerly tip. The route runs from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and passes through sandy beaches, lush mountains, and vineyards.
Duration: The route is around 500 miles and we recommend spending three to four days to cover the ground, stopping at a few vineyards along the way.
Highlights: Stop off at Addo Elephant National Park, enjoy the incredible scenery at Tsitsikamma and explore the 20 million-year-old Cango Caves. When you’re not driving, be sure to visit at least one vineyard to sample some of the region’s finest wine.
5. The Alcan Highway, Canada to Alaska
The Alcan Highway passes through epic scenery showcasing the North American wilderness at its best. From lush forests through to snow-covered mountains, you’ll see plenty of incredible sights between Canada and Alaska.
Duration: At around 1,340 miles, this is a long road trip that’s best spread out across six to eight days.
Highlights: Spot wildlife such as grizzly bears and moose, be a spectator for dog-sledding, have a picnic at Muncho Lake and take a dip in the Liard River Hot Springs, which are the second-largest hot spring in Canada.
6. Great Ocean Road, Australia
Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a short road trip with incredible views, passing rainforests, rugged cliffs, and national parks. For many, it’s the best road trip in the world.
Duration: The Great Ocean Road runs across 157 miles from Torquay to Warrnambool. It’s best completed in a day, although if you’re down for camping, or driving a camping van, you can go at a more leisurely pace.
Highlights: Visit Bells Beach, which is one of the world’s most famous beaches for surfing, and stop at the epic Twelve Apostle rock formation.
Tips: There are tons of speed cameras along the route, so keep to the limit.
7. North Coast 500, Scotland
Offering some of the most scenic views in the northern hemisphere, route North Coast 500 (NC500) passes through rugged and isolated parts of Scotland. The route is hailed as one of the best road trips in the world and showcases Scotland’s coastline, Medieval castles, lochs, and glens.
Duration: The NC500 route is around 500 miles and we recommend spending three to six days driving it.
Highlights: Be sure to have your camera ready as you’ll see plenty of Scotland’s classic highland cattle, known for their long horns and full head of hair. The best places to visit along the route are Rogie Falls, just a 30-minute drive from Inverness, the scenic town of Ullapool, and the small, craggy beach in Cape Wrath.
8. Stelvio Pass, Italy
It’s easy to see why Stelvio Pass is one of the 10 greatest road trips in the world. Stelvio Pass is not a road trip for the faint-hearted. The route features around stomach-churning hairpin-bends on steep mountain cliffs. You’ll see stunning mountain views along the way as the road passes into the Alps.
Duration: The route is 73 miles and takes around two to three hours to complete without stops.
Highlights: It’s one of Europe’s highest mountain roads, so the views are breathtaking. Make several stops in Stelvio National Park, explore its forests and take a dip in the lake.
9. The Pacific Coast Highway, US
The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous routes in the US. It’s a truly spectacular road that runs between San Francisco and San Diego, passing some of California’s best sandy beaches and dramatic mountain landscapes.
Duration: It’s around 500 miles and can be done in eight hours, with no stops. Of course, you’ll want to be stopping along the way for a break, so we recommend doing the route at a leisurely pace, across two or three days.
Highlights: See the rugged mountains of Big Sur, explore cool galleries in San Jose, and chill on the swanky Malibu and Venice beaches, where you might even spot a few Hollywood stars.
Tips: Drive the route from north to south to get the most of the sea views.
10. The Atlantic Road, Norway
The Atlantic Road in Norway offers incredible views of the Norwegian coastline, passing through dramatic road dips. While it’s only a short route, there are plenty of stunning stops along the way.
Duration: The Atlantic Road is only 2.5 miles, making it the shortest route in our roundup. Spend a day slowly driving the route and exploring various points along the way.
Highlights: Visit the eerie Bremsnes Cave, which can be found at the Bremsneshatten Mountain, spot whales swimming off the coastline, and soak in an incredible sunset view.