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Life Is A Highway: The World’s 15 Best Road Trips

Life Is A Highway: The World’s 15 Best Road Trips


Flight revolutionized travel. No longer would humanity need to cram themselves into ships for weeks to cross an ocean. No longer would they need travel in caravans for months to cross land. Trains became a faster way to travel on land but there’s something about being able to drive yourself and dictate your own direction. Exploring the world means flexibility and freedom to carve your own path.

Enter the old-fashioned road trip.

There’s something magical about getting in a car and driving the distance. It’s just fast enough to travel long distances quickly, but slow enough to see amazing sites along the way. And when inspiration strikes, there’s nothing like abandoning your itinerary altogether to go off on an amazing adventure.

Road trips tend to be a cost-effective way of heading out from home rather than the more expensive plane or train ticket. That leaves most road trips happening close to home but the world is filled with awe-inspiring places to drive.

Some places around the world can only be experienced by heading down a long motorway. So put the top down and head out on the highway. Here are the 15 best places to go on a road trip from across the planet!

15. Leh-Manali Highway, Northern India


Rivers, mountains, and some of the highest mountain passes in the world make this one of the most breathtaking routes in the world. Some of those roads reach 18,373 ft (5,900 m) above sea level. The route is only open from June and mid-September due to the heavy snow which is cleared by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). As the highway’s name suggests, you start out in Leh and end up in Manali approx 300 miles (490 km) away. The highway is bordered by mostly arid, snow-capped mountains giving it a stark but majestic landscape that will make you want to pull over all the time.

14. French Riviera, France


France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur in French) is one of the most beautiful parts of that country. No wonder it inspired artists like Pablo Picasso. Gorgeous beaches, stunning coastal roads, and some of the best food you’ll ever eat. Known for glamorous places like St. Tropez and Monaco as well as the Cannes Film Festival the only real issue here are the crowds. And it tends to be pricey. The best time to travel here would be in the off-season of September to mid-October when the water is still warm enough to swim in.

13. Patagonia, Chile/Argentina


Vast, barren, and wind-swept Patagonia features loads of remote topography in a triangular area roughly 400,000 square miles (1,035,995 square km) in size. Located at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile it sports the world’s seventh largest desert, the Perito Moreno glacier, the Andes, and the Torres del Paine national park. While the roads are mostly paved it is best to get a reliable 4×4 for some off-road fun. For whale watchers, the only place in Argentina to get a good look at the leviathans is Península Valdés between the months of June and December. Some of the best moments in Patagonia may not be the speculator sites, but the desolate expanses between them.

12. Trans-Sahara Highway, Africa


If Patagonia is not enough desert then the Trans-Sahara Highway was built just for you. Stretching from Lagos in Nigeria all the way to Algiers in Algeria. The highway connects West Africa to the Mediterranean through the largest hot desert in the world. It’s over 2,800 miles (4,506 km) long and passes through Niger between the two already mentioned countries. You’ll be able to mingle with locals in roadside villages and sample food unavailable anywhere else. The central part of the highway is rarely used and requires special vehicles to cross it. The best time to tackle this road-trip is between October and January when the temperatures are comfortable and before sandstorms begin.

11. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan/China


For those of you who love mountains, there’s probably no better road than the Karakoram Highway. The road runs for 800 miles (1,300 km) from Western China to Pakistan and is one of the few highways that crosses the Himalayas. Not for the faint of heart, this highway follows an ancient branch of the Silk Road and features rugged narrow ribbons that were blasted through the mountains. There are frequent landslides, avalanches, and in the summer the roads are flooded by the melting glaciers. If you’re up to the challenge of crossing this treacherous highway you’ll be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views in the world.

10. Canadian Rockies, Canada


More mountains! Canada is the world’s second largest country and much of it has remained untouched. The Rocky Mountains are one of the most stunning features of the Great White North and driving through them is an almost surreal experience. The ride through the interior of British Columbia from Vancouver to Jasper or Banff in Alberta is stunning. Azure waters, forested valleys, and glacier covered mountains make this one of the most amazing tours by car you will ever take. The best time to explore is in the summer between May and September where snow and landslides aren’t as much of an issue.

9. Mongol Rally, Eurasia


Sometimes it isn’t just the view but the length of a road trip that makes it worthwhile. If you’re looking to go the distance then look no further than the Mongol Rally. Unlike other entries on this list, the Mongol Rally is a charity event where you travel from London, England all the way to Ulan Ude, Russia. You’re free to choose whatever roads you want to take for this tour that will take you 10,000 miles (16,000 km) across two continents. There are only three rules: the car must be small and crappy, the teams are totally unsupported, and you must raise a minimum of £1000 for charity. Organizers call it the “greatest adventure in the world” for a reason.

8. Lord of the Rings Road Trip, New Zealand


New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and has been dubbed by many to be “paradise on Earth.” No wonder the fantasy trilogies of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were shot there. What better way to experience the whole country than to drive from Matamata in the north all the way down to Mount Cardona in the south. Not only will you have a chance to visit the places where these films were shot but also experience wineries, diverse landscapes, and breathtaking scenery. Plus there are loads of adventures like kayaking, skydiving, and climbing all over the country.

7. Route 66, USA


No list of epic road trips would ever be complete without Route 66. Easily the most famous road trip of all time, the 2,400 miles (3,940 km) “Main Street of America” route connects Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. While it was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985, the road still live on as the Historic Route 66 in some parts of the country like Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona. The rest of the route is decrepit, dusty, and abandoned but still useable. Loads of retro diners, abandoned truck-stops, and kitschy tourist shops make this the only way to travel back in time and experience the Americana of a bygone era.

6. Ring Road, Iceland


Why travel through a country when you can travel around it? Literally. Iceland is one of the most unique looking places on the planet and has everything from volcanoes and fjords to geothermal pools and black-sand beaches. Route 1 takes you around the circumference of the island and through all kinds of diverse geographical features from geysers and through the famous blue lagoon. That’s over 800 miles (1,200 km) of unique environments you won’t experience anywhere else. If you don’t mind the cold or heavy snowfall, then travel between August and April where you’ll find yourself motoring under the Northern Lights at night.

5. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland


The Wild Atlantic Way is a trail that spans 1,553 miles (2,500 km) on the western coast of Ireland. The route was opened up in 2014 and hugs the coastline through traditional rural areas where the locals still speak Irish Gaelic. From beautiful beaches to headlands with sheer drops, the rugged shoreline the Wild Atlantic Way boasts all the magic of the Celts along the longest defined coastal drive in the world. You can even take the ferry from Kerry to visit the ancient Skelligs where the recent Star Wars movies were filmed. The country has made it even easier for you explore the route with 188 official discovery points along the way to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

4. Pacific Coast Highway, USA


Another classic United States road trip! 655 miles (1,050 km) of road that hugs the coast from Northern to Southern California. This trip is everything you want on a long summer drive featuring the ocean side cliffs, secluded coves, and the state’s famous redwood forests. All sandwiched between the mountains on one side and Pacific ocean on the other. The only way to make this fantastic road trip any better is if you can get your hands on a classic convertible. For the ultimate in USA road trips, start in Chicago and take Route 66 to LA and then drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. There are few better ways to spend a month on the road.

3. Garden Route, South Africa


South Africa has one of the most striking coastlines in the world. Named for the dense vegetation rather than any manicured botanical grounds, the exotic Garden Route features spellbinding forests, artistic communities, gorgeous sandy beaches, and wineries. But don’t let that serene description fool you. The Garden Route isn’t just perfect for the world-class wine-and-diners, because it also has some of the most adventurous activities anywhere. From caving to bungee-jumping and even to cage diving with sharks this is the destination for the adventurous outward bound. Its coral reef is also a must for any diver.

2. Great Ocean Road, Australia


War Memorials commemorating World War 1 are scattered everywhere around the planet. Where most are stone and bronze statues leave it to the Ozzies to build a road instead. Like many of the entries in this list, you get a plethora of different environments from cliffs that hug the Pacific ocean to rain forests to some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth including the 12 Apostles. But you also get to see wildlife you won’t see anywhere else like koala bears, kangaroos, and the occasional penguin or two. For the surfers out there, this route is home to the infamous Bells Beach and home of the world’s longest-running surfing competition.

1. Amalfi Coast, Italy


The Amalfi Coast is for the serious driver. Hairpin bends curving over dramatic cliff faces make this a driver’s dream. However, these exciting roads aren’t the only thing which draws countless people to the southern end of the Bay of Naples. The vistas of historic churches, vineyards, and pristine villas overlooking the coastline make this one of the most spectacular road trips ever. Beyond the majesty of Italy, there are also sites like Grotta dello Smeraldo, a cave with glowing jade water. No wonder the southern Italian coast inspired artists like Richard Wagner and Tennessee Williams.

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