The best road trips are the ones where you travel with good friends, listen to great road trip music and make amazing memories. After all, an epic road trip isn’t about the destination, it’s about everything that happens along the way.
From great American road trips to European wonders, we’ve rounded up the best road trips in the world for you. So, what are you waiting for? Fling your luggage bags in the boot and press that pedal to the metal.
The best road trip for movie lovers:
Route 66 – A great American road trip
Take a trip back in time to 60s America when you “get your kicks on Route 66”, following in the footsteps of movie greats like Easy Rider’s Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Take two weeks, or better still a whole month if you want to see all the sights, rent yourself a classic Chevy and hit the road.
The historic route from Chicago to LA crosses eight states and three time zones and in its day inspired thousands of Americans to set off on road trip holidays across the country. Head off on this epic road trip 2,448 miles across the US and you’ll come across old-school motels, restored gas stations, vintage diners and backwater towns that will look just as they did in their movie hey days.
The best road trip for thrill seekers:
The Stelvio Pass, Italy
No Europe road trip can rival the Stelvio Pass for sheer adrenaline and the dramatic scenery on offer. Right on the Swiss-Italian border, high in the Eastern Alps, you’ll find 40km of switchbacks – 60 hair-raising hairpins in all – to test your driving ability, not to mention your vehicle, to the max.
Open only during the summer months as challenging weather conditions make it treacherous the rest of the year, it’s said the best time to visit is sunrise or sunset when there are less drivers around and the views are even more spectacular.
Make sure you throw your trusted fleece in the car before you set off – even in Spring you’ll find that the temperature drops below zero. Beware the hundreds of cyclists charging down the route and get your €10 toll ready on the approach.
The best road trip for spectacular sea views:
New Zealand’s Great Coast Road
Head down the west coast of South Island on the SH6, and experience some of the most stunning scenery that this part of the world has to offer. From rugged rocks, to beautiful beaches to the tumbling Tasman Sea, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from it all as the never-ending views roll past the windows. And with the snowy Alps just inland, you really won’t know which way to look.
Check out Punakaiki’s famous ‘Pancake Rocks’ and leave some time at the end of your adventure to hike the Franz Josef Glacier – an opportunity not to be missed while you’re in the area. Just don’t forget to pack plenty of layers and your most reliable insulated jacket.
The best road trip for landscape lovers:
Route 1, Iceland
Top of our list of European road trip routes not to miss, is the 828-mile ring road that stretches around awe-inspiring Iceland. Route 1 is a great way to see this majestic country in all its glory. While most people travel from mid-June to late September, both May and October are beautiful too – you may even be lucky enough to see the northern lights if you visit in the autumn.
And you’ll pretty much have the roads to yourself. On a bright day you’ll enjoy views that go on forever, past picturesque fields, waterfalls, mountains and beaches and out across the North Atlantic. Don’t miss magical Lake Myvatn in the northeast of the island, surrounded by lava fields and hot springs.
The best road trip for magic and mystique:
The North Coast 500 in Scotland
A relative newbie to the top road trip destinations lists, the NC500 stretches 516 miles taking in the main coastal routes around Scotland’s North Highlands. Beginning at Inverness Castle, this circular tour starts as it means to go on, with far-reaching views. Scream round in five days, or you could opt for a more leisurely fortnight to really take in the views.
From the castles of ancient story books to rugged coastal scenery, the North Coast 500 has everything you could wish for from a stay in the highlands. Planning to stick around and explore on foot a little? Invest in some walking poles to help you tackle the more challenging routes such as the Rogie Falls route.
Be sure to stop at the mysterious Loch Ness, the impressive Smoo Cave in Durness and take the opportunity to sample plenty of authentic Scotch whiskeys straight from the distillery.
The best road trip to sooth your spiritual side:
Leh-Manali Highway, India
Thought to be one of the highest roads in the world, this is 298 miles of high altitude, high octane driving along treacherous Himalayan pass roads. Only open from May or June through to September thanks to hazardous snowfalls blocking access, this is one that will take a bit of planning and preparation. Not least thanks to its remote location and the challenging conditions it presents.
But taken at a steady pace, it’s worth it. Described by many as a Buddhist pilgrimage, there are plenty of statues and sacred sites to spot along the way. As well as views of the Chandra River winding its way through the unspoiled mountain scenery making this a breathtakingly beautiful drive.
The best road trip for something a bit different:
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
How can we call this an epic road trip when there’s technically not a road in sight? Because as driving holidays go, you can’t get more other-worldly than this. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, measuring over.
4,000 square miles. And while you could take an organised tour, if you’re after a fun road trip it’s far better to go it alone. Spend time cruising across the flat, white landscape visiting volcanic rock islands such as Isla Inca Huasi and Colquesa, keeping an eye out for flamingos and llamas on your travels. Set up camp on one of the islands if you’re feeling brave enough – the view by moonlight is even more beautiful.
Of course, it’s no secret that salt plus car bodywork is a recipe for disaster. So be sure to pop into one of the workshops in Uyuni that will spray your undercarriage with diesel to protect it from corrosion.
Whether you’re after fun road trips with friends or a road trip destination that will set your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping, you’ll find some of the best road trip ideas in the world in this list.
And there’s no time like the present to get that tank filled and hit the open road.