Nothing beats the freedom of driving cross country, with just a rough itinerary and plenty of time to make the most of whatever unexpected sights and attractions that you might happen to chance upon on the way.
Road tripping has long been a staple of adventure travelers, purely because of the freedom it gives you to explore.
You make your own schedule as you road trip along secluded coastlines or take winding mountain roads that open up to unbeatable views.
There’s no better way to get off the beaten track and to really discover a new destination or country.
The best road trips in the world will give you spectacular scenery, unique attractions and will help you to meet wonderful locals, and there are some truly beautiful roads to travel across the world.
We put together our favorites, to inspire you to travel the best road trips in the world.
10 of the Best Road Trips in the World
1. Route 66 (USA)
Route 66 is one of the most well-known driving routes in America, and one of the best road trips in the world.
Route 66 is a truly cross country route, taking drivers from Chicago in the east all the way across the United States of America to California.
While the route no longer exists on the road system, you can still follow the Old Route 66, a distance of some 2500 miles.
You’ll need a few weeks to make the most of what’s found along the way, because the route passes through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally, California.
The best time to road trip Route 66 is in summer when you can hire a classic American car, take the top down and feel the wind in your hair as you race across the USA.
Don’t leave home without: Route 66: EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers
2. Great Ocean Road (Australia)
On the other side of the world, Australia is a country that’s made for driving and many of the best road trips in the world can be found connecting the isolated cities of this continent-sized country.
One of the best Australian road trips, is the Great Ocean Road, a route that gives you access to the serene beauty of the southern coast.
Starting in Torquay, just south of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road takes you 150 miles west along the coastline towards Allansford.
Although you could technically drive this in one day, there’s so much waiting that you’ll want to keep a couple of days spare to truly enjoy the beaches and the wild nature that’s found on the way.
Camp out under the stars and enjoy the marvelous great outdoors of the state of Victoria.
Along the way you’ll pass such natural marvels as the Twelve Apostles rock formations, you’ll discover empty beaches and you’ll enjoy one of the best road trips in the world.
3. Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland)
Ireland has an incredibly long western coastline, and this beautiful part of the country is known as the Wild Atlantic Way for its untouched scenery and unpredictable weather.
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the best road trips in the world, because it will take you from one charming Irish village or town to the next, and you’ll be marveling at the dramatic scenery on the way.
The full route takes you all the way from Cork in the south to Donegal in the north, a total distance of 1500 miles.
It’s best to travel in summer when the weather isn’t quite so rainy as the rest of the year.
Highlights are numerous, but be sure to stop off at the Cliffs of Moher, the isolated Skellig Islands and the cultural treat that’s Galway City.
4. North Coast 500 (Scotland)
Head to the north of Scotland and you can find an equally dramatic road trip.
The North Coast 500 isn’t quite as long as the Wild Atlantic Way, but at 500 miles in length, you’ll still want at least 5 days to make the most of the beautiful scenery on the route.
The North Coast 500 is one of the best road trips in the world because it will take you on a circular loop from Inverness, and back to Inverness.
This is true Highland territory, and you’ll drive through mountain passes, and national parks before road tripping along the remote coastline of northern Scotland.
The best time to road trip the North Coast 500 is summer when the Scottish weather briefly takes respite from the rain and the sun is shining.
5. The Pamir Highway (Tajikistan)
Tajikistan might not be the first road trip destination that comes to mind, but actually, if you’re looking for a real adventure then one of the most scenic yet challenging stretches of Highway is found here.
The Pamir Highway starts in Kyrgyzstan and rises quickly into the Pamir Mountains to the south in Tajikistan.
This is one of the highest altitude highways in the road, but it’s hardly a highway in the traditional sense. You’ll need a four by four and you will need to drive in summer to avoid the ice and snow.
You can drive from Osh in Kyrgyzstan to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, or vice versa. The route takes you to over 4000 meters in height and altitude sickness can be a real problem.
You’ll drive through dramatic mountain passes in what’s known as the Roof of the World, as you stay in small villages and homestays and skirt the Afghan border.
It’s a truly adventurous experience and for that reason, it’s one of the best road trips in the world.
The total route is around 700 miles and it will take you at least a week, given the bad quality of the roads.
6. The Gobi Desert (Mongolia)
Another adventurous driving experience and one of the best road trips in the world will take you across the wild deserts of Mongolia.
The Gobi Desert is a vast expanse of land, and it’s been home to the Mongolian Nomads for centuries.
Rent a four by four and hit the desert, camping out in Yurts or tents every night and having your own nomadic experience.
7. The Garden Route (South Africa)
In South Africa, the Garden Route is often seen to be one of the best road trips in the world.
This beautiful stretch of road takes you from the East Cape to the West Cape, as you travel for around 150 miles along the coast of South Africa.
It’s a beautiful drive, with spectacular scenery, the chance to see whales, penguins and of course, plenty of African wildlife inland too, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the wine regions – just don’t drink and drive!
You’ll learn about the history of the Cape and you can extend your trip to end in Cape Town too.
You can drive the route in a few days, but most road trippers will spend one to two weeks, with longer stops at places like Port Elizabeth and Knysna along the way.
8. Icefields Parkway (Canada)
The Icefields Parkway connects the Rocky Mountain towns of Banff and Jasper, along a 144-mile long highway that passes through two national parks.
This is not just one of the best road trips in Canada but it’s one of the best road trips in the world, and you’ll be mesmerized by the scenery as you travel the route.
Starting in Banff you can call into iconic sights such as Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield and plenty more natural sights in the Rocky Mountains before arriving into Jasper several days later.
9. Central Hokkaido Road (Japan)
While Japan might be best known for its super-fast bullet trains, sometimes it pays to take things slower.
The Central Hokkaido Road is one of these times because this is one of the best road trips in the world. Take it slow and unwind as you explore Japan’s northern island.
Hokkaido isn’t as well-traveled as the southern Japanese islands, and the Central Road allows you to explore the best of this untouched gem.
You’ll visit lakes, you can climb mountains and visit small-town Japan, as you learn about the local history and culture while being surrounded by nature.
You’ll want at least a week to explore the island, but the beauty of this road trip is that you can make it as long or as short as you want. Start in Sapporo and just drive inland!
10. Ruta 40 (Argentina)
One of the best road trips in the world can be found in South America because Argentina’s Ruta 40 provides adventure, history, culture, and beautiful scenery.
This is a road that was made famous by the Motorcycle Diaries of Che Guevara, who tackled the route before he became a revolutionary.
The long road takes you along the western edge of Argentina, essentially following the Andes Mountains from north to south.
Take Ruta 40 in summer to have the best weather, but be prepared for a real journey, as the road takes you for 3000 miles through remote terrain, reaching heights of up to 5000 meters in places.
Take your time, and enjoy the scenery and the isolation, as you drive one of the longest roads in the world.
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Article by Lina Stock
Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA