In my opinion, road tripping is the very best way to truly experience and explore a new place. I love every form of travel but no other form of transit really compares when it comes to the freedom and experience you get from jumping in to the car and taking to the open road.
I've put together a list of some of the most epic road trips around the world and they deserve a spot on your travel bucket list.
I did one Route 66 road trip that included this part of the U.S. in 2012, and did a second road trip solely dedicated to the South-western states of Utah and Arizona in 2016. There's something otherworldly about the sandstone arches, tall buttes, and desert scenery in this part of the country that is magic to me.
Highlights: Monument Valley, Page (Arizona), Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Goblin Valley.
Pacific Coast Highway
The 655-mile road covers the U.S. West Coast, from the deserts of Southern California to the temperate rainforests of Washington state. This deserves some extra time. Start in San Diego, drive up through San Francisco and the redwood forests.
Highlights: Oregon coast and detour to Portland, and end in Seattle near the mountains in Olympic National Park.
Iceland's Ring Road
This is also known as Route 1 covering roughly 830 miles. Iceland's Ring Road makes a loop around the island of Iceland starting in Reykjavik. The drive around the Land of Fire and Ice will let you experience everything from untamed coastlines to glaciers, volcanoes to waterfalls to natural hot springs. Allow at least 7-9 days for the journey. Though summer months is preferable but it also makes a great trip in the autumn when Iceland. Highlights: Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Skogafoss waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, Vik, Horseback Riding Skagafjörður Region, Myvatn Geothermal Area, Kirkjufellsfoss.
German Fairy Tale Route / Romantic Road
Germany is home to many fairy tales, and the German Fairy Tale Route, or Deutsche Märchenstraße. The route begins in Hanau in central Germany and traverses about 370 miles to Bremen in the north. The route features castles, medieval towns, and sights associated with the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.
Highlights: Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, linking a number of picturesque towns (like Rothenburg ob der Tauber) and castles (like the famous Neuschwanstein).
North Coast 500
In 2015, The North Coast 500 route was started as the country's answer to America's Route 66. The 516-mile scenic route begins in Inverness and loops around the rugged north coast of Scotland – one of the (previously) least-visited parts of the country. You will find quaint villages, ragged coastlines, all kinds of weather. I would say allow at least 5-7 days to truly explore it all. Legendary castles, extraordinary coastal scenery, and famous whisky distilleries lined up, the North Coast 500 is the ultimate drive for travel lovers.
Highlights: Loch Ness, Duncansby Head, Distilleries, Dornoch Castle, Smoo Caves, Ullapool, Applecross, Baelnabach, Eilean Donan Castle.
Garden Route in South Africa
Along this coastline expect mountains, caves, ancient rainforest, beaches, and plenty of cute guesthouses. You'll want to stop to spot dolphins (and potentially whales) in Plettenberg Bay, and visit the Ostrich Capital of the World (Oudtshoorn). The stretch of coastal plain between Mossel Bay and Storms River Mouth has mountains and rocky shores and sandy beaches. The coast is at its most dramatic at Storms River Mouth. South Africa has it all in one of the most exotic and beautiful places on earth. Keep 2 weeks for it.
Highlights: Great White Shark Diving, Cango Caves, Big 5 Safari, Ostrich Farm, Microlight over Durban, Cape Town.
New Zealand by campervan
Climbing volcanoes, swimming in the Pacific Ocean, and even visiting a Hobbit village, you can indulge in a lot of activities. And traveling by campervan means saving money on accommodation. New Zealand has a diverse landscape in a very little area. You'll be mesmerized by the changing landscape before your eyes at each and every turn. You will need 4 weeks.
Highlights: Queenstown, Milford Sound, Abel Tasman, Lake Tekapo, Kaikoura, Pancake Rocks
You want a far more epic road trip? How does 30,000 miles sound? Starting from Alaska to Chile/Argentina it’s the world's longest “motorable road” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. You have to take to a boat to cross the Darien Gap
Highlights: Prudhoe Bay, Tombstone Territorial Park, Chapultepec Castle, Uxmal, Joya De Ceren, Avenue of the Volcanoes, Wing at the end of the world, Fortress of Kuelap, Salar De Uyuni, Whale graveyard, Perito Moreno glacier, Ushuaia.
The Mongol Rally is perhaps the epitome of the “epic road trip” for many travellers. It takes place once per year, and requires teams of drivers to buy old cars and drive them 10,000 miles from London to Ulan-Ude “across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia.” The Mongol Rally is a charity rally starting in London, England and ending in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. You choose your route and take as long as you want to get there. You just have to raise a certain amount of money for charity and buy a car that used to be donated to the country, but now must be shipped back when you finished. Or if you have loads of time, drive it back around in a different route!
Highlights: 15 countries, 2 continents, endless possibilities – Siberia, The Mongolian Steppe, Prague, Brussels, Kiev, Kazakhstan, it all really depends on the route you choose to take.
Way It's the longest Coastal Route in the World. The Wild Atlantic Way runs 2500 km up the Western Coast of Ireland. Every day offers spectacular views of enormous sea cliffs, incredible beaches, and unique culture.
Highlights: Cliffs of Moher, Skellig Michael, Mizen Head, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Slea Head Drive, Aran Islands
I have driven many different portions of Route 66, but you can drive this entire route from Chicago to California. Much of the 3,940km route is abandoned and decrepit as it was forgotten when the highway system was put in place, but there are parts that have been turned into national scenic byways in Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Highlights: Best portions are in Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri and Illinois.
The Cowboy Trail is perfect if you want a Canadian roadtrip. The route through Southern Alberta is easy, well marked and filled with activities and beauty. The lunar landscape of the badlands to where the great plains meet the Rocky Mountains, you'll find varied landscapes. This 298 km road traverses the island of Cape Breton, the most beautiful part of Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, home to bald eagles, moose and black bears is the main attraction. You will fond small villages where the French and Scottish influence is still obvious. It will take 2 weeks.
Highlights: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Crows Nest Pass, Bar U Ranch, Waterton Lakes National Park, Hoodoos of Drumheller.
Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
Ireland has two epic road trips. The Causeway Coastal Route though is a shorter route is filled amazing sights and scenery. I recommend at least 4 days to explore this coast.
Highlights: Giant's Causeway, Dark Hedges, Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, Belfast, Game of Thrones.
Lake Superior Circle Tour - Canada/USA
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is one of the epic motorable routes in North America, From the sandy shores of the southern shore to the rocky high sea cliffs of the wild north, this is an unexpected route through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Highlights: Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Terri Fox Memorial, Beautiful coast, three different states and one province in Canada.
Cairo to Cape Town, East Africa
12,000 km takes you through some of the most fascinating countries on earth over a period of 3-4 months. You will experience a drastic array of landscapes and cultures as you start in the desert of Egypt's Middle East and the Islamic culture of The Sudan. You will find plains, jungles and wildlife of Eastern and Southern Africa that takes you all the way down to the Southern point of the continent.
Highlights: 10 countries, 3- 6 months, the possibilities are once again endless. Pyramids of Egypt, Blue Nile, Victoria Falls, Safaris, Chobe National Park, Addis Ababa, Nubian Desert of Sudan, Cape Town South Africa.