Traveling is a must do activity for those who are curious and thirst for a glimpse of the world. But what about that part of the trip in which you’re still getting there? Enjoying the journey is as important as the destination itself. And sometimes the journey is as great if not better than the destination itself. With hair fluttering in the wind, an indescribable sense of freedom, and jaw-dropping landscapes passing you by, the road trips below are the stuff dreams are made of.
From Oceania to the Middle East, these are some of the most beautiful road trips in the world.
Costa Verde, Brasil
Literally translated as “Green Coast”, this road goes from the north coast of the state of Sao Paulo to the southern coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Along the route, one can often watch the landscape change from dense forest to an open horizon as this strip of land passes through the exuberant Mata Atlantica biome and several beaches.
One of the most famous stops on this road trip is Angra dos Reis, a municipality that has 365 islands (one for each day of the year!) distributed on the beautiful turquoise sea that bathes its coast. Angra dos Reis is known as a luxurious tourist town, so besides being able to take a boat to Ilha Grande, the most famous island of the 365, one can also enjoy the mainland and head to Vila do Frade to try some delicious local dishes signed by renowned Brazilian and international chefs.
Paraty, a cobblestone historical city near Angra dos Reis is another very famous stop. Although not as luxurious, Paraty wins the tourist’s hearts with its charm and colorful architecture from the 17th and 18th century . If you visit during the winter, around July and August, make sure to check out the Paraty International Literary Festival (“FLIP” in Portuguese).
Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria
As crazy as it may sound, forget the Swiss and French Alps for this road trip. Located in Austria, the Grossglocker High Alpine Road (or Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse in German) is a scenic route that offers the traveler views of the highest mountains in the country. The black mountainous landscape with its alpine vegetation and snow-white summits is both a delight and a thrill to the tourist. Given its many bobby pins curves and the 2,5 meters above sea level altitude, prepare your camera to take awe-inspiring photos along the way.
This road is also equipped with gastronomic stops. German and Austrian food are served both in home and restaurant style. For a day trip, the travelers can choose to visit 360 degrees vantage points for panoramic views, educational trails, underground tunnels to explore, among other exciting activities. The road trip to the Austrian High Alpine Road is also kid-friendly, so taking your little buddy with you is totally possible regardless of his/her age.
Check out their website to learn more about family and adventure trips to Grossglocker and remember to take some money for the tolls!
Milford Road, New Zealand
Majestic and breathtaking. These are the words that come to mind when I think about the Milford Road in New Zealand. The route is a journey through Fiordland National Park all the way to Milford Sound, the most famous fjord in the South Island. The trip has so many must stops that saving yourself more than a couple hours to travel and explore is a necessary thing as along the way you will find highlights like Eglinton Valley, the Earl Mountains, the Mirror Lakes, the Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, and Lake Gunn to name a few.
Camping, hiking, and photographing are the most common activities on the road. Waterfalls are easily seen and found in the many trails the park offers, but when you finally make it to Milford Sound, kick it back with a boat ride and observe the marine wildlife that populates the place: bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, seals, and the rare fiordland crested penguins, a species endemic to New Zealand. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, head to Harrison Cove where there’s an underwater observatory. Other fun activities include kayaking and scuba diving, regardless of level of prowess.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Located in Victoria, in the Southeast part of Australia, this road trip promises movie-like scenarios with high roads and cliffs sided by pristine blue water with hotspots for surfing like Bells Beach and incredible limestone rock formations like the Twelve Apostles. Totaling 243 kilometers, the Great Ocean Road has its name due to the fact that the drive will always be by the seaside and you will never lose sight of the Great Australian Bay and the Tasman Sea. What a dream!
Throughout the trip, make sure to stop at the Loch Ard Gorge and check out the panoramic view from the lookout point and then head to The Arch, a 8 meters tall half circle rock connecting sea and land formed by erosion over the years. For adventurous animal life lovers, don’t miss out on the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, where you can see koalas, emus, and kangaroos. The unusual thing about this place? It’s inside an extinct volcano!
Far from exhausting the many attractions of this route, the Otways and the Great Ocean Walk are some of the other recommended activities for the more physically prepared traveler. In terms of hotels and inns, lodging is relatively easy on this road as there are a few small towns on the way, but a special shout out goes to Port Campbell and Peterborough.
Kancamagus Highway, USA
So far on the list we have sun, and snow, but now it’s time for the leaves to fall. Kancamagus Highways, or “Kanc” as it is known by the locals, is one of the most beautiful drives in the state of New Hampshire during the months of September and October. Covering 51 kilometers (a quite short drive if compared to the others), this road passes through the White Mountains, a mountain rage that is part of the Appalachian Mountains and the most rugged in the New England region.
Some of the perks of the way include equally beautiful waterfalls and rivers like Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls, Swift River, and Rocky Gorge. During sunny days, the colors beam with the rays of sunshine and during more rainy days, the driver can roll the windows down a little and smell the scent of pine trees and the singular smell of rain for an unforgettable olfactive memory of this trip.
It is important to notice, however, that the road does not offer any amenities along the way, including gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and the like. Therefore, make sure to plan accordingly to properly enjoy this beautiful drive! On the other hand, if your intention is to stop and camp, there are six campgrounds located in different miles on the road and many trails to explore even further into the wilderness of the White Mountains.
Canadian Rockies, Canada
Whether is Fall, Summer or Winter, this spectacular, jaw-dropping drive is bound to impress Earth lovers of all kinds and make for one fulfilling road trip. Unbelievably blue lakes, valleys and sky high rugged mountains, pine trees everywhere and Canadian wildlife are some of the elements that will accompany you on this journey.
The experience can start in the province of either Alberta or British Columbia, but a tried and true route starts in Calgary and ends at Jasper National Park. However, regardless of how you decide to do it, some of the iconic stops throughout Trans Canada Highway include Lake Louise, Banff (including the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel), and Icefield Parkways. Hitting these spots will take you through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and you will be surrounded by such beauty that it will make you wish you could stay there forever – I firsthand experienced that! 😉
As the Canadian Rockies is an extensive route of around 428 kilometers or more , please plan the logistics in advance as well as estimating and preparing for some hiccups that might happen along the way. Also, plan to spend about two days in each location to fully enjoy what each one has to offer.
Pacific Coast Highway, USA
Known locally and internationally due its stunning landscape (yes Big Sur, we are looking at you!) and eternalized in songs by pop artists, this famous highway could not be out of out list of the most beautiful road trips. Ultimately crossing some of the coolest cities in the state of California, Washington and Oregon, it is easy to say that this route is not short on amazing stops.
Starting in Washington, Seattle is a no-brainer! After this major city, go a bit smaller and head to either Port Angeles, Aberdeen, the town where Kurt Cobain was born, or even Forks, the Twilight town. Driving down to Oregon, treat yourself to the views of the Columbia River and stop at Astoria. Garibaldi and Newport are the next two Oregonian suggestions to check out.
Finally, when you arrive at the golden state, the first city you’ll hit is Crescent City, but after that, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Malibu are some of the must see among the many incredibly dandy stops along the way. Truth be told, the PCH is the road trip of a lifetime and whatever the itinerary is, it will be unforgettable.
As a caution note, plan to drive a good and stable car and make sure to do all the maintenance needed beforehand as you’re bond to hit some extensive miles and the wind can be quite unforgiving.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
The Turkish Turquoise Coast, also known as the Turkish Riviera goes from the city of Cesme to Alanya and is considered one of the longest and most remarkable strip of land in the Mediterranean. As one would expect from this marvelous region, natural beauty and history blend in order to create an unmatched atmosphere of awe and wonder. When traveling the Turkish Turquoise Coast, take your camera and your curiosity as these two things will equip you to make the most out of this trip (besides a good car, of course).
The Butterfly Valley is certainly one of the best ways to get a feel for the scenery that will accompany the tourist on the trip. The most varied tones of blue, green, and all colors in between these two, permeate the waters. Find yourself looking at irregular cliffs that naturally connect land and sea covered in abundant, lush green vegetation, and extremely blue skies with colorful boats on the horizon.
Sailing and spending sun-kissed afternoons out in the water are highly recommended activities when traveling there. Take a break from driving and hop onto a nice boat that will take you for a tour of the islands and ancient cities, including the sunken city of Simena and maybe even the ruins of the Lycians, the original people of the region.
If you feel like braving the underwater, put on your snorkel mask and go diving or simply jump in for a swim on the Mediterranean Sea. After a well spent day in the water, make sure to stop by one of the many delicious restaurants and enjoy a banquet of the best of local cuisine, including fresh bread, olives, and dried and fresh fruit. For the evening, take a stroll down the many cute and quaint streets of the Turkish Riviera and let yourself feel like you’re living a dream – because, to be honest, you very likely will be!