The 10 Best Road Trips in the World

The world is a big place but a road trip can shrink it. We've got 10 great ones spanning the US to the tip of South Africa. You want dramatic coastlines? Ireland has an abundance but then so, too, does Norway. How about golden sandy beaches? That'll be South Africa although closer to home, Normandy, in France, has more than its fair share. How about historic towns and villages? Germany's Romantic Road and Belgium and the Netherlands have too many to mention. As for car lovers… Have you heard of Italy's Motor Valley?

Whichever road trip appeals to you, you're guaranteed a fabulous experience and memories that will last a lifetime with our top 10.


Route 66

Where: Chicago to Santa Monica

How far: 2200 miles

Why: For the experience

Experiences are what road trips are all about but those promised by Route 66 are genuinely special. It's a tour linking some of the most famous locations and cities in American history. If you want to know what they are, the lyrics of the song, '(Get your kicks on) Route 66' will tell you. Much of the old road exists and it's truly thrilling when you see the 'Route 66' crest painted on stretches of it. Ignore your sat nav's attempts to direct you onto the interstate highways but if the mood takes you, allow yourself a detour to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

South Africa

The Garden Route

Where: The tip of South Africa

How far: 126 miles

Why: For the ocean views, stunning beaches and exotic wildlife

The popularity of this spectacular drive along South Africa's southern coast from Mossel Bay, 240 miles west of Cape Town, to Storms River means you can travel quite safely. The journey to the start point is memorable enough but once you're on the route, prepare to be amazed. At the historic town of George pause to admire the botanical garden and then next, at Kynsa, the fish restaurants. At Plettenberg Bay enjoy the region's best beaches before finishing at Storms River and leaving your car for a well-earned hike in the surrounding forests.


Wild Atlantic Way

Where: West coast of Ireland

How far: 1600 miles

Why: For its sheer, rugged beauty

No road trip was better named than this, a route that traces the country's Atlantic-facing west coast from Derry on the Inishowen Peninsular in the north, to Kinsale in the south. Despite its length it's an easy drive and with the sea by your side, you'll rarely need a map or your sat nav. You pass through no less than seven counties, each with its own distinct culture and traditions. In the evenings, enjoy the 'craic' at a local inn as you reflect on the day's drive and anticipate those to come.

Belgium and the Netherlands

Battles, beer and canals

Where: Ypres to Amsterdam

How far: 180 miles

Why: For history and culture

Ypres is your base for a couple of days spent touring the surrounding First World War battlefields and cemeteries. It's a sobering experience made more so by the town's daily Last Post ceremony. Duty done, begin the next part of your tour by heading north for Bruges and its canals and famous beers, followed by the equally pretty city of Ghent. Immerse yourself in Antwerp's olde worlde charm then at Arnhem, pay your respects to the Allied soldiers who died attempting to secure its bridges in the Second World War. Round off your trip with a couple of days exploring Amsterdam.


Hot springs, icebergs and waterfalls

Where: Iceland

How far: 930 miles

Why: For nature at her savage but beautiful best

It may not be your first idea of a great road trip but Iceland offers many including our choice, a tour of the Ring Road that encircles the country. It incorporates the 190-mile Golden Circle featuring many of the country's most popular natural features, plus the waterfalls of the southern coast, the glaciers and icebergs to the east and the towns, lakes and hot springs in the north.


Motor Valley

Where: Emilia Romagna

How far: 200 miles

Why: For the food and the Ferraris

This really is a petrolhead's pilgrimage since it's not just Ferrari (the company is based in Modena) that you'll find in this area of Italy that sits between Milan in the north and San Marino in the south but also Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani and Ducatti, not to mention their associated museums as well as countless independent collections. Away from the exotic machinery visit Bologna, the regional capital, for its ancient university (there are tours) and for foodies, tempting restaurants and shops selling local specialities including Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar. 


Fjord tour

Where: Bergen to Trondheim

How far: 600 miles

Why: For the mountains and fjords

From beautiful Bergen with its multi-coloured harbour front to the historic, fjord-side city of Trondheim via the most spectacular scenery, this is one road trip that deserves to be on your bucket list. It tracks the country's jagged coastline of fjords but expect the occasional mountain drive. A special highlight is the Trollstigen or Troll Path, a narrow twisting road featuring 11 hairpin bins and inclines of 10%, and which climbs 2790ft. At the summit is a viewing platform overlooking the Stigfossen waterfall that falls 1050ft down the mountainside.


2CV road trip

Where: Normandy

How far: 150 miles

Why: For classic motoring in a beautiful and historic landscape

Exploring Normandy's lush, sun-dappled countryside and quiet roads by 2CV, the iconic car's perky air-cooled engine burbling away as you master the unfamiliar push-pull gearchange… Surely, it's what dreams are made of? And then, when you've visited beautiful Bayeux and viewed the historic tapestry or browsed the shops in the pretty seaside jewel that is Honfleur with its museum dedicated to the eccentric composer Erik Satie, immerse yourself in the story of the allied Normandy Landings in June 1944 with a tour of the D-Day beaches.


The Romantic Road

Where: Southern Germany

How far: 290 miles

Why: For the picturesque castles and towns

Created by travel agents in the 1950s, this scenic drive through Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg is extremely popular, travellers flocking to enjoy its palaces, fairy tale castles and old, walled towns. It starts at Wurzburg, an historic city virtually destroyed in the Second World War but later reconstructed and ends at Füssen in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. Highlights along the way include the attractive walled town of Nördlingen,Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle, and Augsburg, a Renaissance city you must make time to explore.

Isle of Man

TT tour

Where: Isle of Man

How far: 37.5 miles

Why: For the thrill of driving the greatest road circuit on earth

It may not be the longest road trip in our selection but if you're familiar with the TT motorcycle races held on the island every year, you'll be aware just how significant a drive this is. Like the race itself, the trip begins at the Grandstand just outside Douglas and winds around the island to Ramsey in the north before climbing Snaefell Mountain, 2034ft above sea level and onto the finish. Along the way, enjoy fabulous views of the Irish Sea and from the summit of Snaefell, views of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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