For many people, the act of travelling to your destination is usually the most tedious part of a journey or vacation. But since the movies began making road trips look so much fun (think Little Miss Sunshine, The Hangover, Road Trip and even Thelma and Louise for the ladies) there seems to be a certain appeal to be found in the journey itself.
There are some truly exceptional driving routes throughout the world, often adorned with the kind of scenery that can take your breath away. So get the guys onboard, wind down the window, blast out some tunes and get set to embark on a trip where the journey might just be better than the destination.
Route 62, South Africa
So you’ve heard of Route 66 but have you heard of Route 62? This highway is in South Africa and runs between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as a more scenic option to the N2 highway. You may want to share driving duties on this particular trip – Route 62 is in the heart of the country’s wine region and passes 69 vineyards making it one of the longest wine routes in the world. If you’re not too inebriated from the wine you can also enjoy stunning mountain passes, lush valleys and spectacular colours from the 500 species of ingenious flora that fill the bordering fields.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
This 240km road on the South East Coast of Australia was built by returning soldiers and is dedicated to the fallen troops of World War I making it the world’s largest war memorial and a symbol of national heritage and pride. Being so close to the coast also means that the ocean views are spectacular and offer sightings of whales, dolphins and seals. You can also witness the ‘Twelve Apostles’ en route – these are limestone formations that stand in the Southern Ocean in Victoria, Aus. Great Ocean Road is a renowned road trip for anyone travelling across the South East Coast.
Icefields Parkway, Canada
Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, is a 230km stretch of road within the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This is already a place of supreme natural beauty but this highway also passes two national parks and the stunning Lake Louise, along with snow capped mountains and alpine forests – so you can expect the scenery to be utterly breathtaking. Just watch out for wildlife and weather. Snow can fall at any time of year and grizzly bears, moose and elk are known to stray in the area.
Amalfi Drive, Italy
This beautiful stretch of Italian coastline has been the backdrop for several romantic blockbusters including A Good Woman and The Talented Mr Ripley. Unsurprising really as the winding roads offer dazzling views of the ocean and picturesque villages embedded into the lush hillsides. With the southbound lane being precariously close to the cliff edge, adrenaline junkies will also love the thrill of driving along this twisting road, deemed by UNESCO to be an ‘outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape.’
Transfagarasan Road, Romania
This eerily winding road in the Faragas Mountains is thought to be one of the highest roads in Europe. Anyone driving along the twisting road that snakes across alpine landscape can catch a glimpse of the ruins of the castle that was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula novel. With barren meadows, glacial valleys and dense forests surrounding, the often deserted, highway this may be somewhere a little intimidating to be at night time. But don’t panic, a cable car service runs between Balea Lac and Balea Cascada in the event of any vampire based emergencies!
Route 66, USA
Featuring in songs, movies and books throughout history, America’s ‘mother road’ is perhaps the most famous highway in the world. Route 66 starts in Chicago,Illinois and spans 4000km and six other states before ending in Los Angeles, California. The very nature of a journey that takes you through so many different states means that there is a diverse amount of scenery on offer as well as the infamous (and sometimes bizarre) roadside attractions that characterise this legendary highway.
Atlantic Road, Norway
Atlantic Road may only be 8km long but it is a truly unique driving route. It is built on several small islands and skerries on the Norwegian sea and is linked by viaducts, causeways and eight bridges. The most prominent of these bridges is Storseisundet Bridge which has an iconic, curved shape. The dramatic views that you can witness of the, often stormy, Hustaavika Ocean seem to amaze visitors and the road is now known as a National Tourist Route. It may be a short road trip, but it’s definitely one worth taking.