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12 of the world's best road trips | Insight Guides Blog

12 of the world's best road trips

Taking a road trip is an unmissable travel experience. However, picking just one destination to explore can be tricky. We’ve travelled high and low, on highways and dusty tracks, to bring you the world’s best road trips. The only problem left is, which to take first?
Aerial Bixby Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge) and Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California. Photo: Nuria Kreuser/Shutterstock
Aerial Bixby Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge) and Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur in California. Photo: Nuria Kreuser/Shutterstock


Road trips hold a certain sort of magic. The mixture of freedom and adventure – usually backed up by a banging soundtrack – brings journeys by motor onto bucket lists around the globe. From the brooding mountainscapes of the Scottish Highlands to the dusty coastline of Northern Oman, here are 12 of the best road trips around the world. Rev up and get into gear.  


How to prepare

There's nothing worse that prepping your playlist, setting off, winding down the windows and then coming to a standstill as your car shudders to a halt. It's worth taking your motor to the garage to check it's in a full bill of health before hitting the road, as well as making sure you take a spare tire and breakdown cover.  

If you're driving abroad, be sure to pack all the necessary documents, including your driver's license and car-insurance papers. You may also need an EU registration plate or GB sticker. It's also a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit, torch, map, sat nav and some non-perishable food supplies. 

Renting a car

If you're hiring a car, there are plenty of rental options to choose from. Compare prices before you go – and be sure to read the small print. We recommend selecting an electric model so you can travel with a green conscience. 

When planning a road trip, you have the option of booking your services separately or talking to one of our carefully chosen local experts for a hassle-free process from start to finish. Your local expert will plan and book your dream trip, always according to your comments and preferences. Everything is customizable and no two trips are the same. 


1. Pan American Highway, various

Mount Fitz Roy, Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia. Photo: sunsinger/Shutterstock

This iconic route stretches close to 48,000km (30,000 miles) in length, running from Alaska in the USA down through the Americas to Chile and Argentina in the south. The network of roads runs in almost one complete trail down the continents, except for a rainforest break of around 160km at Panama's Darién Gap – though an alternative is now offered by way of a coastal route on the eastern Darien Isthmus. One thing's for sure, you'll need plenty of time to drive a Winnebago all the way along the world's longest motorable road. 

Distance: 48,000km/30,000 miles 

Approx. route time: Anywhere from 3 months to 2 years

When to go: Because the Pan American Highway is such a long and varied route, traversing 14 countries and crossing the equator and numerous climactic zones, when you go will depend on where you plan to start and finish, and how long you want to spend on the road. If you have prioritized certain areas or countries where you want to spend more time, make sure you arrive in an advisable season. 

Highlights: One of the major highlights of this route is its sheer diversity, from the snowy landscapes of Alaska through the jungles of Belize, the colorful colonial towns of Colombia, the Nazca Lines in the desert of Peru and the jaw-dropping open-sky landscapes of Patagonia. For true adventurers, the Pan American Highway provides the perfect opportunity to make detours and dedicate extended periods to soaking up different countries and cultures along the way. It is hands down one of the best road trips around. 

Where to stay: Though many people travel the length in their RV, if you're on the road for a long time, it might be nice to break it up with a hotel stay or two. We've picked a hotel in each continent in case you're in need of some TLC along the way: in Canada, try the Auberge in central Vancouver. There's an indoor pool and sauna, plus a fridge and microwave in all rooms in case you need to stash your supplies. In Mexico City, rest your feet in the spa of the Barceló Mexico Reforma. Upon reaching the end of the route at the tip of South America, you'll definitely deserve some pampering: Los Cauquenes Resort + Spa in Ushuaia, Argentina should be just the ticket.   


2. Northern Oman's coast and interior

Muscat old town with Palace. Photo: WilfriedB/Shutterstock

Oman is often overlooked on the Middle East travel circuit with tourists opting to visit big-city-hitters Dubai and Abu Dhabi in neighbouring UAE. Oman, however, offers a more traditional view of life in the Middle East and there's no better way to explore it than with the freedom of your own car. 

Insight Guides' local expert for Oman, Edlyn, has created an entire itinerary around exploring Oman's highlights by road.  Review her suggested trip itinerary or talk to her directly to begin planning your road trip through the country.

Distance: 850km/530 miles

Approx. route time: 1 week

When to go: October–April

Highlights: The route begins in Muscat, a highlight of any visit to Oman, replete with exquisite architecture and an atmospheric souk. The drive that follows takes you through fabulous mountain landscapes, traditional villages and along the coastline – stopping off in Barka, Nizwa and Ras Al Jinz on your way.

Where to stay: There are plenty of world-class hotels in the Omani capital of Muscat that might provide a welcome book-end to your road trip. Choose from luxury hotels like Al Bustan Palace, or – if you want to stick with your motoring theme – book into Oman Motorhomes


3. Romantic Road, Bavaria, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. Photo: Jeni Foto/Shutterstock

Stretching for 350km from the vineyards of Würzburg to the foothills of the Alps at Füssen, the Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse) is Germany's most popular tourist route, and one of its best road trip destinations. You could spend a month exploring this string of perfectly preserved medieval walled towns, hilltop castles, mighty cathedrals and pretty churches. 

Distance: 350km/220 miles

Approx. route time: 3 or 4 days 

When to go: June–September

Highlights: Stopping-off points include the enchanting Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the dramatic castle Burg Harburg and the stately town of Augsburg.

Where to stay: There are plenty of hotels along the route, should you want a real bed for the night. In Würzburg, try the charming Tiny House Henry Wohnwagon for a truly atmospheric stay. In Nördlingen, meanwhile, plump for the Arthotel ANA Flair, with bold splashes of colour. 


4. Garden Route, South Africa

Garden Route coast in South Africa. Photo: Rolf Meinow/Shutterstock

Lush and bountiful, the relatively short stretch of coastline between Mossel Bay and Tsitsikamma is popularly referred to as the Garden Route. This, however, is a distinctly African garden – not the manicured lawns of Europe with their neat and formal layouts, but an exhilaratingly rugged coastline flanked by indigenous rainforest, blue lagoons, parallel rows of serrated mountain peaks and fields bright with fynbos (scrubland). 

Are you ready to get behind the wheel with Insight Guides? Zorica, the local expert based in South Africa, can plan, organize and book your entire self-drive holiday for you. Explore suggested itineraries online or talk to local expert Zorica today to begin planning your adventure. 

Distance: 300km/190 miles

Approx. route time: 3–14 days

When to go: September–October and March–May offer the best weather for a Garden Route road trip, avoiding the scorching summer highs. 

Highlights: Aside from the lush foliage, sights along the way include the fascinating Cango Caves, the snaking Seweweekspoort Pass, the Bloukrans Bridge and Knysna Elephant Park.

Where to stay: The timeless appeal of the Garden Route both to foreign travellers and to South African holidaymakers is reflected in a booming guesthouse and hotel industry. For real luxury, splash out at Hunter's Country House, or – for a jaw-dropping location overlooking the Sanddrift River gorge – make for  The Fernery Lodge & Chalets.  


5. Glen Coe, Scottish Highlands

Scotland Highlands. Photo: Matthew Storer/Shutterstock

The mountain scenery around perhaps the most famous glen in Scotland is sublime, and makes for a stonking road trip destination. The landscape exerts a great deal of power and even the unimaginative must feel a shiver up their spine as they follow the A82 between the dark buttresses of Buachaille Etive Mor, Bidean nam Bian and the Aonach Eagach. 

Talk to Marcela today for a worry-free self-drive trip or have a look at her sample trips

Distance: Total length of A82 from Glasgow to Inverness is 270km/170 miles

Approx. route time: 1 day

When to go: May–September

Highlights: The highlands mountains are notorious: they are among Britain's supreme mountaineering challenges, and nearly every winter they claim lives. The views along this route are stupendous. The National Trust for Scotland owns most of Glen Coe and exhibitions at its Glen Coe Visitor Centre near the foot of the glen tell its story. 

Where to stay: There are plenty of characterful places to stay along the A82. At Sheildaig Farm, accommodation is in a gorgeous converted 19th-century farmhouse. Or – great for families – Queen of the Loch by Marston's Inn has a pub-restaurant and children's playground on-site.  

 

6. Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast, Italy, is undoubtedly one of the world's best road trips. Photo: Shutterstock

Whether you take the bus or brave it in a car, the drive along the Amalfi Coast is one heart-stopping journey you won’t forget. The 50km (31-mile) ribbon of road snakes its way between Sant’Agata sui due Golfi and Salerno, with vertiginous views of the sea below and the mountains above. 

Elisa, your local expert for Italy, has created an 8-day tour of Rome and the Amalfi Coast for Insight Guides, taking in the route above. Explore the itinerary online or speak with her today to find out how she can help to make your holiday in Italy unforgettable. 

Distance: 550km/340 miles for full 8-day tour

Approx. route time: 8 days

When to go: April–October

Highlights: The Amalfi Coast route encompasses two of the coast’s loveliest towns, Amalfi and Ravello, as well as plenty of pretty villages clinging to cliff-faces along the way. 

Where to stay: B&B Il Pavone is a colorful option in Conca dei Marini with a vine-draped terrace overlooking the sea. In Ravello, meanwhile, Villa Amore is a top choice – an intimate hotel with stellar views and very chic decor. 


7. Pacific Route, USA

San Francisco panorama from San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: kropic1/Shutterstock

The USA's iconic Pacific Route stretches from San Diego in southern California all the way up the coast through Oregon and Washington to Seattle, not far from the Canadian border. This is among the most quintessential American road trips. 

Are you planning to take your own car and looking for amazing day experiences? Talk to David, your local expert based in California for unique activities all over the USA. 

Distance: 2655km/1650 miles

Approx. route time: To make the most of the trip, take a full 7 days

When to go: June–October

Highlights: There are so many highlights along this superlative road trip that it's hard to know where to start. There are quaint towns, wineries, giant redwoods, romantic beaches and historic sites, plus the big-draw cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Where to stay: Check out the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, Cavallo Point near San Fran or Little River Inn, which overlooks the mighty Pacific Ocean. 


8. Grande Corniche, France

Village of Eze and French Riviera, France. Photo: Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock

East towards the Italian border, the white limestone Pre-Alps fall almost directly into the sea, creating some of the French Riviera's most dramatic settings and exclusive peninsulas. The Grande Corniche is one of Europe's best road trips, going all the way to Menton, via Roquebrune. 

Insight Guides' expert for France, Ekaterina, can create, organize and book an entire itinerary for you taking in the route above. Submit a trip request to being planning your adventure using her expertise today. 

Distance: 30km/20 miles

Approx. route time: 3hr

When to go: June–September

Highlights: You can stop off at La Turbie, or explore inland villages such as Peillon and Peille. La Turbie's star attraction is the Trophée des Alpes, a ruin standing guard over Monaco. Emperor Augustus built it in 6BC to celebrate victory over various peoples who had prevented the construction of a road between Rome and Gaul.

Where to stay: When you arrive in Menton, bed down in the Hôtel Vacances Bleues Blamoral. The rooms are bright and cheery and the garden overlooks the sea. 

 

9. Andalucia, Spain

Seville, Spain Square. Photo: Andre Quinou

This sunny southern region of Spain attracts thousands to its shores every summer. To get well and truly off-the-beaten-track and to escape the crowds, explore at your own pace on a self-drive trip through the region. 

Aitor, Insight Guides’ local expert for Spain, knows where to visit and when to avoid the tourist hordes. Review his suggested 8-day itinerary: Andalucian road trip online or talk to him today to create your own adventure from scratch.  

Distance: 550km/340 miles

Approx. route time: 13 days 

When to go: April–October

Highlights: Ancient cities Seville, Ronda and Granada await, while the surfing town of Tarifa and rural El Colmenar offer the ideal place to relax and recharge. 

Where to stay: There's plenty to choice in the glorious city of Seville. For the ultimate in luxury, book into the Zenit Sevilla. Alternatively, for a memorable stay in a historic gem, try the Zaida, where rooms occupy an old palace. 


10. Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

Arthur's Pass National Park in autumn. Photo: PK289/Shutterstock

New Zealand is famed for its staggering landscapes, making it one of the best places to take a road trip. The 260km (160-mile) route over Arthur's Pass to Hokitika on the South Island's West Coast provides one of the country's great geographical contrasts. This alpine highway climbs through a visual feast of mirrored lakes, caves and rock formations, ridges and valleys, wide shingle river beds and deep gorges.

Planning to go but prefer the option of booking a package? Discover Emanuelle's favorite self-drive trips in New Zealand here and send her a request to discuss your wishes. She can quote, book, and execute your ideal trip. 

Distance: 260km/160 miles

Approx. route time: 1 day

When to go: December–February

Highlights: Stop in Arthur's Pass National Park for some hiking and climbing. 

Where to stay: True adventures should stay at The Nook, a cute cabin a stone's throw from Arthur's Pass. This being New Zealand, the stupendous views are all but expected.  


11. Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Ross Castle near Killarney, Co. Kerry Ireland. Photo: Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

The Ring of Kerry is one of Europe’s best road trip locations, a circular route around the rim of the Iveragh Peninsula, through rugged sandstone hills and verdant subtropical vegetation, with myriad mountain and coastal views. 

With amazing routes to be discovered in Ireland, check out our favourite itineraries here and talk to Marcela to modify any of these or create your dream trip from scratch. 

Distance: 179km/111 miles 

Approx. route time: 1 day

When to go: June–September

Highlights: There are a stellar collection of viewpoints along the route, including Ladies View in Killarney National Park and the vistas from the town of Cahersiveen. Natural highlights abound in the form of Torc Waterfall, the sublime beaches of Caherdaniel and the Skellig Rocks; while if it's history you're after, stop at Ross Castle, Muckross House and Cahergal Stone Fort. Then there's the endlessly picturesque towns and villages – our favorites are Kenmare and Portmagee. 

Where to stay: For a touch of authenticity, book into the Coachman's Townhouse in Kenmare; the rooms are above the pub, and are tastefully decorated.  


12. Great Ocean Road, Australia 

Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles, Australia.

Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles, Australia. Photo: Shutterstock

Begun in 1919 and finished in 1932, the Great Ocean Road was built by 3,000 ex-servicemen who had returned to Australia from overseas duty in World War I. It was conceived as a lasting memorial to their many colleagues who lost their lives fighting in the conflict. Using only picks, shovels and horse-drawn carts, the men carved the 243km (151-mile) road out of rock, dense bushland and forest. Today, the road is known as one of the world's best road trip destinations. The journey from Torquay to Allansford, near Warrnambool, offers incredibly beautiful natural scenery, delicious food and wine stops, and adrenalin-inducing activities aplenty.

No matter if you're looking for a longer or a shorter trip, Emanuelle is happy to plan and book your ideal self-drive adventure in Australia for you. Her itineraries here can be taken as inspiration, but – as with all Insight Guides trips – they are 100% customizable to fit your preferences. 

Distance: 243km/151 miles

Approx. route time: 3 days

When to go: February–March or October–November

Highlights: The ocean scenery on this road trip is not just something to write home about, it's something to write to everyone about. Beaches to stop at include Bells Beach – famed for its legendary surf – Johanna Beach and Loch Ard Gorge, while natural formations to prioritize include London Bridge and The Grotto and the iconic 12 Apostles. There are more treasures than simply the coast itself; explore the forest depths in the Otways National Park, visit gushing Hopetoun Falls and poke around the sleepy fishing village of Port Campbell. 

Where to stay: There's accommodation to suit every taste and budget along the Great Ocean Road. There's family-friendly spots (try Torquay Holiday Park), spa hotels (try Great Ocean Road Resort) and private accommodation, too (try Comfy Coast Drive Condo). 


Taking a road trip: how to get started

Insight Guides can help you with holidays in over 100 destinations worldwide, from the remote mountains of Oman to the bright city lights of Paris. If you’re looking to take your own road trip, get in touch. We’ll pair you with the best local expert for your chosen destination, who can plan, organise and book your entire trip for you, from start to finish. What are you waiting for? Submit a trip request today.