10 of the World's Most Breathtaking Road Trips
Sometimes, the journey can be just as much fun as the destination.
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Iceland’s Ring Road
During warmer months, the entirety of Iceland can be circled on the Ring Road, an 828-mile route that hugs the coast of this island nation. Along the way, road trippers will pass all manner of natural splendor: soaring waterfalls, otherworldly glacial lagoons and rolling open fields dotted with sheep. Proceed at your own peril in the winter, when portions of the road are frozen over.
Perth to Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
Western Australia’s remote coast is truly for the wild at heart. On the nearly 12-hour journey from Perth, one of the most isolated major cities on the globe, to the sea life-rich corals of Ningaloo Reef some 700 miles north, you won’t see many people or cars. There are, however, plenty of natural wonders. Wander amongst the weird rock formations at Pinnacles National Park, the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano; jump off a cliff (safely clipped into a harness, of course) in Kalbarri National Park; and frolic with resident kangaroos at eco-resort Sal Salis before retiring to luxe glamping tents.
There are few roads that resonate more deeply in the American psyche as Route 66, one of the oldest highways to criss-cross the nation. Built in 1926, it originally ran from Chicago to Santa Monica. Although Route 66 was removed from the U.S. highway system in 1985, it remains a popular tourist route. The National Park Service maintains a site detailing all the must-see sights along the way.
Vancouver to Tofino, British Columbia
Not all great road trips involve a ferry, but this one does. Cars drive aboard in Vancouver and cross the Strait of Georgia, passing lush scenes of forest, mountain and sea before reaching Vancouver Island. From there, the route snakes through temperature rainforest until reaching Tofino on the island’s west coast. On the way, stop at Klitsa Mountain — criss-crossed with hiking trails, it affords breathtaking views of Port Alberni and the Alberni Valley below.
Taiwan’s Suhua Highway
Driving along this stretch of road isn’t for the faint of heart. This 73-mile section on Provincial Highway No. 9, which hugs Taiwan’s east coast, is famous for its sharp, heart attack-inducing curves, falling rocks and landslides. Those brave enough to risk the drive are rewarded with breath-taking views of the Pacific from the highway’s steep cliffs.
California’s Highway 1
The longest state route in California, this 655.8-mile highway cuts through gorgeous scenery in the Big Sur region, where it hugs the cliffside and passes several coastal park areas and a redwood forest. Farther north, it takes drivers over San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Germany’s Romantic Road
Dreamed up by travel agents in the 1950s, Germany’s "Romantic Road" nonetheless delivers the goods: The 220-mile route hopscotches between picturesque towns and castles in southern Germany. Highlights include Wertheim Castle, a ruined stone castle dating to the 12th century; Hohes Schloss, a late-gothic fortified castle that for centuries served as the summer residence for the Prince Bishops of Augsburg; and the Minster of St. George, a stately late-gothic hall church with a Romanesque tower gate.
Switzerland’s Furka Pass
This high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps might look familiar; it was used as a location in the James Bond film Goldfinger. At an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet, the pass is steep, winding and located in one of the snowiest regions in the country, making it potentially a treacherous road trip. But those who take the risk are repaid with fantastic alpine panoramas, lush rolling hills and primo yodeling opportunities.
Norway’s Atlantic Road
Opened in 1989, the Atlantic Road connects the Nordic island of Averoy with the mainland via eight bridges that span a series of small islands and islets. In clear weather, the drive is easy and tranquil; in storms, spraying ocean water can completely envelop the road. Either way, you're in for a treat.
The Florida Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge
Seven Mile Bridge is, well, a seven-mile bridge connecting Knight’s Key in Marathon, Florida, to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Driving on it is a surreal pleasure, with clear blue water stretching into the distance as far as the eye can see. At times, the bridge looks like it stretches to infinity.