8 of the World’s Most Scenic Drives for a Perfect Road Trip

Travelers come in all types. Some like staying in a posh hotel for a few weeks while others prefer the ruggedness of backpacking their way through a few different locales. Folks who live for road trips fall somewhere in the middle, often enjoying the scenic drives as much as getting to know a specific location.

Most people who prefer hitting the open road probably have plenty of go-to drives, but choosing the same trip every time eventually gets boring. Instead of going for your usual route when planning your next getaway, we think it’s worth seeking out the most beautiful options possible. Fortunately, you can find great roads all over the world. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites to help you reinvigorate your vacation.

1. Road to the Isles (Scotland)

scenic drives

Train along the Road to the Isles in Scotland | iStock.com

To help eliminate confusion right off the bat, it’s worth noting Road to the Isles refers to a geographic area in Scotland, a traditional song, as well as an actual road. Clearly, we’re talking about the latter. The 46-mile route starts in Fort William and ends in the port town Mallaig, with plenty of great attractions along the way. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss taking a day trip on the Jacobite Steam Train. It travels across a 14-arch viaduct featured in the films.

2. Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaii)

driving along the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii

Traveling the Road to Hana in Hawaii | iStock.com

Not that anyone needs an excuse to go to Hawaii, but the Road to Hana really is reason enough to visit. This winding, 52-mile stretch begins in Kahului and ends, not surprisingly, in the town of Hana. You’ll see everything from waterfalls to lush botanical gardens along the way. Maui Information Guide recommended renting a convertible to get the best views. You’ll find plenty of great food along the way, but save room for banana bread. As strange as it sounds, even Bon Appétit cited versions made in this area are some of the best you’ll ever eat.

3. Great Ocean Road (Victoria, Australia)

view of the great ocean road in Australia

Aerial view of the Great Ocean Road in Australia | iStock.com

The name says it all for this beloved Australian road. This coastal drive offers stunning views of the beach and provides tons of opportunities to surf, snorkel, and scuba dive. Though you’ll have to travel a bit inland to get there, the treetop walk through Otway Forest Park is completely worth the extra drive.

4. The Atlantic Road (Norway)

famously winding, harrowing Atlantic Road in Norway

Atlantic Road in Norway | BERIT ROALD/AFP/Getty Images

The shortest on our list, Norway’s Atlantic Road is still worth a visit. It’s only 5 miles long, but the sharp twists and insane ascents make for great views. The route’s official website said it’s a popular tourist attraction, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a lot of other visitors along the way. The good news about this is you can easily ask for directions should you get lost en route.

5. Highway 1 (California)

Highway 1 in California as the sun sets

Sun setting on California’s Highway 1 | iStock.com

This iconic highway is a must for any serious road tripper. If you haven’t yet found your way to Highway 1, start planning a vacation. The trip offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean all the way from San Francisco to San Diego. Though you won’t be in California’s most recognized wine region, you’ll still be able to sample plenty of fantastic bottles in the Santa Ynez Valley. California’s official tourism site suggested heading to Sunstone Winery, which features a wine cave.

6. Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina and Virginia)

leaves changing over the Linn cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Leaves changing over the Blue Ridge Parkway | iStock.com

On the other side of the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a fantastic choice for the extremely laid back driver. According to the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, the speed limit tops out at 45 miles per hour. You can obviously drive the entire stretch, but the website also offered suggestions for different day trips. This drive is always gorgeous, but you might want to save it for fall. Once the leaves start changing color, it’s even more jaw-dropping than usual.

7. Transfagarasan Highway (Romania)

Transfagarasan Highway in Romania

Transfagarasan Highway winding through Romania | iStock.com

Top Gear fans might already know about this insanely winding stretch of road. The highway was featured on a 2009 episode and pretty much awed the entire team, which you can see for yourself in one of the show’s clips. To say they had fun would be an understatement. In Your Pocket City Guides explained the insane twists were more likely built for show than practical reasons, and the entire project took four years to complete.

8. Going-to-the-Sun-Road (Montana)

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana's Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana | iStock.com

We’ll close things out with one more stateside journey. Though Montana might not make most people’s lists of must-visit destinations, it should for anyone who enjoys a good road trip. You can find phenomenal routes all over the state, but Going-to-the-Sun Road is probably our favorite. Completed in 1952, the 50-mile road goes right through the center of Glacier National Park, showcasing nearly every type of terrain you could hope to see. Visit Montana said the route’s equally delightful traveling in either direction, so choose your own adventure.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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