Buckle up, roll down the windows, turn up the radio, and get ready to hit the open road! There are few things that give you the feeling of freedom and adventure quite like a road trip! From one day road trips to multi-week road trips, there are so many beautiful drives to discover around the world. I asked experienced travelers what their favorite road trip is. From picturesque mountain drives to stunning coastal drives. From the land down under to the Balkans, here are 12 of the world’s best road trips.
1. East Coast of Australia Road Trip
Recommended by Becca Huxley from Bee Wanderlust
The east coast of Australia is one of the world’s best road trips – it’s a must do! Stretching from Cairns to Melbourne, this is not just any old road trip. From the tropical humidity of the north to the beautiful beach weather of the coast, this trip has it all. This is one of my all-time favorites. The best way to travel is by car or camper-van. I chose to live in a station wagon, planning my own route, cooking my own meals, waking up in a new destination every day.
There are a handful of attractions you cannot miss, my favorite was sky diving. Jump out of a plane at 14,000ft onto Mission beach, an unforgettable experience, all before 7 AM. Then head down the coast and hop on a sailing boat to the spectacular Whitsunday Islands. Whitsundays wouldn’t be complete without a special stop at Whitehaven Beach. It’s only accessible by boat, here you will experience some of the world’s purest white silica sand. Once you have admired the beauty, head to Byron Bay for a chilled afternoon relaxing on the beach, swimming in the sea, or grabbing a beer in a local bar.
An east coast road trip wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop to see the famous sights of Sydney, before cruising down to your final destination, Melbourne. Melbourne is the perfect place to end, spend your last day enjoying a beer in one of the many alternative bars and watch a famous St Kilda sunset.
2. The Great Ocean Road Australia Road Trip
Recommended by Ella from Wide-Eyed Wanderer
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most iconic road trips in the world. It is a must-do if you’re visiting Australia. The road is 150 miles long and runs along the south-eastern coast of Australia in the state of Victoria. Doing the Great Ocean Road was one of my favorite travel experiences and I highly recommend you do it.
A big reason you should do this road trip is that there are a variety of things to see and do. Some are famous and iconic, while others are lesser known and still very worthy of your time. Did you know that you can go zip lining in a rain-forest on your Great Ocean Road trip? Well, you can! There are small towns to stop at and visit along the road. Perfect for when you want to grab a bite to eat and sneak a peek at the Australian coastal town life. And more importantly, the drive itself offers gorgeous views of the ocean. I loved how much there was to see and do. Despite its fame, this road trip still feels very relaxed.
Must-see attractions include the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, London Bridge, the Great Otway National Park, and Split Point Lighthouse. I’d do this road trip again in a heartbeat!
3. Highway 1 California USA Road Trip
Recommended by Meghan from The Traveling Teacher
My favorite road trip is Highway 1 in California between LA and San Francisco. The whole drive takes about 7 to 8 hours, plan to add time for lots of stops along the way.
We spent three days driving and it still didn’t feel like enough time! Highway 1 is a very unique road trip because you are driving along the California coast the whole way. It offers so many different gorgeous views and unique things to do. Half the drive you end up on the side of cliffs! You pass the rocky beaches of Malibu as you are leaving LA, and begin to see little coastal towns. Then comes the green rolling hills and beautiful blue waters. Keep driving to get to the area known as Big Sur, an entire area of state parks that are absolutely gorgeous. There are waterfalls, coastal hikes to hidden beaches, Red Wood trees, and blue waters.
We stayed at a hotel while we were there and made random road side stops when we saw trails. We ended up hiking to the top of a beautiful gorge, seeing a waterfall, and hiking to a hidden beach. As you pass through the Big Sur, stop at Hearst Castle and hear about some history of Old Hollywood. As you continue driving you will pass Monterrey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, San Simeon, and Carmel by the Sea. All worth a visit! There are wineries through Monterrey County for a quick pit stop or an entire day of sipping wine on terraces. We stopped at a few on the way there and back. The drive can be terrifying, but the reward of beautiful hikes, awesome wine, beautiful blue ocean, and cute towns is worth the scare!
4. Miami to Key West USA Road Trip
Recommended by Matt Hulland from The Travel Blogs
As you drive south, over the palm-lined roads, you’ll notice the color of the water change from deep blue of South Beach to a shade of turquoise as it shallows from Atlantic to mangrove-lined islands.
Leaving Miami you’ll brush along the edge of the Everglades and pass through Homestead before reaching Key Largo. This is the start of the 113-mile stretch known as the Overseas Highway. This road consists of 42 bridges built along the route of the old Henry Flagler railway that was destroyed by a hurricane in 1935. The most iconic bridge is Seven Mile Bridge (clue is in the title). My favorite bridge links Lower Matecumbe Key to Long Key over the romantically named Channel 5. It is one of the few bridges that has elevation which gives more distance to the horizon.
There are some great stops along the way. The Pigeon Key visitor center. Marathon is an excellent place to learn about Flagler and his railway. Bahia Honda State Park is home to a wonderful beach where you can still see part of the original railway construction. At Big Pine Key you can meet the indigenous Key Deer.
After 113 miles of enjoying the Overseas Highway you’ll arrived in Key West. Kick back, grab a cocktail, and enjoy some of the finest sunsets that the US has to offer. What’s more, at some point you’ll probably have to drive back again . . . probably.
5. Manila to Leyte Philippines Road Trip
Recommended by Katherine from Tara Let’s Anywhere
One of the world’s best road trips is in the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago country, so transferring from one province to another can be a challenge. Usually you’ll need to book local flights which can be costly. In 2016, I found a better alternative is to do road trips instead. One of the best routes is from Metro Manila in Luzon to Leyte in Visayas island group.
This road trip took us almost a week. We visited Albay and explored Cagsawa Ruins, a 16th-century church remnant that was engulfed in a violent eruption from Mayon Volcano. We also made a stopover in Sorsogon, visiting an island lagoon in Bacon and island hopping in Matnog. Matnog is a favorite discovery of mine – it has a marine sanctuary and beautiful uncrowded beaches. From there, go to Samar. There you can find natural pools and rock formations, which include smooth limestone and cliffs with web-like surface patterns. Our last stop was at Kalanggaman Island in Leyte. Kalanggaman Island is a recently discovered attraction in the Philippines, famous for its stretch of white sand bar, it is often cited as one of the best in the country.
I love this road trip because we were able to visit various attractions in the country in a van. This saved us precious money by not having to buy airline tickets. It also gave us the opportunity to see communities, fields of rice and grains, and mountains along the way.
6. Hana Highway Hawaii Road Trip
Recommended by Erin Faherty from 10 Miles Behind Me
For endless opportunities to stand in awe of Mother Nature, take a drive along the Hana Highway on the island of Maui in Hawaii. It is also known as the Road to Hana and is one of the world’s best road trips.
Visit the Seven Sacred Pools at Kipahulu (Pools of ‘Ohe’o). Here, people who are braver than I am can jump off cliffs into the water. Alternatively, people like me, can take lots of pictures instead. Stop many times along the way to reward yourself for your driving skills on the hairpin turns. There are beaches galore. Wai’anapanapa with its famous black sand, arches, and caves. Hamoa beach, a few miles past Hana, is commonly referred to as one of the best beaches in the United States. Visit waterfalls, including Wailua Falls and Twin Falls. Walk through arboretums with painted eucalyptus trees that look like watercolor paintings.
Because all road trips need good snacks and roadside bites, I highly recommend picking up homemade banana bread. Buy it from the food truck at the surfing beach of Ho’Okipa before you begin. Stop at the Island Chef food truck for fresh seafood when you pass by.
7. Baltics Road Trip (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia)
Recommended by Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker
We set off from Germany with a car, a tent, 3 weeks to spare and no set itinerary. This area of Europe is perfect road-tripping territory for three main reasons. First, the scenery is beautiful. Think miles of open fields, forests and hardly anyone else on the road. Secondly, freedom camping is legal in all the Baltic countries so when you get sick of driving you can simply stop and pitch a tent. And lastly, the price. Everything is significantly cheaper than Western Europe including petrol, food and accommodation. These are some of the reasons we think this is one of the world’s best road trips.
This trip also offers a great mix of natural areas and cities. We did everything from picking wild berries for breakfast in a Latvian forest to wandering the cobbled streets of Tallinn’s old town. Some of our top stops were:
- Riga (Latvia) – This lively capital was full of interesting second hand shops, beautiful buildings and a huge bustling market.
- Gauja National Park (Latvia) – Beautiful scenery and also home to the pretty little town of Cesis. It is a great spot for camping.
- Tallinn (Estonia) – Stunning old town complete with a castle overlooking the city. Take a wander through the nearby suburbs for some amazing wooden houses.
- Kaunas (Lithuania) – Another gorgeous but much smaller town. Make sure to visit Pažaislis Monastery.
- Trakai Island Castle (Lithuania) – The name says it all. Spectacular castle set in a lake and surrounded by a cute little town of wooden houses.
8. Ring Road Iceland Road Trip
Recommended by Amanda and Daniel from La Vida Viva Travel
The Ring Road around Iceland is guaranteed to be one of the world’s best road trips. Being a passenger that usually naps, I was captivated every minute of the journey. It’s not hard to see why – Iceland is ridiculously picturesque.
Ring Road is the major highway that loops the country. Driving it offers a plethora of landscapes – waterfalls, black beaches, hot springs, glaciers, icebergs, mountains, geysers, oh and did I mention waterfalls? They’re that good, they deserve double recognition. All of this AND the northern lights in winter or 24 hours of daylight in summer. Iceland doesn’t capitalize on any of its natural beauties – there are no entrance fees. For adventure lovers, ice climbing is a thrilling activity unlike anything else. If that’s a bit extreme, you can explore ice caves or go on a glacier walk. You can also dive or snorkel in the Silfra fissure, a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents.
If seeing the Aurora Borealis is on your bucket list, having a car will allow you to chase the dancing lights across the country. We did this and saw it 4 times in 10 days! So do yourself a favor and get here. I promise that every day will provide a multitude of awe-inspiring photo opportunities and breathtaking moments.
9. Jasper to Banff Canada Road Trip
Recommended by Kym Tyson from 33andfree
The drive from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) is one of the most beautiful in North America and one of the world’s best road trips.
Start the drive in Banff where you will be able to see some of its top attractions. Lake Morraine, Lake Louise, Lake Agnes and Banff Upper Hot Springs. The drive starts on Hwy 1 and you can do a small detour to Johnston Canyon. There is a secret cave and two waterfalls to be found here and a very fun catwalk.
After this, is Herbert Lake, the most beautiful reflection lake we have ever seen. Take in the views of the surrounding mountains and soon you will be at Bow Lake. This beautiful blue lake is surrounded by glaciers. In between here and Jasper National Park there is place after place to stop and explore. The first thing after you cross into Jasper is Columbia Ice Fields. They have a small restaurant and gift shop and tons of parking. Take some time to walk to the glacier and walk on it.
The next stop we did was Sunwapta Falls. This is a stunning waterfall with a couple hikes and a great place for a snack or a packed lunch. Athcabasca Falls is also on this drive, these falls are easy to get to after you reach your final destination in Jasper.
A couple places in Jasper that you should check out are Maligne Lake (Spirit Island), Pyramid Island, and the Jasper Skytram.
If you have a little extra time I would also take a day to go into Yoho National Park. Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge are absolutely stunning!
10. North Island New Zealand Road Trip
Recommended by Hannah Henderson from Hannah Henderson Travel
One of the world’s best road trips is an amazing 3-day trip from Auckland, up to the glorious tip of New Zealand, and then back via the Bay of Islands. This drive is full of incredible vistas and crazy winding roads. Driving up to the tip of New Zealand is both stunning (Cape Maria van Diemen pictured) and spiritual.
The first point to visit is the beautiful West Coast beach of Muriwai, north of the famous surfing beaches of Piha and Bethell’s Beach. Next, drive up to the Waipoua Kauri Forest on the West Coast to see Tane Mahuta, the great 2,000+ year old Kauri tree! Then, head over to Opononi. The view from Omapere hill is something spectacular. Over the crest of the hill you will see the Hokianga Harbour, the Panguru sand dunes, and the coastal town of Opononi. You must, MUST, have fish & chips on the beach. Open a pull-top can of Watties tomato sauce, unwrap your parcel of fish & chips and enjoy, while looking out for the seagulls that will inevitably gather.
On your way towards Cape Reinga, stop at Ahipara which is at the south end of Ninety Mile Beach. Next head to Cape Reinga, the jumping off point for the spirits according to Maori legend. Day 3 takes you to the Bay of Islands, which is important for many reasons. It is the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori people and the European settlers. It is also famed for big game fishing and fabulous wine.
11. Las Vegas Nevada to Denver Colorado USA Road Trip
Recommended by Laura Vlieg from Couple Takes
12. Nairobi Kenya to Cape Town South Africa Road Trip
Recommended by Hannah at Getting Stamped
- Serengeti National Park – When you are on a game drive in the Serengeti National park you will feel like you are in a real life Lion King movie.
- Victoria Falls – Walking across the bridge getting soaked with the mist from Victoria Falls is epic.
- Namibia – Namibia has landscapes out of this world, but Spitzkoppe is the most amazing campsite ever.
World’s Best Road Trips
So there you have it – some of the world’s best road trips! What’s your favorite road trip? Let me know in the comments!