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Coolest road trips in the world | bumper guide

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Ever wondered what the coolest road trips are? Picture the scene, you’re cruising along a dusty highway, windows down, your favourite playlist on the car stereo. Utter bliss.

There’s a real sense of freedom and romance to be had with a classic road trip.

Where are the best road trips in the world?

Especially if your drive includes dramatic scenery, quirky pit stops, exciting roads and fun passengers.

If you need help planning your road trip, why not use Original travel? Original Travel curates customised road trip itineraries, crafted by destination experts to countries worldwide each unique and adhering to the company ethos that “Life is in the Detail”. 

I’ve compiled a list of the coolest road trips as recommended by top travel bloggers so that you can discover some of the best drives in the world!

Article created in partnershop with Original Travel.

Coolest road trips in the world

Coolest road trips in the world
There’s a real sense of freedom and romance to be had with a classic road trip.

Looking for a podcast for your road trip? Why not download and listen to my travel podcast – the Travel Goals Podcast?

Subscribe now and listen to travel experts, hot travel topics and destination inspiration.

Route 66, USA

Route 66 is probably the most famous road in the world and makes for an iconic American road trip.

Route 66 was over 2,5000 miles long and stretched over 2,500 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Although Route 66 was officially decommissioned as a highway in 1985, it has remained a popular historic driving route in the United States ever since.

The road takes you through major cities, small towns, beautiful landscapes, and quirky roadside tourist attractions.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

This is a route Laurence and I know well and what we loved most about the drive is the changing nature of the landscapes, food, and people along the drive and visiting the small towns along the way. Each day was different!

We drove the route over 2 weeks and this is the length of time we recommend and you can see our suggested Route 66 road trip itinerary for a day-to-day guide to this trip! Chosen by Independent Travel Cats.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Great Ocean Road, Australia

In my almost 15 years of travel, I have been lucky enough to undertake some pretty spectacular road trips. One of the stand-out road trips for me is the famous Great Ocean Road route in Australia.

The 151-mile route follows Victoria’s dramatic south-west coastline and has a diverse range of scenery. There’s also many points of interest and some fabulous ‘selfie spots’ along the wy.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Drive past sheer ocean cliffs to view untouched surf beaches, quaint small towns and intriguing rainforests.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Some of the must see places along the route include the iconic Twelve Apostles, [now only eight], these massive limestone formations have eroded over time to form very photogenic columns.

You should definitely also check out the Cape Otway lighthouse and Californian redwood trees in Beech Forest. Hiring a car is the perfect way to travel around Australia if you are looking for flexibility.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Road tripping in Namibia, Africa

Road tripping is our favourite way to travel and ideally, it’s focussed on natural landmarks and beautiful sceneries.

One of the most memorable road trips we ever took was a 4-week adventure in Africa covering all the must-see places in Namibia.

Road tripping in Namibia is very special as you often drive several hours without meeting another car or a human being.

On top of that, gravel roads and wildlife force you to take it easy and really enjoy the trip rather than focus on the destination. It’s slow travel at its best.

Driving in Namibia Africa

Driving in Namibia Africa

Some of our favourite moments from the trip were waking up before dawn in order to catch the sunrise at Sossusvlei, or seeing a herd of giraffes on the road in Northern Namibia.

The est memories from Namibia come from the countless sundowners, the typical African way to experience sunsets. I’d go back just for those African sunsets! Chosen by Full Suitcase.

Icefields Parkway, Canada

The Icefields Parkway in Alberta Canada is one of the most scenic road trips in the world.

The 146-mile route connects the hamlet of Lake Louise with the town of Jasper and runs through some of the most stunning scenery in the Banff and Jasper National Parks.

The area is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so designated for its natural beauty.

Canada road trip

Along the route, you will see several gorgeous alpine lakes with their surreal blue colour.

At the Columbia Icefield, you can take the Ice Explorer ATV to the Athabasca Glacier and actually walk on the ice. How cool is that?

At the Glacier Skywalk, you can hang out on the glass-bottomed walkway high above the Sunwapta Valley. As you drive along the road, you’ll have to keep picking up your jaw as each curve reveals new vistas that are simply stunning.

Drive this route in the summer to enjoy good weather and easier driving conditions and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings! Chosen by It’s Not About The Miles.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

North Island New Zealand road trip

Last year, we were lucky enough to spend a month in New Zealand. We planned the most epic road trip we’d ever taken, making our way from top to bottom across both the North and South Islands.

New Zealand’s North Island is sometimes passed over in favour of its southern sibling.

While the fjords and glaciers and wildlife that grace the South Island’s landscapes are truly unmissable, we enjoyed ourselves just as much on the North Island.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Road trip itinerary New Zealand North Island

We spent 12 days on the North Island and started in Auckland and ended in Wellington, passing through Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough along the way.

We saw Maori villages, geothermal parks, serene lakes, black sand beaches, waterfalls and of course, sheep.

Road trip itinerary New Zealand North Island

The drive treated us to beautiful scenery including all the rolling green hills you could dream of. We also treated ourselves to delicious local coffee and wine and craft beer.

When we got to Wellington, we were excited to move onto the South Island but also sad to leave the North behind. Chosen by Travel Breathe Repeat.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Route 1 Maine, USA

Maine, the uppermost state in the northeast of the United States, is breathtakingly beautiful no matter what time of year.

Spring brings you wildflowers bursting into a rainbow of colours.  Summertime offers street fairs, warm beaches, cool ice cream and lush greenery.

Route 1 Maine, USA road trip

Winter is very special with its winter sports and picturesque villages covered in blankets of snow.

But when it comes to autumn, it is a truly special time of year. Fall offers a kaleidoscope of foliage in blazing colours; fiery reds, mellow yellows and warm orange.

Road trip in Maine USA

Drive along route 1 going north from Kennebunkport to Acadia National Park and you will see why it is considered to be one of the most picturesque drives in the U.S.

The drive takes about four and a half hours and you should take several days to complete it. A long, slow drive is really the only way you can really appreciate all the area has to offer.

The charming and welcoming New England villages you will encounter on the trip offer great seafood, delightful bed and breakfasts and a wide selection of things to do.

Go around late September to mid-October as this is the best time to capture the turning foliage and the weather is delightful.

But you will be sure to enjoy the stunning beauty of the area any season. Chosen by Travels With Talek 

Road trip in Provence France

When people think of Provence they mostly think of cute little French villages and the lavender fields but it is so much more than that.

You can start a road trip in Cannes, then drive to the cute city of Grasse to discover the perfume capital and eventually go for a workshop.

You will then drive north towards Castellane, passing by Gréolières that is a ski resort in the winter. Castellane is the beginning of the Verdon gorge a canyon in South of France.

Castellane is a cute little town with a church on a hill and where a lot of people start their adventure in the canyon – hike, rafting and kayaking.

Driving in France

From there you will take the “route des Crêtes” that has amazing views over the canyon. But be careful, it is one of the most dangerous roads in France because it is so beautiful.

Two other highlights on the road are the town of Moustier Sainte Marie that was awarded to be one of the most beautiful villages of France and the lake of Sainte Croix with its beautiful turquoise water. Chosen by Les Berlinettes.

The Mongol Rally Road trip and race

When I tell people that I drove a car from the UK to Mongolia in 3 months via Iran and Turkmenistan across 21 countries in total…their faces pause, screw up and then express back utter confusion.

Coolest Road trips

I get it. Sometimes my face does that too. I can’t quite believe I did it either.

In the name of madness, challenge, absurdness, charity and pure adventure, I just had to attempt this challenge when I found out about The Mongol Rally.

Running once a year, this event is all about making it to Russia alive, whilst driving a car which has an engine size of 2.1 litres or less. It’s ridiculous, but like nothing I have ever embarked on before.

You will meet locals you will never forget and learn what it means to work as a team and believe in the power of kindness and sheer luck. Do you dare try it yourself? Chosen by Teacake Travels.

Road trip in Andalusia, Southern Spain

When you mention Andalusia, most people first think about the great cities there, such as Granada with the fabulous Alhambra or Seville and Cordoba with their gems of Arabian and Gothic architecture.

Nevertheless, there are also many picturesque villages in Andalusia, which are great road trip destinations.

A good idea is to follow the villages and small towns that belong to the cultural route called Caminos de Pasión that goes through villages of major religious importance.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

The highlights of this trip include the lovely white village of Priego de Córdoba that looks to come out of a fairy tale.

There’s also Osuna, with some of the most picturesque squares and streets in Andalusia and where the bullfight arena was used in the filming of Game of Thrones.

Of course, you can’t leave out Carmona either, one of the loveliest villages in the Province of Seville with fabulous architecture and fascinating views. Chosen by Surfing the Planet.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Blues Highway, Route 61 USA

If you are a jazz and blues lover, consider a self-guided road trip on the historical Blues Highway (Route 61) from Memphis to New Orleans.

Driving along the Mississippi Blues Trail, you will find over 150 markers as well as several blues-related museums.

These museums tell the stories of significant blues contributors and how their circumstances influenced the blues movement.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

In the evenings, walk-in Memphis with your feet ten feet off of Beale, dance the night away at jazz clubs on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, or enjoy some authentic live music in the small bars around Clarksdale.

This is where legendary blues musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong used to rock out scatting and playing the saxophone.

Whether you’re a blues fan or a casual traveller in search of an exceptional trip, you’ll undoubtedly have a musical and cultural adventure on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Chosen by Lena on the Move.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Driving the Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Route is one of the most interesting and diverse road trips that you can take in South Africa.

The 300-km journey starts in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape and goes to Storms River in the Eastern Cape.

Although not strictly part of the Garden Route, many people start their journey in Capetown or the Winelands and finish it in Port Elizabeth.

The best thing about the Garden Route is the sheer number of unique things to do. There’s so much wildlife to see, particularly whales, sharks, and dolphins but also plenty of baboons, dassies and elephants.

Outdoor activities that you can take part in include hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, skydiving and paragliding.

Needless to say, you won’t be bored on the trip, and you’ll have plenty of fond memories to look back on. Chosen by This Travel Guide.

Road Trip East Coast Australia

A road trip up the East Coast of New South Wales has long been a favourite with travellers visiting Australia.

Starting at our favourite city in Australia, Sydney and finishing at the world-famous hippy surf town of Bryon Bay, it’s a true classic.

You can keep it all about the beaches as most people do, or detour through the countryside along the Waterfall Way.

Exploring this long stretch of coastline is a chance to see iconic wildlife, epic waterfalls and stunning beaches.

Driving in Australia

Some of the highlights include the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, slowing down the pace in beautiful Yamba or checking out the incredible waterfalls in Dorrigo.

The trip takes about nine hours from start to finish (excluding detours) and several car hire companies offer one-way rentals.

If you do this in the winter (June – September in Australia), you also have a great chance of seeing humpback whales from numerous locations along the way. Chosen by Walk My World.

Pacific Coast Highway, USA

One of the most beautiful drives in the United States, the Pacific Coast Highway, delivers epic views along the California coast.

Focus on the stretch from Monterey to Malibu and you won’t be disappointed. Stop at overlooks to watch seals and sea lions playing in the ocean.

Pacific Coast Highway, USA

Take a pic before you cross the iconic Bixby Bridge, a favourite scene in the HBO series Big Little Lies.

Spend a night in the redwoods and take a hike at Big Sur. Walkthrough the lap of luxury at Hearst Castle. Play in the surf at Malibu Beach.

If you only have time for a day trip from San Francisco, drive as far as Nepenthe, a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal and ocean views from the edge of a cliff, before turning back. Chosen by Fun in Fairfax VA.

Cape Point Peninsula, South Africa

One of the nicest things to do in Cape Town is going on a road trip that goes all around the Cape Point Peninsula.

It’s an easy, pleasant day trip from the city, that takes you to some fabulous points of interest in the region.

The first stop is typically Hoots Bay, at a port where it’s possible to take a short boat trip to visit a Cape fur seal colony – though keep in mind some seals can be seen in the harbour too

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Road trip in South Africa

Other stops include Boulders Beach, a gorgeous small beach with crystal clear waters and white sand where there’s a protected colony of penguins; and Cape Point Peninsula National Park.

Finally, a stop on Cape of Good Hope is a must: there’s a beautiful trail that goes all the way to Cape Point Lighthouse, from where there are gorgeous views of the coast.

It is also possible to admire the local wildlife – baboons can be spotted, and depending on the season even whales. Chosen by My Adventures Across The World.

Road trip in Chaing Rai, Thailand

If you were to look at a list of famous road-trips of the world, it’s likely an adventure around Chiang Rai Province in Thailand wouldn’t even feature. But their loss is our gain! 

Hiring a car in Chiang Rai doesn’t cost too much, and once you’re outside of the city, the roads in Northern Thailand are surprisingly well maintained and quiet. 

Road trip in Chaing Rai, Thailand

Driving in Chaing Rai, Thailand

There’s not even a tuk-tuk insight in these parts! What you will be treated to is a number of destinations that most tourists either rush through on a lengthy day-trip or, in some cases, don’t ever get to at all.

Whether it’s the iconic misty sunrise of Phu Chi Fa, long stretches of empty road along the mighty Mekong. 

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Seeing three countries meet at the Golden Triangle or doing a treetop walk at the immaculate Mae Fa Luang Gardens, a road trip through Chiang Rai Province will produce a number of truly unforgettable moments. Chosen by The Sabbatical Guide.

New Zealand South Island

New Zealand has the most gorgeous landscapes in the world and the best way to see them is on a road trip. We spent one week exploring New Zealand’s South Island and loved it.

The route started in Christchurch and ended in Queenstown. Along the way, we went to Lake Tekapo, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Wanaka, Te Anau, and Fiordland National Park/Milford Sound.

It was wonderful to slow down, enjoy the photogenic scenery, and stop whenever we wanted to.

New Zealand South Island driving route

Our frequent stops were seeing hundreds of adorable sheep munching on grass, hiking, and snapping photos of the turquoise lakes.

Sometimes we were the only car on the road in remote locations which was a nice change from the crowds in the city centres. We want to go back to New Zealand and drive through this beautiful country again. Chosen by Life Of Doing.

Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail, Scotland

The Aberdeenshire Coastal Trail takes in 165 miles of stunning Scottish scenery including dramatic cliffs, sweeping beaches, historic castles and cute fishing villages. 

For a relatively short road-trip route there is an amazing amount of diversity. The journey starts at St Cyrus Nature Reserve where passing whales can sometimes be spotted from the shore.

Further, along the route you can find other nature reserves with puffins and seals.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Road trip in Scotland UK

The coastal trail also takes in Dunnottar Castle which is one of the most photogenic in Scotland and at Cruden Bay, you can find Slains Castle, said to be the inspiration for the Dracula novels. 

Another unusual attraction is Peterhead Prison Museum, Scotland’s answer to Alcatraz! My favourite stop is at Rattray Head, with its huge sand dunes, golden beach and picturesque white-washed lighthouse. 

Other highlights are the collapsed sea-cave at the Bullers of Buchan and the photogenic villages of Pennan, Crovie and Gardenstown. Chosen by Adventures around Scotland.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Driving through Montenegro

Montenegro is probably the most stunning country in the Balkans. It’s small but has it all, breathtaking coastline, stunning mountains, charming towns and pristine nature.

While you can get to many destinations by public transport some of the highlights are reachable only by car. Going for a road trip might be the best way to see what Montenegro has to offer.

Montenegro road trip

In one day only you can visit ancient ruins of Stari Bar, take a look at the luxury resort of Sveti Stefan, visit the old capital Cetinje and go to picturesque (and known from postcards) Rijeka Crnojevica at Skadar Lake.

You can also admire 70% of the country from the top of Jezerski Vrh in Lovcen National Park and finish the trip in Kotor – one of the most beautiful places you will ever see!

I honestly can’t think of any other countries that can offer so much in such a short time! Chosen by Kami and the Rest of the World.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Driving Sri Lanka in a Tuk Tuk

My husband and I made a four-week road trip through Sri Lanka and it was by far, one of our best experiences.

The main reason why we enjoyed it so much [aside from the fantastic scenery of Sri Lanka] is the fact that we didn’t drive a car, we drove a tuk-tuk!

We rented one and then made our way through the country with it. It was hilarious to see the locals’ expressions the moment they realised that a foreigner was driving a tuk-tuk. They were all so happy and always encouraged us in traffic.

It was great to be able to stop anywhere we wanted and to even spot an elephant from our humble tuk-tuk.

Sri Lanka is an incredible country and doing a road trip there will help you explore it better and discover its hidden gems and unbeaten paths. Chosen by Our World To Wander.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Driving the North Coast, Scotland

The North Coast 500 is an epic road trip that loops for five hundred miles from the city of Inverness right around the north coast of Scotland.

It’s an incredible driving route that takes in some of the best of Scotland, from rugged highland hills through to spectacular white sandy beaches, winding mountain roads and cute villages.

Along the route, you have the opportunity to stay in everything from a castle to a campsite, and attractions range from royal residences to puffin lookout spots to ancient, iron age burial grounds.

It’s a route that really has something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of culture or just love getting out into the wilderness!

Check out our seven days North Coast 500 itinerary for more ideas for your adventure! Chosen by Finding the Universe.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Driving in Normandy, France

Our initial motivation for travelling to Normandy, was to embark on a WWII day tour.

A family member had landed on the beaches of this gorgeous region during the war and we’d heard good things about its current status as a vacation destination.

Road trip in Normandy France

After a lot of research, we decided to rent a car and to stay for a few days was the best way to explore the area.

We drove between beautiful cities, including Bayeux, Honfleur and Eretat.

An unexpected perk of the trip was how gorgeous the main road, N13, is. (It connects all the northern cities in Normandy and was very useful during the war as its path dates back to medieval times.)

There’s no billboards or advertisements to be found on N13 and it’s smoothly paved and well marked. Nothing litters the highway – it is simply beautiful scenery for miles.

It serves as the main road that will take you east to west in the area; whether you venture off to explore the small towns or not you’ll inevitably travel along it a lot in this area of France!

We were lucky enough to be there in May when the yellow canola fields were in full bloom.

We ventured to Normandy for its history but the road trip itself was a blast and absolutely an attraction in itself. Chosen by Sometimes Home.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Road trip in Issan, Thailand

Due to its lack of tourist infrastructure, hard-to-come-by English speakers, and just the overall vastness of the Northeastern parts of Thailand (Isaan), the region remains almost untouched when it comes to tourism.

And this really does work to its advantage for the adventurous, as it is just fascinating to explore the rich cultures, and somewhat lost traditions, away from the traditional tourist trails.

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

Roadtripping in Thailand

But to do so, personal transport is pretty much essential, at least to make the most of these rural landscapes, and the far-flung attractions dotted throughout.

Where some of the better areas would have to be along the border regions with Cambodia, where the ancient Khmer Highway leads across from its neighbours, where it includes the famous temples such as Angkor Wat.

But similar temples and ruins are also found on the Thai side of the border, including the Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram, as well as the Phimai Historical Park in Korat. Chosen by Live Less Ordinary.

The River Road, West Texas USA

While getting to isolated West Texas is a pretty epic road trip all on its own, there’s one particular stretch of highway there that’s worth a bit of extra effort.

The locals refer to it as the most beautiful highway in Texas. Highway 170 connects the Terlingua Ghost town and the city of Presidio. It hugs the Rio Grande the entire way, which has earned it the nickname The River Road.

The views of the Chihuahua Desert, both in the United States and Mexico, are stunning.

If you’re a hiker, you’re in luck. This road trip takes you through Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Entrance is free and there are a few desert hikes that are worth the effort if the weather isn’t too hot.

This drive is a great way to visit both Big Bend National Park and Marfa, two gems hidden away in the West Texas desert. Chosen by Sol Salute

Coolest road trips | The best drives in the world

The Ring of Kerry drive, Ireland 

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic circular 111-mile drive in southwest Ireland. Start your road trip in Killarney, take it slow, the roads are narrow in places and there are lots of things to see. 

Some of the highlights to visit along the way are the Gap of Dunloe, Valentia Island, the Kerry Cliffs, and Killarney National Park.

Ring of Kerry Drive Ireland

 Inside Killarney National Park, you will find the lovely Muckross House, the ruins of Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey, and the Torc waterfall. 

You could easily spend a whole day there. If you plan ahead and the weather cooperates, you can also do an excursion to Skellig Michael, an island that was a Star Wars filming location in Ireland.

Best road trip destinations

If you are renting a car for your road trip, make sure you get decent car insurance, essential travel items, a slamming playlist and a cool road trip buddy to make sure your journey is all kinds of awesome.

Also, take some time to plan your trip and look at the best road trip destinations for your budget and time frame.

What do you think of my compilation of the coolest road trips? Do you think these are some of the best drives in the world? Let me know in the comments below.

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