Some like a city break, others a couple of weeks poolside but there’s just something about taking on a great road challenge that can get your motor running. If you find the right highway, you can enjoy the landscape and terrain as you work your way down coastal highways and bridges, scenic mountain passes or stunning national parks.
Here we take a look at some of the ultimate driving locations across the world that will have you looking for driving gloves before your next trip.
Big Sur, California
We start in America, where else? This vast country plays host to Death Valley at Vegas and the iconic Highway 163 from Arizona but it is Route 66 that always wins the day when it comes to a road trip. The Pacific Coast Highway goes from Washington State, into California at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge before working its way down the coast to Los Angeles and Orange Country.
The whole drive is wonderful but the pick of the bunch is the Big Sur 123-mile stretch where you cross the San Carpoforo Creek near Monterey and hug the cliffs as you wind down to the Carmel River and through a redwood forest, crossing some historic bridges as you go.
If you drive from north to south then you get the best vistas of the Pacific’s turquoise waters from your window as you take in the natural beauty of the Sunshine State on this iconic highway.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
The world’s largest war memorial, it was built by returning First World War soldiers, the 151-mile journey from Warnambool to Torquay is often categorised as a gentler Big Sur; a Southern Hemisphere version.
Perfect for those who love a relaxed drive and a clear sky, the road trip has become a tourist hotspot as you hug the coastline. Cruising through varied coastline, there are plenty of landmarks perfect for stopping.
The Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park are an iconic attraction for this journey. A collection of limestone stacks, they were formed by erosion and while there are only eight left, are a prominent Australian landmark. There are other rock formations to visit like the Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto and London Arch as you head down the coast.
Stelvio Pass, Switzerland and Italy
Once dubbed the ultimate driving location by the Top Gear team, this spaghetti road straddles the Italian and Swiss border. With only small barriers to protect you from the sheer cliff faces some 9,000 feet up the Italian Alps, it’s a place of natural beauty that offers an exhilarating drive.
For those seeking an adventure, this is the one for you. Whereas the first two have hugged scenic coastline, this is only 15 miles but with 48 switchbacks slicing through the beautiful mountain range, it is an amazing, if hair-raising, trip.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Sorrento has quickly turned into a tourist hotspot. A short drive from Naples, quick sail to Capri and a charming town that boasts beautiful views, it is easy to see why. The 30-mile Amalfi Coast drive is another picture-perfect reason.
Gorgeous bays and sleepy villages sit in the stunning scenery of this drive as you hug the hillside over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Between local drivers flying along and agitated tourists checking their map you get to enjoy Italy’s most scenic coastline stretch.
Driving through the greenery and looking out to the beautiful, turquoise waters, the World Heritage spot is peppered with stop-off towns like Ravello and Positano where you can take a break with a gelato or tantalise those taste buds in a trattoria.
The Atlantic Road, Norway
Named Norway’s ‘construction of the century’, the Atlantic Ocean road may only be just over five miles long, connecting Kristiansund and Molde, but it is one of the greatest five miles you’ll ever drive.
Originally planned as a railway, the wild nature and stunning backdrop of this construction are a joy. Running through an archipelago, villages and small islands, it has eight bridges in all.
From the road you can see seals and an abundance of birds – and on rare occasions, whales. The curving Storseisundet Bridge is the tallest and most spectacular while the autumn season sees many tourists flock to see the heavy storms which add extra drama and theatre to the drive.
Best of the rest
These are some of the most iconic roads in the world, perfect for your next road trip. If you’re looking for more then have a look at Furka Pass in Switzerland, the Seven Mile Bridge at the Florida Keys and Ruta 40 in western Argentina. All you need now is to pick the music…
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