14 Amazing Road Trips Around the World

Mandatory requirement: windows down, music up. (Photo: iStock)

By Charles McCool

I am a big fan of both lists and road trips, so I decided to combine the two and compile a list of the best car journeys around the world. To craft the list, I crowdsourced my friends and fellow travel writers, all of whom gave interesting — and different — answers. The one rule: The trip had to be outside the U.S.

My friends definitely delivered. I haven’t been on all of these road trips, but I am sensing a new bucket list for the years ahead.

1. Cape Point Route in Cape Town, South Africa

“Our new favorite road trip is the famous Cape Point Route, a stunning one-day drive from Cape Town, South Africa. The main portion of the journey is on Chapman’s Peak Drive, a very long and winding road. The trip also offers breathtaking views of Hout Bay, a lively coastal town, and stunning vistas of the point at which the South Atlantic and Southern oceans meet.

“And that’s not all! You can also greet African penguins up close and enjoy delicious wines at local vineyards (just be careful to drink water and let the alcohol wear off before you get behind the wheel). The Cape Peninsula is definitely someplace special.” — Lance and Laura Longwell, The Travel Addicts

Cruising down Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Lance and Laura Longwell)

2. Kruger National Park in South Africa

“This just may be the slowest road trip you will ever take, as the speed limit is 25 mph, but no matter: Driving through Kruger National Park delivers extraordinary TPH (thrills per hour) instead. An African wildlife preserve, it encompasses an area larger than some countries. There are copious wildlife crossings and lions bellowing into the night around the campground, all of which create an experience unparalleled and unforgettable in the annals of road trips.” — Shara Johnson, SKJ Travel

Related: Tech Nerd Tuesday: 7 Apps You Need on a Road Trip

Street traffic in Kruger National Park. (Photo: Shara Johnson)

3. Abu Dhabi to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort in the United Arab Emirates

“One of my favorite road trips ever is the two-hour drive from the city of Abu Dhabi to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. The first 1 ½ hours is filled with straight, flat roads that are just made for speed. The last half-hour is filled with curves (seriously, it’s just curve after curve after curve) that eventually lead into the dunes of Rub’ al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter, which is the second-largest sand desert in the world. The sand blows across the road leading into the nothingness of the Empty Quarter, and the road ends when the resort simply rises from the desert.” — Jennifer Melroy, Made All the Difference

The resort pretty much pops out of nowhere. (Photo: Jennifer Melroy)

4. Cruising through Bulgaria

“Bulgaria was quite the surprising — and amazing — road trip. There are endless fields of sunflowers, historic buildings, and snowcapped mountains with beautiful grassy slopes to see along the way. The best way to do it is to drive through the entire country and make stops throughout. The best five places to visit? Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Govedartsi, and Rila. You’ll find great food in Veliko Tarnovo, scenic lakes in Govedartsi, and a 10th century monastery in Rila.

“The driving itself is pretty easy, too, as most signs are in English, and most of the roads are fairly well-kept. Everything is relatively close together as well, so hit it up in one week, or take your time and spread it out over a month.” — Erin Bender, Travel With Bender

The beautiful Bulgarian countryside. (Photo: Erin Bender)

5. Edinburgh to Loch Ness, Scotland

“Start your road trip in Edinburgh, Scotland’s vibrant capital, and make your way toward your first stop, Stirling Castle. Enjoy a throwback in time as you visit the castle before you continue toward Loch Lomond National Park, where the endlessness welcomes you with open arms. Your next stop should be around Fort Williams to catch a glimpse of the Glenfinnan viaduct, where a scene from the second Harry Potter movie was shot. Finally, prepare yourself for Nessie when you arrive at Loch Ness and feel the magic that surrounds the lake.” — Viktoria Urbanek, Chronic Wanderlust

So magical. (Photo: Viktoria Urbanek)

6. Driving through Mallorca, Spain

“Mallorca, Spain, is a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean, so it makes sense that driving through it is my favorite road trip in the world. The road to the small village of Sa Calobra, through the Escorca region of Mallorca, will reward you with breathtaking vistas that are worth the white-knuckle, hairpin turns up and then down again. My advice: Avoid the coach tours in the middle of the day, and don’t miss the Escorca Restaurant, famous for its authentic comida de campo (country food). Dishes include roasted goat (delicious!), rabbit, lamb, suckling pig, and more.” — Betsy Wuebker, PassingThru

Related: Road Trip: Working a Stick Shift Through the South of France and Spain

Driving through Mallorca. (Photo: Betsy Wuebker)

7. Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada

“My favorite road trip in the world is the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. I just can’t get enough of the scenic trails and the wildlife that goes with it. Offering stunning views of the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, the winding road is truly unforgettable, and trust me on this one, you really won’t want to leave.” — Cory deHaan, Inspirational Life Adventures

Mountains and ocean together as one. What more could you want? (Photo: Cory deHaan)

8. The Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario, Canada

“One of my favorite road trips ever was when I drove the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario, from Wawa township to the small city of Sault Ste. Marie. While there are no towns on this drive, there are several places to stop and enjoy the scenery, including two provincial parks. Driving alongside Lake Superior, the largest fresh lake in the world, made me feel like I was driving along the ocean, even though I was thousands of miles from the coast.” — Alouise Dittrick, Take Me to the World

Don’t you think that looks like an ocean, too? (Photo: Alouise Dittrick)

9. San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque, Mexico

“My first time in Mexico was in 2011, when I went there with my sister. We rented a car, drove all around, and that’s what I loved the most. I particularly loved the drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque, on perhaps the bumpiest, curviest, hilliest road I have ever seen. It took us all day and several breaks, including a stop to swim at the natural pools at Agua Azul, the area’s natural blue waterfalls. After so many hours of driving, it really felt like paradise!” — Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across the World

A rest stop on the road to Palenque. (Photo: Claudia Tavani)

10. Driving around Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean

“The best way to truly discover the charm and beauty of the Grand Cayman Island — the largest of the Cayman Islands — is to take a leisurely road trip around the entire thing. You start in Hell (seriously the name) and end at Rum Bay. The island is only 22 miles wide, so the entire trip takes only about an hour without stops, but you’ll want to spend the whole day stopping off at all the pristine deserted beaches and idyllic snorkeling spots along the way.” — Laura Lynch, Savored Journeys

The pristine, near-perfect Grand Cayman Island. (Photo: Laura Lynch)

11. The Australian bush

The Australian bush at dawn is both stunningly beautiful and fraught with danger. Dawn and dusk are the most perilous times to travel in the Australian bush, because that is when kangaroos and wombats come down to the road in search of moisture from the grass along the road. Yet, not surprisingly, this is also the very time that you get to see just how beautiful the light is here in Australia. Just keep a lookout for the animals!” — Paula McInerney, Contented Traveller

Look at that light! So worth the potential scare. (Photo: Paula McInerney)

12. The Grand Pacific Drive in Australia

“I live in Australia, and my favorite road trip just happens to be right on my doorstep. The Grand Pacific Drive stretches from the Royal National Park in south Sydney to the town of Nowra on the New South Wales South Coast. Follow the clearly marked signage, as the 87-mile drive winds along the coast past picturesque beaches and through quaint small towns. Popular stops include the Sea Cliff Bridge, Wollongong Lighthouse, and the sleepy seaside town of Kiama.” — Jen Seligmann, The Trusted Traveller

Related: The Ultimate Playlist for Every #SummerTravel Road Trip

The land Down Under is really looking up. (Photo: Jen Seligmann)

13. The Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Great Ocean Road winds for 158 miles along the southeast coast of Australia, hugging the tempestuous Southern Ocean in a series of long, undulating curves and sweeping views. Thousands of years of erosion have left spectacular limestone stacks abandoned offshore by the retreating coastline. Along the way, there are koalas, kangaroos, emus, penguins, and more. The road also leads to the Twelve Apostles, which are limestone cliff stacks standing in the sea. There used to be 12 — hence the name — but now there are only eight.” — Lyn Lindfield, The Travelling Lindfields

The Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. (Photo: Lyn Lindfield)

14. Driving around the South Island, New Zealand

“The South Island of New Zealand — the larger of the two major islands there — has long, desolate roads that hug the rocky coastlines and snake through astonishing mountain ranges. It’s sure to take a bit longer to travel from place to place because every turn reveals more jaw-dropping, photo-worthy scenery. Hike through glaciers, relax on the beach, get your adrenaline rushing, and kick back at the wineries. The only traffic jams are caused by sheep, and you can stay within your budget by camping throughout your trip.” — Kelsey Ohleger, Route Words

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