Soaring down silent highways at the dead of night might be something associated with Thelma & Louise, but why not re-create your own Hollywood with some of the world’s most mind-denting, tear jerking road trips. Take in the Twelve Apostles by moonlight in Australia, or navigate your way around South Africa’s flirtatious wine regions as you enjoy a road trip that even the world’s best Nikon can’t do justice. There’s something seriously romantic, and spontaneous about road-tripping, and here are some of our favourites…
Canada isn’t all about maple syrup ya know…
The Icefields Parkway is the beating heart of Alberta, and a drive across its season-altering 181 miles engulfs the mind in all the preconceptions one might have of Canada before journeying there. Whilst most might sit bored during a road trip, conjuring up games of I spy, the famed Icefields Parkway makes no time for apathy. Passing between mountains drenched in snow that look akin to a Mac screensaver, to wide rocky riverbeds and cheeky mountain goats, the trip makes for a feast for the senses and becomes an eclectic extravaganza paved into your memory forever.
Describing it as magical seems an injustice. In fact, describing it at all is arduous, because this UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in the mind as somewhere you simply must visit in order to revel in the spellbinding nature of it all. The road trip is renowned for taking travellers from Jasper to Banff, traversing the beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site from Jasper, along the parkway that leads to Banff, whilst soaring past eerily beautiful lakes, from Herbert to Bow and Peyto.
Distance: 227 kilometres
It’s what comes to mind whenever someone says road trip, well, that and eye spy… Route 66 is the phenomenal road cruise across eight U.S. states that is pretty much bucket list for any nomad. During this eye-opener of a drive, you’ll traverse thousands of miles between Chicago and Los Angels, eat some fantastic food, probably take some awesome selfies, and complete a route that not many people can say they have. Highlights include red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona, the kitsch hotels of Tucumcari, New Mexico, and explore the eerie ghost town of Texola, Oklahoma. Top tip: keep an eye on your petrol, as in some places petrol stations can be as far as 100 miles apart. Sheesh!
Distance: 3,940 kilometres m – set aside two weeks, at least!
For those with a need for speed…
Portugal’s N304, cutting into the Parque Natural do Alvão, provides you with all of the arms in the air, head thrown back exhilaration one needs. Journey through the mountains in the north of Portugal and around rhythmic bends and undulating terrains and take in the visually stunning region.
In fact, only recently, a journalist took a Ford Focus ST there as part of Europe’s Greatest Driving Road series, and said: “There are other roads that head north and south, so I guess the mad and somewhat twisty n3o4 is not everybody’s cup of tea… but for keen drivers it’s an unforgettable route.” Out of 60, the N304 was given 57 – the highest of all European routes… so, if unforgettable and incredible is your bag then it’s highly likely you’ll enjoy this quirky Portugese road trip.
If you’re ever passing by Hawaii, as you do, then the Hana Highway is a worthy road trip. It’s a (mostly) single lane road that spans the North Coast of the Island from Paia to Hana and it isn’t mega long, so you can probably complete the whole thing iPhone battery intact! Known for its vibrants blasts of striking beauty, smothering flora, fauna and coastlines, Hana will far from disappoint. Indugle in bamboo forest, painted eucalyptus trees, seven sacred pools, waterfalls, scenic views and more, zooming over 59 bridges during the 2-3 hour drive (one way), until you reach the majestic Haleakala National Park.
Distance: 103.6 kilometres
Let’s zip across to Iceland next and join The Ring Road, a glacier-filled road trip that’s cool in more ways than just the temperate. If you’ve ever wanted to circle a whole country then it’s time for your dreams to come true, as The Ring Road does just what it says on the tin. From epic glacial lagoons through to otherworldly waterfalls, this road trip can be accessed by hiring a car in Reykjavik and journeying around highlights such as the Jokusarlon glacial lagoon, the Skogafoss waterfall and witnessing geothermal activity in Hverageroi. Beware of undulating terrains and tricky weather conditions at times, but most especially keep an eye out for the dazzling Northern lights.
Distance: 1,332 kilometres
Get yourselves to Brazil and explore the colour-filled Costa Verde in all of its Copacabana beach glory! This awesome road trip will take you from the port city of Santos all around South America’s stunning visuals from climbing up through the Serra do Mar mountains, to soaking up cold air at Catucaba. An undeniable highlight is Paraty, often described as southern Brazil’s prettiest city.
Distance: 300 kilometres
Don’t make the mistake I did during this epic road trip and let your pal go swimming in the sea with the camper van key in his pocket… disaster. But do enjoy the epic sunshine, expanses of wide open spaces, and the odd ominous spider on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. For those of you not familiar, this drive is a stretch of road in the state of Victoria that allows for some contrasting stop-offs en-route, including beaches, rainforest and insanely cool rock formations. Load up on delicious coffee in Melbourne before taking off and enjoying highlights that include swimming with dolphins at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, and picking your own raspberries and blackberries at the Pennyroyal Raspberry Farm.
Distance: 400 kilometres
Scotland’s beauty is often unrivalled. Especially as sunsets over castles and black lochs create distant trickles against the silence. The North Coast 500 is the UK’s very own version of Route 66 and offers some of the most spectacular, mind-denting views. This atmospheric, circular tour boasts mountain, loch, castle and coast all the way with highlights of windswept views of the Highlands between Ullapool and Durness and Orkney raising its head from the choppy North Sea. The drive is also packed with old stone monuments, which can be enjoyed before journeying back along the A99 back to Inverness.
Distance: 830 kilometres
Indulge your inner nomad over on The Handbook’s travel section…