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8 Road Trips to Take Before You Die

Road trips Garden Route

There’s something liberating about a road trip holiday. Gazing through the windscreen at the never-ending tarmac that’s laid out in front of you, knowing that the route you take is entirely up to you. There’s no tour guide hurrying you along, no restrictions on when and where you stop to take in the sights. You can even make your own playlist. In my humble opinion, it’s the best kind of vacation, especially when you’re travelling along one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ routes. If your next holiday is going to be a road trip, make sure it’s one of these (then promptly followed by the other seven):

Icefields Parkway, Canada

Highway 93 – or as it’s better (and more aptly) known, the Icefields Parkway – stretches through Banff and Jasper National Parks for 144 miles, intersected by winding mountain turns, mirror lakes, thunderous cascades and, of course, glaciers. Hand’s down one of the best drives I’ve ever done, you’ll actually spend most of the time outside the car, rather than sat behind the wheel. But that’s road trips at their best. Must stops include Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, the Columbia Icefields, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Hector Lake. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for wild bears.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

From the iconic 12 Apostles, soaring dramatically from the Southern Ocean like jagged teeth, to the remote tranquillity of Otway National Park, the Great Ocean Road is a tarmac of extremes. It’s also home to some extreme Aussie wildlife too; stop to stroll the Great Ocean Walk, where you’ll likely spot koalas, emus and kangaroos, to name a few. And be sure to plan your hotel stays in areas where the best cellar doors are, so you can enjoy a tipple or two of some of Australia’s best grapes before resting your head. We love the Henty wine region for its delicious Riesling.

Garden Route, South Africa

The Garden Route is a master in the art of seduction. With its jungle-clad cliffs, boulder-strewn beaches and a plethora of marine life offshore, beauty abounds here. Discover adventure trails near Knysna, spot southern right whales in Plettenberg Bay, or get up close and personal with great whites in Mossel Bay. Rugged and wild, pretty soon you’ll find yourself falling in love with this windy coastal route…

Pacific Coast Highway, USA

Hugging the California coastline from San Fran to San Diego for over 650 miles, the Pacific Coast Highway is the road trip that you see in all the photographs. Achingly-beautiful bridges – defying the rules of structure and architecture – connect craggy cliffs, pounded by the fierce surf of the Pacific Ocean below. With the top down and the fresh sea breeze to reinvigorate you, take this route and you'll feel imbued with a laid-back cruising style. Stop to admire the turquoise waters of Monterey, dine on luxury cuisine along the Big Sur and watch elephant seals flop along the sands of San Simeon. You’ll arrive in the City of Angels feeling completely refreshed and unfazed by the mad Hollywood lifestyle.

Ring Road, Iceland

Flanked by black sand beaches on one side, and volcanic landscapes – punctuated by thundering waterfalls – on the other, Iceland’s Ring Road feels almost otherworldly. The topography is unlike anything you will have ever seen, or ever be likely to see anywhere else again, like motoring along the surface of a distant planet. It loops around the entire island-nation, but my favourite part is the southern section running west to east, from Reykjavik to the glacier-studded lagoon of Jokulsarlon.

Route 66, USA

There’s a reason John Steinbeck dubbed Route 66 ‘The Mother Road’ in his iconic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. It intersects the heart of the USA for nearly 2,500 miles, criss-crossing through eight different states, from Chicago, Illinois, right across to Los Angeles in California. It’s one of the original US highways and thus steeped in history – helping American citizens migrate from the harsh winters of the north-east down to the barbecue culture of the Deep South. If that’s not enough, you can stop off at a multitude of quirky attractions on your journey: POPS Diner, Cadillac Ranch and the Blue Whale are our favourites.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The roads that meander along the Amalfi Coast may be a challenge to drive, but it’s worth taking on the terrifying tarmacs for the drop-dead views that stretch beyond. From Sorrento to Salerno, soak up pretty coastal villages, aromatic lemon groves, ancient churches and seafront cafés amid sweeping views of this quintessentially Italian landscape.

Overwater Highway, China

The newest route on our list, this seven-mile road connects Xingshan County in Hubei to a high-speed motorway, carving a path through an ethereal river valley. It may be short, but the Overwater Highway is said to be one of the world's most scenic tarmacs, taking you above emerald waters as you follow the curve of the surrounding mountains. It's also particularly special because it prevents locals and tourists from taking a cut-through which leads you into the woods, thus protecting the native flora and fauna. Ecological and pretty – what more do you want?

Ready to hit the road Jack? Book an appointment with one of our Travel Experts to have a chat about what road trip will suit you.

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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