If you have been following our blog for a while, then you definitely know that road tripping is our favourite way to travel. And since we often get asked what our favourite trips are, today I decided to share our all time favourite scenic drives and road trips from all over the world.
This is just a small selection of our absolute favourite beautiful roads from more than 15 years of traveling (similar to the selection of the most amazing destinations that I posted last year). If I were to include them all, I would end up with at least a hundred… Anyway, I hope this will help you find some inspiration for your own trips. Find out!
Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa
We left our hearts in South Africa many years ago and so this selection of our favourite scenic roads features quite some beautiful roads from South Africa. Chapman’s Peak Drive is a short but extremely picturesque route along the coast between Cape Town city and the South Cape Peninsula. Don’t miss if visiting Cape Town!
TIP: The best time to drive this toll road is at sunset and it’s best to go in the direction towards Cape Town city. If you continue along the coast, you will pass another stunning stretch of road, the so-called Twelve Apostles (Victoria Rd just before Camps Bay).
The Icefields Parkway, Canada
The Icefields Parkway is probably the most scenic road in Canada. Stretching from Jasper National Park to Lake Louise in Banff NP, the road is surrounded by more than a hundred glaciers, waterfalls, and the most beautiful landscapes, as far as an eye can see.
Arches National Park Scenic Drive, USA
With so many national parks and diverse scenery, the United States probably have more scenic roads than any other country in the world. The scenic loop of Arches NP in Utah is one of our absolute favourites! Twisting and turning among the huge rocks rising in the otherwise rather flat landscape, you find the most phenomenal views behind every single turn. With so many viewpoints, short hikes, and easily accessible landmarks, Arches National Park is a must if visiting Utah!
TIP: Stay in Moab for at lest a few days and make sure to also drive the scenic Utah State Route 128 – see further below.
Flores Island in the Azores, Portugal
With just a few roads, one more beautiful than the other, Flores Island in the Azores, Portugal, is simply stunning. It feels so pristine and remote – a true hidden gem of the Atlantic…
Calanques de Piana in Corsica, France
Calanques de Piana in Corsica (France) can easily be discovered by boat, but I find that the scenic drive along the road D81 from Piana to Porto does more justice to this incredibly picturesque coastline of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gulf of Porto. The roads are really narrow and driving here is not for faint hearted, but what an experience! This is without any doubt one of the most scenic drives in Corsica!
TIP: While you can visit Calanques de Piana as a day trip from Ajaccio, it’s better to stay nearby and avoid driving up and down (yes, the roads are that narrow). As I said in one of my earlier posts, Corsica is not the best place to explore from a base location.
The Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route is a 300 km coastal road stretching from Storms River in the Eastern Cape to the Mossel Bay in the Western Cape in South Africa. You can drive it in one day, or you can spend a month here… I recommend to spend at least a week – there is so much to see and do in the area! Some of our favourite stops are: Storms River and Tsitsikamma National Park, Plettenberg Bay, Wilderness, Oudtshoorn, and of course Knysna – our favourite town along the Garden Route.
TIP: Knysna area is the best base town to stay for exploring the Garden Route. You can visit the whole year, but spring (September-October) is the best time to go for the flowers. Although we’ve seen plenty of flowers along this route in November, but also in July. Here you can find our suggested itinerary for the Garden Route and Cape Peninsula.
Scenic Hwy 80 to Mount Cook, New Zealand
Our road trip in New Zealand was one of the first trips my husband and I made together years ago. Exploring the North and the South Islands of New Zealand is still one of our absolute favourite road trips of all time. Most memories of that trip have fainted during all the years, but we both remember Mount Cook road surrounded by the sea of blooming lupine flowers, azure blue water of Lake Pukaki, and spectacular mountain landscapes as one of the most beautiful roads in the world. The best scenery you can imagine!
TIP: go in summer (we travelled in December) for the best weather and the flowers.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km (150 miles) scenic road along the south-eastern coast of Australia. Best known for the Twelve Apostles, the road has a number of other incredibly scenic viewpoints that are worth a stop just as much. Some of our favourites include the Bay of Islands, London Bridge, and Loch Ard Gorge. Don’t miss the wild koalas at the Kennett River too!
TIP: Stay in Lorne, Apollo Bay, or Port Campbell and take at least two days to drive the Great Ocean Road. If you are really short on time, you can visit the Great Ocean Road as a day trip from Melbourne as well.
Ornevegen (Eagle’s Road) is just a short, but very steep drive from Geiranger village in Norway. Once you reach the top, you will find the most spectacular viewpoint offering breathtaking views over the UNESCO World Heritage Site Geirangerfjord.
TIP: You can only drive this road in summer. Stay in Geiranger for at least 2 nights to explore the area. The nearby road to Dalsnibba lookout is also very beautiful.
Nameless road with no number that leads to Sossusvlei is one of the best known scenic roads of Namibia. Surrounded by the world’s tallest sand dunes it’s best visited early in the morning when the rising sun paints the landscape in bright red and orange tints.
TIP: Here you can find our tips and advice for the best Namibia road trip itinerary.
Tioga Road in Yosemite NP, USA
Yosemite National Park has many scenic roads, but the views along the Tioga Road are simply the best. As you enter the park from the eastern side, you are very eager to get to Yosemite Valley and see Half Dome and El Captain as soon as possible. But don’t rush! The 62km road stretch from Tioga Pass to Crane Flat is one of the absolute highlights of Yosemite!
TIP: Visit in summer as Tioga Pass is closed from November till May/June.
Panorama Route, South Africa
Panorama Route is located in Mpumalanga province in the Northern part of South Africa, close to world-famous Kruger National Park. Best stops along this scenic road include the Blyde River Canyon and Three Rondavels Lookout, as well as Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
TIP: Stay in Hazyview – it’s a great location for exploring both – the Panorama Route and Kruger National Park.
The Three Passes Grimsel – Furka – Susten in Switzerland
Switzerland has many scenic roads, but the real classic is the three road trip encompassing the three mountain passes: Grimsel, Furka, and Susten.
There are many viewpoints along the way, so take your time and don’t rush. You can do the drive in either direction and should count at least one full day. Families with children will love visiting the ice grotto at the Furka Pass.
TIP: The Swiss mountain passes are only open in summer. Stay in either Interlaken or Lucerne area and start your trip in Meiringen. We usually drive anticlockwise, so first Grimsel, then Furka, and finally Susten.
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain NP, USA
Trail Ridge Road, also known as Highway To The Sky reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet (over 3,7km) and is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. In a matter of minutes you ascend above the tree line and the most spectacular 360° views open up in front of you. Take your time to explore this 77km (48 miles) road stretch – one of the highlights of a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.
TIP: You can only drive the Trail Ridge Road in summer, and even in August you will find some snow next to the road. It’s best to stay either in Estes Park or in Grand Lake and take at least half a day for this road in one direction. Don’t miss the nearby Peak to Peak Highway as well – the scenery is amazing too.
Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
If you visit just one place in Australia’s Red Centre, it will probably be Ayers Rock (Uluru). Make sure to take your time and explore the scenic roads in Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park as well. The road around the base of Uluru itself is a must, just as a very scenic drive to the Kata Tjuta rock formations.
TIP: Take your time to explore the area beyond Ayers Rock. Here you can find our suggested 6-day itinerary for Australia’s Red Centre.
No matter how many mountain roads you have driven before, the serpentine scenic road Trollstigen (Troll Ladder) in Norway will take your breath away. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Norway, so if you can, try to come early in the morning or late in the evening. And don’t miss the scenic lookout point from which you can see the whole road – seeing the hairpin bends from above is probably even more impressive than driving them.
TIP: Trollstigen is only open in summer, from mid-May to October. If you are thinking of visiting Norway, take a look at our Norway road trip itinerary for more scenic roads and other stunning landmarks along the fjords.
Utah State Route 128
Scenic Utah Byway 128 between Moab and Cisco is one of the most beautiful roads we have ever driven. Surrounded by impressive steep red sandstone walls you follow the Colorado river through the most spectacular landscapes. This rather short stretch of road (72km – 44 miles) has an incredibly diverse scenery and you don’t know where to look first.
This byway is a true hidden gem of Utah – we passed just a handful of other cars and not one of them were tourists. You always hear about Monument Valley that is famous from the travel guides and Hollywood movies. We find that this scenic road SR-128 is even more beautiful, yet it somehow managed to stay under the radar. So if you ever find yourself in Utah, don’t miss the scenic route 128! It’s a road with a big WOW factor.
TIP: Travel in the direction from Cisco to Moab, that way you start with the least impressive part and it just gets better and better behind every curve. If you can, drive this road at sunset for even better views. There are two beautiful hotels along this road that are well worth staying at for a night or two: Red Cliffs Lodge and Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa. You could also base yourself here for exploring the nearby Arches National Park.
So this is my small selection of some of the most scenic roads from our trips. What are your favourite scenic drives? Feel free to leave a reply below!
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