20 Amazing Drives Around the World
There's nothing better than some good tunes, good friends and the open road.
Except, of course, an open road that takes your breath away.
Around the globe, there are iconic road trips and drives that promise twists and turns, amazing views and a broader perspective on the country you're visiting. The following routes are considered the best of the best by driving enthusiasts the world over.
Rent a car, make sure your GPS is working and hit the road.
17-Mile Scenic Drive, California
Pebble Beach's beautiful route along the coast and forests of Monterey is so popular that you must pay a fee to make the drive. (Pro tip: Bike it and it's free.) Entrance includes a map of various stopping points, including the hillside Lone Cypress tree that has become a symbol of Pebble Beach.
Distance: 17 miles
Route Time: Less than an hour
What You'll See: The Scottish bagpiper who plays a goodnight tune every evening at sunset at the Links at Spanish Bay golf course.
365 Curve Road, Argentina
This unbelievable drive in Argentina has 370 switchbacks (maybe they liked the sound of 365 better than 370?), making it one of the best drives for sports cars and motorcycles. The trip takes you from Santiago to Mendoza across the Andes Mountains, with each curve numbered. (If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to skip this one.)
Distance: 227 miles
Route Time: 5 hours
What You'll See: Aconcagua National Park in Chile, a great stopping place for stretching your legs on hikes.
Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
The twisting and turning roads of the Amalfi Coast are not for the weak of stomach, and some areas are so tight you may have to pass another car at a crawl and get so close you could roll down your window and shake hands with the other passenger. But this is all part of the fun of making this epic trip along the coast.
Make sure to drive south from Sorrento, so the sea views will be to your right.
Distance: 35 miles
Route Time: 75 minutes
What You'll See: The beautiful villages stepped into the mountains in towns like Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
The Atlantic Road, Norway
Connecting mainland Norway to Averoy and other islands, the Atlantic Road takes you just over 5 miles across eight bridges for amazing views of the northern country. It takes minutes to drive, but you'll need to carve out additional time to take pictures from multiple vantage points.
Distance: 5 miles
Route Time: Half an hour, tops
What You'll See: The 260-plus long Bremsnes Cave, where the remains of life in Norway date back 1,000 years.
Atlas Mountains, Morocco
One of the world's most dangerous roads, following a route through Morocco into Algeria across its desert gorges and cliffs, can be both frightening and exhilarating, especially when cars decide to pass at high speeds. If you can't do the entire drive, sample the 52-mile stretch near Marrakesh for a taste.
Route Time: Multiple days
What You'll See: Todas Gorge (shown) and some of the highest mountain passes in Morocco.
Cabot Trail, Canada
Looping around Nova Scotia and the highlands of Cape Breton, the Cabot Trail can be found just off the Trans Canada Highway. In the fall, the colorful trees abut the blue sea to create picturesque scenery. There are multiple towns along the route worth stopping at, if you can spend a few days enjoying the area while you make the drive.
Distance: 185 miles
Route Time: 8 hours
What You'll See: Highlands National Park, which covers a third of the trail and is filled with mountains, valleys, canyons and hiking routes.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Follow Australia's southern coastline for cliff-top views, wild waves at surfing beaches and even rainforests offering hiking and zip-lining. You may spot great white sharks and whales off in the distance or see kangaroos crossing the road on a drive so pretty, we won't have to twist your arm to stretch this into a multi-day trip.
Distance: 413 miles
Route Time: 9.5 hours
What You'll See: The Twelve Apostles, Australia's oft-photographed towering limestone rocks.
Hokkaido Scenic Byway, Japan
With miles and miles of flowers, particularly lavender fields, Japan's Hokkaido Scenic Byway is filled with color. Eight routes are available, as the entire area covers 51,573 square miles. You'll find the best flowers along the Tisetsu-Furano route, which can easily be enjoyed on a one-day outing.
Distance: 46 miles
Route Time: Less than an hour
What You'll See: Flowering gardens in Biei, Nakafurano and Kamifurano.
Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, United Arab Emirates
The mountains separating the United Arab Emirates from Oman is the perfect place for UAE's wealthy elite to take their sports cars for a spin: There are 60 corners to provide thrills at high speeds.
There are also two climbing lanes, so if someone isn't moving as quickly as you'd like, you can surpass them as you rise 4,000 feet to the top. This route isn't about the views; this is a race car-worthy track.
Distance: 7 miles
Route Time: Less than a half hour
What You'll See: At the top, a palace awaits. However, it is a private palace and you can only get a glimpse.
Khardung La, India
With the distinction of being "the highest motorable road" in the world, Khardung Pass is also considered one of the most dangerous stretches of road known to man. At 17,582 feet above sea level, this route is particularly popular amongst motorcyclists.
Distance: 24 miles
Route Time: Less than an hour
What You'll See: Views of Nubra Valley in Kashmir.
Milford Road, New Zealand
Flanked by towering mountains, this drive through the Fiordland National Park and Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area should take just 90 minutes. It will more likely take hours, however, because you'll stop so often to snap pictures of the amazing views along one of New Zealand's prettiest stretches of pavement.
Distance: 75 miles
Route Time: 90 minutes
What You'll See: The Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain, which makes the mountain seem smaller as you get closer in one of nature's coolest optical illusions.
North Coast 500, Scotland
This full-loop driving route extends around the north coast and across the Highlands of Scotland. Begin and end in the city of Inverness and travel through rural farmland, rugged coastline, forests and 3,000-foot-high mountains ("munros").
Distance: 516 miles
Route Time: 5 to 7 days
What You'll See: Castles galore, including the ruins of Queen Elizabeth I. (You can even stay at a castle, such as Tulloch Castle Hotel or Dornoch Castle Hotel.)
Overseas Highway, Florida
Follow US-1 along the route know as the Overseas Highway and you'll find nothing but a flat stretch of road that extends to the southernmost point of the continental U.S. Formerly a railroad route, the drive begins in Miami's Everglades and passes across various islands of the Florida Keys, with plenty of places to stop for fresh seafood, clear-water snorkeling and kitschy shopping.
Distance: 110 miles
Route Time: 4 hours
What You'll See: The 7-mile bridge, which connects the Middle and Lower Keys.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
One of the most popular drives traverses along California's Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles. (Technically, the PCH extends all the way to San Diego, but the central coast is the best part of the tour.) Charming towns rest along the ocean, from Santa Cruz and its amusement-park boardwalk to Santa Barbara with its idyllic wineries.
Distance: 659 miles
Route Time: 6 hours
What You'll See: The scenery of Big Sur, California's most magnificent stretch of coastline (and that's saying something).
Phuket Northeast Loop, Thailand
Phuket is world-famous for its beautiful beaches, which are on display when traveling along its North East Loop Drive. But it's so much more than beaches: Discover fishing villages, Thai farms, waterfalls and walking trails as well.
Distance: 8 miles
Route Time: Less than an hour
What You'll See: Ganesh, the golden elephant-headed Hindu god statue, who will grant you success if you stop and pray.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
One of the most iconic drives can be found on the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland, home to the Ring of Kerry and part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Following coastal roads nestled beside beaches and climbing high into the Irish green hills for fabulous views, thid twisting drive along tiny roads is not only beautiful, but an adrenaline rush. (Especially if you are used to driving on the left side of a car and the right side of a road.)
Continue north to drive through the Burren, passing the Cliffs of Moor along the way.
Distance: 111 miles
Route Time: 3.5 hours
What You'll See: Killarney National Park, which is filled with waterfalls and lush forests so green you'll understand why they call it the Emerald Isle.
Ring Road, Iceland
As the interior of Iceland is mostly uninhabited, there is one main road that (nearly) encircles the island to connect its coastal towns. This road is perfect for seeing glaciers, fjords, waterfalls and Iceland's unique landscape — just be sure to go in the summer, when the weather won't interfere with your plans.
Distance: 828 miles
Route Time: 2 days
What You'll See: Hot springs, and even hot rivers, which are scattered about the island. You can stop and enjoy the geothermal activity, so bring a swimsuit.
The Road to Hana, Hawaii
Locals will advise you to arrive at the start of Maui's famous road at the crack of sunrise to avoid the bus tours that begin in the morning. The landscape here winds around rainforested mountains and rivers so tightly you will have to come to a near-complete stop in order to maneuver through them, and traffic jams can occur.
There are 620 curves and 59 bridges along the Road to Hana. If you have the road to yourself, you'll be stopping constantly, anyways, as there are dozens of breathtaking waterfalls and views.
Distance: 64 miles
Route Time: 6 hours
What You'll See: Waianapanapa State Park, where you can make a stop to walk through lava tubes and stretch out on Maui's black-sand beach.
Route 62, South Africa
Connecting Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, South Africa, explore the western cape with a mostly interior drive through the nation's Big Sky Country. Mountains with lush valleys give way to arid plains and rocky gorges, along with a few oceanfront-hugging areas. Warning: Wildlife and scenic vistas are in abundance.
Distance: 2,454 miles
Route Time: 10 hours
What You'll See: If you extend the trip across days, you can enjoy stops at any of the 65+ wineries along the route.
Route 66, United States
Made famous in song and inspiring a generation to hit the road, America's Route 66 begins in Illinois and ends in California. Passing through the nation's heartland and deserts, the route's sites are a combination of dust-covered land, rows and rows of cornfields, and small towns seemingly trapped in the 1950s and 60s.
Distance: 2,448 miles
Route Time: 2 weeks
What You'll See: This is the route where oddities appear, such as Cadillac Ranch in Texas, a collection of old, graffiti-covered Cadillacs arranged like a modern-day Stonehenge.