Although America contains many scenic routes, there are plenty of inspiring road trips across the globe. From a short one-day trip to multi-week journeys, here are some of the best and most scenic road trips around the world.
The North Coast 500, Scotland
The aptly named 500-mile route loops around Scotland’s northern coastline. The scenery includes white sandy beaches, remote fishing villages, castles, lochs, glens, and scenic mountain views. Beginning in Inverness, the trip takes in the Black Isle, Easter Ross, and Caithness around the top of the British Isles. After that, the route goes back down the western coast, south through Sutherland and Wester Ross, and back around to Inverness. The approximate route time is three to seven days so, while you may be able to complete the journey on a long weekend, you’ll want to allot some extra days so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.
Atlantic Road, Norway
Approximately 69 miles, the Atlantic Road is an extensive road network with several bridges, tunnels, and ferries along the way. The route runs from Molde through the island of Averøy and ends at the Gjemnessundbrua suspension bridge. The landscape includes towering snow-capped mountains rising from icy fjords and glacial lakes. It’s also an excellent road trip to spot some wildlife, with rare birds flying in the area and seals and whales along the coastline. Marine life in the area is abundant, and travelers hoping to experience the sea life up close are able to scuba dive off the shore during the winter months.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road route runs approximately 340 miles or four hours long. Beginning in Melbourne, the route moves southwest to the beach town of Torquay and runs along the Victorian coastline to a group of limestone sea stacks towering over 210 feet above the water called the 12 Apostles. From there, the route loops back toward Melbourne inland at Cape Otway, taking in the dense forests of the Otway National Park. The park also includes Otway Lighthouse, which includes a scenic view of Australia’s Shipwreck Coast. As the route includes national parks, travelers may even spot some penguins, koalas, anteaters, parrots, and more.
The Carretera Austral, Chile
Roughly 770 miles, this route runs down Chile’s Southern Highway (Route 7) and is best taken between the months of October and April. Starting in Puerto Montt, a busy town in the Chilean Lake District, the route moves south through Santa Lucia, Coyhaique, and Tortel, finishing in Villa O’Higgins. The journey is paved with remote wilderness including lakes, mountains, fjords, and forests. Most travelers recommend allotting a few weeks for this route as you’ll want to get out of your car to hike, swim, and take in the inspiring views of nature.
The Japanese Alps, Japan
Although Japan’s Shinkansen – or Bullet Train– is truly a feat of engineering, traversing the country by car allows for a much better sightseeing experience. Running from Kyoto to Tokyo, this route heads north up to Kanazawa and east across the Japanese Alps. Along the way, travelers can take in the hot spring (onsen) spa towns and winding roads that twist their way through the mountains. This 460-mile journey also includes the historic sights of the Samurai city of Matsumoto, the hill resort town of Karuizawa, and then finishes off with the famous bright neon lights of Tokyo.
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