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The World’s Most Scenic Road Trips

Costanza Pasqua, Staff Writer

There’s nothing like a road trip: it gives you the ultimate freedom to explore a destination at your own pace, allowing you to make spontaneous stops along the way. You are the driver, tour guide (and DJ!) of your own adventure. 

With millions of kilometres to explore and infinite road-trip-worthy locations around the world, it can be hard to choose where to go. We have picked seven of the world’s most incredible road trips, from the Scottish Highlands to the sand dunes of the Oman desert – the only thing left to do is choose your travel companion.

1. The Transfăgărășan Road, Romania

road trip

Retrace the steps of Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as you drive along the spectacular Transfăgărășan Road. Also known as ‘The road to the sky’, the highest point of this dazzling route stands at 2,042 metres above sea level. This twisting mountain road weaves through the county’s highest peaks, connecting the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia and crossing 27 bridges, blue lakes and lush pine forests. Unique and utterly compelling, Transfăgărășan Road highlights include Balea Waterfall, Capra Tunnel and Vidraru Dam and Lake. The best part? This scenic trip can easily be completed in a day. 

Distance: Approx. 130km

2. The Scottish Highlands, Scotland

road trip

Eerie castles, ancient ruins, stunning cliffs plunging into wavy waters, mist-covered lochs and exceptionally green landscapes – welcome to the Scottish Highlands. The tranquil highways of Scotland hide beauty around every corner, so whether you take off from Edinburgh or Glasgow and head north, you won’t be disappointed. From the striking scenery of the Glen Etive valley – which appeared in the popular James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’ – to the rugged landscapes and picturesque fishing villages of the Isle of Skye, a road trip through the Scottish Highlands is one you won’t forget.  

Distance: Approx. 780km from Edinburgh or approx. 340km from Glasgow

3. The Oman Circle, Oman

road trip

Feel like Indiana Jones as you travel across the sand dunes, deserts, and exotic souks of Oman, following the Oman Circle. Rent a 4WD and embark on a thrilling adventure through the country’s incredible landscapes and geological features. Stops along the way include Bimmahthe largest sinkhole in Oman, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve and beach, ancient ports, gilded mosques and bustling cities in the desert, while your nights are spent stargazing. This road trip may require a bit more planning and organisation, as driving through less travelled roads can be tricky, but you will be rewarded with some of the world’s most impressive scenery. 

Distance: Approx. 1,378km 

4. Great Ocean Road, Australia

road trip

Dotted with seaside villages, incredible native wildlife, rainforests, beaches and breathtaking scenery, the Great Ocean Road – which traces the coastline between Geelong and Warrnambool – offers one of the world’s most spectacular coastal road trips. See natural wonders including the 12 Apostles and Bay of Islands limestone formations, and discover one of Australia’s most famous surfing spots at Bells Beach. You can also uncover the history of the Shipwreck Coast at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village – a recreation of an 1870’s coastal port and town, including a historic lighthouse and fort – and follow the winter ‘whale trail’ through Port Fairy to Portland. 

Distance: Approx. 243km

5. Pacific Coast Highway, California

road trip

There’s a reason why California is the destination on everyone’s road trip bucket listIts palm-lined boulevards, striking coastline, cool cities and laid-back vibes make it one of the most sought-after locations for a scenic drive. There are endless itineraries available for a road trip in Cali, but our favourite is the Pacific Coast Highway. Rent a convertible and cruise this famed, water-hugging route from Los Angeles to San Francisco, experiencing the rugged beauty of Big Sur, charm of quaint Santa Barbara and fresh seafood of Monterey along the way. 

Distance: Approx. 1,675km 

6. Southern Scenic Route, New Zealand

road trip

Take a ride through New Zealand’s wild side, driving along the spectacular Southern Scenic Route. This picturesque high-altitude route takes travellers from Queenstown to Dunedin via iconic stop-offs such as Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. Crossing some of the most remarkable landscapes in the country, the route offers a myriad of natural and cultural attractions. Discover quaint towns, deserted beaches, native forests and wildlife, and stop along the way to marvel at snow-capped peaks, thundering waterfalls and pristine lakes. 

Distance: Approx. 610km

7. Stelvio Pass, Italy

road trip

Warning: the Stelvio Pass is not for the faint of heart (or stomach!). This legendary piece of road zigzags through the Eastern Alps and connects Italy with Switzerland via 46 hairpin bends and the lush wilderness of Stelvio National Park. Often ranked as the ultimate test ground for both driver and machine, this impressive route boasts an elevation of 2,759 metres and rewards drivers with dizzying views over some of Europe’s most dramatic scenery from the summit. Stop in Bormio at the end of your journey for some good ski and a deliciously filling plate of pizzoccheriValtellina’s traditional buckwheat pasta. 

Distance: Approx. 119km 

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