When it comes to wanderlust, nothing quite compares to immersing oneself in a foreign land or city, except, perhaps, traversing those very destinations behind the wheel. The sheer thrill of embarking on a road trip, venturing into unexplored corners and unearthing hidden gems, is an unparalleled sensation. As I take my place in the driver’s seat, a wave of liberation washes over me. I feel untethered, alive, and completely free.
Over the past decade, we’ve journeyed more than a hundred thousand miles, spanning over twenty countries. Everyone inquires about our most beloved road trips worldwide, but selecting a single favorite proves an arduous task. Each country’s roads offer distinct and contrasting encounters, rendering the choice of our cherished drive an immensely challenging endeavor.
Instead, we’ve curetted a compendium of our most cherished road trips across the globe. Within this collection lies a testament to our treasured driving adventures, accompanied by the highlights that make each one exceptional. A word of caution: these road trips will present you with unparalleled photography opportunities, and if you haven’t yet embarked upon these journeys, prepare for a twinge, or perhaps even a surge, of envy.
So in no particular order of preference, here are the best road trips in the world according to us:
Highlights: Enthralling Wilderness, Thrilling Adventures
In the realm of travel experiences, it’s challenging to play favorites. However, our road trip through Iceland undeniably claims a spot among the top three adventures of our lives. Navigating the Icelandic terrain feels akin to assuming the driver’s seat while an awe-inspiring National Geographic documentary gracefully unfurls before your very eyes.
At every turn, Mother Nature unveils a breathtaking spectacle—majestic waterfalls cascading with grace, panoramic vistas that stir the soul, geysers erupting in harmonious natural crescendos, and encounters with rare and wondrous wildlife. In Iceland, every nature enthusiast discovers a slice of paradise tailored to their passion. Moreover, for those exhilarated by scaling icy walls, conquering volcanic peaks, and delving into subterranean lava caves, Iceland reveals a treasure trove of endless delights awaiting your eager exploration.
Highlights: Rich History, Breathtaking Nature, Coastal Splendor
Embarking on our initial European road trip, venturing from Zagreb in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, filled us with a sense of anticipation mingled with a touch of trepidation. Little had been penned about this particular itinerary, leaving us uncertain. However, the moment we set foot in Zagreb, all doubts and fears were effortlessly dispelled. What unfolded was an enchanting odyssey as we traversed a realm of storybook villages, shimmering emerald lakes, and unspoiled natural wonders, ultimately solidifying Croatia’s place as one of Europe’s most mesmerizing nations.
From the war-scarred ramparts of Dubrovnik, evoking a sense of ancient resilience, to the pristine cascades of Plitvice National Park, Croatia weaves a spellbinding charm that captivates all who venture here. And the proverbial cherry on top of this delightful journey lies in the coastal drive, an awe-inspiring spectacle between Split and Dubrovnik, where the azure Adriatic Sea unfolds its panoramic splendor, etching indelible memories into the hearts of those fortunate enough to experience it.
Highlights: Wildlife Encounters, Nature’s Majesty, Cultural Immersion, Wine Delights, Coastal Charms, Adventurous Escapades.
If there exists but one road trip to embark upon in a lifetime, let South Africa be that remarkable journey. Spanning over 4,000 kilometers from Johannesburg to Cape Town, this expedition unravels a tapestry of experiences that satiate the yearnings of any intrepid traveler or avid photographer. Wildlife thrives amidst breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches beckon with their allure, scenic drives unveil jaw-dropping vistas, renowned wineries offer tantalizing flavors, and warm-hearted locals welcome you into their vibrant, colorful towns.
South Africa is the epitome of diversity, an amalgamation of every facet that a wanderer’s soul craves. Furthermore, this is an adventure best shared with friends, as we did. Sid, Savi’s brother, flew in from Delhi, while the two of us journeyed from London, igniting a three-week span of absolute exhilaration. We fell head over heels for the enchantment of South Africa, already yearning for the day we can return to its embrace once more.
Highlights: Enchanting Towns Straight from Fairy Tales, Rich Historical Tapestry, Gastronomic Delights, Serene Nature
Prepare to discover a road trip gem that eludes many of the “top road trips” lists scattered across the globe. Our explorations in this corner of Europe have left us convinced that more and more wanderers should embark on the journey through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. While the scenic vistas may not rival the grandeur of New Zealand or Ladakh, the culture, history, and people residing within these countries have woven an indelible tapestry that forever lingers in our memories.
Venturing through the Baltics is akin to stepping into a time machine, where medieval fortresses guard secrets and alleyways whisper ancient tales of the past, enveloping you in an irresistible charm unique to these lands. The fairy-tale cities of Tallinn and Riga serve as perfect gateways into the captivating culture that permeates the region, beckoning you to delve deeper into its riches. As you traverse the Baltics, be prepared to unearth hidden treasures, indulge in the culinary delights of the land, and find solace in the serene embrace of nature that gracefully unfolds along the way.
Highlights: Breathtaking Natural Wonders, Sun-Kissed Beaches, Gastronomic Delights, Vibrant Cultural Tapestry
Picture-perfect turquoise beaches? Check the warm-hearted locals radiating joy. Check. Delectable cuisine that tantalizes the taste buds? Check. Could there be anything more to ask for? How about a generous serving of flamingos gracefully adorning colorful lakes, tucked away within a charming village in the Yucatan Peninsula? While the drive itself may not have been as awe-inspiring as the destination, we wholeheartedly rejoice in our decision to embark on this Mexican adventure behind the wheel.
From the stunning sandy beaches of Playa Del Carmen to the architectural wonders that grace Merida, every single moment spent in Mexico left an indelible mark upon our hearts. We immersed ourselves in a kaleidoscope of nature’s wonders, basking in the radiant beauty of the Yucatan’s hidden gems. Moreover, Mexico’s cultural tapestry unfurled before us, inviting us to partake in its vibrant traditions and heritage. So, buckle up and prepare to be captivated as Mexico unveils its enchanting landscapes, sun-soaked shores, mouthwatering culinary delights, and a rich cultural mosaic that beckons you to delve deeper into its captivating embrace.
Highlights: Majestic Natural Landscapes, Thrilling Adventures, Coffee Culture
Amidst the chorus of voices proclaiming New Zealand as a must-visit destination, we found ourselves growing weary of the constant praise. Surely, no place on Earth could possess landscapes of unparalleled beauty as the land of kiwis was said to have. But in early 2016, driven by curiosity, we took the plunge and embarked on a journey spanning from the North Island to the South Island, after traversing half the globe. While it may be true that New Zealand boasts some of the most captivating panoramas worldwide, we refrain from labeling them as unmatched.
However, what truly enamored us about this wondrous land was the sheer diversity it presented. From the pristine beaches gracing the Coromandel coast and the rejuvenating hot springs of Rotorua in the North Island to the postcard-perfect vistas adorning the South Island, New Zealand caters abundantly to the desires of nature enthusiasts. And if, like me, you harbor an unwavering affection for coffee, prepare to indulge in a treat of epic proportions. With utmost certainty, we declare that New Zealand serves the finest coffee in the world. Oh, the bliss!
Highlights: Majestic Wildlife Encounters, Coastal Splendor, Culinary Delights, Hiking Escapades
In the realm of road trips, there is one iconic drive that graces the pages of countless magazines, and rightfully so. The renowned Great Ocean Road, spanning a breathtaking 243 kilometers in Victoria, Australia, enthralls visitors with its mesmerizing ocean vistas. Winding along the picturesque coastline, this scenic route unveils a tapestry of stunning landscapes and endearing wildlife, including the beloved koalas and kangaroos. When we embarked on our journey through this remarkable part of the world, we went a step further, immersing ourselves in the Great Ocean Walk, an unforgettable bush-walking experience that complements the driving adventure.
We wholeheartedly recommend this addition to all those who choose to traverse Australia’s highways. Prepare to be captivated by majestic wildlife encounters, the splendor of the coastal scenery, tantalizing culinary delights, and the exhilaration of hiking escapades that unfold along the Great Ocean Road.
Highlights: Cultural Immersion, Thrilling Adventures, Nature’s Grandeur
When it comes to awe-inspiring landscapes and breathtaking panoramas, Ladakh proudly stands shoulder to shoulder with the very best. Nestled in the northernmost reaches of the Kashmir region, this almost clandestine realm presents a journey not easily undertaken, particularly if you choose to traverse its roads. Yet, therein lies the allure of this expedition – as you make your way to Ladakh, you become immersed in the essence of authentic India, breathing in its very essence along the way.
Meandering through tiny villages, welcomed by the warmest of locals, and embarking on strikingly beautiful, albeit slightly perilous drives, this road trip etches an indelible mark upon our souls, forever etching itself as one of the most extraordinary experiences of our lives. The formidable task of navigating heights reaching almost 18,000 feet is no small feat, but oh, the rewards! Ladakh, a realm of untouched beauty, shall forever reside within the deepest chambers of our hearts, an enduring testament to the captivating magnificence of India’s northern gem.
Highlights: Vibrant Fiestas, Cultural Immersion, Gastronomic Delights, Sun-Kissed Beaches
The mere mention of Spain evokes visions of basking on sun-kissed beaches, savoring the exquisite taste of sangria, and indulging in tantalizing tapas, all while being enchanted by the mesmerizing rhythms of flamenco dancers. In our humble opinion, the optimal time to embark on a road trip across Spain is during the month of August, when the country comes alive with a tapestry of fiestas (festivals) celebrated in various cities. From the vibrant Feria De Malaga in the south to the exhilarating Tomatina festival in Bunol, we immersed ourselves in a whirlwind of revelry as we journeyed from Malaga to Costa Brava, traversing captivating destinations such as Granada, Valencia, and Barcelona.
Amidst this madness, we found ourselves embraced by the pulsating energy of Spain’s festive spirit, forging unforgettable memories along the way. Prepare to immerse yourself in cultural wonders, savor mouthwatering gastronomic delights, and unwind on sun-drenched beaches as Spain unveils its vibrant fiestas and invites you to experience the true essence of the land of fiestas and siestas.
Highlights: Abundant Wildlife, Pristine Nature, Exquisite Coffee
Costa Rica, a veritable sanctuary for nature enthusiasts, unveils a world of breathtaking wonders. Verdant rainforests teeming with thousands of species of flora and fauna envelop the landscape, painting a picture of vibrant greenery wherever the eye roams. But there’s more to Costa Rica than its lush scenery. The country is renowned for its exquisite coffee, and I relished the opportunity to delve into the art of coffee roasting and savor its rich flavors (as if there was ever a limit to my caffeine adventures). Meanwhile, Savi delighted in sipping on delectable brews while gazing upon the distant rainforests and majestic volcanoes.
And when you’ve had your fill of nature’s embrace, venture to the secluded Papagayo peninsula nestled in the country’s northwest. This idyllic haven offers respite from the world, allowing you to unwind and recharge beside pristine beaches. While the drives may not be the most spectacular, the destinations themselves are truly remarkable. However, it’s important to note that Costa Rica can be relatively expensive, which may occasionally dampen expectations. Nevertheless, the allure of Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife, unspoiled nature, and exquisite coffee remains a siren call that beckons avid bird lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.