It doesn’t matter if you’re a petrolhead or not. Roads form an important part of global infrastructure, and it is impossible to travel without using them. And whilst many roads are monotonous, ugly ribbons of tarmac passing through bland countryside or crowded cities, there are some roads and routes which really bring your destination to life. Driving or riding along these routes is a travel experience in itself. They make the journey an important part of your travel adventure. In this article, we’re going to show you seven of the best roads in the world. From the frozen landscapes of Iceland to the stunning tip of southern Africa. So, whether you’re a Lewis Hamilton wannabe, or happy to sit in the passenger seat and admire the view, strap yourself in for the ride!
#1 Ring Road, Iceland
The frozen, volcanic island of Iceland is an unusual country, with a tiny population mostly crowded into a number of small settlements on the coast. The centre of the island is largely uninhabited, except for farms, glaciers, and active volcanoes. For this reason, the island only has one main road. It’s a ring road, which circumnavigates Iceland and is widely regarded as one of the best roads in the world. Named Route 1, it’s 1,322km long and takes in all the majesty of nature that Iceland is so famous for. Steamy hot springs, cascading waterfalls and grumbling glaciers are just some of the incredible spectacles that can be seen from Route 1. Some of the country’s most popular attractions, including Jokulsarlon lagoon, Reykjavik and Skogafoss waterfall are accessible along the route. Plus, it’s almost impossible to get lost – the perfect road trip then?
Our Iceland Circle tour makes use of Route 1 as we traverse the country from top to bottom!
#2 Hai Van Pass, Vietnam
At just 21km long, Vietnam’s Hai Van Pass is a relatively short route. But it’s still one of the best roads in the world. Known as the Road of the Ocean Clouds, it is one of the most spectacular journeys one can take in a country where the standard is very high. Linking Da Nang with the village of Lang Ho, the Hai Van Pass is characterized by twists and turns, as it climbs over a mountain pass. Misty mountains decorated with verdant greenery rise up to the side. And there are dazzling views over the South China Sea.
Stopping off at one of the pristine beaches along the route is recommended. And visitors will be glad to know that the road is usually free of traffic. This is because an express highway was built for commercial and industrial traffic to nearby Hue. This means that the Hai Van Pass is reserved mainly for tourists. Motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson once called the Hai Van Pass “one of the best coast roads in the world”, and who are we to disagree?
Many of our Vietnam tours travel along the Hai Van Pass on the way to Hoi An, stopping at beautiful My Khe beach for a swim en route!
#3 The Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route isn’t a single road. Rather, it’s the name given to a roughly 200km route which winds along the southern tip of South Africa, home to some of the best scenery on the continent. Sandy beaches, shimmering lagoons and indigenous forests are protected by the Garden Route National Park. And much of the route hugs the coast, offering plenty of opportunity for sun, sea and sand. The large game animals so commonly associated with Africa are missing here, but seals, whales and dolphins are a common occurrence along the coast of the Garden Route. And the national park itself is a bird-watching haven. Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (or vice versa) is a popular journey, though there are longer options you can take if you have the time.
We offer a private Garden Route Self Drive tour, or if you’d prefer us to do the heavy lifting then why not join our Cape Town & the Garden Route group tour to see this amazing corner of the world for yourself?
#4 State Route 1, California, USA
The best road trips in the world are largely located in the US, the home of road-tripping. With so many to choose from, it was difficult to narrow down one American road to make our list. But we’ve settled on State Route 1, the longest route in California. It stretches all the way from San Francisco for 1,060km to San Diego, near the Mexican border. The route is varied and breath-taking, perfect for a road trip. One minute you’ll be enjoying some magnificent coastal scenery, the next you’ll be passing through the jagged mountains and forests of Big Sur.
As well as being a beautiful drive, State Route 1 is also very practical. It joins up many of the big cities in California, such as San Francisco, Carmel, and Los Angeles. Whether planned or not, there’s a good chance any trip to California would see you journeying down this famous road. And that can only be a good thing.
#5 Dades Gorge, Morocco
Carved over thousands of years by the winding Dades River, Dades Gorge is one of the most spectacular natural features in Morocco. And what better way to explore the surrounding valley than on an adrenalin-fuelled road trip?
Known as the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs, this route winds for 160km from Ouarzazate to the city of Tinghir. The drive offers amazing views of the gorge and some of the historic fortified kasbahs which dot the area. The road twists and turns tightly like an alpine trail and in places drivers will find themselves just inches from a sheer drop. So this one isn’t for the faint-hearted. But the views are worth the effort for anyone who doesn’t mind heights!
Several of our Morocco group tours visit Dades Gorge, so you can see this incredible natural scar on the land for yourself.
#6 Amalfi Drive, Italy
Much of Mediterranean Europe is stunning, but Italy has a certain allure that other places can’t quite pull off. And nowhere is this more visible than on the Amalfi coast. Punctuated with sleepy seaside villages, home to mouth-watering food and a gorgeous coastline. It really is one of the prettiest and most desirable destinations in Europe. And one of the best ways to take it all in is on the Amalfi Drive. This 56km coastal road links Sorrento with Salerno, with plenty to enjoy in between. You’ll get to admire the views of the turquoise sea whilst enjoying one of the best roads in the world. And you can stop as many times as you like to explore the settlements which make the region so endearing. If you can find yourself a classic Alpha Romeo to complete the journey in, then even better!
Some of our Italy tours stay in Sorrento, as well as exploring more of this beautiful country. Check them out!
#7 Atlantic Road, Norway
Widely regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world, the 8km Atlantic Road in Norway comprises eight bridges that link a number of small islands and islets to the Norwegian mainland. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially in summer when the scenery is at its most spectacular. When the road was initially opened in 1989, drivers had to pay a toll to use it. This was done in part to pay off the 122 million Norwegian krone (USD $118 million) that the bridge cost to build. However, by June 1999 the bridge had been paid for and the toll was removed for all drivers. There are four viewpoints along the route, which has been classified as a National Tourist Route, and there are a number of popular restaurants, fishing spots and scuba diving resorts for visitors to enjoy in the area.
Our eight-day Fjords, Charms & Traditions group tour takes a drive down this famous road.
Whether you’re planning a thrilling road trip or would rather let us do the legwork while you enjoy the view out the window, we’re sure you’ll agree that these incredible roads simply have to be experienced at some point. If you’d like to enquire about any of our group tours or even a Tailor-made self-drive trip, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!