If you have read the classics On the Road (1957, Jack Kerouac), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962, John Steinbeck) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971, Hunter S. Thompson), you’d know the thrill of a road trip. You’ll understand when Kerouac said all he needs is ‘a wheel in his hand and four on the road’ and all the wild things that happen on way. All you need is good companion, crunchy snacks, groovy music, a map, a fit four-wheeler – and perhaps a pillow. Here’s a list of some of the best road trips in the world. (Also read | Year-end Travel: 10 best cities to celebrate Christmas)
1. Iceland’s Ring Road: 1,328 kilometres
The Ring Road, nickname of Route 1, Iceland’s main motorway, covers most of the country. The Ring Road is literally a circle, it bypasses North Iceland, Westfjords, and the Snaefellsnes peninsula but along the way you get to see the country’s most popular tourist attractions – Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, Dyrhólaey cliffs, and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Between October and April, driving can be tricky – rent a 4×4 vehicle.
2. Route 66, USA: 3,940 kilometres
Established on November 11, 1926, U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66 was one of the original highways in the United States Numbered Highway System. The highway winds from the shores of Lake Michigan across Illinois, to the hills of the Missouri Ozarks, through Kansas, across Oklahoma, to the open lands of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, to the Mojave Desert, and finally to the metropolis of Los Angeles and the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Jack Kerouac’s immortal classic On the Road and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath have immortalised this route.
3. The Great Ocean Drive, Australia: 243 kilometres
Craggy cliffs, empty beaches, unforgettable hiking and biking trails and soaring bluffs flanked by brilliant green countryside mark the Great Ocean Road that runs along the South-West coast of Victoria. Always featured in the World’s Most Scenic road trips list, the highlight of this drive is 12 Apostles, a series of 12 pillars that were chiselled out of limestone over 10 to 20 million years.
4. Switzerland’s Furka Pass: 35 kilometres
Lying 2,431 metres above sea level, the Furka Pass is one of the most famous Alpine roads of Switzerland. It links Andermatt in the Canton of Uri with Gletsch in the Canton of Valais and is part of the popular Three-Pass-Ride over the Furka, Grimsel and Susten Pass. The pass was immortalised by the Aston DB5 / Ford Mustang car chase in James Bond’s Goldfinger.
5. Route 62, South Africa: 850 kilometres
Stretching from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, Route 62 is known as the world’s longest wine route. There are several wine tour stops along the route; the main cities falling along the route are Paarl, Wellington, Tulbagh, and Ceres. That’s not all, though. There’s safari drives, tribal art, cultural tours, museums, hiking, mountain climbing, 4×4 routes, canoeing, horse riding, ostrich riding, fishing, caving, and even skydiving.
6. The Atlantic Road, Norway: 8.3 kilometres
The Atlantic Road that connects Averøy with the mainland through islands, islets and reefs by means of eight bridges is often described as one of the most beautiful car journeys in the world. Atlanterhavsvegen svevesti (soaring path) and the service centre are two interesting attractions located at Eldhusøya in Averøy while the drive between Bud and Kristiansund is a mix of the coast, culture and history.
7. The Alcan Highway, Alaska: 2,237 kilometres
Also known as the Alaskan Highway, the Alcan Highway connects Dawson Creek, British Columbia (Canada) to Delta Junction, Alaska. Passing through the rugged northern landscape of British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska, the Alcan Highway built around World War II is often described as the largest and most difficult construction project since the Panama Canal. The drive can be challenging during winter months.
8. Milford Road, New Zealand: 255 kilometres
The road trip from Te Ana to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic routes in the world. It is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area. The first major highlight is the Eglinton Valley, which was once filled with glacier ice. Further along the road are the Mirror Lakes and Homer Tunnel signals your descent to Milford Sound. During winter, drivers must carry chains and be prepared for delays and road closures.
9. Amalfi Coast Road, Italy: 50 kilometres
Also called SS163, it is the main road that runs along the Amalfi Coast that was deemed by UNESCO “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values.” Flanked by beautiful towns and villages, the drive is beautiful but remember to follow the rules: Dipped headlights must be used in poor daylight visibility when driving on motorways, dual carriageways, and rural road. And do not use the horn in a built-up area unless in danger.
10. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia: 10,582 kilometers
Perched at an elevation of 3,656 metres above sea level, Solar de Uyuni is located in southern Bolivia. The vast expanse of glistening salt can be seen from space – it is said there are 10 billion tonnes of salt here. The most common ways to get to Salar de Uyuni are via La Paz in Bolivia or San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. However, it can also be accessed via other parts of Bolivia and Chile as well as Peru and Argentina. Nights can be very harsh in Uyuni, carry warm clothes and warm sleeping bag.