The 10 Most Scenic Road Trips In the World

The German Alpine Route

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria in the Fall
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. Photo © Rudi1976 |

You’ll love:

The grandiose landscapes of lakes and mountains, the charm of painted houses, castles worthy of a fairy tale.

Location: Southern Germany, in Bavaria

Route: Lindau – Berchtesgaden

Length: About 310 mi (500 km)

Time: 1 week

The Deutsche Alpenstrasse stretches approximately 310 mi (500 km) south of Munich, from Lindau (near Lake Constance) to Berchtesgaden (on the Austrian border). Along the way, you’ll pass forests, lakes, and snow-capped peaks. The dazzling green pastures, famous castles, and traditional houses adorned with flowers all make this an unmissable tour. Visitors here will find a romantic region strong in Bavarian traditions.


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The Heart of the Canadian Rockies

You’ll love:

The grandiose landscapes, the flora and fauna, the great outdoors.

Location: Western Canada, in the heart of the Rockies

Route: Banff – Jasper

Length: About 200 mi (300 km), including 140 mi (230 km) on the famous Icefields Parkway (Highway 93).

Time: A day if you’re in a hurry, but that would be a shame! One week will let you take advantage of the many stops for hiking, rafting, and more.

Banff to Jasper is a traveler’s dream! The crossing of the Rockies follows one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Covering nearly 200 mi (300 km), unforgettable panoramas of chiseled and grandiose landscapes follow one another: sparkling blue lakes, rivers, forests as far as the eye can see, peaks with sharp ridges, waterfalls, and glaciers. The land is also home to varied and abundant wildlife—bears, caribou, elk, and more. The stage is set for an unforgettable road trip in a land of pioneers, where the magic of the great outdoors is still alive.


Around the Scottish Highlands

Narrow road passing through the green Quiraing mountains in Isle of Skye.
Scenic view of Quiraing mountains in Isle of Skye, Scottish highlands. Photo © MartinM303/iStock.

You’ll love:

Deserted moors, wild lochs, historic castles, white sand beaches, torrential wind and rain.

Location: Northwest Scotland

Route: Loop from Inverness

Length: About 900 miles (1,448 km)

Time: 10 days to 2 weeks

Far north, hardly closer to London than the Arctic Circle, the Highlands form the spiritual heart of Scotland. This is where people still speak (a little) Gaelic, where sheep frolic in the scenic moors, and tales of monsters abound. Whisky is imbibed like beer and ghosts cheerfully haunt the castles. It’s a land of legends, beauty, and adventure.


Ruta 40 toward Patagonia

You’ll love:

The vast lakes, breathtaking landscapes, delicious craft beer and chocolate, and numerous hiking possibilities.

Location: Southern Argentina, through the regions of Rio Negro, Chubut, and Santa Cruz

Route: San Martín de Los Andes – El Calafate

Length: 1,000 mi (1,600 km )

Time: Allow at least 1 week, or even 10 days, to enjoy the many national parks and hikes that Patagonia has to offer.

Patagonia is a dream destination for adventurers of all stripes. Synonymous with endless spaces, wild lands, and the end of the world, Patagonia is above all a desert territory, with less than one inhabitant per square mile. This land fascinates, with its wide-open spaces and the diversity, beauty, and richness of the ecosystem it supports. As you gaze over the horizon from the desert plains to the Andes Mountain range, it’s hard to remain unmoved by the serene beauty of these skies, mountains and high lakes, and jagged coasts. From San Martín de Los Andes to the famous glacier Perito Moreno, Argentina’s Ruta 40 is filled with wonders.


Up to Victoria Falls

elephants in Chobe National Park
Botswana’s Chobe National Park is home to thousands of Elephants. Photo © MrLis |

You’ll love:

The wide-open spaces, the excellent condition of the roads and tracks, Africa on a plateau, the rich and unafraid wildlife, the climax of Victoria Falls.

Location: Southern Africa

Route: Windhoek – Victoria Falls

Length: About 1,800 mi (3,000 km)

Time: 2-3 weeks

Southern Africa has been growing in popularity as a tourist destination, especially Namibia and its neighbor Botswana, both beloved for their wilderness. There’s no longer any reason to hesitate: Rent a big 4WD with a roof tent to crisscross through the Namib Desert, following the trail of the rhinoceros in Etosha National Park, and slaloming between the elephants in Chobe. At the end of the road, you’ll find the spray and rainbows of the famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. What an adventure!


The Amalfi Coast

You’ll love:

The hazy and changing light along the road, the vibrant colors of the facades, the fragrant gardens, the little niches with Madonna statues that light up in the evening in the crevices of the rocks, the spaghetti with sea urchins.

Location: Southern Italy, Campania

Route: Sorrento – Vietri sul Mare (Salerno)

Length: 15 mi (25 km) for the classified road; 47 mi (75 km) from Sorrento to Salerno

Time: Half a day or more, depending on your preferences and accommodation options.

Suspended between sky and sea, the Amalfi Coast Road wraps around small pastel-colored fishing ports and chic resorts in southern Italy. Fifteen mi (25 km) of this road is listed by UNESCO, traveling around villages of the Lattari Mountains, steep coves, and terraced gardens that smell of jasmine and lemon. Visit during low season for unforgettable landscapes and fewer crowds.


The Pacific Coast Highway

Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur
Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur is an iconic sight on the Pacific Coast Highway. Photo © Dmitrii Sakharov |

You’ll love:

The sweetness of California and the superb panoramas from the jagged coasts.

Location: California’s west coast

Route: Santa Barbara – Monterey

Length: 230 mi (380 km)

Time: One day is enough to reach Monterey from Santa Barbara, but why rush? Take a few days to enjoy the many dreamy sights along this route.

Stretching a total of 650 mi (1,000 km) between San Diego and San Francisco, California State Route 1 (or Highway 1) is part of a select club of the most beautiful roads in the world. Experience the California way of life as the state’s beautiful coastline unrolls in front of you. The stretch between Santa Barbara and Monterey offers spectacular scenery between two charming towns. Depart from Santa Barbara, among the palm trees, to take El Camino Real, the route of the old Spanish missions. Farther on, Highway 1 continues in solitude. Sprayed by the waves of the Pacific, the road rises, twisting up the side of the coast, hugging cliffs, and winding past hidden coves with golden sand and forests of sequoias. A true ode to wild California.


New Zealand’s Milford Road

You’ll love:

The feeling of entering a nearly inaccessible area, the rain forest, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, and the majesty of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

Location:  Extreme south of South Island

Route: Te Anau – Milford Sound/Piopiotahi

Length: 90 mi (150 km)

Time:  3 to 4 hours minimum

At the end of South Island, the peaks of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana slide straight toward the Tasman Sea with a backdrop of exuberant vegetation, watered by rainfall that is frequent—to say the least. The ocean infiltrates here in a collection of deep, isolated, and nearly inaccessible fjords. A single small winding road ventures into the region to access the most beautiful of them all: Milford Sound/Piopiotahi. This dive into Fiordland National Park, part of the Te Wahipounamu reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a life-changing experience.


Iceland’s Ring Road

Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls, a stop on Iceland’s Ring Road. Photo © Kjersti Jorgensen/123rf.

You’ll love:

The untouched landscapes, swimming in hot springs, fjords, whales.

Location: Around Iceland

Route: Loop from Reykjavík

Length: 828 mi (1,332 km)

Time: 10 days to 2 weeks

Touring an entire country on one road? It’s possible in Iceland. Driving the Ring Road (Route 1, Þjóðvegurinn in Icelandic) between crumpled lava fields and horse-grazing valleys connects you to a multitude of adventures. To the south, it even skims a few fjords, touches wild black-sand beaches, and nears the largest glacier in Europe, the Vatnajökull. This country road promises the best of Iceland in one trip.

Mount Teide Volcanic Route

You’ll love:

The volcanic landscapes and their incredible colors, the subtropical flora, the canyons, the ascent to the top—on foot or by funicular.

Location: Canary Islands, Tenerife Island

Route: La Laguna – Santiago del Teide

Length: 60 mi (96 km)

Time: You’ll need at least a day to explore the park by car, but 2 days is more reasonable.

This volcanic road takes you to the center of the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The slopes of the Teide, the world’s third largest volcano, offer the most unusual landscapes in the heart of a national park classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Culminating at 12,198 ft (3,718 m), the snowcapped summit of Teide overlooks sumptuous subtropical flora and black and red lava landscapes, under an eternal spring at 72°F (22°C) on average. With more than 3 million annual visitors, the Teide is a truly unmissable sight.

Dreaming about the next adventure? Check out the original Wanderlust: