Nothing is more exhilarating than taking a road trip to explore new destinations. They’re also a great way to get your mind off the daily grind and reflect on the world around you.
These are some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the world that will leave you with memories for a lifetime. They’ll change your perspective and leave you feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to conquer the world!
1. Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is a must-see for anyone planning a trip to Australia. This 150-mile drive starts in Melbourne and runs along the stunning shores of the Southern Ocean before twisting through a network of scenic coastal villages, towns and national parks.
It’s no secret that the Great Ocean Road is one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the world. But it’s not just about the views – it also offers plenty of history to discover.
For starters, this highway was built by World War One soldiers as a memorial to their comrades who died during the conflict. It was planned and constructed between 1919 and 1932.
If you’re looking for a little more adventure, you can hike up to the Gables Lookout, which perches above some of the tallest cliffs on the coastline. The trail leads through a dense sheoak forest, with panoramas east and west along the coast to be enjoyed when you reach the top.
You can also take a short stroll to the nearby Lower Kalimna Falls, which is one of the most unique waterfalls on the Great Ocean Road. It doesn’t have the height of some of its more well-known counterparts, but you’ll still get to watch the water trickle down a small alcove that sits under a rock ledge.
And if you’re feeling a bit more active, you can also take a day-long rainforest walk in the area, which is a must for those who love nature.
If you’re looking to stay for longer, you can opt to book accommodation in various towns and villages along the way. Wake up to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, enjoy stunning ocean views or appreciate the abundant wildlife and tranquillity of a secluded cottage in the hinterland.
2. Col de l’Iseran
The Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved pass in Europe, located in the Alps and close to the border with Italy. It is part of the Graian Alps and the Route des Grandes Alpes and connects the Isere Valley in the northern Savoie department with the Arc River Valley in the southern Maurienne region.
The climb is 47 km long and rises over 2,000 meters, with an average gradient of 4.2%. It can be challenging, but if you are an experienced rider, the climb is worth it for the rewards that await at the top.
A few kilometers south of the village of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, you can find a road that leads to the summit of the pass and the town of Val d’Isere. This is one of the most scenic routes in the Alps, and will provide you with a taste of the mountain life, as well as some amazing views.
Another interesting aspect of the drive is the lake of Tignes, with its huge dam wall surrounded by jagged mountain summits. This is a great place to stop for a snack and drink.
After that, the road heads into the woods, where it gets narrow and windy. You’ll also have a few tunnels to deal with.
The next section of the ride is a delight, as it offers you a great mix of fast and panoramic sections. Then, a short stretch leads to the charming town of Bonneval-sur-Arc, right where they filmed Belle and Sebastien in 2013. There’s even a few hairpins that will test your braking! Then, the last 17 km of the ride brings you back to Val d’Isere, where you can stay at the lovely Residence Maison Leroux – 3 Pieces pour 4 Personnes 89.
3. White Rim Road
The White Rim Road is an epic 100-mile loop around the Island in the Sky mesa top that winds along canyons and sweeping horizons in one of America’s most famous desert landscapes, Canyonlands National Park. This loop is perfect for those with a desire to drive through some of the most stunning red rock formations in the country.
The road is a favorite among mountain bikers and off-road enthusiasts, as it is full of challenges such as loose rock, steep climbs, and switchbacks. In order to get the best experience from this trail, it is recommended that you drive with a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle.
This road is open year-round, but the best time to visit is the spring and fall seasons when temperatures are mild and the dirt roads are most likely to be in good condition. Keep in mind that rain can cause flooding on the roads, making them more difficult to navigate.
Besides driving, this trail is a popular destination for hiking and camping. If you are planning on camping here, be sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time as they fill up fast in the summer.
Another must-see along the White Rim Road is Monument Basin, a geologic marvel 1,900 feet below the mesa top. This area features a large collection of pillars made from Organ Shale and White Rim Sandstone.
To view the stunning monuments of this area, you can take a short trail out to Gooseneck Overlook. From here you can catch a glimpse of a sweeping U-shaped bend in the Colorado River more than 900 feet below.
The White Rim Road is also an ideal spot for photographers, as its low travel speed and scenic backdrops make it a great location for shooting sunrise and sunset photos. It is advisable to bring lenses ranging from ultra-wide to moderate telephoto for this trail.
5. Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway, also known as British Columbia’s Highway 99, is one of the most breathtaking scenic drives in the world. It is a 120-kilometer stretch of road that runs between Vancouver and Whistler. The route is so beautiful that it has become a popular destination for travelers all around the world.
During the summer, this road is typically free of snow and offers stunning ocean views over Howe Sound. However, during the winter months, it can be a challenge to drive the highway due to slush and compact snow.
It’s a good idea to prepare for any weather conditions by having winter tires installed on your vehicle. The Sea to Sky Highway is not a direct route, and there are a few long stretches where only one lane is available.
There are many places along the Sea to Sky Highway that you can stop to take in the view and see some incredible waterfalls, lakes, and hiking trails. These include Porteau Cove, Shannon Falls, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Squamish, among others.
Another great stop is Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, which offers a huge 70-meter waterfall that’s easy to spot from the parking lot. You can even take a short walk to see the falls, and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Whistler’s ski slopes in the distance.
During your visit, you can also make sure to explore Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is a massive wilderness area between Squamish and Whistler. This is an ideal place to spend a few days exploring, and you can do a number of fun day hikes here. There are also more difficult trails that lead to alpine lakes like Elfin Lakes and Wedgemount Lake.