Mention the word ‘road-trip’ and it conjures up images of adventure, wind blowing onto your face, changing landscapes and eating at quirky joints. Undoubtedly undertaking a road trip is one of the best ways of breaking the monotony of daily grind and when planned well, it can actually freshen and rejuvenate you more than anything else.
All you need to do is ensure that your vehicle is in good condition, there is sufficient cash in your pocket and the route of the trip is outlined prominently on the latest edition of the map. Just put on some music that everyone would enjoy and pick one of the following 10 road trips discussed here to have a great time.
Highway 101, California
In 1926, when the national routes were being established in the US, the Highway 101 turned out to be the longest since it stretched over almost the entire west coast. Today it is one of the oldest routes in the US which are still regarded as being worthy of a road trip despite the vast network of Interstate highways. Referred to as the one-on-one, it serves as one of the most revered routes for a road trip courtesy of cutting through iconic landmarks like the Big Sur, Redwood forests, steep cliffs, California vineyards, and Spanish mission towns.
On this road trip, you can look forward to driving through an enormous redwood tree, explore the glistening glass pebbles nestling on a beach and sample the various wines at Napa Valley. One of the stretches along this route is Big Sur, which is renowned for its luxurious beaches that have served as getaways for glitzy and the glamour of Hollywood. Big Sur has a historical side too, which is apparent at Monterey, and a wild side in form of a chopping and churning river of the same name.
Since this road trip could prove to be arduous if undertaken non-stop, you might as well schedule a few stops along the way and relish every aspect of this twisting and scenic route.
Route 62, South Africa
Hugging the curve of the African southern coast is Route 62 which connects Cape Town in the west with Durban in the east. It is a long winding drive of about 750 kilometers that would take almost 10 hours to complete if undertaken non-stop, or alternatively a little longer if you cater for a few stops at either ends as also along the route. What renders this trip truly adventurous is the variety it offers – one day you would be scaling mountains and on the next day find yourself surrounded by the verdant greenery of a vineyard.
The moment you leave behind the ramparts of Cape Town, the first attraction that you would come across is the Chapman’s Peak and it entails taking a diversion. Having soaked in the magnificent view, you can look forward to watching penguins at Boulders Beach, sipping some of the finest South African wines at Stellenbosch and try bungee jumping at Bloukran’s Bridge. Due to long hours of driving, your shoulder muscles are bound to be sore in which case a dip in the hot mineral springs and Roman Baths would be more than welcome. And if you are in a position to take a short break of 2 days, then a short hike on trails cutting across the Swartberg Mountains is recommended.
Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
Pegged at 55 kilometers, this drive could easily rank among the shortest in terms of distance, however, it is also the most picturesque and to some extent even dramatic. Much of the scenic beauty is attributed to quaint villages, orchards of citrus fruits and steep cliffs dropping down to the jade waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the hairpin bends along the narrow road that cater for the thrill factor during this drive.
Rather than simply zooming past in a day, set aside at least three days and drive along at a leisurely pace while experiencing the each of the colorful hamlets dotting this route. From large resorts like Sorrento and historical settlements like Amalfi to tiny and quiet villages like Nerano and Minori, every hamlet bears a unique culture which is best experienced firsthand. How about sampling the local culinary delights at the various restaurants that also offer a breathtaking view?
Ruta 40, Argentina
Also referred to as RN40, this could easily qualify not just as one of the longest but also as one of the most primitive drives in the world. Stretching between La Quiaca in the north close to the Bolivian border and Rio Gallegos at the southern tip of the continent, this 5000-kilometer long route is one of the best ways to experience the glorious landscapes, eclectic culture and unique biodiversity of western Argentina.
Once you embark on this drive, be prepared to cross a number of villages, all of which revel in their own distinct identity. Tilcara is home to Inca ruins as also the oldest community of human beings, while El Bolson is a hippie village squeezed between two huge mountains and La Payunia is a geologist’s dream with its volcanoes, lava fields, and lagoons. Marvel at the prehistoric art of our cave-dwelling ancestors and sip some Argentinian wine extracted from Malbec grapes.
It would take you about 4-6 weeks to drive from one end to the other, but in case you lack the time or stamina, a viable alternative would be to cover a small stretch as per your convenience and proximity.
Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway
Inaugurated in 1989, the Atlantic Ocean Road is a relatively contemporary route but one that can provide you with exhilarating experiences. At 8 kilometers long, it is a short drive that comprises of 8 undulating bridges spanning the archipelago between the mainland and Averoy Island and it would just take you about 30 minutes to touch the other end. Its brevity notwithstanding, the route offers plenty of attractions all which would cause you to spend a lot more time than the requisite half-hour.
Something that sets this route apart from others is the variety in driving experience courtesy of the season. During summer you can look forward to good visibility owing to clear skies and expect to encounter an amazing variety of birds flying overhead, not to mention the seals and a pod of whales just beyond the coast. Winter months can be cold but do include scuba diving in your itinerary as the waters are crystal clear and you would be able to make out every speck even if it might be at a depth of 60 meters. Storms can be a bit trying and all along the route you can expect to be sprayed by big waves breaking on to the tarmac.
Suhua Highway, Taiwan
‘Dangerous’ is how this road trip is best described and you must undertake it only if audacity is one of your inherent traits. Representing only a part of Provincial Highway No 9, this 118-kilometer long stretch starts at Su-ao Township and terminates at Hualien City, thus explaining why it is named as such. Credit for constructing this highway goes to the Chinese Government and it was carved from the steep cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean during the latter half of the 19th century.
Originally meant to facilitate movement of troops, it was narrow and treacherous, but over a period of time it has been broadened and equipped with multiple tunnels. Although it has come a long way from the narrow trail that it was once, the element of danger is still present in form of sharp curves, and the omnipresent peril of landslides and loose rocks tumbling down. Assuming you have mustered the courage to go on this road trip, the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean is breathtakingly beautiful and equally memorable is the experience of negotiating the bends and the tunnels.
Route 1/Ring Road, Iceland
Explore this Nordic island nestled amidst the sparkling blue waters of the North Atlantic Ocean by driving along the Route 1, which is also known as the Ring Road. True to its name, this road circles the entire coastline and the best time to cover these 1332 kilometers is the summer season when the days are really long and the climes are relatively favorable. Winter season implies fewer crowds but it also means a treacherous terrain and several patches along the route being out of bounds.
On this road trip, you can expect to come across fjords, geysers, glacial lagoons, waterfalls and beaches featuring black sand. While it is possible to complete the ring in 10 days, you could take a little longer to relish the unique habitat that characterizes this island. Remember that every time you stop for a break, the Icelandic ‘law of survival’ would come into play, which grants you the privilege of camping on any piece of land and helping yourself to its produce for 24 hours.
Romantic Road, Germany
Nomenclature of this driving route might evoke feelings of love being in the air, however, it could prove to be equally rewarding for entire families and other categories of travel enthusiasts too. Legend has it that Germany created this stretch along the ancient Roman trade route in a bid to repair its reputation and attract tourists. Nevertheless, you are in for a generous dose of romanticism when you embark on this drive courtesy of a number of historical landmarks like the 12th-century castle, church representing Gothic architecture and Roman-style Tower Gate.
Start driving from Frankfurt, the commercial capital of Germany and as the road winds through a number of towns and cities, absorb the rich culture and heritage that each has to offer. When you finally touch Munich at the end of the 220-mile drive, have German Beer to mark this beautiful and historical holiday.
Ticlio Pass, Peru
Intimidating is what this road trip is all about because in addition to dodging loose boulders you will also be struggling for oxygen given the high-altitude location, not to mention llamas that believe in making a dash across the road just when you are driving by. Also known as Abra Anticona, this driving route is located more than 4800 meters above sea level and stretches for about 171 kilometers on the side of Andes Mountains that faces the Pacific Ocean. Despite the height, this highway serves as a thoroughfare for numerous trucks and buses, which implies that there is a good chance of you encountering heavy traffic during your sojourn.
Amidst the scenic beauty and the amazing flora and fauna of the Andes is the Ticlio rail-road with its fascinating history. Meant to transport minerals such as zinc and lead, the rail-road adds a rustic charm to the road-trip and lends a distinct touch. Along the road, there are numerous cafes and you can pull into any one of them and expect to be served everything from global cuisine to local fare.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
As you leave behind the multiculturalism and vividness of Melbourne and drive westward, you would soon come upon the Great Ocean Road that has its starting point at the town of Geelong. All through the 253-kilometer stretch of the road till Warrnambool, you would be driving along the Southern Ocean and soaking not just the scenic beauty but also the history.
To make the most of this road trip, maintain an average speed limit so as to be able to enjoy the various attractions that dot this route. Enjoy the view afforded by Bells Beach and its aggressive resident sharks, appreciate the incredible marine diversity at the Great Otway National Park along Shipwreck Coast, and indulge in sea swimming at Apollo Bay. On this 4-hour drive, do check out the one-of-a-kind 12 apostles wherein the sight of limestone stacks looming above the sea-water appears imposing and awe-inspiring at the same time.
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What you need to bear in mind regarding road trips is that while they may be off the beaten track for the most part, at some point they do run through cities, towns or densely inhabited settlements. So the onus is on you to set the time of the trip in a way that you manage to avoid peak traffic hours and sail through smoothly. Likewise, make it a point to take frequent breaks but space them out so as to be able to cover the distance scheduled for the day. Stack your vehicle with plenty of water and non-sugar snacks so that you remain well-hydrated and nourished during the journey.
Most importantly enjoy every aspect of the ride because after all, that is the main objective of undertaking a road trip in the first place.