The Best Road Trips In The World
The Best Road Trips in the World was originally published in December 2020
Road tripping is probably my favorite way to travel the world, giving me the freedom to stay as long or short in places as I want, the ability to add impromptu stops along the way, the chance to take a turn and veer far from your initial plans. Taking a road trip is one of the best ways to get to know a new country, state, or region whether you do it yourself or hire a driver.
I’ve had the chance to road trip a fair amount of the world in 6 of the 7 continents, so without more rambling on, here are the best road trips in the world (according to me and which ones Ive taken on so far anyway).
Best Road Trips In The World: Africa
Southern Africa Road Trip
Whether you want to take it on as a one-way or a loop, the Southern African nations of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique offer countless adventurous road trip potential. From rust-orange deserts to spotting wildlife in grassland savannahs, powdery white sand beaches, and lush forests a Southern Africa road trip will not disappoint.
Not feeling up to self-driving in Southern Africa? No problem! Several Overlanding companies offer various road trips around Southern Africa that hit the highlights and beyond. Check out these Southern Africa overlanding adventures with GAdventures and Intrepid.
Read more about my journey across Southern Africa
- 3 day Cape Town itinerary
- Plan the perfect visit to the Sossusvlei, Namibia
- Visiting Chobe National Park by Safari
- How to visit South Luangwa National Park
- Everything you need to know to visit Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
- A quick guide to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Visiting the Devil’s Pool in Zambia
Trans-African Road Trip: Cape Town to Cairo
Not easy and not for the faint of heart, this trans-African road trip takes you from the bottom to the top of the African continent via South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. Full transparency: I have not completed this entire crossing yet I still need to return and complete the remainder through Kenya to Egypt, but I fully plan to!
Want to read more about the highlights of the Cape Town to Cairo road trip? Check out this post by Nicole LaBarge.
More related Africa road trip posts
Morocco Road Trip
I know, traffic in Morocco can seem hellacious and it is- in the cities. Once out and away from the massive sprawls of Marrakech, Rabat, Fez, and Casablanca the scenic roadways of Morocco can be, dare I say it?- enjoyable. There are countless routes and destinations to be added to a Morocco road trip, however, my personal favorite was the South Atlantic Coast Morocco Road Trip I took on with a friend back in 2017.
Starting from Marrakech we made our way along the Atlantic Coast of Morocco making scenic stop along the way en route to peaceful Sidi Ifni. After a bit of time enjoying coastal Morocco, we turned inland to explore the Anti-Atlas Mountains and the Merzouga Desert before looping back up to Marrakech. Read more about our trip and how you can plan your own using my Southern Morocco road trip itinerary.
More Morocco posts to help you plan
- South Morocco road trip
- What its like to spend a night in the Sahara
- Everything you need to know before going on a Merzouga Desert tour
- How to survive Marrakech as a woman
- 19 best things to do in Morocco
Best Road Trips In The World: Asia & Middle East
South Sri Lanka Road Trip
Given its compact size, Sri Lanka is a great island to explore via a road trip, though do be warned- Sri Lanka is much larger than it appears on a map! There are countless stops to make and places to visit in Sri Lanka, so you can easily make a short and sweet one week road trip or an up to to one-month road trip itinerary on the island if you want to explore more than just one region.
I unfortunately had to cut my trip to Sri Lanka short due to a death in the family, but based on my visit and where I was able to go- here is a one week Sri Lanka itinerary to help you start planning your own trip.
Pamir Highway Road Trip
The Pamir Highway is probably the most iconic of the Central Asian road trips and the most popular activity that attracts tourists to the little-visited nation of Tajikistan. Starting from (or ending, depending on the direction you choose) the Pamir Highway road trip will you to explore Tajikistan’s High Pamir, crossing insanely high mountain passes, to explore lovely villages, and is the perfect jumping-off point for treks set against gorgeous mountain sceneries.
After several trips to Tajikistan over the last few years, with months on end spent exploring the Pamir Mountains, I have curated a 10 day Pamir Highway itinerary for those of you just beginning to plan your trip. For those wanting a more detailed guide to the Pamir Highway including every stop along the way, check out the ultimate Pamir Highway guide. After having explored a lot of Tajikistan I have written numerous guides to the country, its regions, and specific destinations that you can browse through on my Tajikistan travel page.
Karakoram Highway Road Trip
The Karakoram Highway is among the highest highway in the world, connecting Pakistan and China over the world’s highest border crossing at Khunjerab Pass. Since the Karakoram Highway follows a historically important trade route of the Silk Road and because of the difficulties faced in its construction the KKH is unofficially considered the 8th wonder of the world.
Crossing three of the highest mountain ranges on earth: the Himalaya, Karakorams, and the Hindu Kush, the Karakoram Highway is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating road trips you’ll ever take on.
More posts along the Karakoram Highway
- A guide to Gilgit-Baltistan, Northern Pakistan
- Gilgit-Baltistan in photos
- A one day itinerary for Turpan, China
- A quick travel guide to Kashgar, China
- Everything you need to know before going over the Khunjerab border crossing
Oman Road Trip
In my opinion, there is no better way to get to know Oman better than to take an epic Oman road trip. I’ve had the opportunity to road trip Oman twice now, making a grand loop of the north and a smaller road trip around the Dhofar region in the south.
If you’ve never taken on a road trip overseas, and/or a first-timer to the Middle East, I wholeheartedly recommend Oman. Hands down, it’s one of the easiest countries to travel in, undoubtedly safe, and locals are not only welcoming but incredibly friendly. Oman is downright pleasant.
If you’ve only got a week, I recommend using my one week Oman road trip itinerary to start creating your own Oman road trip plans. One thing this road trip does well is blend the craggy rugged inland with red-orange dunes, cultural and historic points of interest, and stunning coastal wadis, sinkholes, and beaches to help first-time visitors get to know the country more intimately.
More posts on Oman
- One week Oman road trip itinerary
- Oman travel guide
- 12 best things to do in Oman
- A guide to camping in the Wahiba Sands
- How to visit Bimmah Sinkhole
- Everything you need to know before hiking along Wadi Shab
- Salalah travel guide
Iran Road Trip
Much more difficult to self-drive, but reasonably cheap to hire a driver to take on the most arduous part of your trip, Iran is a fabulous country for a road trip. I’ve had the opportunity to travel overland through Iran east to west, north to south.
Now, US, UK, and Canadian readers account for 55% of my readership, so this largest section of my website viewership is affected by the dreaded independent travel ban for the ABC’s (meaning Americans, Brits, and Canadians). While US, UK, and Canadian passport holders are not banned from visiting Iran, they can only do so if accompanied by a government-approved licensed guide.
So why road trip Iran? Simply put, Iran is a cultural and architectural center of the world. Whether you take a couple of weeks to road trip down central Iran hitting the main highlights, or a month digging in a little deeper and getting off the beaten track, Iran surely will not disappoint.
Get started on planning your own Iran adventure
- A perfect Iran itinerary for one to four weeks
- Solo female travel in Iran
- Two day Tehran itinerary
- A guide to Esfahan
- Two day Yazd itinerary
- Shiraz travel guide
- Go to my Iran page to see all my Iran blog posts
Iraqi Kurdistan Road Trip
I know, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for including a region of Iraq for a road trip, but open your mind a little and hear me out. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region, home to the largest proportion of the Kurdish population and is, dare I say it? Pretty damn safe these days.
In about 10 days, you can road trip around Iraqi Kurdistan, hitting most of the region’s delights without feeling too rushed. From the snow-capped Halgurd Mountains to the bustling city of Erbil, the fascinating religious sites of Lalish and Alqosh, clear over to the gorgeous ancient city of Amedi, Iraqi Kurdistan is the perfect place to set out on a Middle East road trip.
Start planning your Iraqi Kurdistan trip
- A 10 day Iraqi Kurdistan itinerary
- Iraqi Kurdistan travel guide
- Solo female travel in Iraqi Kurdistan
- Erbil travel guide
- How to get to Gomi Felaw
- How to visit Dore Canyon
- Plan your visit to the ancient city of Amedi
- Planning a visit to Alqosh
- Visiting the Yazidi holy site of Lalish
Best Road Trips In The World: Australia & New Zealand
New Zealand Road Trip
New Zealand is among the best countries in the world to road trip, with jaw-dropping sceneries on both islands. Your biggest dilemma in planning a New Zealand road trip with be deciding between the north and south islands if you’re short on time.
After having road tripped the North Island a bit more thoroughly, the South Island not quite as extensively, I still haven’t gotten around to writing anything about the trip (sorry, I promise I’ll get around to it one day!), but if you are looking for good New Zealand road trip ideas I recommend checking out In a Faraway Land’s post that includes several New Zealand road trip itineraries.
The Grand Pacific Drive Road Trip
From Sydney to Jervis Bay, this coastal drive through New South Wales is an Australian stunner. In 2017 I did this road trip with a good friend who had moved from Alaska to Sydney several years prior on an itinerary she curated based on her weekend getaways from the city over the years.
From Sydney, you’ll first want to visit Royal National Park which’s about an hour south of the city. There are several nature walks and hikes to be had in the park, but one of the coolest places to visit in the national park is the Figure 8 Pool.
Continuing south you’ll pass through Wollongong you’ll pass through Shellharbour, Kiama, and Shoalhaven en route to beautiful Jervis Bay.
Truth be told, I didn’t know this particular road trip even had a name, my friend had come up with a plan and we just winged it as we continued south from Sydney. Plan your own journey with my Grand Pacific Drive road trip itinerary that includes Jervis Bay.
Great Ocean Road Trip
The Great Ocean Road is probably the most well known of all the Australian road trips. Starting from Melbourne it hugs the beautiful coast of Victoria to Allensford.
Of course, one of the most famous stops you’ll make along the Great Ocean Road trip is the 12 (now 8) Apostles. Other scenic spots along the Great Ocean Road are Bells Beach, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Kennett River, Great Otway National Park, and Loch Ard Gorge. Since I also haven’t gotten to writing about anything hardly in Australia from my travels in the past, check out this Great Ocean Road Adelaide to Melbourne extended itinerary by my good friend Dan Flying Solo.
Other posts of mine to check out from Australia
Best Road Trips In The World: Europe
South Italy Road Trip
Maybe it’s because it’s where part of my family comes from, but Southern Italy is probably my favorite place I’ve road tripped in Europe. While most foreign tourists flock to the highlights of the north, most skip out on what southern Italy has to offer (hint: heaps!).
Taking a road trip to hit the highlights of Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily is a good way to see some of the best of South Italy in two weeks. Of course, you could spend much more than two weeks exploring these regions as they are jam-packed with so many historic points, beaches, religious sites, great good, and so much more. Start planning your very own adventure with my South Italy road trip itinerary.
More articles to plan your trip around southern Italy with
- Southern Italy road trip
- Naples travel guide
- An Amalfi Coast travel guide
- A guide to Castelmezzano & Pietrapertosa
- A quick guide to Matera
- Everything you want to know before visiting Alberobello
- A guide to Syracusa & Ortygia, Sicily
Amalfi Coast Road Trip
Short on time but want to experience an iconic area of Southern Italy? Why not rent a car from Naples and road trip the Amalfi Coast. You could see the Amalfi Coast in a single day, but those wanting to get to know this famed stretch of coast more intimately can easily spend several days road tripping the Amalfi Coast, taking time to explore the well known and offbeat destinations along the rugged Campania shore.
As the Amalfi Coast is wildly famous, I’d recommend avoiding a road trip here in July and August when the roads can be incredibly clogged with both domestic and foreign tourists. Great times to visit include May, late September, and October. If you don’t mind a little cold weather and a limited selection of accommodations November-April can be rewarding and leaving you feeling like you had the place to yourself.
Start planning your own trip to the Amalfi Coast with my Amalfi Coast travel guide.
Portugal Road Trip
Oh, Portugal, I don’t know how it took me so long to visit, but wow. Portugal is just lovely from its cities to the countryside, to its famous rugged beaches.
In about 10 days, you can see quite a bit of Portugal, getting in a mixture of cities like Lisbon and Porto, the Sintra Castle, the Alentejo Countryside, and finally the beautiful rocky shores of the Algarve. For more Portugal travel ideas, I’m going to turn you over to my friend Dan Flying Solo who has been living in Portugal for a few years now.
Georgia, Armenia, and Nagorno Karabakh Road Trip
The Caucasus can be a great place for a road trip with the compact size of the region’s countries. A personal favorite of the world’s best road trips I’ve taken? The Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia road trip I went on back in 2017. Unfortunately, as of recent, Nagorno-Karabakh is off-limits due to the fresh conflicts between Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.
When Nagorno-Karabakh becomes a possibility again, I thoroughly recommend adding it to your Caucasus road trip itinerary, but until then I suggest taking on a road trip through Georgia and Armenia. Compact in size and easy to navigate both countries can be deeply rewarding, with mountainous landscapes, gorgeous monasteries, lovely countrysides, and so much more. Read more in my Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia road trip itinerary.
Best Road Trips In The World: North America
American Southwest Road Trip
The American Southwest is a bucketlist road trip that everyone should experience once in their lives. With historic routes such as Route 66 and home to some of the coolest national parks the USA has to offer, the American Southwest is best seen by heading off on the open road.
In only two weeks you can take on a 2,000 mile American Southwest road trip to explore the national and state parks in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. This can easily be shortened or even lengthened to fit the amount of time you have. Check out my American Southwest road trip itinerary to start planning your own trip.
Southern Utah Road Trip
Just one part to the above mentioned American Southwest, Utah taking on a road trip, particularly of Utah’s south is a trip you’ll never forget. Home to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches, National Park, and more unique state parks that you can fit into an action-packed vacation, Utah, especially the south is a great place to go on a road trip.
In about one week you can hit many of southern Utah’s highlights without rushing too much, though you can spread this itinerary easily into 10 days or so. Start plotting out your Utah adventure with my Southern Utah road trip itinerary.
Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
The Pacific Coast Highway is another iconic American road trip, twisting and turning down the California, Oregon, and Washington coast, and arguably one of the most famous and best road trips in the world.
Truth be told, I haven’t done the entire Pacific Coast Highway road trip, just pieces of it, but the PCH is a road trip I plan to take on in its entirety one of these days. It’s been several years since I did a couple of sections of the California stretch of the PCH, so I haven’t written about it here (this all took place about 2006-2009), so if you want to read about the best itineraries and more check out Valerie & Valise’s How to Complete an Epic Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip: 3 Itineraries & 25 stops.
Anchorage to Fairbanks Road Trip including the Kenai Peninsula
Alaska is expansive, so what better way is there to explore the largest state in the USA than a road trip?
The Anchorage to Fairbanks road trip takes you to hit many of the highlights Alaska has to offer that are road accessible and don’t require a giant time investment. Starting from Anchorage, you’ll first head south to explore the Kenai Peninsula before bending back north to Anchorage and continuing beyond to Denali National Park and on to Fairbanks.
This road trip can be done in only a week, though if you have a bit more time to spare I’d suggest extending it to 10-14 days. Start planning your very own 10 day Anchorage to Fairbanks + Kenai Peninsula road trip.
More detailed Alaska guides to help you plan out this road trip
- 10 day Alaska road trip
- A one week Anchorage to Fairbanks road trip including the Kenai Peninsula
- Anchorage travel guide
- Girdwood travel guide
- Seward travel guide
- Homer travel guide
- Denali National Park guide
- Fairbanks travel guide
- Browse through all my Alaska-related posts
Dalton Highway Road Trip
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Alaska (without leaving a roadway that is!) the adventure up the Dalton Highway is the perfect itinerary for you. You can either fly or drive to Fairbanks from Anchorage (or elsewhere) to start the journey that ends in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, crossing the Arctic Circle and the Brooks Range in the process.
Outside the Fairbanks, you’ll pass the town of Livengood and continue along the Dalton Highway all the way to Prudhoe Bay. There are countless scenic stops, hikes, and adventures to be had along the way. For this journey, you’ll likely want a 4WD vehicle and a couple of spare tires because breakdowns and flats are not unheard of on this majority-unpaved highway.
Want to plan your own Dalton Highway escape? Check out my guide to driving the Dalton Highway.
More posts to help you plan your Dalton Highway excursion
The Alcan (Alaska Highway) Road Trip
The Alcan, which you’ll also see referred to as the Alaska Highway or the Alaskan-Canadian Highway was constructed during WWII to connect the territory of Alaska with the remainder of the 48 United States, via Canada. At over 2,000 miles in length between the Contiguous US and Alaska, cutting through British Colombia and the Yukon Territory, this is one the world’s greatest road trips.
There are a few different routes you can take these days that meader on and off the original Alaska Highway, all are guaranteed to be an adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife the entire way, the year I did it we say grizzly bears (and their young cubs!), bison, elk, moose, sheep, and plenty of other cold-weather critters.
As I did the Alcan many moons ago, I am going to send you over to Nomads with a Purpose (seriously, this is the only good guide to the Alcan I could find that wasn’t useless generic regurgitated BS) to check out their guide to the Alcan.
Hana Highway Road Trip
One of the wildest road trips you can take on on the Hawaiian Island of Maui is the Hana Highway. At 64 miles, and with 59 bridges (46 of which are one-lane), and 620 bends in the road, driving the Road to Hana makes for an excellent adventure to add to your Maui itinerary.
From the city of Kahului to the town of Hana you’ll experience ethereal beach views, winding along cliff’s edge with plunging scenes into the blue Pacific, meandering twists and turns through jungle and beaches of black and even red sands.
Start planning you Hana Highway adventure with my Hana Highway guide.
Best Road Trips In The World: South America
Southern Patagonia Road Trip
Home to some of the most iconic sky-splitting peaks on Earth, thunderous glaciers, and some of the best trekking on the continent, Patagonia is undoubtedly a destination that has to be seen. But due to long distances (Patagonia spans over a million square kilometers) and rough terrain, the southern tip of South America can be a bit of a challenge to visit.
Despite the challenges, a Patagonia road trip can be one of the most rewarding places to visit the region, allowing you to get off the beaten path and include as many stops as you like as you travel this beautiful stretch of Earth. I have road-tripped from Ushuaia to Rio Grande, Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, and El Calafate, which makes for a perfect intro to Argentina and Chile’s southernmost fringes.
Check out these posts to start planning a Southern Patagonia road trip
- A quick guide to visiting Perito Moreno Glacier
- The Mirador Las Torres day hike in TdP, Chile
- A two day Torres del Paine National Park itinerary
The Middle Andes Road Trip: From The Salar To Lima
Back in 2016 a friend and I traveled by road through Bolivia and Peru by use of the public bus. We flew into La Paz and made a beeline down to Uyuni to begin the trip with a visit to the famous Salar de Uyuni and the surrounding areas. The next stop was back north to take on the Bolivian Death Road- a road trip within this road trip that takes you down the once most dangerous road in the world- on bicycles.
Next up was Lake Titicaca, the disputed highest navigable body of water in the world from which we explored the Bolivian side from Copacabana and the Peruvian side from Puno. Afterward, we made our way to the Sacred Valley and on to Machu Picchu, the Rainbow Mountain, and several other points of interest.
The final stretch of the trip took us on a scenic ride between the Sacred Valley and the Huacachina and Ica area to head out into the dunes before ending the trip in cosmopolitan Lima.
Plan your Andes road trip using some of my handy guides
- La Paz travel guide
- Everything you need to know before cycling the Death Road
- A guide to Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
- Bolivia in 10 photos
- Machu Picchu travel guide, including Aguas Calientes
- Tips for hiking the Rainbow Mountain
- The Tambomachay to Cusco walk
- Rainbow Mountain in 13 photos
Quito to Banos Road Trip
Short and sweet, the road trip between Quito and Banos packs in a lot of scenic stops along the way including views of South America’s highest peak- Cotapaxi. Without a doubt, I recommend adding the loop via the E30 and Via Sigchos to reach the stunning crater lake of Quillatoa.