The 10 Most Incredible Road Trips In The World: 2023 Edition

Find out about the best road trips to make around the world in 2023 and discover all the exciting reasons to pay them a visit!
The 10 best road trips to make, 2023 edition. Photo: haysmits | Pixabay

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It’s time for a unique adventure—a vacation, somewhere close, but preferably on the opposite end of the world. Someplace where you can sightsee, explore attractions, experience local culture, and find time to relax while somehow staying constantly on the move. Hmm… so what could you do?

Two words: Road trip, and believe me, the world’s got plenty of all-encompassing routes that’ll get you everything you need, from scenic drives along the coast and rejuvenating trips around mountains, to finding the perfect spots to watch sunsets, observe wildlife, and trek inner caves.

Yep, that sounds like exactly what you need. Here’s the best comprehensive list of the 10 most incredible road trips to take in the world, 2023 edition.

Time for a road trip! Photo: Byoxido | Pixabay

Go on a Cross Country Trip in America Using Route 66

Let’s kickstart this list with an adventurous 2,448-mile road trip across Route 66 in America, which begins in the windy Midwest city of Chicago and ends at Santa Monic Pier in Los Angeles.

There are a total of 8 states you’ll pass through—Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California—and Route 66 is the perfect chance to explore the exceptionally diverse landscape of the U.S. states, and not just in terms of scenery, but also referring to regional attractions, cuisine, culture, and more.

In Chicago, for instance, you’ll want to experience Sears Tower’s observation deck and stuff your belly with an authentic Chicagoan deep-dish pizza. When you reach St. Louis, head to the top of the Gateway Arch for a spectacular view of the city. You’ll only cover about 13 miles in Kansas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop at Cars on the Route and snag a picture with the 1950s International Harvester tow truck parked out front. After all, that model apparently inspired the creation of the hit character “Tow Mater” in Pixar’s Cars.

In Oklahoma, drive for miles on end through beautiful prairie fields and sprawling farmland, and then chow down on some chicken-fried steak in Tulsa. When you reach Texas, pay a visit to the historic district in Amarillo, then check out spray-painted cars half buried in the ground at Cadillac Ranch. Afterwards, drive past the pictorial mesas of New Mexico and visit the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. And when you land in California, well, beaches, palm trees, amusement parks, Hollywood, Joshua Tree—you’ll have officially ended your Route 66 road trip on a ‘high’ note. Get it?

The historic Route 66 of America. Photo: Mlchalkka | Pixabay

Catch Coastal Views Along California’s Pacific Coast Highway

I’ve explored a number of countries around the world and I’ll tell ya’, even until this day, California’s Pacific Coast Highway is my favorite place to go for a road trip. And if you haven’t been, oh boy, what have you been doing in your life?!

What’s great about Pacific Coast Highway is that you really don’t even need a destination—it’s one of those tranquil roads where you could just cruise for miles on end. Here’s what you’ll see:

To the left, a spectacular view of a navy blue Pacific Ocean and sandy beaches enjoyed by people of all ages and shades. To the right, a vast gathering of lush and rugged mountain ranges home to everything from millionaire mansions and universities to parks and restaurants. And that’s just the L.A. portion of the highway.    

Continue north along California’s coastline and you’ll want to stop and eat fresh seafood in Santa Barbara, sample the local wines at wineries in San Luis Obispo, check out the wildlife at Morro Bay State Park, snap your best Instagram pic in front of Big Sur bridge, go surfing in Santa Cruz, and gaze up at San Francisco’s remarkable Golden Gate Bridge from a Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park. This road trip you just can’t miss!      

Big Sur Bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Photo: Spencer Davis | Unsplash

Explore Geological Wonders via Iceland’s Golden Circle

Iceland is a nature lover’s paradise. You’ve got waterfalls, lakes, volcanic sites, geysers, lagoons, glaciers, ice caves, craters, valleys, rolling hills, prairies, thermal springs, and much, much more. And that’s why a drive along any one of Iceland’s scenic routes is the perfect hop-on/hop-off road trip in a thriving natural landscape.    

The Golden Circle, which on a straight drive takes just 3 hours, swings by three of Iceland’s most popular scenic attractions, including Thingvellir National Park, a geological wonderland and UNESCO World Heritage, Gullfoss Waterfall, a well-preserved 105 ft. tall waterfall, and Geysir Geothermal Area, which is loaded with erupting geysers and natural hot springs. 

During the drive, feel free to get out and sightsee, hike, swim, trek, and take photos at famous locations used in the hit television series Game of Thrones. At night, find a dark location to view the Northern Lights between September and March. Plus, Iceland’s Golden Circle starts and ends in Reykjavik, the capital city, so you’ll have a familiar place to rest after a long day out on the road.  

The Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland. Photo: Leila Gebhard | Unsplash

Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a “Shore” Thing

Australia’s Great Ocean Road is another world-famous scenic coastal highway that stretches 151 miles along the southwest coastline of Victoria. You’ll find sweeping views of the Southern Ocean, and the route passes beaches, rainforests, vertical cliffs, green pastorals, and plush mountains.

Perhaps the best highlight of Great Ocean Road includes a look at the 12 Apostles, which is a collection of 7 limestone rock pillars located on the shore that are well over millions of years old.

There are also plenty of places along Great Ocean Road to stop and enjoy outdoor activities. You’ll want to go surfing at Bells Beach and marvel at the wildlife: koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and parrots at the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park and Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Go for a hike at Otways National Park and explore the beaches of Torquay, Anglesea, and Lorne.

With so many options for things to do while driving along its scenic route, I’d say Great Ocean Road is definitely one of the best road trips to make across the world.            

The 12 Apostles rock formation along Great Ocean Road in Australia. Photo: Pemacallan | Pixabay

North Coast 500 is Scotland’s Route 66

What’s better than doing a road trip along 516 miles of shoreline, fishing villages, archaeological wonders, mountain peaks, farmland, beaches, dolphins, whisky distilleries, and historical monuments? I know, right? Not much!

Welcome to Scotland’s North Coast 500, dubbed the “Route 66 of Scotland”. Beginning and ending in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, the scenic route takes you through Black Isle, Caithness, Easter Ross, Sutherland, and Wester Ross. You can rent a car or motorcycle, book a tour, cycle, mountain bike, run, or walk the route, and it’s recommended that if you’re going on a road trip along the North Coast 500, try to plan for a minimum of 9 days.     

Furthermore, you’ll love North Coast 500 because technically, you won’t even need to do any activities along the route—that is, if you prefer not to. Rather, I guarantee that you’ll have lots of fun simply moving from one mesmerizing scenic location to the next and enjoying the awe-inspiring views.

But hey, since you’ve traveled this far, it’s only right that you take advantage of every possible activity there is along North Coast 500, like its hiking trails, cave exploration, marine tours, surfing, white water rafting, fishing, mountaineering, water sports, and farm tours. And don’t you dare forget about visiting the distilleries, historic castles, and local villages. Those are a must!      

Scotland’s Isle of Skye sits along North Coast 500. Photo: Mike McBey | Flickr

Enjoy Scenic Coastal Views Along Garden Route in South Africa

You’ll definitely want to consider South Africa’s Garden Route as the next road trip on your growing travel bucket list. The 190-mile coastal road starts in Mossel Bay and ends at Storm River, or vice versa, and passes through cities such as George, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Struisbaai, and Hermanus. Most people touring the route typically start in Cape Town and end at Port Elizabeth.

Here’s the deal: Like most famous routes around the world, Garden Route is home to remarkable oceanside views, breathtaking sunsets, fascinating geological wonders, and gorgeous contrasting landscapes, which means there are plenty of things to see and experience.   

You can enjoy the jaw-dropping coastal scenery from lookout points like St. Lowry’s Pass, for instance. Or, how about going on a search for whales in Hermanus? You can have a go at sandboarding the Dragon Dune of Mossel Bay, walk with elephants at Knysna Elephant Park, zipline through Tsitsikamma Forest, and marvel at the astonishing interior of the Cango Caves.

Believe me, those are just a sample of exciting activities to expect along South Africa’s Garden Route.

Garden Route in South Africa. Photo: South African Tourism | Flickr

Drive the Winding Roads of Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway

It may just sit over 5 miles long, but it’s been dubbed the “world’s best road trip” and “world’s most scenic drive” by various travel outlets, on many different occasions. Now that’s saying something. 

Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road is a collection of roads and bridges that connect tiny islands and islets along the Northwestern coast in Averøy and Hustadvika municipalities. Open since 1989, today, the scenic route is a designated cultural heritage site, a national tourist route, and is toll-free, and open to cars and cyclists.

You’ll ride over twisting highways and bending roads. You can stop and fish or hang out at designated outlooks. And whether rain, shine, or a stormy afternoon that stirs up roaring waves in the Norwegian Sea beneath the bridges you’ll drive over, a road trip down Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road is an unforgettable experience you won’t want to skip out on when touring the country.   

Winding roads of Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway. Photo: Haysmits | Pixabay

Is a Road Trip on Pan-American Highway, the World’s Longest Road, the Best Ever?

Pan-American Highway is a 15,000-mile network of roads that connect nearly all of the coastal countries in North and South America that touch the Pacific Ocean—a total of 14—including Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, The United States, and Canada. I know, whoa. That not only makes it the world’s longest road but also stamps it as arguably the best road trip you can make anywhere across the globe.

Spanning from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina, the Pan-American Highway passes through a wide-ranging body of climate zones, topography, economies, cityscapes, and cultural landscapes, which means there are endless options for things to do, attractions to see, natural wonders to explore, cultures to experience, and cities to, well, party in.

Feel free to make stops at Machu Picchu, the Grutas Tolantongo thermal springs in Mexico, Marble Caves of Patagonia, Andes Mountains, Avenue of Volcanoes in Ecuador, and—wait a sec, there are just far too many cool places to name!   

Due note, though, at one point along the journey you’ll need to ship your car by boat across the Darian Gap, a non-drivable section between Panama and Colombia. And since passengers aren’t allowed on the boat, you’ll have to book a flight to reach Panama/Columbia. The whole process will knock you back some serious cash, but hey, finishing out your road trip on Pan-American Highway will be well worth it!

The Andes Mountains on the Pan American Highway. Photo: Jay | Flickr

Let Your Curiosity Roam Freely Along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

Drive down Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, which stretches 310 miles, and you’ll witness a practically uninhabited coastal landscape boasting of animal skeletal remains, centuries-old shipwrecks, abandoned diamond mines, beaches, towering sand dunes, and feral wildlife. If that didn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will.  

By the way, you should know that Skeleton Coast is not just a road—it’s actually one of Namibia’s largest national parks, and aside from the outstanding scenery, most people visit the Skeleton Coast to observe its desert lions, elephants, cheetahs, brown hyenas, pink flamingos, giraffe, and thousands of seals at Cape Cross Seal Colony, roaming freely in a natural habitat.

You can drive Skeleton Coast, but take caution, much of it is completely isolated and consists of salt-covered roads that take you through a sprawling desert area—you’ll need to book a 4×4—and thus its moniker as the route that leads “to the end of the world”. Phew. Doesn’t that sound like loads of fun?

Skeleton Coast in Nambia. Photo: Jack Dyson | Flickr

Drive Without Speed Limits on Germany’s Autobahn

You build a highway, make it 8,197 miles long, and for a large portion of it, officially declare that there aren’t any speed limits. Hmm… what do you think will happen?

I’d like to introduce you to Germany’s Autobahn Road, or Germany’s highways, where speed limits are, as per government application, generally non-existent. Wait, huh?

You read right. Germany’s government only recommends speed limits on the highway: 80mph, or 130 km per hour, though it’s not illegal if you shoot way past that.

But don’t get too excited just yet. That’s not to suggest the popular motorway is a free-for-all for adrenaline-pumping junkies with an insatiable need for speed. After all, Autobahn is used daily by Germany’s citizens and is used for public transit, so safety is always a priority. In fact, a large section of Germany’s Autobahn is subject to speed restrictions, with the majority of enforcement taking place around towns, construction areas, and narrow sections.

Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon to see cars buzzing down the Autobahn at well over 100 miles per hour without any kind of legal repercussion. You can too, and obviously, that would be one hell of an amazing road trip, but as always, take your safety, and others’ safety, extremely seriously.    

Most of Germany’s Autobahn has no speed limit. Photo: martinhurlebaus | Pixabay

Which Will You Start With?

So, you’ve just learned about 10 of the most exciting road trips you can make around the world. Now, which one will you start with?

Are you looking for long stretches of road that hug a beautiful coastline or are you more inclined to drive through sprawling cityscapes? Are you looking for the best road trips that allow for tons of activities or would you simply want to enjoy a long cruise behind the wheel with the top down?

Hmm… now that’s a tough one. My recommendation? Just go ahead and visit all. Safe and happy travels!  


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