When you think back to some of your favorite vacations, do you remember the place you ended up or the journey to get there? Some of the best trips I’ve taken have included some of the most beautiful drives in the world, so for me it was definitely the journey that made the trips truly memorable.
There are some drives that are so iconic, they are considered the destination. Out of the places I’ve visited so far, these are my favorites. Disclaimer: I haven’t been everywhere, so these are simply the best from where I’ve been and I expect the list to continue to grow the more places I visit.
Road to Hana, Hawaii
While some people might call this road terrifying, I thought it was one of the coolest roads I’ve ever driven. There are a lot of areas where this road turns into one lane, but there are plenty of turnoffs to check out the stunning scenery and take a break from the hairpin turns. From rainbow trees to black sand beaches, there is something unique and picture worthy at each turn.
Picture above saved from History.com
Seward Highway, Alaska
Welcome to the wilderness. While definitely a popular summertime destination, if you go in one of the shoulder seasons you’ll feel like you’re alone in the vast Alaska wilderness. Who am I kidding? You’ll never feel like you don’t have room to breathe in Alaska. The stunning scenery brings about a feeling of peace and serenity, while also a sense of amazement at the sheer size of the mountains and glaciers.
Big Sur, California
Easily one of the top must-do drives in America, this section of Highway 1 does not disappoint. While the scenery before and after Big Sur is quite good, you’ll know you’ve arrived in Big Sur when dramatic drop offs and jagged coastline pop into view. I urge you to not stop at every vista point as you might never get through the entire road. I love this drive because you get to see wildlife (think elephant seals) and raw beauty along the Pacific coast.
Chapman’s Peak, South Africa
Just a short stint (about 17 miles) on the coast of South Africa near Cape Town, this drive features rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Surf pounds the rocks below and whales can be spotted just off the shore if you look closely enough. The road itself doesn’t take very long, but it definitely gives you views that rival that of Big Sur.
The Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
There’s nothing quite like driving on the “wrong” side of the road and twisting around sharp curves, while you’re sandwiched between the ocean and sheet rock. The road around the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever been on. The dramatic ocean views and the lush green fields, coupled with the small towns along the way provide a truly unique experience.
Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah
You’re heading inland for this otherworldly drive through scenic Utah. Easily my favorite state in the United States, this drive will take you through the unique landscape that makes up Utah. No matter where you drive in Southern Utah, you are going to be rewarded with drastically different and dramatic views. You could spend two weeks in Utah and it still wouldn’t be enough. Can you tell that I love Utah?
The Ring Road, Iceland
If you want to feel like you’ve really entered another world, the Ring Road is for you. While the road circles the entire country of Iceland, you don’t have to go far outside of Reykjavik to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. The majority of people live in the capital, while small villages dot the majority of the rest of the country. You’ll experience everything from waterfalls and volcanoes to glaciers and icebergs.
I’m always looking for new travel inspiration, so where have you been that you think should be included on this list?