There’s no feeling like the open road. Unlike flying to a destination, a road trip offers the unique opportunity to fully experience a place, from its nature to its people. Though this planet holds countless scenic routes, we’ve narrowed the most Instagrammable road trips in the world down to these epic locations.
Sea To Sky Highway, British Columbia
Highway 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway, runs from Vancouver to just north of Whistler. While being constantly surrounded by godlike mountains and piercing blue views of the ocean, it’s nearly impossible to take a bad photo of this road trip. Attractions include one of the longest bridges in Canada, the Lions’ Gate Bridge, which is a suspension bridge that connects the City of Vancouver to the North Shore. The Sea to Sky Highway also offers what is known as the Sea to Sky Gondola, where you can enjoy beautiful views of Squamish on foot.
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
The Cabot Trail is a Canadian treasure. In contrast to the Sea to Sky Highway, the Cabot Trail offers a drive through the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, with endless views of open ocean and breathtaking views of the Cape Breton Highlands. This road trails around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, also passing through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. There are plenty of stops that could be made along the way, including a lot of scenic coves, community cafes, whale watching, and tons of wildlife (specifically moose). Though beautiful year-round, this trail is most famous for its view in the fall season.
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Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec
The Gaspésie Tour is a scenic drive that loops through the Gaspé Peninsula. The peninsula runs along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River to the east of Matapédia Valley in Quebec. The drive through Gaspésie is loaded with stunning landscapes and views of mountains, forests, and the remarkable coast of the Saint Lawrence.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
This drive takes about 10 hours to complete without stops, however, there is much to see on this scenic drive and making time for stops in the major cities along the way is ideal. This route stretches from San Francisco to San Diego, and as its name suggests, runs right alongside the Pacific Ocean. One of the main attractions of this route includes the Bixby Bridge, which has become a regional landmark (and is often what you see in photos of the Pacific Coast Highway).
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
The Wild Atlantic Way is a famous coastal route that is located on the west coast of Ireland and runs for about 2500 km. This route offers views of Ireland’s rocky shoreline, animals grazing in the midst of rolling green fields, and the tiny villages scattered along the coast that are characteristic of Ireland. This route is not for the nervous driver, as it involves a series of winding roads up and down cliffs and narrow passages that can only be tackled slowly but surely.
Garden Route, South Africa
The Garden Route stretches along the southeastern coast of South Africa, and offers a scenic drive through lagoons, scattered lakes, picturesque beaches, South Africa’s diverse vegetation, mountain ranges, and small towns. The ancient forests that can be found along this route offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring.
South Island Circuit, New Zealand
The around the South Island Circuit in New Zealand is usually done in about 14 days (though can be crammed into a shorter time period). This is a scenic road trip that offers camping, hiking, quaint villages, glaciers, waterfalls, wineries, kayaking, sheep and penguins. With so much ground to cover, this trip needs about three weeks set aside to make things comfortable.
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Ring Road, Iceland
Volcanoes, blue icebergs, and mountains make up this Iceland drive experience. Iceland’s Ring Road holds an epic route that circles the entire country. Though Google Maps says this route could be driven in about 20 hours, this is a drive that deserves about a 7 to 10 day trip. With so much to see, accounting for constant stoppage time is necessary. This is also a common route for spotting the Northern Lights.
The Karakoram Highway, China and Pakistan
This international highway crosses the Himalayas while connecting China and Pakistan. The Karakoram Highway has a detailed history and is known to be the highest paved international road in the world, which is the reason that is is often referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. At an elevation of 4800 metres, this highway is also the highest border crossing in the world.
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Pan-American Highway, Americas
The Pan-American Highway is the longest motorable road in the world. This road trip is comprised of multiple branches of roads rather than one direct route. The Pan-American Highway connects North, Central, and South America, including Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras, to name a few places. Unofficial parts of the highway run through the USA and Canada, while some travellers also choose to begin their trip in Alaska. With so many official and unofficial roads included in this trip, there is plenty of room open for adventure. Cars are not the only wheels tackling this route—many ambitious cyclists also attempt to make the journey.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass is one of the highest mountain passes to drive in the European Alps. This road is famous for its switchbacks and sits at an elevation of 2,757 m above sea level. Though the Stelvio Pass is not particularly known for being intensely scenic, for those looking for a nice view it is recommended to take this drive through the Stelvio National Park, which will take you by pleasant stretches of alpine forest.
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(Cover photo by Graeme Stewart-Robertson via Flickr.)