a green valley with mountains and blue sky

We all spend a lot of time worrying about how to reach our destination- and where to stay, but not nearly enough time with “what to do”. There’s no better way to get a lasting feel for a place than walking around, or talking an extended drive- seeing all there is to offer. Lonely Planet has compiled a list of the world’s greatest- most iconic road trips, and our bucket list is now overflowing…

a bridge over a cliff with a body of water and hillsPacific Coast Highway, West Coast, USA

Ocean breeze, mountains, vineyards, pine trees and lush views. What’s not to like? This ridiculously beautiful West Coast road trip is the perfect way to explore the best of California, Oregon and Washington State. If you’re not up for the full thousand plus mile journey, virtually any stretch will be beautiful. We love Los Angeles to San Francisco (or vice versa).

Distance: Up to 1,050 miles. We suggest the 388 mile stretch from SF to LA!

Milford Sound in the waterMilford Sound, New Zealand

It’s not the size of the journey, but what you see. The Milford sound will undoubtedly take your breath away, as you take in pristine lakes, jagged mountains, winding roads and some of the most untouched countryside found anywhere in the world. At under three hours, it’s a must for anyone maximizing a trip to New Zealand’s South Island.

Distance: 74.5 miles between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

a sheep in a grassy field by a lakeGreat Glen, Scotland, UK

Great Scot! This is one incredible drive. The Scottish highlands offer so much more than world class golf and heavenly whiskey. For this journey, don’t just stay in the car: along the way you’ll pass castles, distilleries, loch ness and countless snap worthy sites. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you pass through Glen Coe – it’s one of the most gorgeous places you’ll ever see.

Distance: 175 miles from Glasgow to Inverness. 

a winding road in a mountainGrande Strade Delle Dolomiti, Italy

Magnifico is about the only word that will come to mind during the absolutely star studded journey though the Dolomites. This ultra sharp, pointy range of mountains is far more than eye candy- along the way road trippers will find countless michelin starred restaurants and villages you’ll never want to leave. Beauty in ever form on this trip.

Distance: 121 miles of magic. Not a moment without a view!

a waterfall in a green valleyRing Road, Iceland

You may very well feel like the lord (or lady) of the Ring, as you make your way through the bountiful beauty of Iceland’s Ring Road. The inspiration and location for countless films, this untouched stretch of countryside will reward those seeking the most beautiful natural views with ice caps, waterfalls, lava fields and of course gorgeous coastline. Go in summer when daylight quite literally never ends!

Distance: 830 miles, with potential for challenging road conditions. 

a blue lake surrounded by trees and mountainsIcefield Parkway, Lake Louise, Canada

One snap of Lake Louise and you’ll be Googling details your next vacation (it’s near Calgary, by the way). Those reaching the idyllic lakeside setting will rejoice far before reaching their elevated hotel, thanks to an endless array of snow capped mountains and vistas along the iconic Icefield Parkway. It doesn’t stop there: you’ll find glacial activity, lakes and maybe even the odd bear. Just watch out for the ice, it’s more than just a name.

Distance: 143 miles between Lake Louise and Jasper. 

a dirt road through a valley with mountainsPanorama Route, South Africa

Don’t listen to TLC- you should go chasing waterfalls. After reaching the postcard worthy countryside of Drakensberg, a mere 4 hour drive from easy to reach Durban, your epic journey will officially begin. Replete with some of the greenest mountains, windy roads, former gold rush sites, crop fields and seemingly magical mist- this elevated mountain range is as beautiful as it gets. You’re going to need a big printer for all these postcards…

Distance: 130 miles along the Drakensberg escarpment. 


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Portions of the 120 mile Pacific Coast Highway 1 section between Monterey and San Luis Obispo suffered major landslides and a collapsed bridge in Big Sur after record rainfall last winter and has been closed much of 2017.

    Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur is scheduled to open sometime in October according to today’s Monterey Herald.

    Mud Creek Slide in May 2017 near the Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County line was massive, the largest in decades, and created 15 new acres of land extending 600 feet farther out into the Pacific Ocean. Highway 1 was buried.

    No projected timeline for reopening the highway, but likely to still be closed summer 2018. Might be 2019 before tourists can make the Pacific Coast Highway road trip along the Big Sur coast route.

    Bixby Bridge in your post photo is currently accessible and part of Big Sur village is open this summer, but Highway 1 is only open for 26 miles south of Carmel.

  2. Greetings, Gilbert —

    I realize that the information in this article is from Lonely Planet — but I must impart a few corrections pertaining to the sixth entry from the top:

    The highway is known as Icefields Parkway, not Icefield Parkway;

    The southern end of Icefields Parkway ends north of Lake Louise, so they technically are not together; and

    The photograph in this article is of Peyto Lake and not Lake Louise.

    Regardless, I have written a series of articles pertaining to my visit to the Rocky Mountains in Canada; and I do confirm that Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic routes to drive in the world…

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