Last updated on November 28th, 2023 at 08:28 pm
Road trips are a great way to explore natural wonders, historic landmarks, and scenic landscapes. There’s something endlessly captivating about the idea of hitting the open road and discovering new places. With so many amazing destinations around the world, it can be overwhelming to pick just one. But fear not, we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of the top 11 most epic road trips in Europe, the United States, and Canada for your travel bucket list. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting out, these trips are sure to inspire wanderlust and create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Road Trips in Europe
- Road Trips in Canada
- Road Trips in the United States
- Plan Your Road Trip Today
Road Trips in Europe
Europe is a wonderful continent to explore and road-tripping through its landscapes is one of the best ways to experience its incredible beauty. From the rugged coastline of the Atlantic to the stunning peaks of the Alps, Europe offers a diverse range of landscapes and experiences that are perfect for a road trip adventure. In this blog post, we have compiled a list of some of the top bucket list road trips in Europe that will leave you in awe and make your travels unforgettable.
The Scottish Highlands
The Scottish Highlands are a natural wonderland with rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and stunning lochs. The Highlands are known for their breathtaking landscape, historic towns, and ancient castles. The winding roads through the Highlands offer fantastic views of the Scottish countryside and are perfect for exploring the country’s stunning coastline.
One of the best routes starts from Edinburgh taking the A9 towards Inverness, which forms the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Inverness is a vibrant city with all the facilities and services you may need for your journey ahead. From here, you can head west towards the beautiful Isle of Skye and take in the breathtaking views of the Cuillin Hills, Kilt Rock, and the Old Man of Storr. Along the way, you will also come across captivating waterfalls, calm lochs, and picturesque villages.
Fort William is home to the famous Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. From here, you could drive down towards Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most stunning valleys. The panoramic views are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
As you head towards the east coast, you’ll come across some of Scotland’s lesser-known but equally charming and picturesque villages, such as Dornoch, Golspie, and Tain. Your journey through the Scottish Highlands ends at the famous John O’Groats, which provides excellent panoramic views across the Orkney Islands.
Italy: The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a perfect road trip destination located on the southern coast of Italy. This picturesque stretch of coastline is known for its winding roads, stunning turquoise waters, steep cliffs, and colorful fishing villages. The drive offers incredible views of the Mediterranean and is perfect for snapping pictures of the colorful houses. The Amalfi Coast also has a rich history and is dotted with ancient ruins, churches, and monasteries.
One of the most popular stops of the coastal drive is Positano, a small town on the cliffs by the sea. Positano’s pastel-colored buildings and bougainvillea plants hanging from balconies are a sight to behold. Take a stroll through the alleys, visit the art galleries, and indulge in local cuisine. If you are a beach lover, you can explore the magnificent beaches of Spiaggia Grande or Fornillo.
Iceland: The Ring Road
Iceland’s Ring Road circles the entire island and is one of the best ways to explore Iceland by car. The landscape of Iceland is spectacular and diverse, with stunning waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, and volcanoes. The road is dotted with small towns and villages, each with unique cultures and traditions. Be sure to stop and take in the breathtaking views of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Northern Lights if you are visiting in the winter months.
It is over 825 miles long and has countless places to stop and explore. It’s important to plan your route before you start driving to make the most of your time in Iceland. Decide which areas you want to explore and how long you want to spend in each place. Some must-see stops include the Golden Circle, the glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park, and the black sand beaches of Vik. This Iceland Ring Road itinerary is a great place to start your trip planning.
Ireland: The Ring of Kerry
If you’re planning a road trip around Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is one of the most scenic drives you can take. This circular route skirts along the edge of County Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula and offers some of the most breathtaking views of Ireland’s rugged coastline and rolling hills. One of the most visited attractions in the Ring of Kerry is Killarney National Park. The park stretches over 26,000 acres and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy hiking, cycling, or taking a pony and trap tour through the park. One of the park’s highlights is Torc Waterfall, a 70-foot waterfall located on the Owengarriff River.
Another highlight is Caherdaniel, a charming seaside village located on the Ring of Kerry that is home to the Derrynane House and National Park. The park features stunning beaches, coves, and cliffs, and is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and kayaking. The Derrynane House is the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, a famous Irish politician.
Germany: The Black Forest
The Black Forest is a traveler’s paradise with its range of forests, rolling hills, calm lakes, picturesque towns, and cities. A road trip through this region is a great way to take in all the beauty. Exploring this fairytale-like destination is a truly magical experience, offering a blend of history, culture, and enchanting landscapes that will stay with you forever.
The route from Freiburg to Triberg is one of the most scenic drives that takes you through the heart of the Black Forest. Along the way, you’ll pass through charming cathedrals, historic towns, and stunning lakes. Stop by the Freiburg Minster, an iconic structure that dates back to the 13th century, and take a stroll around the market square where vendors offer a range of local specialties. Further on, Titisee Lake, with its sparkling waters and lush green surroundings, is an idyllic spot to relax, go for a swim, or rent a paddleboat.
At the highest point in the Black Forest, you’ll find the Feldberg Mountain. Whether it’s winter or summer, this mountain provides stunning views of the surrounding forest and is a popular spot for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. The train ride to the mountain top is just as scenic as seeing the view from above and the ski lift is the perfect choice for an adventurous ride.
If you take the proper precautions, it can be absolutely magical in the winter. Best of all, you can plan a trip to the German Christmas markets for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Road Trips in Canada
If you’re considering a road trip around Canada, you’re in for a treat. With its vast and diverse landscape, Canada has plenty to offer both locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re planning a cross-country drive or want to explore a particular region, there’s no shortage of spectacular sights and attractions to discover. From majestic mountains to quaint seaside towns, Canada has it all.
Also known as Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway is a stunning stretch of road that connects Banff and Jasper National Parks, offering breathtaking views of the majestic Rocky Mountains, glaciers, and turquoise lakes. Both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are popular stops on the Icefields Parkway. With their crystal-clear waters surrounded by snow-capped peaks, they are a sight to behold. Hiking trails offer visitors the chance to explore the surrounding mountains.
And of course, you have to visit the parkway’s namesake, the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the Rocky Mountains. The ice field spans over 320 square kilometers and is home to several glaciers, including the Athabasca Glacier. Visitors can take a tour of the glacier, in addition to visiting various viewing platforms around the ice field, such as the Glacier Skywalk platform.
Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail is a coastal road trip that takes you through charming fishing villages, rugged cliffs, and scenic lookouts. This 185-mile loop offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, quaint fishing villages, numerous historic sites, and Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a beautiful and rugged park located on the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. The park covers over 950 square km of wilderness and includes hiking trails, campsites, and scenic drives. Make sure to stop at the park’s visitor center to pick up a trail map and plan your route. If you’re up for a challenge, hike the Skyline Trail. At just under 5 miles, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista of the park’s coastline. The trail will take you to a boardwalk that hangs over the cliffs, providing unparalleled panoramic views.
If you are interested in learning about the Scottish and Irish heritage of Cape Breton Island, plan a trip along the Celtic Trail. The route takes you through the western side of Cape Breton Island and passes through the traditional Gaelic-speaking communities of Mabou and Judique. These towns are known for their Celtic music, culture, and traditions. Make sure to stop at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center in Judique to watch a live music performance or take a Gaelic language lesson.
Road Trips in the United States
The United States is home to some of the most diverse landscapes and vibrant cities in the world. From the sun-drenched beaches of California to the bustling streets of New York City, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. When it comes to travel, there’s something special about discovering hidden gems and lesser-known destinations. Taking the scenic route instead of the faster highway can lead to unexpected discoveries and adventures.
Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re gearing up for a scenic road trip that promises stunning views and unforgettable memories, you should definitely consider traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Winding through the picturesque Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina, this iconic stretch of road spans over 469 miles and offers sensational views of the surrounding landscapes. From awe-inspiring vistas to charming towns and quaint villages, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural wonders.
Beyond the scenic views and charming towns, the Blue Ridge Parkway holds a wealth of history and culture waiting to be explored. Along the way, you’ll find various sites and landmarks that offer insights into the vibrant histories of the diverse communities that call these mountains home. One spot where you can learn more about the region’s history is the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, a living history museum that showcases the rich Cherokee heritage of the area. Other historic sites worth visiting include the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.
One of the best ways to stretch your legs along this road trip is to take a hike or nature walk from the many trailheads along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just a few highlights include:
- Mabry Mill: This historic mill is one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and for good reason. The beautiful old building is set against a backdrop of rolling hills and sparkling water, and you can take a tour to learn about the history of milling in the area. But the mill isn’t just for looking at – there’s also a great hike that starts from the parking lot and takes you through the woods to a nearby waterfall. The trail is easy to moderate, so it’s perfect for families or less experienced hikers.
- Humpback Rocks: This rocky outcrop is a challenging but rewarding hike. The trail is steep in places, but the panoramic views from the top are worth the effort. On a clear day, you can see for miles into the surrounding mountains and valleys. Along the way, you’ll also learn about the history of the area at a recreated 19th-century farmstead. It’s a great way to get a sense of what life was like for the people who lived here before the Parkway was built.
- Crabtree Falls: This is one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the Parkway, with a series of cascades that drop over 1,000 feet. The hike to the falls is moderately difficult, with some steep sections and rocky terrain, but it’s well worth it. As you climb, you’ll pass by smaller falls and rapids, and on a hot day, you can cool off in the pools below. There’s also a picnic area near the parking lot if you want to make a day of it.
While you’re at it, continue on to Skyline Drive and stay at one of the great campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. Loft Mountain Campground provides the best access to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Pacific Coast Highway
Are you looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will take your breath away? Look no further than a Pacific Coast Highway road trip. The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as PCH, is a beautiful scenic route that winds along the coastline of California.
Starting in San Franciso, California, the Pacific Coast Highway takes you on a winding journey through Monterey and Big Sur, offering picturesque views of the rugged coastline and the mighty Pacific Ocean. Start your trip with a tour of San Francisco. Driving in the city can be challenging for visitors, so be sure to read these tips for driving in San Francisco.
Big Sur is home to the famous Bixby Bridge which spans across a deep canyon and offers stunning views of the Pacific. A few miles ahead on PCH, you’ll come across Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which boasts an 80-foot waterfall that tumbles down to the beach below. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore in the park, so be sure to pack some sturdy shoes and a sense of adventure.
Farther south, the iconic Santa Barbara boasts an idyllic Mediterranean vibe with its bright blue skies, white sand beaches, and charming Spanish architecture dotting the town. There are plenty of things to see and do in Santa Barbara, including visiting the Santa Barbara Mission, hiking the trails in the nearby mountains, and taking a walk along the historic Stearns Wharf.
Finish your PCH road trip in Los Angeles, the city of dreams. Los Angeles has plenty of attractions to explore, including the glamorous Hollywood Walk of Fame, the world-famous Santa Monica Beach, and a trip up to the Griffith Observatory for stunning views of the city. If you want to experience the beach and the city together, drive up to Malibu for some surfing and people-watching. The highway stretches through the town, with many scenic outlooks to stop and admire the beauty.
The Great River Road
Do you want to experience the beauty and culture of America’s heartland? Then a road trip along the Great River Road is just the escape you need. The Great River Road is a 3,000-mile-long scenic drive that follows the banks of the Mississippi River. Traveling through ten states from Minnesota to Louisiana, it’s full of hidden gems that everyone should see. Due to the sheer enormity of this road trip, most folks choose a section to complete, rather than undertaking the entire thing at once.
In Minnesota, you’ll find the Headwaters of the Mississippi River, where you can walk across the river and learn about the history of the river and its surrounding area. If you continue south, you’ll come to picturesque towns like La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Dubuque, Iowa. Both cities offer riverboat tours, dining, shopping, and scenic hikes along the river.
As you continue down the Great River Road, you’ll find yourself in St. Louis, Missouri – the “Gateway to the West”. Here, you can take a ride up the Gateway Arch – a monument that stands 630 feet tall – for a stunning view of the city and the Mississippi River.
The Great River Road experience is not complete without a visit to the city that never sleeps – New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans is famous for its jazz music, Creole cuisine, Mardi Gras, and architecture. Take a walk through the French Quarter to see beautiful wrought iron balconies and colorful buildings. Don’t forget to try a beignet or some gumbo while you’re there!
Utah’s Mighty Five
Utah is home to some of America’s most stunning nature reserves. The state boasts five national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Each park is known for its unique topography, from towering sandstone cliffs to otherworldly arches and spiraling formations. And the best way to experience them is on a road trip from Salt Lake City.
Arches National Park is just a short drive from Moab, Utah, and features over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the breathtaking Delicate Arch. The park covers around 76,679 acres and is a hiker’s paradise. Several dramatic trails over steep rock routes provide visitors with unforgettable views of the surrounding terrain.
Canyonlands National Park is also just a short distance from Moab. It boasts vast canyons, mesas, and spires formed by the Colorado River and several tributaries. It is divided into three main districts – Island in the Sky, The Needles, and the Maze. Island in the Sky boasts exhilarating views of the surrounding areas, while The Needles district offers hiking trails that take visitors past stunning rock formations. The Maze is a remote area of the park that is not easily accessible; however, its rugged terrain makes it a popular destination for experienced hikers and campers.
Capitol Reef National Park seems like an oasis in the middle of a desert with a hidden gem, Fruita. A historic site where early pioneers settled and created a village with an orchard. These orchards hold some of the best pies, jams, and ice cream. Hiking and backpacking are the better options to explore the park’s features, but you may also drive around and enjoy scenic driving routes.
Bryce Canyon National Park is best known for its impressive hoodoos and spires. It is a must-visit for photographers who want to capture the changing colors of its jagged rock formations. Bryce Canyon is home to several hiking trails, such as the Navajo Loop Trail, which takes visitors through stunningly beautiful rock formations. If you’re planning on visiting in winter, don’t forget to go sledding or try snowshoeing.
Zion National Park is Utah’s most well-known national park and blessed with beautiful waterfalls, emerald pools, and tight narrow canyons. The park covers an area of over 147,000 acres and is home to some of the best hiking trails in the southwest. The Narrows is one of the most iconic hikes found in the park, taking you through a narrow slot canyon that is carved out by the fast-moving Virgin River.
Plan Your Road Trip Today
As you can see, there are plenty of options for road trips around the world. Road trips can create some of the most unique and unforgettable memories that you’ll talk about with your loved ones for years to come. Whether it’s camping under the stars, spending nights staring at the starry skies, or playing games along the drive, every moment and every experience is unique.
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