The Travel Bug: 6 Road Trip Destinations to Satisfy Your Wanderlust

Road trips offer the ultimate dose of freedom for your holiday, and luckily, there are plenty of roads in the world that are a little more interesting than the M6 on a drizzly January afternoon – with stunning coastal vistas, dramatic mountain scenery, and picture-perfect towns and villages waiting to be explored.

1. The indomitable, irreplaceable, Route 66

The obvious starting point is the world’s most iconic road, Route 66 – still drivable despite the era of the soulless ten-lane-wide freeway dawning in the 1950s. Spanning 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, the route takes in seven states, mountains, lakes and everything in between.

It would be a mammoth commitment to drive the whole thing – so we suggest a few short sections, such as the drive through the desert across the Arizona-California border, evoking the famous journey undertaken by the dust bowl migrants of the 1930s – immortalised in John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath.

At the other end of the route, a drive into Chicago from St Louis takes in the Cahokia, the remains of an ancient Native American city on the banks of the Mississippi and ending at the steps of the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago in the famous city’s centre. Whatever section you choose, you’ll be driving a culturally iconic route immortalised in songs and literature.

2. The Elbe Valley: Germany to Czechia

This beautiful, meandering river valley is somewhat of an underrated road trip. Driving from the historic German city of Dresden, you’ll follow the river as it slowly coils round beautiful forested hills and picturesque riverside towns such as Bad Schandau, right on the border with Czechia – where you might see rock climbers scaling the riverside cliffs. There’s a certain thrill in crossing an international border in a car, and once you’re in the Czech side of the valley, take a trip to the historic town of Děčín, overlooked by the imperious and unmissable Děčín Castle.

After driving’s done for the day, make sure you indulge in a few local Czech beers overlooking the river – the perfect way to round off your border-crossing, culture-swapping, beautiful road trip.

3. Australia’s Great Ocean Road

By Australian standards, a 150 mile drive is easy – there are cattle stations in the Outback that are three times that size – but luckily for you, the Great Ocean Road packs a whole country worth of jaw-dropping scenery into the winding coastal road between the towns of Torquay and Warrnambool. The undisputed highlights of the drive are the stunning, otherworldly limestone structures in the Port Campbell National Park, known as the Twelve Apostles. It’s such a great route, and it isn’t too far from Melbourne for a little slice of city life after your drive along the rural coast.

4. Get lost in Lanzarote

The advantages of exploring an island with a hire car are numerous. There’s less traffic, nothing is too far away and you’re only minutes from the beach at any given time. You can really find your niche in Lanzarote, especially in the less crowded side of the island. The attractive town of Yaiza is a great place to stop for lunch, before driving over to the bewitching, treeless moonscape of the Timanfaya National Park, where the island’s volcanic heritage comes into its own. With home-from-home private villas scattered across the island, you can set up a basecamp and hit the road in search of adventure or tranquility – whatever appeals most!

5. Iceland: Reykjavik – The Golden Circle

iceland-waterfall

From one volcanic island to another, driving is just about the only way to get around the jaw-dropping, rugged countryside of Iceland. We recommend taking in the pint-sized urban chic of Reykjavik before heading to what is known as The Golden Circle – the combination of the Pingvellir National Park, the Haukadalur geysers and the two hundred metre tall waterfall at Gullfoss. The ancient scenery streams past your window as you drive the simple two-lane roads between these places. Iceland is truly a country that looks great from any angle, so fuel up the car and prepare to be amazed.

6. New Zealand: The Alpine Highway

This route across New Zealand’s South Island starts in Christchurch, a vibrant, buzzing city undergoing the remarkable process of rebuilding itself following a catastrophic earthquake in 2011. Once you’ve exhausted the city, wind your way up to the Southern Alps, where your route will take in lakes, ski resorts and the jewel in the crown, the Arthur’s Pass National Park. Spend a night high in the mountains before driving yet more beautiful roads such as the Otira Viaduct, where the scenery could have been taken straight out of a car advert. Just about anywhere in New Zealand is beautiful, so you’re best off booking a car for a few days and satisfying your wanderlust by, well… wandering.

With these 6 stunning routes just waiting to be discovered, the only real difficulty will be choosing where to start!