One of the best ways to explore a country is to hit the open road. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as taking on the road and discovering its secrets on every stretch and bend. Here, 13 adventurous travel bloggers share their most epic road trips around the world — the sights and adrenaline rush would surely make you want to get behind the wheel and zoom off to see the world!
Our epic journey of a million memorable kilometers starts in North America, home of stunning views and diverse landscapes
1 | Across California, USA
Luke Marlin of Backstreet Nomad
The best road trip I’ve done was a week through California. We started in San Diego, had 2 nights in Vegas, then drove up to San Francisco via Rhyolite Ghost Town, Death Valley, Mariposa Grove (giant redwoods!) Yosemite National Park, and Fresno. It was a HUGE trip, clocking up over 1600 miles (2500 km) in one single week.
What I loved about this road trip was discovering how diverse California is for being one single state. Death Valley was flat, hot, dry and arid then a day later I was zipping up my coat because it was snowing in Mariposa Grove. Death Valley in itself is incredibly interesting because it has the salt flats, the jagged salt formations that will cut you open, and artist’s palette which is naturally coloured sand hills in the middle of nowhere. And then you have the entire Californian coast line, mountains and lakes that I didn’t even get to! The state literally has it all.
2 | Virginia and the South, USA
Liesbeth Donné of Lili’s Travel Plans
My boyfriend and I started our road trip in Arlington, Virginia, after a week of city tripping in NYC and Washington DC. We drove through the never-ending horse pastures of ‘Horse Country’ and continued on Skyline Drive, with its numerous overlooks and spectacular views of Shenandoah National Park. We went to Charlottesville to learn about the beginning of the US at Monticello, Jefferson’s home.
We drove 400 miles south to Charleston, South-Carolina and fell in love with the picturesque city center and the plantations nearby, such as Boone Hall Plantation with its magnificent Oak Alley.
After 4 days in Charleston, we headed to Savannah, Georgia, another breathtaking city. Next, it was time for a 700 miles and 1.5 days’ drive through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From there, we drove to New Orleans alongside the Mississippi river. We visited Nottoway Plantation, the most beautiful plantation we saw, and Laura Plantation, the most touching one, with the most honest stories about the plantation owners and their slaves. On the last day of our trip we took a swamp tour at Honey Island swamp.
Two weeks and 2100 miles after the start of our trip, we arrived in New Orleans, where we dropped off our rental car and stayed another 3 days.
What made this road trip epic? The warmth of the South, the stunning landscapes, the Spanish moss draped live oaks, the beautiful houses with their front porch, the touching stories about the history of the US and slavery and – last but not least – the extremely charming and welcoming people with their lovely southern accent.
3 | Across the United States
Christianna of Expecto Adventures
I departed California and headed straight to Las Vegas, where I spent my birthday exploring the Strip. Next, I visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the nearby Horseshoe Bend. It was my first time seeing these magnificent beauties; they were definitely the highlight of my trip! I continued onto Four Corners (a lousy tourist trap, and not even on the exact borders), but Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado was impressive.
In New Mexico, I took a Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque, read about aliens at the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, and went underground in Carlsbad Caverns. Texas took a long time to drive though, but the San Antonio River Walk and the Hamilton Natural Pool outside of Austin were great places to stop and cool off. The roadtrip ended in my new home of Georgia after three weeks alone on the road. I had a blast and am now planning a roadtrip up the East Coast, and across the Northern States.
READ MORE: How to plan and save money on a roadtrip
4 | Eastern Canada to Newfoundland
Lindsay Davies of I’ve Been Bit!
I started in close to Niagara in Ontario, and made as far north as Labrador and as far east as Cape Spear – the most eastern point in Canada! I loved this road trip for the amount of natural beauty I saw not just while driving but in Canada’s National Parks. We pride ourselves on our beautiful land, and to see it preserved and protected makes me so proud! I fell in love with Canada even more which I didn’t think was possible! Also I took the initiative to do part of the road trip solo, something I had never done before! It really helped me grow as a person and I discovered a new found confidence that I’ll never forget! One word of advice though, do your best not to drive at dawn or dusk! That’s when many animals are active, including moose. Luckily I didn’t run into one, but some friends have had standoffs with them that can last quite some time!
Up next is Europe! With its winding roads, fantastic views, and old-world charm, you’d be hopping from one country to the next with no plans of ever coming home!
5 | Scotland
Sonja Thomson of Migrating Miss
“Ooooh let’s stop here!” I exclaimed for probably the 50th time that day. That’s what happens when you’re road tripping around Scotland! There are tours, but nothing beats hiring a car and doing it yourself so you can stop every time you want to. My favourite Scotland road trip would have to be any one that goes through Glencoe, and ends up in the Isle of Skye. The first not-to-miss stop would be in Glencoe to view the Three Sisters, three steep ridges in this stunningly scenic area. Don’t miss the Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge, with a moving statue overlooking the rough terrain these soldiers train in. Further on is one of my favourite drives through a valley lined with high mountains and home to numerous elk, and also goats! Rounding one of the last bends before the Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle comes into view, sitting at the point where three lochs meet.
All of this could be accomplished in a day from Edinburgh or Glasgow if you stayed somewhere nearby. A multi-day trip would allow detours to Glenfinnan Viaduct, the one the Hogwarts Express goes over, as well as the Loch Ness, purported home of the Loch Ness Monster. Not to mention the Isle of Skye itself! You can’t go too wrong with a road trip almost anywhere north of Edinburgh and Glasgow, but Glencoe and the road to Skye is definitely not to be missed.
6 | Bremen, Germany to Bucharest, Romania (and back again!)
Anna Peters of Unexpected Germany
We were invited to a friend’s wedding in Bucharest and thought rather than fly there we would take the opportunity to see as much of Europe as we could in 2 weeks.
We started in northern Germany (Bremen) where we live, and organised a route so we could travel through the Austrian Alps, along the Adriatic coast (Italy, Slovenia, Croatia) and then north to Zagreb, Budapest and then Romania. On the way back we explored the big Hapsburg cities: Bratislava, Vienna, Prague and then on to Berlin before coming home.
We had planned to drive through Serbia and Romania, but no hire company would allow us to take the car there. We booked a sleeper train to Bucharest from Budapest instead.
There were so many highlights on our trip: discovering the nightlife of Regensburg in Bavaria; the amazing views driving over the Alps on the Großglocknerstraße; stumbling upon the magical coastal town of Piran in Slovenia; the genius Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb; the friendliness of people, really fantastic shopping, and the wedding in Bucharest; eating a traditional meal in Bratislava with locals; the amazing design and architecture of Vienna (and Demel cakes!); and the café culture of Berlin.
7 | Sardinia, Italy
Lotte of Phenomenal Globe
Sardinia belongs to Italy and is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The island has a wild and rocky coastline and its highest peak, Punta La Marmora, stands at 1,834 meters!
I spent a week driving around this gorgeous island and definitely haven’t seen it all, I would love to go back for more!
I started and ended my trip in Alghero, where I picked up my rental car from the airport. I didn’t drive much more than 50 kilometers a day because the roads are not fast, however, the beautiful sights more than make up for that. I especially loved the road from Bosa to Alghero, which offered splendid views of the Capo Caccia.
Other highlights were the Maddalena archipelago, Pelosa beach and the curious nuraghe found all over the island. Oh, and obviously the Italian coffee, the Italian gelato and Italian pasta…
8 | The Balkan Region
Brock and Tangerine Trubiano of A Travelogue by Brock and Tanj
The Balkan Region has been a dream destination for both of us. It turned out to probably be our most favorite trip to Europe as a couple. Self-driving road trips provide travelers with the most freedom and flexibility, which is why we chose to see the Balkans by car.
We visited Croatia (Dubrovnik, Cavtat, Split, Hvar Island, Sibenik – Plitvice Lakes National Park), Serbia (Belgrade), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Mostar, Blagaj, Medjugorje), Montenegro (Kotor, Budva) and Slovenia (Ljubljana, Bled). Epic is an understatement in this road trip! It was an amazing experience since you can see how the landscapes, terrain and architecture change from one country to another. We experienced the historic coastal towns of Croatia to the hustle and bustle of Belgrade, mountainous region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the beaches of Budva in Montenegro and the scenic lakes of Slovenia. The best part was there was no tour guide hurrying us along, or train schedule we needed to keep. We were able to stop anywhere we wanted. One of the most memorable days was between Blagaj and Medjugorje. Our GPS took us down to the most obscure roads we have ever seen but we were able to eat perfectly ripe figs and had fresh fish caught right out of a crystal clear stream.
Now it’s time for exotic Asia! This is perfect for those craving a killer combination of lush natural landscapes and cultural sites.
9 | Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Shayan Naveed of Dose of Life
Kanchanaburi is a destination less traveled by tourists as compared to Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. This is a crying shame because this is one province in Thailand which is deeply etched into World War II history. This mountainous town is about 150 kilometers west from Bangkok, which isn’t too far but the road there isn’t without some epic stories to be told or sights to behold.
On the way there you have to basically go through the entire city of Bangkok including the old town as there are no highways. Witness the progressive contrast of Bangkok skyscrapers and tall buildings to smalls towns and villages of the rural areas until you finally reach the awe-inspiring scenery of the mountains. As we drove up and down the swerving roads, we came across several amazing places such as the Erawan waterfall and Srinagarindra Dam.
Kanchanaburi can only be described as a lush green, tropical land that boasts some seriously stunning landscape. Evergreen forests, farmlands, dizzying valleys, dazzling waterfalls, rivers and an illustrious ‘bridge over the river kwai’ from World War II are just some of the sights and sounds that makes the road trip so epic.
10 | Across Thailand
Cristina Radinger of 100 Places 100 Kisses
‘Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul.’
Time, no plans, no fixed destination. The road and me, and the basics: water, a small bag, a map, my driving skills. And the hunger to discover. From Phang Nga national park and action at the James Bond rock. To beautiful beaches at Kao Lak which – wow – I had on my own. But also the tsunami memorial which reminds the traveler what’s important in life. Then down to over-crowded but with it’s turquoise ocean so stunning Phuket. A little bell for the ones I love hangs at the Big Buddha temple overlooking the landscape there. Along the way: super nice locals who helped me find the ways to hidden treasures. The street food I had, surrounded only by Thai people – yes I was a highlight: a girl traveling alone on her bike. Every day the sunset and thousands of stars guarding my sleep. And being alone on the road with my thoughts, hopes and dreams. Crazy little thing called freedom.
11 | Gangtok to Nathu La Pass, Sikkim, India
Sandy of Voyager
The road trip from Gangtok, Sikkim, India to the Nathu La pass on the Indo-China border was indeed an epic one for many reasons. For one, the trip takes you to an altitude of 14,400 feet across tough terrain where oxygen levels drop, the beauty and harshness of nature on the trip provide a beautiful contrast as you see large drifting clouds paying hide and seek with snow capped mountains and you are blown away by the biting cold and vicious winds as you gasp for oxygen. Another reason that this trip assumed epic proportions is the fact that Nathu La Pass was part of the historic and ancient silk route through which trade and culture permeated.
We started early in the morning from Gangtok so that we could be back by nightfall as the weather in the mountains can change any minute and visibility could drop down to almost zero in minutes. We had our permits made out the previous day as this is mandatory for visiting Nathu La, this is issued by the Sikkim tourism department, also it is worth noting that only Indians are allowed until Nathu La pass, foreigners can travel only up to Tsomgo lake. Another key information to be aware of is that oxygen is scarce at the higher altitudes so those with breathing problems or related conditions should be careful.
On the road trip you will see beautiful lakes nestling between the mountains, lakes that remain frozen for most parts of the year, we saw two beautiful lakes namely, Tsomgo Lake and Elephant Lake. You will have an opportunity to draw some cash from the world’s highest ATM, situated at an altitude of 13,200 feet at a small town called Thegu.
You can browse the internet at an internet café in Sherathang at an altitude of 13,600 feet. You can visit the one of its kind temple to a soldier, the Baba Mandir and hear the strange legend associated with this temple.
Finally at Nathu La, you can see the mountains across the border in Bhutan and the fence demarking the Indo-China border and sip a hot cup of tea as you luxuriate in the wild and virginal beauty of nature all around you.
Last but definitely not the least epic, we go to Australasia, the mother land of epic road trips.
12 | Perth – Esperance – Melbourne, Australia
Melissa Giroux of A Broken Backpack
Perth-Melbourne was an epic road trip with its 3500 kilometres.
Our first stop was at Lake Grace, a huge salted lake. Well, lake is probably a big word as the lake was dry during the summer. Our second stop was in Esperance where we enjoyed French Man Peak (one hour trail), Lucky Bay and the Great Ocean Drive which was one of the best spot in my whole trip in Australia so far. Picture this: turquoise water, white sand beach and kangaroos. There is also a pink lake, which was dry too. Then, we drove on the longest straight road of Australia and on the Nullabor. The Nullabor offers some gorgeous lookout and if you are lucky, you can also enjoy the wildlife from the comfort of your seat. Our last quest was the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, which was pretty, but a bit too crowded. I guess the trip could be different through the different seasons. You might be able to enjoy the pink lake, to spot some wildlife in the Nullabor or even get some crazy shot of the Great Ocean Road without any tourist hanging around. Definitely an Epic road trip!
13 | South Island, New Zealand
Gemma Cleaver of Gemma Jane Adventures
Start in Christchurch and head south to Timaru, a typical Kiwi town where both little blue penguins and yellow eye penguins can be seen. From there head to Tekapo, stop off at the lake for beautiful views, if you’re lucky it will be a mirror lake. Take a detour to Mount Cook and see the face of New Zealand overlooking the bluest lake I have ever seen. Queenstown, the adventure Capital of New Zealand is worth a few days’ visit to explore the nearby Milford Sounds and do a bungee jump if you dare. Retrace some of the route to reach Wanaka, the drive is so beautiful you won’t complain about driving the Lindis pass twice, and relax before taking on the windy route through native bush to fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Spend a night and splash out on a heli hike to see a glacier up close before following the coastal road north. In Hokitika carve yourself a jade, bone, or Paua souvenir at Bonz n’ Stones before reaching the road trip climax. Arthurs Pass is the most scenic drive in New Zealand, but don’t just take my word for it, see it for yourself!
Road trips are really one of the best ways to see and explore a country. It’s convenient and allows you to make the most of your trip!
How about you? What’s your most epic road trip? What pro tips do you have for anyone planning to do an international road trip? Please share in the comments below and inspire all adventurous travelers out there!