Road tripping is our thing! We love packing up the car and hitting the open road. Discovering new cities and the numerous attractions along the way. The more picturesque our surroundings the better. Long, straight roads can become boring very quickly. Therefore, stunning scenery and places to pull over are a must. Over the years we have been lucky enough to take a number of road trips. Each one as magical as the next, yet completely unique too. With that in mind, we’ve put together our list of 5 of the most picturesque road trips to take in the world. If like us, you relish in the freedom road tripping offers, we hope this helps you when you’re planning your next adventure.
North Coast 500, Scotland
One of the most picturesque road trips in the UK is the North Coast 500 in Scotland. It is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland. It starts and ends at Inverness Castle. There are a lot of things to see and do on the North Coast 500. From fishing, cycling and snorkelling to magic, mystery and monsters on Loch Ness. There are also a number of winter activities to take part in as this is an extremely popular route all year round such as wildlife watching and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) hunting. It’s important to remember that the western Highlands of Scotland is one of the wettest places in Europe. Therefore, you must ensure your car is in good working order for the trip and you amend your driving style to suit the conditions, which when the weather is particularly bad can be treacherous.
Therefore it’s not just a case of jumping in the car and hitting the road. Some car preparation is necessary beforehand. Regardless of what time of year you take your road trip, it’s important that your car is up to date when it comes to servicing, including oil service and has a valid MOT certificate (if necessary). And if you chose to take this road trip during the winter months there are a few added things you need to ensure. This includes that you have good quality road legal tyres. Having just replaced two borderline bald tyres on Vicky’s car, we understand this can be costly, however vital. It’s also important to adjust your driving technique. Winter driving requires you to think more about what gear you’re in, the speed you’re going and of course, stopping distances. Especially in wet and icy conditions, which the North Coast 500 frequently experiences.
Route 1 (Ring Road), Iceland
Route 1, which is more commonly known as the Ring Road in Iceland runs around the island. It links all the country’s major towns and cities. Depending on how long you have in Iceland, will depend on how much of the ring road you can cover during your stay. The most popular section of the ring road is the extremely popular Golden Circle which is in the south of the island. One of the key attractions on the route is the Þingvellir National Park. Here you can walk or even dive between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Gullfoss waterfall is another great stop off point. It’s one of the countries most visited waterfalls and most popular attractions. And not forgetting the geothermal area in Haukadalur, home to the Strokkur geyser which erupts roughly every 5–10 minutes and Geysir which very rarely erupts.
If time permits a visit to Vik with its black sand beaches, numerous puffins and a cute church is thoroughly recommended too. There are a number of attractions on this part of the ring road too including the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano (the one that exploded in 2010) and the Solheimasandur plane wreckage. The ring road is great to drive on. It’s a wide road with only one lane heading in each direction. On a number of occasions when we drove it, we did not see another car for long stretches of it. That’s not to say you should not adopt the necessary driving techniques for the time of year you visit and the conditions you are driving in. It’s important to note that during the winter months, the weather can be wet and icy. It’s also predominantly dark. As there’s only 4 -5 hours of daylight during deepest winter.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
As Italy is our favourite country a road trip had always been something we’d wanted to do. The toughest choice was deciding which part of the country we wanted to visit. Having visited the majority of larger cities, we opted for the Amalfi Coast along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. It is a 50km stretch of coastline which runs from Sorrento to Salerno in the Campania region. The road offers amazing scenery from the pastel coloured houses of Positano, the views from Praiano and (our personal favourite) Ravello, the beaches of Maiori and Vietri sul Mare and not forgetting the hustle and bustle of the coastal towns including Sorrento and Amalfi itself. Together with a range of other wonderful and unique sights and experiences, the Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and perfectly picturesque.
The Almafi Coast drive is considered to be particularly dangerous because of its sharp twists and turns. Together with the low barrier between the road and the sheer rock face below. Therefore it’s maybe not the road trip to take if you’re not a confident driver. The best time of year to take this road trip is summer because everything looks better in the sunshine, right? However when the sunshine comes out so do the tourists, all of whom are eager to take this road trip. Therefore the roads become busy and easily congested. Also because there are so many amazing things to see, some drivers have a habit of simply pulling over without warning. Therefore, it’s not just in winter weather conditions stopping distances need to be considered. Oh and don’t forget some emergency water. Just in case you get stuck in a traffic jam in the hot Italian sunshine.
Pacific Coast Highway, California, USA
Highway 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway had been on Mr ESLT’s bucket list for years. The only way he wanted to do it was in style. Therefore we hired a 5l Mustang convertible and hit the open road. We travelled from San Francisco to San Diego. It’s possible to do the journey in around 9 hours, but where’s the fun in that? Unless you have limited time, we’d recommend taking at least 4 or 5 days, more if you have the opportunity, to drive the route. There’s so much to see and do. The scenery along the coastal road is breathtaking, especially around Big Sur and Morro Bay, the towns of Monterey Bay, Cambria and Pismo Beach are well worth a visit and Los Angeles is a must. Even if just to say you’ve experienced it. There really is something for everyone along this coastal road.
Unfortunately when we visited the PCH had been hit by a landslide. 3/4 of a mile of road had been covered by rock, rubble and debris making it impassable. It was closed between Big Sur and Ragged Point. This is approximately 65 miles of road that we were unable to see. Instead, we had to double back and take an inland highway. It’s important to remember that landslides happen frequently on this stretch of road. So if you’re planning a road trip along the PCH, you may need to amend your route at any given point. Apart from the detour, the road was a great one to drive along, especially for us Brits who are used to driving on the other side of the road as it’s a single lane road in both directions with plenty of places to pull over. It also wasn’t too busy. But that could’ve been because of the landslide?
The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Another road trip that can be done in a day or so is the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. It can, in fact, be done in approximately 9 1/2 hours. However, we took our time and spent 5 days exploring a lot of what this famous road has to offer. We picked up our Kombi from Melbourne and headed down to the start of the Great Ocean Road, along it and then up to The Grampians National Park. The scenery in Australia is breathtaking, that’s a given but this route is simply something else. From our first stop in Torquay to our last one in Warrnambool, we were constantly pulling over and admiring the picturesque views and visiting some of the wonderful sites and attractions along the Great Ocean Road. Together with a bit of obligatory kangaroo and koala spotting of course.
The Great Ocean Road is a great road trip to take, especially if you love surfing or at least would like to try it. There are loads of wonderful beaches along the route including Bells Beach and Lorne. It is also a nature lovers dream come true from Erskine Falls to London Arch and of course the most famous attraction along the Great Ocean Road – the 12 Apostles. Even though the road is a coastal road, it does not have as many twists and turns as others. Therefore making the journey a pleasant one which even gives the driver the opportunity to admire the scenery around them. We noticed the bulk of the traffic was heading east to west like us. If you fancy a quieter drive, however with a more limited view because you’re on the other side of the road, you could make the journey from west to east.
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