Nine of the world's best road trips - start your engines for these spectacular drives
'Remarkable Road Trips' is a new book featuring the world's top scenic drives. Here, its author, Colin Salter, picks nine of his favourites...
Short or long, town or country, mountain or coast, road trips have several advantages over other forms of travel.
You see far more of the land through which you drive, instead of flying far above it. You are in control of your route and can stop at will. And you can go a lot further than you can by bicycle or on foot.
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From hairpin bends in Italy and Norway to the ‘Road of Death’ in Bolivia and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, here are nine terrific (and sometimes terrifying) road trips for your travel diary.
1. Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
Length: 86km, 54 miles
Highlights: Minori, Ravello, Positano, the Sirenuses, Sorrento
Trip Notes: The Amalfi Coast Road traverses an area described by UNESCO as a classic Mediterranean landscape that offers outstanding scenery and displays diverse cultural and historical influences. It’s also great fun to drive.
2. The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
Length: 2,500km, 1,600 miles
Start: Kinsale, Co Cork
Finish: Inishowen Peninsula, Co Donegal (or vice versa)
Highlights: Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, Connemara, Westport, Ballyshannon, Fanad Peninsula.
Trip Notes: The Wild Atlantic Way celebrates the rugged extremities of Ireland’s Atlantic-carved west coast, a landscape as dramatic as any in Europe.
3. Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany
Length: 21km, 13 miles
Highlights: Blind corners, motor racing history
Trip notes: With a similar vintage to the Monaco GP circuit, there is no more historic race track existing in its original format than the exhilarating Nürburgring Nordschleife.
4. Monument Valley Arizona, USA
Length: 17 miles, 27.4km
Start/Finish: Oljato–Monument Valley
Highlights: A monumental photo opportunity.
Trip Notes: An ancient valley of towering red-rock pinnacles, isolated buttes, colossal mesas and wide open spaces, Monument Valley is one of the USA’s iconic landscapes, little changed in 3,000 years.
5. Ring Road, Iceland
Length: 1,300km, 800 miles
Highlights: Geysir, Gullfoss, Skógafoss, Svínafellsjökull, Jökulsárlón, Mývatn, Goðafoss, Akureyri.
Trip Notes: Iceland has a landscape like no other place in the world. Lying over an active fault in the earth’s crust, it is still being formed by volcanic movement — a true land of ice and fire.
6. The Road of Death, Bolivia
Length: 93km, 58 miles
Start: La Paz
Highlights: La Cumbre Pass, Río Elena, Mono Zip Line, Coroico.
Trip Notes: When the Inter-American Development Bank declared the North Yungas Road in Bolivia to be the most dangerous road in the world in 1995, it became a magnet for thrill-seekers. Some 25,000 people now travel its precipitous route every year — just for fun.
7. The Great Ocean Road, Australia
Length: 243km, 151 miles
Highlights: Anglesea, Split Point Lighthouse, Apollo Bay, Great Otway National Park, The Twelve Apostles, London Arch.
Trip Notes: A drive along the south coast of Victoria takes you through lush rainforest, across towering cliffs and along surfing beaches to die for. The Great Ocean Road is steeped in history too, and the fertile coastal land is rich in local produce.
8. North Coast 500, Scotland
Length: 500 miles, 800km
Start/Finish: Inverness Castle
Highlights: Bealach na Bà, Poolewe, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Ullapool, Ardvreck Castle, Lochinver, Inverpolly, Smoo Cave, Dornoch.
Trip Notes: The North Coast 500 is not a road trip for a driver unsure about the width of their vehicle or reversing. It follows the rugged coast of northern Scotland on roads which are often little wider than a single vehicle, with small fishing villages and ruined castles dotting the mountainous landscape along the route.
9. Trolls’ Path, Norway
Length: 55km, 34 miles
Highlights: Stigfossen waterfall, Trolls’ Ladder hairpin bends, Trollstigen Visitor Centre, Kongen and the Dronninga mountains.
Trip notes: According to Norse mythology, some species of trolls roam the countryside at night but turn into mountains as the sun rises. Perhaps it’s best to stick to daylight hours when driving Norway’s worryingly narrow Trolls’ Path.
NB: Remarkable Road Trips by Colin Salter is published by Pavilion Books, £25. This story originally appeared in The Irish Independent's Lineout magazine (Sept 2019).