The 10 most beautiful road trips in the world
23 May 2018 - Destinations
Say farewell to cold hands, runny nose, vitamin D deficiency and open fires, spring is reappearing from the shadows with a particular desire for freedom. Take the road, the air and your time with all our tips for the most beautiful road trips.
1/ The mythical road trip: the route 66, United States.
THE most famous route in the United States, sung by Nat King Cole in 1946 then the Rolling Stones in 1964, is ranked at the top of the Richter scale for travel lovers riding a bicycle or driving a car. Called the Mother Road by the writer John Steinbeck, it's the first trans-continental paved road of the country. Connecting Chicago to Los Angeles over more than 2400 miles, it is neglected today by American in favor of faster roads but nevertheless it remains mythical and very instagrammable thanks to its abandoned motels and service stations.
Not to be missed: the Roy's Café in Amboy, California, the Cadillac Ranch sculptures in Amarillo, Texas.
To read: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Your road trip's soundtrack: Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, Nancy Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, they all sung about the route 66.
2/ The lunar road trip: the Ring Road (route 1), Iceland.
If you time is limited, a road trip along principal road The Ring Road in Iceland is the destination to prioritize. 1332 kilometers long, the road goes all around the island offering a range of mesmerizing landscapes. Craters, fjords, waterfalls, glaciers and geysers follow one another. An unforgettable road trip.
Not to be missed: a dive in the Blue Lagoon, the Jökulsárlón glaciers, the Skaftafell national park, the Mývatn lake in one of the most beautiful region of Iceland.
To read: a cold crime novel of the Icelandic celebrity of the genre, Arnaldur Indridason.
Your road trip's soundtrack: Björk of course.
3/ The historical road trip: the Silk Road, Central Asia.
Welcome on the road of all fantasies, the road of caravanserais and amazing magical landscapes of Central Asia. More than 7000 kilometers separate both ends, from Turkey to China. But some countries and some borders that the famous road crosses have to be avoided for security purposes. However, going through a part of the route in Uzbekistan or in China is more than a simple trip but it's a thrilling dive across many centuries of culture, tradition and religion.
Not to be missed: the city of Samarkand and the city of Boukhara, listed in the UNESCO world heritage, the Kyzylkoum desert in Uzbekistan. The Mogao caves, the Singing Sand dunes, the town of Xi’an and the clay army in China.
To read: Seta from Alessandro Barrico
Your road trip's soundtrack: the timing is perfect to discover the best uzbek music ambassador, Monajat Yulchieva.
4/ The romantic road trip: the Almafi Coast, Italy.
The ideal road trip to take your time, smell the Italian air hair in the wind, stop in small hostels and eat delicious pasta e vino by the side of the road in front of the azure sea. Leave from Naples in a 500 Fiat or in an old Vespa and reach Sorrento. Change the setting, take a boat and be love's young dream in Capri. Continue until reaching Positano and take the winding road that links it to Vietri sul Mare continuing down to the Bay of Salerno. Is it necessary to specify that the whole coast is listed in the UNESCO world heritage since 1997?
Not to be missed: Capri Island; the exquisite Parco dei Principi hotel in Sorrento, the towns of Ravello and Positano, the Pompéi ruins.
To read: the Neapolitan novel in a 4 part series My brilliant friend by Elena Ferrante.
Your road trip's soundtrack: music composed by Georges Delerue for the most beautiful movie of all times, "Contempt", filmed in Capri by Jean-Luc Godard.
5/ The political road trip: la ruta 40, Argentina.
If you have a revolutionary spirit and a venturesome heart, put your tires in the ones of Ernesto Che Guevara who, at 23 and before joining the Castro revolution in Cuba, travelled through a large part of the Andes in a motorcycle. A nine month trip and thousands of kilometers amongst which, the route 40 in Argentina, one of the most famous in the country. For over 5000 kilometers, you will go along sumptuous landscape along the Andean Mountains, from La Quiaca until Patagonia.
Not to be missed: the Puna region, the Laguna Brava and the Quebrada de Humahuaca, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To read: The Book of Sand of the Argentinian master of magic realism Jorge Luis Borges.
Your road trip's soundtrack: the killer tango "Por una cabeza" by Carlos Gardel.
6/ The literary road trip: the Pacific Coast Highway, California, United States.
Follow the steps of Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac or of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre who before you were subdued (and inspired) by the beauty of the landscapes along this little road that connects Los Angeles to San Francisco. It's no coincidence that it's called the "California Dream Road".
Not to be missed: Big on its dramatic landscapes, the Henry Miller Library, have coffee with a view at the Nepenthe restaurant, a night at the Post Ranch Inn and the city of Monterey.
To read: Big Sur by Kerouac
Your road trip's soundtrack: the Californian surf rock of Jack Johnson.
7/ The off-road road trip: the Garden Route, South Africa.
From Cape Town, follow the scenic route called "The Garden Route" and get ready to discover an unknown part of South Africa. Small coastal villages, dreamy wild beaches, successive luxurious nature and natural parks until Hermanus where you can observe whales. Won over by the exhilaration of the road? Continue until Port Elizabeth, 700 km further, without hesitating to stop in one of the most famous surf spots in the world Jeffreys Bay.
Not to be missed: Table Mountain at the Cape, the Ado national park where you can watch the Big Fives and the De Hoop reserve.
To read: Zulu by Caryl Ferey, a must read book on South Africa, rewarded several times.
Your road trip's soundtrack: Die Antwoord, the hip hop group of the moment, natives of the Cape.
8/ The end of the world road trip: the Great Ocean Road, Australia.
We don't introduce the Great Ocean Road anymore! Its reputation and its success makes it one of the most desirable route in the world. And the old VW police vans in perfect shape packed with Australian surfers and their hair faded by the sun and the sea are not responsible at all. Land in Melbourne then rent a car (or a police van), towards the town of Torquay where the Great Ocean Road and its 250 kilometers starts. The trip's highlight is Port Campbell with its famous twelve Apostles. The road trip to do at least once in a lifetime!
Not to be missed: The Kenett River and its koalas colony, a golf course with kangaroos at the Anglesea Golf Club (yes, you read this right!), the Twelve Apostles.
To read: Kangaroo by D.H. Laurence for a throwback to the Australian 30s.
Your road trip's soundtrack: any Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums. Yes, one of the last Australian rock Gods.
9/ The road trip: the trans-Siberian, Russia.
One of the longest roads in the world, in the top 3 of the mythical roads with the road 66 and the Pan American (connecting Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego). On the agenda: 11,000 kilometers and a sabbatical of several weeks if you want to take your time exploring. The trip won't be easy between the pitiful state of the roads and crazy traffic in certain cities (you can also choose to take the train) but the vastness of the steppe, the taiga, the dry plains and the sensation of touching the Slavic soul is worth it.
No to be missed: the cities of Kazan and Souzdal, the island of Olkhon on the Baïkal lake, Siberia.
To read: Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne, a classic from the classics, a century and a half old book on this famous road.
Your road trip's soundtrack: to be in challenges with the landscapes, listen to Rachmaninov.
10/ The desertic road trip: the Bardenas Reales, Spain.
There is a place unknown by most people, that insiders exchange secretly: the Bardenas desert. Dry, hostile but in the heart of Spain, the Bardenas Reales is the place where Don Quichotte meets Sergio Leone. The feeling that you are deep in the American Far West just a few kilometers from France. Change of scenery guaranteed!
Not to be missed: a timeless stay in the extraordinary Aire de Bardenas hotel.
To read: Don Quichotte of course (the famous windmills are only 500 kilometers away)
Your trip's soundtrack: Ennio Morricone's biggest hits for a western atmosphere.