There is something about the open road, a full tank of gas and the freedom to drive wherever you want that is enduringly attractive to anyone with a taste for adventure. In many cases, a road trip is not just a journey from one geographic location to the other; it is a spiritual journey that must be completed, signifying the completion of a circle both physically and metaphorically.
The United States and Europe are home to some of the most spectacular roads anywhere in the world. Getting from A to B has never been so much fun when you have miles of open road ahead of you and gorgeous scenery whichever way you look. If you have got itchy feet and are in search of a fantastic road trip to get your teeth into this summer, this is the post for you. Read on to find out our definitive list of the best road trips on both sides of the Atlantic.
- Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria
Winding its way through the Hohe Tauern National Park, the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse has long drawn automobile and motorcycle enthusiasts for its exciting bends. Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse translates as ‘High Alpine Road’ in English, but the name does not really do the route justice. Once you get up there, your breath will be taken away by the endless peaks that sprawl for miles above the Salzburg Valley.
Note: If you are planning a trip to Europe in 2021, you should be aware that the process of obtaining a visa for US citizens is set to change as of January next year under the new ETIAS visa waiver scheme. If you want to know whether you qualify, check out this informative ETIAS guide today.
- Route 66
In the collective American cultural imagination, Route 66 is much more than simply a highway; it is a legendary road which is symbolic of some ineffable facet of US national identity. Otherwise known as the “Mother Road” or “Main Street of America”, Route 66 stretches all the way from Lake Michigan to Los Angeles. Along the way, you will stop off at America’s oldest church and plenty of abandoned ghost towns.
Note: As with any time you visit the United States, you will need to apply for an ESTA visa prior to setting off. If you do not, you will find yourself in a spot of hot water with immigration officials when you touch down.
- Ring of Kerry, Ireland
As anyone who has ever been there will tell you, the west of Ireland is one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes that you will find anywhere. The best way to see it is undoubtedly to make a road trip around the Ring of Kerry, the famous driving route that encircles Ireland’s Iveragh peninsula. You will pass through the fantastic scenery of the Killarney National Park and be awe-struck by the lakes and verdant uplands that lie beneath the menacing Macgillicuddy’s Reeks mountain range.
- Great River Road
The waters of the mighty Mississippi are often thought of as the lifeblood of the North American continent. The best way to see it in all its majesty as it passes through no fewer than ten states is to take a road trip along the hallowed Great River Road. Running from Minnesota in the north all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana in the south, the route offers a glimpse into the unique culture of the peoples that have dwelled next to the river for generations.
- Trollstigen, Norway
The west of Norway hosts some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. If you want to see it by car, you will not go far wrong by starting with Trollstigen (“Troll’s Ladder” in English). As you travel along its endless hairpin bends carved into steep valley inclines, you will come across stunning waterfalls and jaw-dropping views of Norway’s majestic landscape. Perhaps the best thing about the route is the splendid isolation that you will find as you travel into the deserted Nordic inland paradise of a land where Vikings not long ago abounded.
The road trips described above were selected from a vast range of possible options that could have also made the cut. If you want other ideas of where you could go, why not look up the Pacific Coast Highway in California, the Loneliest Road in the US Midwest, the Verdon Gorge circuit in Southern France or the Transfagarasan in Romania?