Who doesn’t enjoy a good road trip? Setting off with a route in mind and stopping here and there to enjoy the nature and sights along the way, sometimes even taking a detour for a cool experience. I haven’t done a road trip for almost a year now, and I think it’s time I start planning my next one. So while doing some research on where to hit the road next, I’ve come up with some options that are making it hard to decide. So I’ve started my own road trip bucket list and I’m going to slowly work my way through them. Here are some incredible road trips I think everyone should have on their list.
But before you set off, you’ll need to make sure that you have all your road trip essentials. So let’s get started with a bit of dreaming!
Table of Contents
Drives for your road trip bucket list
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal route in the world that stretches 2,500km (1,553 miles) along breathtaking landscapes. It starts – or it ends depending on which direction you are travelling – in Malin Head, Donegal, the northernmost point in Ireland and famous for being the film location of Star Wars Episode VIII. Following the western coast of Ireland all the way south, it ends in Kinsale, a picturesque medieval town in Cork that is regarded as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland.
- Slieve League (or Sliabh Liag): The highest sea cliffs in Ireland and some of the highest in Europe.
- Cliffs of Moher: Ireland’s iconic cliffs and it’s most visited natural attraction.
- The Skelligs: Rocky islands jutting out from the sea, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Star Wars film location.
- Mirzen Head: Breathtaking cliffs in Ireland’s most southwesterly point.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road covers 285km (177 miles) along the south coast of the state of Victoria. It starts in Torquay, Victoria’s surfing capital, and it ends in Warrnambool. It’s not really that long a route and you could easily drive it in a few hours without stopping. But what a waste that would be. There is so much to see and do along the way that you’ll want to do it over a few days. It would also be the perfect way to start a longer road trip to the Red Centre of Australia on a camper van. Here is some inspiration to get you started.
- Bells Beach: One of Australia’s most renowned surfing beaches and home to the annual Rip Curl Pro event.
- Anglesea Golf Club: A great spot to watch kangaroos in the wild.
- Great Otway National Park: A national park dotted with waterfalls that include the famous Hopetoun Falls.
- The 12 Apostles: The famous limestone stacks and icons of this road trip.
Route 66, USA
As road trips go, Route 66 has to be the most iconic and possibly the most historic one, going as far as the times of the Great Depression. Although in those times they were not road trips of leisure but of need. It runs over 3,200km (2,000 miles) between Chicago and Los Angeles going east to west across the heart of the United States. Staying in classic motels and eating at old-school diners is part of the Americana experience here, so make sure you don’t miss out on that.
- Chicago architecture: Chicago has some of the most iconic buildings in America.
- Cadillac Ranch, Texas: An art installation that has become a must stop along the route.
- Santa Fe: With its Spanish-influenced old town and adobe architecture.
- Grand Canyon: A bit of a detour but worth the time and effort.
Ring Road, Iceland
If otherworldly nature and landscapes are your thing then this is the perfect road trip for you. At 1,332km (828 miles) long, the Ring Road, as its name states, circumnavigates the island of Iceland, connecting uninhabited areas. There are so many sights along this route, that the recommended minimum time for it is 10 days, although ideally you would have a few more days. The best time of the year to do it is April to September, as driving in Iceland in the winter can be pretty challenging. Here you can find some planning resources for your stops along the Ring Road.
- Waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss and Godafoss (amongst others).
- Jokulsarlon Iceberg Lake: A glacial lake in the southeast of the country.
- Diamond Beach: Black sand beach dotted with crystal clear chunks of ice.
- Vatnajokull Glacier: A glacier with accessible crystal ice caves.
Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam
This road trip is a little bit different, as it is ideally done on a motorbike rather than by car. The Loop is a three-day route that takes you through Ha Giang, the northernmost province, and one of the most beautiful areas in Vietnam. It is completely away from the tourist trail, so you will hardly find any visitors in this part of the country. The landscapes here are spectacular, and change at every turn in the road – from bamboo-lined valleys, to limestone outcrops to lifeless karstic landscapes. It’s guaranteed to leave you speechless.
- Quan Ba Pass (or Heaven’s Gate): Incredible views down into Tam Son with the road snaking ahead.
- H’Mong King’s Palace: One of the most impressive national monuments in the country.
- North Pole of Vietnam: The northernmost point in Vietnam. You can see China from the top of the Lung Cu Flag Tower.
- Ma Pi Leng Pass: One of the ‘four great mountain passes’ in Vietnam.
Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
Another Irish road trip, but this time in Northern Ireland, the Causeway Coastal Route follows the Atlantic coast between Belfast and Derry ~ Londonderry. This route goes along beautiful sandy beaches, fishing villages and dramatic cliffs with waves crashing on to them. Combine this with Irish culture and hospitality, and legends of a mystic land, and you’ll be travelling through a dream. It’s about 190km (120 miles) long and can easily be explored in four days, although there are plenty of points of interest along the way and slightly off route to keep you going for longer.
- Belfast: Titanic Belfast and St George’s Market are not to be missed.
- Dark Hedges: Iconic beech tree-lined road made famous by the TV series Game of Thrones.
- Giant’s Causeway: Geological wonder and Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site.
- Derry ~ Londonderry: So many reasons not to miss this historic walled city!
There are so many road trips that I would like to add to my bucket list, but I think the combined mileage of these routes is going to keep me going for a little while.
What’s on your road trip bucket list?
Let me know in the comments!
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Teresa is an award-winning travel blogger based in London. She’s on a mission to explore the world through responsible cultural and adventure travel, and through deeper, more meaningful local experiences. She’s a lover of adventure, the outdoors and everything food related, and she’s always looking for ways to make a positive impact through sustainable travel.