With everything going on in the world right now it can seem like 2020 is canceled. I know I’ve made that statement at some point during quarantine.
With some countries slowly starting to open up, my prediction is that this summer through next summer will be the year of road trips! You heard it here first!! You’re about to see some of the best places to add to your road trip bucket list.
It’s no secret that life after quarantine will be different, and I’ve shared what to expect when travel opens again. With so many restrictions, there has never been a better time to discover our home countries or experience life on the road if you can travel. It really is a whole new way to discover the world around you, and for nature lovers, you can connect on a whole different level!
I asked some of my favourite explorers to share one of their favourite road trips to help show you how exciting eating, sleeping and living out of a car can be. Plus, you get to see some of the best road trips in the world with photos from some seriously talented ladies!
Best Road Trips in North America
Starting on the continent I call home with some amazing road trip options to add to your travel bucket list. I’m sharing some of my favorite road trip stops in North America as well as some amazing road trips I’ve added to my bucket list thanks to friends!
Utah Road Trip
Utah is an amazing state with so many options to see that you could easily spend weeks exploring! Sculpted by red rock and impressive nature, Utah’s landscape is the perfect backdrop for your next road trip adventure. I was blown away by the vast landscape, I couldn’t believe all of this is in one state!
Start off with sunrise at the Bonneville Salt Flats, located just off Exit 4 on Interstate 80 in Utah, just before reaching the Nevada state line. It’s approximately a 1.5 hour drive west of Salt Lake City.
It was an early wake-up call to get there in time for sunrise, but oh man was it ever worth it. We had the place completely to ourselves!
Next up, Park City is just a 40 minute drive from Salt Lake City. While it makes for an easy day trip from Salt Lake City, Park City is worth a few nights if you have the time.
In the winter, Park City is a popular ski destination. For a couple of weeks each winter, the city also becomes a popular spot for celebrities as new movies premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Moab has to be one of my favorite places in Utah and really deserves a few days of your time. It left me completely speechless, so make plenty of room in your schedule!
No trip to Utah is complete without visiting the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah. These parks are beautiful and diverse, making them the perfect Utah road trip stops.
As a bonus, they are laid out in a way that makes it easy to drive between them. Most of the parks can be explored in a day if needed, but you may want to spend more time in them if possible. The Mighty 5 must see list includes: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion
We stayed at Sorrel River Ranch in Moab to explore Arches and the surrounding area, and it’s definitely on the pricer side but really made our time memorable!
Cross Canada Road Trip
Did you know I used to live in Vancouver? And then I moved to Halifax? Yes coast to coast! haha. And even though I am Canadian, I still have so much of my home country to yet discover.
There is a big debate as in the US between East Coast vs West Coast. They say west is best, and although I would move back to Vancouver in a heartbeat, let me give you a few more reasons to consider exploring the entire country. As I said, there has never been a better time to discover my home county!
While the Trans-Canada Highway can take you across the entire country, the most beautiful part, or so I’ve heard, is the 900-kilometre stretch from Banff to Vancouver. This takes you through Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park of Canada, and finally into Vancouver.
I’ve only ever flown into Calgary, rented a car, and driven to Banff for a weekend but this drive sounds epic! The drive is worth it just to see Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Lake Moraine! The water flows down from the glaciers and I promise you’ve never seen more turquoise waters!
If you’re a foodie or love a good glass of wine, the Oakanagan Valley is a must-stop detour on your roadtrip! It’s a serious hot spot filled with award-winning wineries and farm-to-table restaurants. The valley also happens to be one of Canada’s warmest regions.
The Sea to Sky Highway was one of my favorite drives to take friends on when visiting me. It takes you from Vancouver to Whistler and is less than 2 hours. If it’s your first time you will want to take the passenger seat to fully appreciate the view.
Summer hikes or winter on the slopes, Whistler is incredible! And don’t leave without hopping on the peak to peak gondola! The view is EPIC!!
Visiting Niagara falls is something everyone must see in person (from the Canadian side)! Ask anyone, the Canadian side is a far better view! The beauty and power of the Falls is something you can’t capture through a photograph!
Best time to go: Summer is great but also busy. May to June is also great. Either way, this is one of the best things to do in Ontario.
Cabot Trail is a road trip I took when I lived in Halifax. This is such an incredible drive, especially in the fall with the change of leaves! Some say this drive resembles the coastline of the rolling hills in Scotland.
Newfoundland is known for its raw natural beauty, charismatic fishing towns, and vivacious locals! I’ve been dying to experience it in the summertime with its vast greenery.
Prepare yourself for a screech ceremony, an experience you’ll never forget. Known to Newfoundlanders as a “come from away” or “mainlander”, it requires you to take a shot of screech (a Newfoundland rum) and kiss a cod. It’s true!
Make sure to show my brother some love on Instagram here!
Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
One of my favorite road trips ever was our trip down to Big Sur from San Fransisco! Here are my three must see stops!!!
First stop on our list of places to visit was the Garrapata State Beach and Bixby Creek Bridge. You know that amazing theme intro to the show Big Little Lies where Michael Kiwanuka’s voice gives you goosebumps while singing ‘Cold Little Heart’? —all while showing you footage of waves crashing and cars driving over this beautiful bridge?? Yeah, that’s where we were-and it’s just as beautiful in real life!!
For lunch we stopped at my favorite restaurant in Big Sur, Nepenthe. Nepenthe means “elixir of all sorrows” … and boy does that describe this magical place. It’s perched atop the most beautiful lookout point and the sunsets here are to die for. There’s a super fun gift shop and the food is awesome too! Try the burger with their special “Ambrosia” sauce!
Last on the schedule- we did some light hiking to get to this beautiful outlook over the McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. I cannot believe how insanely BLUE that water is in Cali! It’s TROPICAL! Insane!
Road to Hana
Maui’s Road to Hana is one of my favorite road trips in the world – I even did it two years in a row because I didn’t get enough the first time! If you have the time, I would highly advise to spend at least one night in Hana, so you can take your time and enjoy the town and the beaches instead of rushing through everything.
There is only one high-end hotel in Hana, Travaasa, which runs at least $500/night. However there are many local guest houses as well for a much more affordable experience.
I have done the entire drive in one day, and also spent a couple of nights in Hana, and I really enjoyed the relaxed, hippy vibes of Hana town and the chance to not just fly through every stop, but relax and enjoy them.
If you don’t have the time to spend the night and are doing the entire trip in one day, the key is to do it in reverse. Leave early in the morning, and drive all the way to the farthest point in Hana (about 2 – 2 1/2 hours straight through). Then make all of your stops heading back towards central Maui. This way lets you avoid some of the traffic and the standard tourist patterns for a less crowded experience.
Can’t Miss Stops on the Road to Hana
Wai’anapanapa State Park – Black Sand Beach: one of the most popular stops but a truly beautiful beach.
Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach: A short hike down to this cove will take you to one of the most vibrant red sand beaches in the world.
Wailua Waterfall: This one is easily visible from the road and one of the largest waterfalls on the Road to Hana. This is very easy to walk to.
Hana food trucks: in Hana town is a great collection of local food trucks with everything from Poke to BBQ to thai food.
Anywhere you can park along the road: Some of our favorite stops have been waterfalls and swimming holes we never even found the name of. Pull the car over in a few places that look interesting and explore!
Skip – Twin Falls: This is one of the first major stops on the Road to Hana, is usually very crowded, and the main waterfall is often closed.
Colorado Road Trip
Colorado is perhaps one of the most epic places to take a road trip. One day, you can explore towering sand dunes, the next day you’re walking alongside an alpine lake 7,040 feet above sea level and the next you’re looking at 300 million year old sandstone cliffs.
I don’t need to tell you, but I will remind you, Colorado is indescribably beautiful! Here are some of my favorite summer road trip stops in Colorado:
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Go Glamping in Westcliffe
- Garden of the Gods
- Hanging Lake Hike
- Vail Mountain Hikes
- Boulder + Chautauqua Park (Royal Arch Hike and 3rd Flat Iron Loop)
- Rocky Mountain National Park + the Emerald Lake Hike
- Catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Drive up Mt. Evans, one of Colorado’s 58 14’ers!
I recommend spending about 10-14 days (or more) on this road trip. Especially if you want to see and do all of the above!
I prefer the slower pace and really immersing myself in the destination, and this is the perfect place to do that. No matter the amount of time you spend here, you can’t go wrong planning a summer road trip through Colorado!
US National Parks Road Trip
The US has so many amazing national parks that are perfect for US road trip itineraries. From the Mighty 5 of Utah to road tripping through California, you can find amazing national parks throughout the country.
If you are looking for the top national parks to add to your bucket list, check these out:
- Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
- Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
- Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska
- Denali National Park in Alaska
- Mount Ranier National Park in Washington
You can get the full list of US national parks ranked best to worst here.
Alaska in the summer makes for a great state to explore national parks. With 3 of the top 5 in Alaska, there are gorgeous landscapes for days. Plus, Alaska is a great state for social distancing!
In fact, three Alaska national parks made the list of least crowded national parks as well: Lake Clark National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park, and Kobuk Valley National Park.
There are also three national parks in Alaska that made the list of underrated national parks to add to your bucket list: Lake Clark National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
If you are looking for plenty of space to explore, epic landscapes, and gorgeous views for days, start planning a road trip to Alaska. And if you are looking for somewhere closer to home in the continental US to explore, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary!
Best Road Trips in Europe
If you are looking for some road trips in Europe to explore this summer, I’ve got you covered. Some of my friends pitched in their favorite road trip destinations in Europe, and I’m excited to be able to get back to Europe.
I was planning to do an Italy road trip and spend the summer in Europe this year, but that didn’t work out. Instead, I’m looking at these road trips and dreaming of one day!
Italy Road Trip
Italy is a gorgeous country to explore no matter how you see it. Plus, with Instagrammable places like Rome, Venice, the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre and so much more, you’ve got lots of gorgeous backdrops for photos.
One of the places I was planning to go this year is Italy for a road trip. While it’s been pushed back, Nicole is giving me so much inspo for Italy for when I go!
If you are planning to visit the Amalfi coast, you can do some day trips to make it into a road trip. Many of these places are pretty close together, making it convenient for either option.
If you head to the Amalfi Coast, don’t miss:
- Positano: While it is becoming more and more crowded, it is still a must visit at least once in your lifetime
- Praiano: Make sure to visit this small town next to Positano that is still relatively undiscovered (shhh!)
- Amalfi: Great for a day trip or a quick stop since you can see the town in a few hours
- Ravello: This is a must stop as it is a small, charming town in the mountains with amazing coastal views
- Gulf of Naples: No trip to Amalfi is complete without a stop in Capri, Ischia and/or Procida, the gorgeous islands of the Amalfi Coast
Italy is so picturesque that it is perfect for a road trip, and I know where I’m headed as soon as I can get there!
Greece Road Trip
My favorite road trip in Greece is from Athens to Pelion! Its pretty much a straight drive all the way up to Volos until you finally hit the mountains which take you around the whole of the Pelion peninsula!
It takes approximately 5 hours from Athens to Volos but really feels like nothing. I would spend a minimum of 4 to 5 days on this road trip as there is a lot to see!
There are a couple of stops on the way that you can make if you have a little time, one being Thessaloniki and the other being Volos. Thessaloniki is the second largest city on the Greek mainland, great for shopping and site seeing. Volos is at the base of the Pelion peninsula and has the best seafood. It also makes for a good rest point before you hit the crazy windy roads up ahead.
The amazing thing about Pelion is that you can have any kind of holiday you desire: a beach vacation, a mountain adventure, a camping trip or a site seeing trip! Each little village has a very different feel and is so easy to get accommodation on a whim even in the height of the summer!
My favorite villages to visit are:
- Makrinitsa – A mountain village with stunning architecture and views.
- Agios Ioannis – A beach town great for families and camping!
- Tsagarada – My personal favorite, a mountain town that you would imagine fairies and unicorns come from.
- Milina – On the other side of the peninsula another more vast beach town which various camping spots and stunning beaches.
- Damouchari – Where Mamma Mia was filmed a super quaint little nook village right on the stunning sea.
Its funny because the Greeks see Pelion as a winter resort because of the mountains but the summer there is absolutely magical.
If you want to see more of Greece consider visiting Symi for a more local less traveled experience!
Iceland Road Trip
Iceland is a perfect place for both road trips and social distancing. If you have a week or so, you can explore Ring Road, but the best time to go for a road trip like this is in the summer.
In the winter, many of the roads shut down for safety reasons, so you can see more of Iceland in the summer (plus, you get 24 hours of daylight!). However, if you want to see the Northern Lights, make sure to go in the winter.
While we did Ring Road in 6 days, it would have been easier if we had 7 to 10 days to see everything. We ended up having a skip a few spots, especially after our car broke down while we were driving at 2 a.m. in the middle of nowhere.
The best part about Iceland is there is no traffic. Once you get away from the popular areas along the southern coast, there really aren’t many people either. The problem? There also are very few gas stations and restaurants, so fill up (your car and your stomach) when you can!
Make sure to stop at these places on your Ring Road road trip:
- Golden Circle: It’s a must and popular for a reason, but don’t stay long.
- Haifoss: This one is off the beaten path but worth every second of the bumpy car ride.
- Aldeyjarfoss: This waterfall is also off the beaten path but known for the little pool across from it – be careful though, the road can be closed some parts of the year.
- Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui: These two waterfalls are located just steps apart, but everyone visits Seljalandsfoss because you can walk behind the waterfall. Make sure to wear waterproof clothes and shoes for both of these!
- Skogafoss: Popular with the tours, but worth a stop and easy to access from the road
- Solheimsandur plane wreck: An easy hike to the plane wreck on the black sand beach makes for a unique stop and photos on your trip
- Dyrholaey: The best place to find puffins in summer and close to the basalt columns on Reynifsjara beach
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach: This one might be better in winter when Diamond Beach has more “diamonds”, but it still is beautiful in summer as well
- Dettifoss & Selfoss: Two waterfalls again located close together with a short hike between them; there is one side for tour buses (not as good) and one side for cars (much better)
- Blue Lagoon: I mean, you have to, right? We didn’t pay to go in and saw the free part of the Blue Lagoon in the middle of the night instead since it was closed.
There are quite a few more places to stop along Ring Road on your Iceland road trip, but these were some of our favorites.
Make sure to check out Christine’s full Iceland Ring Road itinerary and to check out her Instagram as well. You can also find my 10 day Iceland itinerary for southern Iceland here.
Best Road Trips in the World Outside of Europe & North America
While the majority of my blog readers are in Europe and North America, there are also quite a few other places for amazing road trips. Even if you can’t travel to these places now, add them to your bucket list for when we can travel again!
Oman Road Trip
My most recent road trip and one of my last destinations of 2019 was Oman. And Oh Man, Oman will blow your socks off! I spent 6 days on the road in Oman but I would suggest about 10 days so you don’t need to rush through and really get to discover every destination.
Oman borders the United Arab Emirates and is only a 1-hour flight from Dubai. Oman has been voted as one of the cleanest and safest countries in the world.
Daymaniyat Islands are the most surprising and and by far my favourite part of Oman! I would have never expected for it to compete with the turquoise waters of Tahiti!
It was some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen! If you have a little room in the budget I would suggest renting a private boat so you can spend all day there.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is so grand, both in beauty and in size. Visitors are asked to dress modestly to respect the places of worship. For women, that requires you to cover your hair with a scarf and wear clothing that covers your wrists and ankles.
Located just a 1.5-hour drive from the capital Muscat, is the first pitstop you cannot miss! Located just 20 minutes apart you can definitely hit Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole in the same day! Make sure to pack a swimsuit and take a dive in the emerald-colored water.
To avoid the midday heat, getting there in the morning would be the best option. If you’re going for photos consider hitting Wadi Shab first for soft morning light and head to the Sinkhole in the afternoon when the light hits the water.
One of the most unique experiences is spending a night at 1000 Nights Camp – wow! We were blown away by the design and landscape – think Moroccan glamping! To get there you’ll need to drive 40KM through the dunes, just make sure you deflate the PSI in your tires. This prevents you from getting stuck in the sand – very important!
For a complete itinerary check out my full Oman blog post detailing our entire drive!
Western Australia Road Trip
Vast open landscapes, raw natural beauty, red dirt roads and stunning turquoise waters – Western Australia is like no where else in the world! This is one of the best road trips I’ve ever taken & I’m telling you that you won’t regret it.
It’s best to fly into Perth (the world’s most isolated city) before hooking it south toward your final destination – ESPERANCE. You’ll spend majority of your time in this region, exploring some of the most pristine beaches in the world, including Lucky Bay (which boats the whitest sand on earth & its famous kangaroos). The overall trip is going to require at least 2 weeks, but you could easily spend months.
Before you leave Perth, I’d recommend at least 2 nights in the trendy surf suburbs of Cottesloe or Fremantle and a visit to the not-to-be-missed Rottnest Island. You can do this trip in a day via ferry, just make sure you go over on the first & come back on the last so you have ample time to swim with the local sea lions & bike your way from pristine beach to pristine beach.
Once you’re done soaking up the sunshine of the city, you’ll be ready to get on the road! If you drive with rest stops only, the trip will take approx 11 hours, but there are amazing places to stop along the way.
I suggest a stop first in the Margaret River – home to some of Australia’s best wine, beach breaks and breweries! Try to spend 2 nights if you can (but one will be enough, just don’t miss it!) ~ there are quite a few towns, but if it were me, I love Dunsborough.
Take off early from ‘Margs’ & arrive in Albany for a delish vegan breakfast, before continuing South to Two Peoples Bay. This beach is super well known for its two massive boulders in the middle of a remote beach (don’t miss this if you have a drone).
Now you’re on the home stretch and you are paradise bound. Esperance is only a few more hours on, and you’re about to have your mind blown.
If you’re staying in town, don’t even bother with anything other than Fi’s Esperance Chalet Village. We stayed 5 nights here and explored beaches on the outskirts of town including West Beach, Twilight Beach and Blue Haven.
But to be honest, it’s time to go full outback and get the true Aussie roadie experience, swag and all. You’ll probably need another week in the National Park.
It’s best to split your time between Lucky Bay & The Duke of Orleans camp grounds. They are about 1.5 hours apart, and I’ve strategically selected these points for the ample beaches, walks & beauty surrounding each of them. Both grounds require you to be self sufficient *and definitely book ahead* (however lucky Bay has a cute little pop up cafe weekdays where you can grab your morning brew).
Lucky Bay is where you’ll find some new kangaroo mates. It’s best to hang with them at dusk and dawn. This bay is jaw droppingly unbelievable and has maybe the bluest water I have ever seen (yes, bluer than the Maldives).
The Duke of Orleans, aka ‘The Duke’, is equally as stunning, a little smaller and also a little less touristy. Take a surfboard because there is a beautiful little peeling wave that you’ll have the time of your life on if the surf’s up. However, most of the year its pretty sheltered and you’ll be swimming in a shallow lagoon.
Use any free time to just get lost in the National Park, take those unmarked dirt roads and see where they take you. This is a trip of pure adventure and you’ll get exactly as much out of it as you let it.
Nature is king out here & all that’s left to offer is for me to implore you to tackle this trip with good vibes & an open mind. You’ll be blown away by the natural beauty & you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
Check out Sarah’s Instagram here!
New Zealand Road Trip
If New Zealand’s South Island isn’t on your road trip bucket list, then it should be now! You can spend a week of absolute freedom, traveling around in a camper van, camping beside lakes, hiking around snow capped mountains, dancing through fields of Lupins, bathing in the most incredibly scenic hot baths, and so much more!
New Zealand is one the most breathtaking places on earth – it will leave you speechless. Summer months are recommended if wanting to travel in a camper van as you have optimum 15 hours of daylight, lupins are fully blooming, weather is warm yet, mountain tops are still snow capped. An epic combination really!
Must see spots on your one week roadtrip include:
- Lake Tekapo, where Lupins are usually blooming
- Luke Pukaki
- Mt Cook / Hooker Valley Trail
- Wanaka / Blue Pools Track
- Milford Sound
- Queenstown / Onsen hot pools
Namibia Road Trip
In December 2019, I visited Namibia for a total of 18 days. It went down in my travel history as one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited because of how unique and different each landscape was!
Namibia is a larger country than you might think, and each landmark or area is quite far from each other which makes road trips in Namibia quite common. We rented a 4X4 AWD (often you’ll hit unpaved roads, so this is really important!) and hit the road for 10 days.
I think 10 days gave us enough time in each place but we could’ve done longer, maybe 2 weeks, and gone more north. Keep in mind you’ll probably do at least a 5 to 8 hours of driving in between towns.
Some of my favorite spots to see were the famous abandoned town of Kolmanskop, Sossusvlei for a hot air balloon ride in the early morning, Deadvlei and Sandwich Harbour where the ocean meets large sand dunes (GO WITH A GUIDE! We went with @travel_uncharted).
What’s on Your Road Trip Bucket List?
Now that you’ve seen some of the best road trips in the world, what road trips are on your road trip bucket list? I know I’m planning some road trips soon, and I’m always looking for more ideas.
Let me know below of some other amazing road trip options and which ones of these you have done or want to do sometime soon!
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