Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

The World's 10 Most Scenic Drives

Often becoming the most cherished experiences of a lifetime, road trips allow bonding between friends and loved ones, while testing and growing these relationships stronger. They can also provide a sense of peace for solitude seekers while being one-on-one with the remote natural vistas, always changing and so different from one’s regular surroundings, such as driving on these most scenic routes in the world.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Scenic drive through the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

Awarded with the prestigious spot on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1997, this coastal landscape on the formally known Strada Statale 163 is full of navigating twists and turns for some 80 km (50 miles). The natural vistas, the villages with palatial renaissance mansions in between and vistas of the expansive turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea of the Amalfi Coast make for, easily, the most scenic drive on the coastline of Europe. From the luscious greenery of the mountains to the white and beige buildings on cobblestoned streets will immerse one in all spectres of Italy's life from history and wilderness to the present-day modernity and style. 

Snaking along the Sorrento Peninsula's shoreline and cliffs, the breathtaking Estrada beginning from the atmospheric Salerno city is inclusive with a daredevil's cliff flanked by the towering rocky sides with the cerulean of the Mediterranean Sea below at different levels depending on the route's location. The drama of pastel Amalfi and Positano, among many others villages, set against the granite walls and the blue waters to the other side are so aesthetically pleasing that tears of pure happiness may be shed. 

Chapman’s Peak, South Africa

Chapman's Peak drive
Drive through the Chapman's Peak in South Africa.

Winding the Atlantic Coast between Noordhoek, a suburb of Cape Town, and Hout Bay on South Africa's south-western tip, the curvy 9 km or 5.6 mi route is the world's most spectacular marine drive. The 114 curves of the rocky skirts of the coastline, Chapman’s Peak, also known as "Chappies", offers the view of the abyss down a sheer drop of 593 m or 1768 feet to the Atlantic Ocean. With the wall of the rocky, skyward-reaching peaks to the other side, the stunning 180 degree views of South Africa’s most spectacular coastlines open up in exquisite scenery.

The route hugging the Atlantic coast acts as a connection between Cape Town and the South Peninsula with the contrasting sights along the way of the wide-open ocean and far-away mountains. Although a hair-raising drive, the feeling of being cradled by the nature's surrounding beauty along with the adrenaline rush is an experience for all senses that must be felt. One can absorb the spectacle fully during the designated stops, including picnic spots and whale-watching vantage points along this nail-biting range's edge journey.

Going to the Sun, Montana

going to the sun Montana
Going to the Sun road in Montana offers stunning views of the dramatic mountainous landscape.

Earning the rightful titles of being the National Historic Place since 1983, and the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (1985), this scenic iconic route, offering a good-vibe 50-mile (80 km) drive provides an epic surprise of unforgettable sights upon reaching the summit at over 6,600 feet. Dissecting the state's Glacial National Park from east to west, the byway takes one through some of the most mystic landscapes of the country including windswept alpine tundra, ancient glacial lakes, and dense cedar woods in the lowlands.

Going to the Sun drive also contains the Continental Divide landmark at 2025 meters (6,646 foot) high located atop the tundra-laden Logan Pass, which offers a marvellous glacial lake snug in the lowland. The lookout is, the country's best for clear mountain shots in the vicinity. The backdrop of the green slopes and snowy peaks seen from this National Historic Landmark are set against the crisp blue sky to the contrast of the yellow and brown terrain.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Great Ocean road Australia
The Great Ocean Road running along the coast in Australia.

By taking this "wildly" scenic drive one will have ample opportunities to encounter wild koalas and kangaroos along the 400-mile stretch. The marvellous limestone natural stacks known as the “12 Apostles” set just of shore is a popular stop along the way for some memorable shots. Set just minutes away in the Port Campbell National Park, one must also pay visit to the incredible gorge with pearlescent bay waters, home to Loch and Gorge, two yellow-washed cliffs with an intriguing story about them.

Other great offerings for memories along this route, most-posted on social media, in the world include the Teddy’s Lookout, the Gibson Steps, and the London Bridge, among countless of others. In fact, one is consistently accompanied by good weather with the good fortune to camp or lodge, by choice, amongst some of the most thought-after views in the southern hemisphere. There, the great deep of the blue ocean and the lusciously green and multi-colored vegetation of the region are guaranteed to leave an impact. 

Highway 1, California

Highway 1 california
Tourists enjoying the view of the ocean on Highway 1 California.

A road trip along Highway 1 in California, is perhaps one of the most known that one can take in the United States, and in the world, made famous by the isolated and mystic stretch of the Big Sur. Hugging the pacific Ocean for some 190 km (120 miles) to one side, and enveloped by the barren grey and brown mountains on the other, this narrow byway road has post-card worthy scenery at every turn. Stretching between Monterey and Morro Bay, in a dramatic embrace of California’s Central Coast over the crashing waves below, it is a 5-hour driveable trip year round, with incredible stopovers in between, including Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Malibu, among many others. 

Commencing just south of Los Angeles, and running almost the entire length of California's scenic coast, it ends in the north of the Mendocino County. Although the Monterey region is known for its overwhelming scenery, one shouldn't hold their breath too long as another climax awaits just south from there at the Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a seaside paradise. But, even then, comes, the rugged Big Sur coastline along with the breathtaking cliffs, towering redwoods, and the famous arch, the Bixby Creek Bridge. 

Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

Icefields Parkway
View of Athabasca Glacier at Columbia Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Park ,Canada.

Stringing for 232 km (144 miles) through the heart of the Rocky's, with incredible sights at each wheel turn, the highway travellers will find the need to take the trip again, finding something new to look at every time, including glaciers and waterfalls to pause at. Commonly known as the most beautiful province in Canada in its natural scenery offerings to the spectators, Alberta encompasses the much celebrated Icefields Parkway country route that connects Lake Louise to Jasper.  

During this, easily, one of the most scenic drives in the world one will encounter the national treasures of Canada, inclusive with some most thought-after destinations to the envy of all. From the vast wilderness sights, well taken care of, being part of the national Heritage sight, to cozy towns, the countless number of peaks, pristine lakes, ancient glaciers, forested regions, broad sweeping valleys, and wildlife that live there follow one along the way. The area is also a treasure cove for the history enthusiasts, including native sites and archaeological stops. 

Karakoram Highway, Pakistan/China

Karakoram Highway
Karakoram Highway in northern Pakistan.

This, one of the highest paved roads in the world, runs for 800 miles, commencing just north of Islamabad and following the old Silk Road, an ancient trade route. Winding the way around India, it ends up in China’s region Xinjiang, in the city of Kashgar. The elevation at the highest spot of the route nears 4,700 meters above the sea level to offer some of the most awe-inspiring vistas in the world on the drive up and upon the descend. To top it off, the most stunning mountain Himalayan ranges, as well as the Hindu Kush are also on the way.

Covering some of the most rugged terrain around, including a glacial landscape, and keeping, in mind ascend, it is no wonder that it took twenty years to establish the Karakoram Highway. Nevertheless, with the views being those of the glaciers within the Karakoram Mountains just before entering China, even the workers must have enjoyed the vistas, for the expanse of the sights that open up to tourists today, make it worth the tough ride. 

Route 1, Iceland

Route 1 Iceland
Route 1 in Iceland.

Completing full circle around this small island nation, without touching the north-most parts, which are the coldest and almost uninhabited, Route 1, runs for 800 miles altogether. The Highway is also worldly known as the Ring Road. Since Greenland is the only country above Iceland, not counting the northern parts of Canada, and featuring even colder conditions, this Icelandic route was as well-designed as it could have been in the present conditions. With that said, the scenery on display when taking this road, is, by some standards, the most dramatic in the world. 

The route begins in the nation's capital city, Reykjavik and runs in the eastern direction, for a bucket list road trip. Looping the country, one will witness alien-like landscapes, including the famous fjord, jaw-dropping jagged mountain peaks, as well as icy seas with miniscule fishing villages dotting the shores, and the wild reindeer feeding along forest lines. The once-in-a-lifetime landmarks such as the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, hot springs and the Lake Mývatn, as well as the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, don't even require swerving off the highway. 

Ruta 40, Argentina

Route 40 Argentina
The famous Ruta 40 road in Argentina.

As one of the longest road stretches in the world, Ruta 40 covers over 4800 km, 195 miles to be precise, as it winds its way alongside the Andes Mountains and at times dives into the range itself. Connecting 20 of the national parks in the country, the sights encountered on the highway are some of the most extraordinary on Earth, especially when meandering through the remote plains of Patagonia. Nearing Southern Patagonia, one can take in unforgettable views of the Fitzroy and Cerro Torres ranges in the he El Chalten vicinity.

Running almost the entire country length with the southernmost point at Cabo Vírgenes, the route continues north in the embrace of the Andes mountains to the west. The naturally wonderful remote crystal lakes are juxtaposed by the busy city centres, which also differ from the humble villages spotting the highway. Nearing the end, Abra del Acay, the highest point of the region at some 4,952 meters above the sea level leads to the final point of the journey at the town of La Quiaca, displaying a diverse landscape range from wetlands to grand glaciers.

Transfagarasan Highway, Romania

Transfagarasan Highway
Transfagarasan Highway in Romania.

Stretching for just over 150 km, the Transfargarasan Highway is a real treasure of Romania for all the adventure seekers and myth fanatics. This asphalt ribbon spotted with lookouts, is also known as one of the world's best driving roads, if taken out of need, with an added bonus of offering spectacular mountain vistas. Running through the exciting part of Romania's Transylvanian Alpes that is the "Dracula territory", Transfagarasan winds its way south from Cartisoara to Curtea de Arges, where zigzagging from Transylvania into Muntenia begins. 

Despite the mountainous way of countless twists and turns, it has no shortage of avid drivers, known as the most popular route in this part of the continent. With history and mystery of the country unfolding in front of one's eyes, there are many dark scary tunnels dotted along the route with the longest, continuing for 800 meters or 2,600 feet. One can stop at any moment, especially encouraged during the 70-mile mountain valley road that leads through the most scenic places of the Transylvanian Alpes. Nearing denouement, the highway climbs up 2,034 meters (6673 feet), to the Moldoveanu Peak, the highest in Romania.

It is important to commence a road trip with an open mind, allowing these incredible sights to soak in for the most benefit of the relaxation, the adrenaline rush, and the self-reflection working their magic on the mind and the body. Upon taking and completing one of these scenic drives, a sense of accomplishment is not comparable to the memories created and the change in attitude, while sharing the full experience simply through words will be impossible, as it can only be felt.


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