9 Most Underrated Road Trips in the World

If you’re a road trip enthusiast, then you’ve likely already explored the most popular routes, such as Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway, but what about the less-traveled roads? Whether it’s dangerous road conditions or just a really well-kept secret, there are countless spectacular road trips around the world that don’t bring huge crowds. Adventure awaits you on your next vacation through the most underrated road trips in the world.

Montana Highway 212 to Lamar Valley, United States

Highway 212, also known as the Beartooth Highway mountain pass in Wyoming and Montana. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for wildlife, a road trip through Lamar Valley won’t disappoint. The valley is home to many animals, including; bears, bison, wolves, pronghorns, badgers, bald eagles, osprey, deer, elk, and coyotes. On the other side of Lamar Valley is Yellowstone National Park.

If you start in Minneapolis, it’s a couple of days’ drive to Lamar Valley, and if you want to take in the sights along the way, you may want to plan a whole week. Be sure to plan your drive through the valley during the early morning hours for the best wildlife sightings. Pack your binoculars; pullouts line the road for viewing.

The section from Red Lodge to Cooke City, called the Beartooth Highway, is one of the most winding mountain roads on this list and is only open to travelers from May to September.

Foothills Parkway, United States

Foothills Parkway in Smoky Mountains. Image credit Djaustin88 via Shutterstock

Built as a scenic route through Tennesse’s Great Smokey Mountain National Park with stunning views of the Great Smokey Mountains and Cumberland Mountains, is the Foothills Parkway. Even though the road project started in 1944, it’s still under construction with only two stretches of the road accessible to the public.

The longer route is 33 miles, connecting US 129 and US 321. The parkway doesn’t take long to drive, but be sure to stop at the look-outs along the way and enjoy the scenery. With the changing color of the leaves, it’s an absolutely stunning drive in the fall months.

Crowsnest Highway, Canada

Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass, Canada Image credit: Christian Wadstein via Unsplash

If you’re doing a road trip across Canada, you’ll likely choose the Trans Canada Highway which runs from the Pacific Coast on the west to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Branching off from the main highway, however, are many side roads and highways that traverse some of the most scenic areas of Canada. One of those highways is the Crowsnest Highway, spanning the southern portion of both provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

The drive will take you through winding mountain roads with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. This is a route best traveled in the summer months, as you must have winter tires from October to April and the road is frequently closed during severe weather.

Darling River Run, Australia

Darling River Australia
Darling River, Australia Image credit: Antonov14 via Creative Commons

Looking for an outback adventure where there’s no off-roading? If you’re in Australia and want an underrated trip, you have to travel the Darling River Run. It runs along the third-largest river in Australia, the Darling River.

If you want a leisurely road trip, it will take you a minimum of four days to drive the full route which takes you through multiple national parks. At the end of the road is the river-port of Wentworth which is well worth a visit for the wine tours, waterfalls, and water skiing.

Timmelsjoch Alpine Pass, Austria

Ötztal Alps
Ötztal Alps, Italy Image credit: Michal Pech via Unsplash

If you ever find yourself in Austria or Italy, driving the Timmelsjoch Alpine pass is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to traverse the high Alpine Mountains between Austria and Italy. The Timmelsjoch Alpine pass is the highest pass of the Otztal Alps and is only open from June to October. 

This one definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, with narrow lanes and hairpin twists and turns. For the best road conditions, start in Austria off of the Inntal Autobahn A12.

The Austrian side is wider and better maintained, but there is a small toll. The drive should only take a couple of hours, and if you drive into Italy, be sure to check out the South Tyrol vineyards.

The Adriatic Highway, Croatia

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro Image credit: Faruk Kaymak via Unsplash

The Adriatic Highway, part of the European route E65, is a scenic route along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. This is a road trip you will want to spread out over a few days, or maybe even a week to take in all the beauty of the surrounding landscape. This long highway passes through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, but the best views and road conditions are through Croatia.

While many of the other road trips on this list take you through mountain ranges, this road promises endless views of the open sea. It can be a bit of a treacherous drive in sections, so take your time, as the road winds along cliffs with sheer drops to the ocean below.

Suhua Highway, Taiwan

Suhua Highway, Taiwan
Suhua Highway, Taiwan Image credit: Fred Hsu via Creative Commons

Taiwan is a stunning country to explore, but it is often lower on the list of Asian countries for tourists to visit. The Suhua Highway is one of the most scenic routes in Asia, running along Taiwan’s east coast.

The ocean-side drive takes two to three hours and provides amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Despite its breathtaking scenery, the road is dangerous to drive due to tight turns and falling rocks. June through August are usually the worst months for typhoons and earthquakes, so it’s best to plan this trip around the weather.

Araku Valley, India

Andra Pradesh, India
Andra Pradesh, India Image credit: babusyams via Pixabay

For a nature lover’s adventure, head to Araku Valley in India, with rushing streams, spectacular waterfalls, picturesque forests, and endless coffee plantations. You can drive straight through the valley in about three hours, but you’ll want to take your time to fully enjoy all the sights. A must-see local attraction is the Borra Caves, one of the largest caves in the country. For the best weather, plan your trip between December and February.

Jelenia Góra Valley, Poland

Śnieżne Kotły, Poland
Śnieżne Kotły, Poland Image credit: Jacek Halicki via Creative Commons

While Krakow or Warsaw may be the more popular cities in Poland, Jelenia Góra is a gorgeous city that is often overlooked. Only a four to five-hour drive from either Krakow or Warsaw, and nestled in the center of forests and mountains sits this valley town.

Cieplice is the oldest thermal spa resort in Poland; the hot springs provide the perfect relaxation after a long day’s drive. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Karkonosze National Park which boasts the highest peaks in the Sudetes.

Hit the Open Road

There are countless road trips around the world just waiting for you to discover. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds of tourists, then you’ll want to check out one of these underrated road trips of some of the world’s most scenic routes. When driving in a new country, be sure to plan ahead, and check out the driving rules and requirements for rental vehicles.

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