The world’s greatest scenic road trips

When you’re ready to let your hair down and dump all responsibilities, head off on a long scenic drive. There’s only one problem you’ll encounter, and that's deciding where to go.

Everyone has their own opinion about the best road trips and each year different publishers select their scenic road trip favourites in an annual list of best road trips. We’ve trawled them and share a few here for you.

Cabot Trail, Canada

The Cabot Trail is a 298km road through the island of Cape Breton, arguably the most beautiful part of Nova Scotia. The highlight is the northern section, which takes you through the magnificent Cape Breton Highlands National Park, home to bald eagles, moose and black bears. Along the way, take time to enjoy the charming villages where the French and Scottish influence is still obvious.

Route 66, USA

Always found on any list of great road trips, a tour down Route 66 is on most bucket lists. A road trip in nostalgia, Route 66 was once the main route from Chicago to California and for many, the way to a new life. It’s around 3800 kilometres long, although the route doesn’t really exist as a designated highway anymore. You can still drive sections and follow roughly the same path through small town America.

Colombia River Gorge, USA

Travelling east out of Portland, Oregon, Interstate-84 winds its way beside the beautiful Colombia River Gorge for 112km. This is the USA’s second longest river and has numerous waterfalls and beautiful vistas for the traveller to enjoy.

Hidden Highway, UK

World's best road trips: Meander your way along the English and Welsh border between Ross-on-Wye to the south and Chester to the north. Also known as the cider trail, follow this black-and-white village trail through archetypal English countryside.

Meander your way along the English and Welsh border between Ross-on-Wye to the south and Chester to the north. Also known as the cider trail, follow this black-and-white village trail through archetypal English countryside. There are endless green fields crisscrossed with drystone fences and hedges and studded with rose-clad cottages. You’ll feel you’ve stepped back in time, as you enjoy the differing accents and friendly hospitality of locals in the pubs and restaurants along the way.

The Ring Road, Iceland

One of the most desolate but beautiful drives in the world is the lap of Iceland on the ring road (Highway 1). You’ll drive through an almost mythical landscape of active volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, geo-thermal pools, spouting geysers, snow-capped mountains and iceberg-filled glacial lagoons.

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

The world's best road trips - through the Gobi Desert in Mongolia

If you’re looking for the ultimate off-road adventure it’s hard to go past the Gobi Desert, where kilometre after kilometre of nothingness stretches out seemingly forever. This truly remote region has a rugged beauty, like the sand dunes of Khongoryn Els. When you get tired of being behind the wheel, explore on camel back and spend your nights at a traditional Ger camp.

South Island Circuit, New Zealand

The South Island of New Zealand offers spectacular scenery around every corner. Take your time to really soak up the many varied vistas, stopping for an adrenalin fix every now and again. Go bungy jumping, jet boating, zip lining and more, particularly in Queenstown, the home of action and adventure in New Zealand. Arguably the most stunning part of the drive is between Te Anau and Milford Sound, which crosses tranquil Fiordland and some of the Southern Alps.

Costa Smeralda, Sardinia

The world's best road trips - Costa Smeralda (or “Emerald Coast”) is located on Sardinia’s beautiful northern coast

Costa Smeralda (or “Emerald Coast”) is located on Sardinia’s beautiful northern coast, where dramatic headlands meet turquoise waters. This is the island’s best-known resort area, with a reputation for opulence. Visit in late spring or early autumn to avoid the tourist crush and to enjoy quieter roads, beautiful weather, and uncrowded beaches.