We’re celebrating 16 years of Outlook Traveller with a bunch of great travel ideas for you. These include Destinations, Drives, Adventures, Cruises, Food, Festivals and Hotels. Here we bring you 6 exciting drives from all over the world.
Some drives are scenic, others are thrilling and some are downright challenging–here's our list of drives that you must tackle if road tripping is your thing. When it comes to scenic rides, nothing beats the Big Sur in California. Or you could take the Ring Road and cover all of Iceland in a day. Get the thrill of mountain roads in France or challenge your fears on the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway. Drive across the Himalaya on the Manali-Leh Highway or go for an offbeat drive on The Golden Ring in Russia. Read on and start planning!
Big Sur, USA
Let’s be honest. You weren’t really expecting California on a bucket list, were you? But when we talk about scenic drives, any list without a mention of the Big Sur would be incomplete. The 100-odd miles of State Route 1 that runs hugging the rugged Pacific coastline between Carmel and San Simeon is any driver’s delight. To the east abruptly rise the grand Santa Lucia Mountains, and to the west steep cliffs, gorgeous beaches, and the endless ocean await tired eyes. There’s a lot to be explored en route–trail hiking, wine-tasting at poetic vineyards, fine cliff-face dining, camping–everything just a short detour away. The best season to go would be April to October. If a long drive is all you want, you could also opt for the longer version of this road trip–between San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you want the full view of the landscape, rent a convertible.
Ring Road, Iceland
Fancy an adventure? How about a 1,332 km-long road trip that passes by active volcanoes, geothermal springs, icebergs, waterfalls, glacial ice caves and even features the occasional flash of northern lights overhead? The Ring Road in Iceland is a well-kept secret in that it hasn’t yet featured in a big-budget movie that sets #roadtripgoals for millennials. The route circles all of Iceland and could be done in a day in one dash, but with extreme weather conditions and the surreal landscapes present at every bend, you should give it at least a week. You could take your car and book accommodation for overnight stays, or rent a camper van to sleep on the road (happycampers.is). Take a 4X4 if you plan off-road detours for some of the attractions along the way. Start from Reykjavik or Keflavik Airport and make your way around the country on Route 1.
La Route Des Grande Alpes, France
The Alps are always waiting, patiently as they have been for millennia. If you feel a strong connect with the mountains and want an experience unadulterated by tourist traps, La Route Des Grande Alpes is the answer. Drive through the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the French Riviera crossing 684 km and as many as 16 passes–counted among the highest ones within the country. If you choose a mountain bike over cars, you should know: the route includes many sections of the Tour de France. The route starts at Thonon-les-Bains and ends at Menton. The road is open between June and October, subject to weather conditions.
Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway
If you’re looking for a drive that challenges your primal instinct of fear, look no further than the Atlantic Ocean Road aka Atlanterhavsveien. True to its name, this road snakes through the Norwegian Sea to link a bunch of islands in Norway. Over its short eight-odd km length, it features eight bridges that rise and plunge like a rollercoaster track. In rough weather conditions, waves crash over and onto the pavement–this thrill is what brings motorcyclists and drivers from around the world here. The road was named the Norwegian Construction of the Century. What’s more, you could even spot seals or whales from one of the viewpoints here! Opened to travellers in 1989 after six years of construction, the Atlanterhavsveien is a part of Norwegian national road 64 and links the island of AverÃ¸y with the mainland at Eide.
Manali-Leh Road, India
This road trip needs no introduction. On most travellers’ bucket lists already, it merits a place on our list due to its difficulty level and otherworldly setting. Over the last few years, the trip has become a kind of pilgrimage for the biker community in India. Covering about 478 km, from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir, the road passes through some of the highest motorable passes in the world including Khardung La, and has ethereal features like the clear blue Pangong Tso at 13,900 ft and a magnetic hill that defies gravity. The constantly changing arid mountain scape and colourful Tibetan monasteries on the way make this journey an unforgettable experience. June to September is the only time you can do this trip. Plan your daily distance goals, overnight stays (usually Sarchu) and fuel stops in advance.
The Golden Ring, Russia
If you want to go off the beaten track in Russia, try the Golden Ring–a road that covers a set of small towns and cities northeast of Moscow. Gorgeous countryside views and grand architecture make for a truly memorable ride. Give yourself a good 7-8 days if you want to explore the Suzdal Kremlin and Rostov Kremlin for a slice of Russia’s history, the churches (with their typical onion-shaped domes), monasteries, museums and local culinary delights along the way with overnight stops. The route traditionally starts from Moscow and runs through Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov Velikiy, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy and Sergiev Posad, forming a ring. You could use buses to tread the route or rent a car in Moscow and drive yourself.
(Read about our 6 Must-Visit Destinations here)