Even though summer is drawing to a close, we can still look forward to planning our next trip out on the open road. After all, life’s not about the destination – it’s about the journey, and with road trips, they are one in the same.
So put your sunglasses on and the roof down (if it’s not raining), turn the radio up and your mobile off and enjoy our top 5 list of incredible road trips.
1: US Route 61, U.S.A
This trip is an often overlooked alternative to it’s more famous cousin, Route 66. As Route 66 was immortalised in Jack Kerouac’s beat novel, On the Road, Route 61 has taken somewhat of a backseat in popular culture.
If Route 66 has beat poetry, Route 61 is all about the music, even inspiring an album by Bob Dylan. Known affectionately as ‘the Blues Highway’, the road takes in the culturally rich cities of St Louis and New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz.
Over 2000 km in length, Route 61, meanders southwards, alongside the Mississippi river, from Minnesota in the North to Louisiana in the South. Vast stretches of open road are interrupted only by towns and cities filled with bars and music venues that offer the perfect excuse to for a pitstop.
Apparently, the best summer car to ride along route 66 is the Ford Mustang, and the classic 60’s car seems the perfect fit for US Route 61 as well. Just make sure it’s a convertible!
2: Hai Van Pass, Vietnam
The Hai Van Pass is a mountainous road between the cities of Da Nang and Hue in central Vietnam. The road runs alongside the far more convenient, and far less idyllic, Highway 1. Fortunately, this means that Hai Van has less traffic. If you’re lucky, you’ll be totally alone with your thoughts and the beautiful views of the South China Sea below.
The pass takes around 3 to 5 hours to complete and is often driven alongside the far longer Ho Chi Minh Trail, a separate path down the spine of country from Hanoi in the North to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon in the South. The trail is famous for being utilised by Viet-Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. More recently, it was used as the setting for a challenge in an episode of Top Gear.
Although the path is accessible by car, the vehicle of choice in Vietnam is a motorbike with scooters available from as little as $5 US a day. The roads can be hard to navigate in places making two wheels a better choice than four.
The 132 islands that make up the State of Hawaii are collectively known as the ‘paradise of the pacific’. Motorheads will be happy to hear that the roads are just as awe-inspiring as the islands themselves.
The Hana Highway is a 100 km stretch of road on the east coast of Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Although the highway is relatively short, it takes in some of the most impressive sights to be found in the entire Pacific as it makes its way through the Koolau Forest Reserve and the Hanawi Natural Forest Reserve.
The island may be small, with a population of around 150,000, but it is incredibly popular. Over 200,000 tourists fly into the island every month during summer. Maui is a must visit for those with a thirst for adventure, allowing you to take in stunning views and see rare wildlife all from the front seat of your car.
4: The Romantic Road, Germany
Or ‘Romantische Strasse’ in German. Taking in the majestic mountains, mysterious forests and quaint towns of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, this a road that truly lives up to its name.
According to the German National Tourist Board, the Romantic Road was the 10th most popular attraction in 2015. However, the road trip incorporates other destinations that actually feature higher on the list, such as the magnificent Disney-esque Neuschwanstein Castle and the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which came 2nd and 6th on the list respectively.
If all this doesn’t get your engine roaring, one of the advantages of tours in Germany is the monumental and landscape richness is such that it can be modified almost on the fly and, for example, the road also takes in the pretty walled town of Dinkelsbühl, the Danube river and the foothills of the Alps before ending in the town of Fussen. The 366 km stretch can be driven in one day, however, there’ so much to see, including 28 different cities and towns. There is also regular tours for cyclists along the route.
5: The Amalfi Coast, Italy
No list of road trips could be complete without Italian representation. It is the Amalfi Coast’s amazing location, in the South-West of Italy, that offers both stunning views and the chance to cool off in the Mediterranean, that make it the perfect destination for a road trip.
The photogenic roads of Amalfi Coast even featured in the The Trip to Italy starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan.
Based in the region of Campania, you can use your holiday to visit the area’s fantastic restaurants and luscious vineyards. The locals have been producing wine for over 2,000 years and it would be sacrilege to not stop and have a glass or two (as long as you’re not the designated driver, of course).
Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline is even a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognised as an area of astounding natural beauty. If you’re looking to put some miles away next summer and still get your fix of sun, sea and sand, then look you should look no further than the Amalfi Coast.