Top 10 Scenic Drives Around the World
Nothing like fueling up the car, belting in, and hitting the open road. But forget crowded and busy highways—sometimes, it’s best to take the scenic route to get to know a place better. After all, it’s usually the in-between scenes that tell a more intriguing story. Amidst iconic scenery and natural splendor, we put together a list of some of the most beautiful scenic drives across the globe.
Chapman's Peak Drive
Cape Town, South Africa
Gulp. This coastal road hugs the side of Chapman’s Peak, overlooking the stunning Hout Bay near the Cape of Good Hope. Chapman’s Peak Drive is built on top of a layer of granite along the mountain. While sturdy, it may still spook those with a fear of heights, as the ocean-facing side of the road has a few hundred feet to the ocean below.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Virginia and North Carolina, USA
This famous American drive is nestled amongst the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains—starting in Virginia, and making its way down through North Carolina and into Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. If you’re curious about how those mountains got their name, just take a drive at dusk to see mountains as far as the eye can see turn a husky blue hue off in the distance.
Fiordland, New Zealand
Take a drive through the Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area in New Zealand. Home to some of New Zealand’s most dramatic peaks and valleys, this road trip could take up to four hours, not including the absolutely necessary photo opportunities along the way to capture all the South Island grandeur.
One of America’s most popular roadways, Highway 101 begins in Tumwater, Washington, and spans all the way south through Oregon and into California—ending in San Diego near the Mexico border. A quintessential road trip down the California portion will bring you through the Bay Area, down along the remote old-growth Redwood forests, and even through parts of Downtown LA. It’s all the diversity of California’s geography, without having to make a single turn.
Often referred to as one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe, this section of Croatia is home to the country’s biggest tourist destinations Dubrovnik, Split, and Sibenik. But just outside of these cities is where you find the region’s beauty. Dramatic cliffs, hyperblue waters, and historic architecture make this scenic drive a must if you like impromptu hikes and snorkeling.
Lake District, England
An appropriately titled road in the Lake District, Hardknott Pass has so many winding turns that it may as well form a knot. However, this drive is not for the faint of heart. England's notorious rain, fog, and clouds can make the conditions along this road dangerous, as gradients increase and roads narrow, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing one of the country’s most rural landscapes.
Calanches de Piana, Corsica
This French island is home to beautiful white sand beaches and rugged mountainous terrain, all within driving distance. To get the best sense of this would be to drive down the western coast of Corsica along the D81, which brings you through the Calanches de Piana. These stunning jagged rock formations hug the coast, with hairpin turns and narrow passes. Look close enough and you can even spot the infamous heart shape in one of the Calanches. Pulled over, of course.
One of the more unique drives out there, the Overseas Highway heading from Miami to Key West spans over 100 miles and contains 42 bridges to connect 34 individual islands. In other words, it feels like you’re driving over the ocean ... because you are. The surreal feeling of cruising over bright blue Gulf waters is accentuated with natural wonders along the way, with the journey ending in the lively and unique, Key West. Mile zero.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
This coastal stretch along Italy’s west coast is one of the most recognizable in the world. The colorful city of Positano is built into the side of a coastal cliff is the quintessential postcard of the mediterranean lifestyle, while historic sites like Pompeii pop-up in between the unforgettable vistas.