As Americans, we love to drive. The quintessential American scene is someone zooming down the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down – that’s freedom right there, baby.
But the PCH is just one of the world’s great drives. There are plenty of spectacular vistas that are best viewed with your hands on the wheel and the wind in your hair.
But first, some caution – you can sail right off the edge of some of these twisty, turny drives if you aren’t paying attention. And there are some border crossings here that you shouldn’t just stumble into. Before heading out on an international road trip, check in with the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) ; they’ll even give you safety reports on specific drives if you request them.
Here’s a look at some of the most scenic drives in the world:
- High Atlas Mountains, Morocco A dramatic drive that takes you from the Sahara Desert to snowy mountains. But understanding the rules of the road is important – driving here will seem chaotic, but there’s a method to the madness. Sort of.
- The Silk Road, China A 1,700-mile stretch, the Silk Road stretches all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. You don’t need to drive the whole thing – and if you did you’d cross borders into Pakistan, Uzbekistan and other danger spots. If you want to take your own vehicle on this trip, plan ahead and get your permits at least three months in advance. But all that planning is worth it to travel through 2,000 years of history.
- Furka Pass, Switzerland There are plenty of exhilarating views and paths through the Alps, but we’ll choose this one. The Furka Pass is a legendary drive for motorists and motorcyclists, and even James Bond, who drove along the pass in Goldfinger. Be careful – the pass is filled with hairpin turns but doesn’t have guardrails; don’t get caught up looking at the beautiful scenery.
- The Amalfi Coast This is one of the shorter drives on this list – just 30 miles, but you’ll be talking about it the rest of your life. A twisting, cliff-hugging drive that overlooks the Mediterranean and features notoriously fearless Italian drivers, this is more of a station-to-station drive; you’re pretty much required to stop in the towns of Salerno, Ravello and Amalfi.
- Milford Road, New Zealand The spectacular terrain of New Zealand makes for many interesting drives, but let’s go with the Milford Road, the only access road to the popular tourist destination of Milford Sound. The road is more than half a mile high and therefore offers remarkable views. In winter, extra caution is required due to snow, ice and risk of avalanche.
- The Great Ocean Road, Australia Staying in the South Pacific, Australia’s Great Ocean Road is well-named. It’s a 170-mile journey along the water that will take you past nature and wildlife, beaches and rock formations, and rainforests and beautiful natural wonders. Be sure to stop in one of the many seaside villages for a healthy dose of food, wine, shopping and history.
- Leh-Manali Highway, India This 300-mile route through northern India is like driving at the top of the world; it’ll take you from the Kashmir region into the Himalayas. Watch the calendar – this road is only open for three or four months a year due to the snowfall.