Sofia von Porat contributed today’s post. Sofia is the blogger behind AsWeTravel, where she shares travel tips, videos, guides and inspiration from around the world. Sofia also runs EuropeTravelr, a blog focused purely on European travel.
by Sofia von Porat
Few things evoke our lust for adventure more than the thought of a road trip: the freedom to go wherever you want and stop whenever you like without a care in the world is one of the most liberating feelings for a traveler.
No schedule, no rules – just a map (or GPS system), some really good road trip music, and you’re good to go.
Here are five awesome road trip routes around the world…
Alsace Wine Route – France
Narrow, meandering roads with sweeping vistas of vineyards on either side are part of what makes the French wine region Alsace one of the best road trip routes in Europe.
As you drive along the Alsace Wine Route you will pass historical forts and castles perched on hilltops. Driving at your own pace means you will have the opportunity to stop over in one or more of the many medieval villages that dot the region.
With half-timbered houses painted in pastel colors, cobblestone alleys and more wine cellars than you can count, the villages along this route are brimming with old world charm. Every time you take a break from driving, step out of your car and feel that you’ve entered into a world where time stopped a few hundred years ago. Relax, take another sip of the local wine, and enjoy the sensation of timelessness.
Some people choose to base themselves in Colmar, one of the largest towns along the wine route, and then take small daytrips to the surrounding villages. Others prefer to drive in one direction, staying overnight in a different village every night.
Whatever your style, I highly recommend stopping over in Colmar, Eguisheim and Riquewihr which are all very charming and picturesque.
Sydney to Cairns – Australia
The east coast of Australia offers countless fun, famous, beautiful, and quirky pit stops along the way leading up from Sydney to Cairns. A road trip along this route with plenty of breaks is guaranteed to be a good time.
From the vibrant city life of Sydney to the surfer vibes in Noosa and the Gold Coast, to the natural wonders of the Whitsundays, there are more than a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had along Australia’s East Coast.
Don’t miss diving in the Great Barrier Reef or surfing the famous waves at Noosa Heads and Snapper Rocks. Other awesome experiences include getting up close and personal with Kangaroos at Dundee’s Wildlife Park and whale watching by Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.
Best of all, renting a car in Australia is easy and rather cheap, so it’s a great option for travelers visiting the country in search of adventure. By renting a car you have much more freedom to go where you want and a unique opportunity to stay in beautiful and more secluded areas that can’t be reached easily by public transport.
Northern Portugal is a region full of adorable towns and beautiful nature. From historical towns like Guimarães to the crystal clear pools of the Peneda-Gerês National Park and picture perfect vineyards on the sloping hills by the Douro River, there is something for everyone in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula.
Porto, one of the largest cities in northern Portugal, is a great city to use as a base, and well worth spending some time in. With colorful tiled buildings and a roughness that can best be described as charming and melancholic at the same time, Porto is a diamond in the rough.
Guimarães makes for a great day trip from Porto, it’s a beautiful historical town with a medieval center and a 1000-year-old castle, only 40 minutes away from Porto!
Another great road trip adventure from Porto is to drive along the winding roads of the Douro Valley. This drive offers an adventurous route and some of the most beautiful views in the region.
From Peso da Régua follow the main road and drive across the plateaux above the Douro valley. Make sure to stop over at the viewpoint of São Leonardo, where you can see the river valley and the mountains of the Serra do Marão.
Route 66 – USA
Few roads are as famous for road tripping as Route 66 in the United States. It would almost be a crime not to include this road on the list.
Although the entire Highway 66 no longer exists, you can still follow the path it used to take across the country on other highways and roads. Along the way, you’ll discover that some parts of the original Route 66 still exist (although they don’t always appear on modern maps), and it is possible to follow some of them by looking out for signs announcing “Historic Route 66.”
Driving the whole length of the route will probably take about 5-6 days, and you will travel through five states: Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
This romanticized route has many quirky pit stops along the way, from the Cozy Dog Drive-in, where corn dogs were invented, to Bottle Tree Ranch, which is an open-air work of art made from recycled glass bottles. These uniquely American tourist traps and roadside attractions are best appreciated as breaks from long days of driving. The historic route also passes through major western cities, making a drive along Route 66 a great way to link several big destinations into one trip.
North & South Island – New Zealand
Unlike many other countries, New Zealand doesn’t really have a well-traveled point-to-point driving route, since those who rent a car here tend to drive it around the whole country, seeking out the plentiful diversions along the way.
The North Island boasts incredible beaches, warm and sunny weather, and Maori villages where you can get an insight into New Zealand’s native culture and explore the unique hot springs. A must on a road trip on the North Island is a visit to Coromandel and Hot water beach, where you can dig your own hot tub in the sand.
One of my favorite stops on the North Island was Lake Taupo. The lake’s clear skies and high altitude makes it one of the world’s best places for stargazing. Sitting by the lake at night staring up into a sky so crowded with stars that it almost makes you dizzy is one of the most romantic experiences you can have while road tripping around New Zealand.
The South island offers completely different types of nature and activities. From the “Pancake rocks” on the west coast to Kaikoura with its whale watching, and the extreme sport capital Queenstown in between. The South Island is a fantastic place for thrill-seekers and sightseers alike.
I hope these places inspire you to go out on a road trip this summer!