While flying to a destination is convenient, it can take away the sense that we have travelled any distance at all. Arriving at one airport and leaving another can make it feel like the ‘travel’ has never happened. In contrast, overland travel, by train, car or bus, constantly reminds us of the land we are crossing and allows us to detect subtle changes in geography, climate and landscape. With epic roads carving through spectacular landscapes, the road trip itself can be the reason you travel.
Here are six roads to keep in mind when you’re planning your next overland adventure.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Sweeping coastal views, crashing waves and a magnificent memorial to lives lost in World War I, the Great Ocean Road is 243 km of driving bliss. Running between the surf city of Torquay and the coastal town of Allansford, it winds past prominent landmarks including the Twelve Apostles. Each year in May a marathon is held between Lorne and Apollo Bay, opening the scenic road up to runners to take in the endless coastal vista.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
The stuff of Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, there’s nothing quite like a drive deep into the inspiring literary landscape of California. Take the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles north towards San Francisco and pass through the pretty university town of Santa Barbara before reaching the Big Sur coastline. An intimidating, beautiful and breathtaking segment of road, it’s been the source of much 20th century creative genius and is well worth a trip – preferably in a Cadillac convertible.
The Atlantic Road, Norway
Linking the islands between Molde and Kristiansund, the Atlantic Road is an 8-km stretch of road zigzagging across low bridges over the sea. In calm weather, nature and engineering work seamlessly together and it’s possibly to spot whales as you drive. The most impressive bridge along the journey is the Storseisundet Bridge, featuring a beautiful curve that lends the road an otherworldly appearance.
Romantic Road, Germany
Over 260 miles long, the Romantic Road winds through the heart of Bavaria, travelling through wine country, Alps and finishing at the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein. Along the way you can stay overnight in the 1000-year-old Castle Hotel Colmberg, treat yourself to local wine and delicious food in Würzburg and take in the old world charm of Dinkelsbühl.
A82 towards Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
There are plenty of scene changes to keep you occupied when travelling the A82’s 140-mile journey from Loch Lomond to Loch Ness. Starting out with Loch Lomond by your side, it’s a pleasant enough scene and gives you time to prepare for the feeling of insignificance that creeps up as the looming highlands take centre stage. Driving along the now seemingly tiny road carved through these immense mountains is an extraordinary feeling. But before you get used to it, they slowly drop away to be replaced by water again as you make your way towards Loch Ness.
Coastal road south to Kaikoura, New Zealand
With a section of road sandwiched between mountain and ocean, this coastal drive marries the best of New Zealand scenery and will have your passengers reaching for their cameras. Around two hours in length, you set out driving through the picturesque vineyards of Malborough wine country before the mountain ranges slip into view. From here you can just take it all in, keeping an eye out for seals catching some sun just north of Kaikoura. Kaikoura is renowned as a whale and dolphin watching spot, so make sure you allow some time to try and spot these majestic creatures.
Sometimes the journey is the destination.