World’s Most Scenic Coastal Drives
Though some people like to simply relax by the pool when they’re on holiday, we’re always keen to explore said destination’s natural beauty by hitting the road. And just sometimes, the journey really can be the destination, with a scenic drive down a winding coastal road offering a sense of freedom as well as breath-taking panoramic views. With that mind, here are some of the most spectacular scenic coastal driving routes on the planet.
Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
Italy’s most famous coastline is justifiably famed for having one of the most stunning drives on the entire planet. The Strada Statale 163, to give it its official name, connects Sorrento with Salerno, passing through picture-perfect towns of Positano, Praiano, Ravello and the eponymous Amalfi. The settlements themselves are worth writing about, all streaming down like a natural terrace from the surrounding Lattari Mountains, but it’s the road we’re interested in. The Amalfi Coast is notorious for its hairpin bends, archway entries, narrow passing points and mind-blowing views of the ocean. If you really want to make the most of the cliffs, however, we’d recommend heading between October and May when tourism is at its lowest. These are tight roads and coach tours are regular around these parts, making enjoyment a little more tricky when you’re behind the wheel.
Pacific Coast Highway, USA
The Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1, is one of the US’ most iconic road – and for good reason. Making up a portion of State Route 1 (SR 1) which runs along most of the Pacific coastline in California, the Pacific Coast Highway offers some the most beautiful sights on the West Coast. Connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles, the road hugs the shores of the Pacific virtually the whole way up, passing through Big Sur National Park, Malibu and Santa Barbara along the way. It can be an intense drive as there are no guard rails at the edge and things can get a little tight with oncoming traffic. But the hairpins and steep drop-offs make it well worth the experience.
Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway
Arguably the most incredible feat of engineering on our list, the Atlantic Ocean Road connects islands on the mid-west part of Norway to one another through a series of winding and undulating roads. Only 5.1 miles long, the Atlantic Ocean Road makes up part of the Norwegian national road 64 and linking the towns of Kristiansund and Molde. The road includes 8 bridges and took six years to construct. The drive itself has a really roller coaster-feel to it, and that’s mainly down the unique curvy bridges which characterise the road. The phenomenal views have made it a firm favourite of road trippers, motorcyclists and even skateboarders in recent years as Instagram works its reach magic. The road was designated a Cultural Heritage Site and has been recognised as the Norwegian Construction of the Century. Just make sure you close your windows – on rougher days the tide has been known to swell up over the bridges!
Cabot Trail, Canada
One of North America’s true greats, the Cabot Trail is located on Cape Breton Island in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. At 185 miles long, it’s one of the longest drives on our list, completing a loop around the northern tip of the island, passing through the stunning Highlands. It’s open all year round and is famed for its natural beauty as well as the vibrant Gaelic and Acadian cultures which are still prevalent on Cape Breton. It’s also a great location if you’re into your wildlife as minke and pilot whales can often be spotted from lay-bys. If you do fancy a pit-stop, the island is also ideal for outdoor activities such as golfing, kayaking, hiking, and cycling.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa
Sandwiched between the near vertical cliffs of 593m-high Chapman’s Peak to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Chapman’s Peak Drive and its 114 bends offer arguably the most intense driving experience on the planet. It may only be 5 and ½ miles long, but Chappies (as it’s known to the locals) is not for the faint hearted. The spectacularly scenic route begins at the small fishing village of Hout Bay, just south of Cape Town, before climbing to Chapman’s Point high above the waves before then dropping down to the town of Noordhoek. Chapman’s Peak itself is well worth a stop for some hiking or just a picnic, while between June and November, various whales can often be spotted from the roadside lay-bys and viewpoints. Just beware of vertigo…
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
While it might not be the first place you’d think of, take it from us; Ireland and its Ring of Kerry couldn’t be more perfect for spectacular driving. The 179km-long circular predominantly-costal road route showcases some of the best views you’ll find on the British Isles. Driving the whole Ring of Kerry only takes around 4 hours non-stop, but as virtually the whole of it is one big panoramic canvas, you’ll need to give yourself at least a day to do it. Offering views of the Skellig Islands, made famous by the new Star Wars films, the Ring of Kerry can get narrow and almost precarious at points, but the views and windy roads make it well worth the concentration it requires.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Put simply, the Australian Great Ocean Road is one of the most incredible coastal drives in the world. Officially known as the B100, the road was built by soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and was dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I. At 151 miles long, it’s the world’s largest war memorial. Linking the cities of Torquay and Allansford in south-west Victoria, the coastal road is characterised by its awe-inspiring limestone cliffs and incredible rock formations. It’s become one of the biggest tourist destinations over the years thanks to the road passing the famous Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations.
Need some more travel inspiration? Check out these landscape loving nature photographers on Instagram.