The most awaited season of the year has arrived for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere. We trade our coats for bathing suits, wear more sunscreen, and become expert tasters of our city’s ice cream parlors. And, like every summer, we face the eternal question: where should we go on holiday?
If you are like me and have waited until the last minute to plan, you might not want to trip over the same stone twice. That’s why I’m sharing seven road trips on four continents, so you have several backup plans. Paying homage to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I welcome you to an updated and summery version of movie-worthy road trips that I am sure will also have a happy ending.
Historic Route 66
Let’s start with a classic. Route 66 has been the set for an endless list of novels, perhaps the most famous highway we will visit today. It came into use in 1926 when the U.S. Public Highway Authority inaugurated the Federal Highway System. Like the other major highways in the network, it connected local, state, and national roads, covering 2,450 miles that traverse much of this immense country.
If we look from the East, Route 66 begins in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica. We need about two weeks, visiting wonders that take our breath away, like the Painted Desert in Arizona or the Meramec Caverns in Missouri. If you manage to group three more days off and are passionate about architecture, I recommend that you enjoy Chicago before setting out. Although I am far from impartial, everyone who has visited it agrees, it is fantastic in the hot summer months. Make sure you dip in Lake Michigan because our new route is a little cooler.
Start of Route 66 in Chicago (U.S.A.)
The Ring Road
Leaping to one of the most Nordic inhabited places on the planet, we come to Iceland, specifically to the Ring Road, named for its circular shape. The route runs around the entire perimeter of the island, 830 miles of glaciers and fjords.
The number of days it will take you to drive depends on the stops you want to take. Most visitors take between one and two weeks to complete the tour, taking the opportunity to bathe in the hot springs of Hveragerði, visit the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, relax on the black sand beaches of Vík, and even watch whales in Húsavik. While temperatures are best in the summer, spring and autumn are also ideal. If your vacation is in winter, I recommend you choose a different destination on the list, preferably in the other hemisphere, where we land now.
Ring Road (Iceland)
The Great Ocean Route
Who hasn’t dreamed of traveling to Australia? The incomparable nature, the warmth of its inhabitants, and the hundreds of unique species make the country, and more specifically, the Great Ocean Road, a mandatory stop in this compilation.
It is located in the state of Victoria, where you will also find one of the largest and most fun cities, Melbourne. The road covers the 150 miles between Torquay and Allansford, and you will only need three days to enjoy it. Its main attraction is its views: a paradisiacal coastline for surfers, koalas, and many species of sharks, where you will also find the impressive rock formations of the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park.
Twelve Apostles (Australia)
We return to Europe to cross our most romantic road, the German Romantische Strasse, 285 miles of vineyards, hills, rivers and mountains. The route connects the cities of Würzburg and Füssen and was inaugurated in 1950 to show a gentler side of Germany, a glorification of the culture that helped heal the wounds of World War II.
For this visit book at least four days, and travel back to the Middle Ages by staying in Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl, fairytale towns on one of the most beautiful and greenest roads on the continent, almost as green as our next stop.
The Garden Route
We now require more time to land in the Garden Route in South Africa. Also known as Route 62, we face 500 miles of highway connecting Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Within it, the 125 miles along the coast showcase some of the most striking parts of the Western and Eastern Capes.
The Garden Route is especially overarching, bringing together many of the experiences offered by the previous roads: vineyards in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Sabana species in Tsitsikamma National Park and the Shamwari Reserve, and even whales in Hermanus. To really enjoy all the gems of this impressive road, I recommend you take at least two weeks.
Sunset in Garden Route (South Africa)
The Napoleon Route
If you are passionate about history, you will surely have heard of the Napoleon Route, the road that retraces the last steps of the emperor and his army before their final surrender in 1815. After eleven months of exile on the Island of Elba, Napoleon escaped to retake Paris, marking the 200 mile-route that thousands of tourists travel every year.
Many sculptures with the imperial eagle have been placed along the road linking Antibes to Grenoble, where you can take in Verdon Natural Park, explore the fields of lavender and jasmine, and visit Grasse, perfume capital of the world. This multi-sensorial experience will require ten days of your vacation.
National Route 40
We get to the closing titles with National Route 40, in Argentina, the longest of this repertoire, on the undisputed podium with 3,225 miles. Its vast extension, running from La Quiaca to Cabo Vírgenes, crosses no less than 21 national parks.
From the lakes of Nahuel Huapi to the Perito Moreno glacier, the deserts of Cafayate, and the mountains of Quebrada de Humahuaca, National Route 40 is home to mountain, desert, and continental climates, making it one of the most fascinating routes in the world, for which you will also need two weeks. Two weeks here, two weeks there. You decide what will be the next road to your dreams.
Perito Moreno glacier (Argentina)