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Where is the World’s Best Scenic Drive?

We’ve cruised Italy’s Lakes Region, Australia's Great Ocean Road and Hawaii’s Big Island Belt Road in the United States. Where do you think the world’s best, most scenic drive is?

Jul 23, 2010
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The route around Italy's Lake Garda features dramatic views and numerous tunnels.
The route around Italy's Lake Garda features dramatic views and numerous tunnels.
The Big Island Belt Road overlooks Hawaii's Waipao Valley, famous for its beautiful scenery.
The Big Island Belt Road overlooks Hawaii's Waipao Valley, famous for its beautiful scenery.
The Great Ocean Road provides stunning views of the ocean as it hugs the Australian coast.
The Great Ocean Road provides stunning views of the ocean as it hugs the Australian coast.
Photography iStockphoto
The rock formation known as the Twelve Apostles is a highlight of the drive along the Great Ocean Road.
The rock formation known as the Twelve Apostles is a highlight of the drive along the Great Ocean Road.

Great cars and great roads have a way of bringing out the inner child in all of us, especially when travelling to areas of spectacular scenic beauty. There is no shortage of breathtaking drives from one end of the world to the other, but these are some of the best.

Lake Garda, Italy’s Lake Region

Super agent James Bond never just drives; he screams around turns, tires squealing, usually in an Aston Martin or Lotus. But no matter how many enemies pursue him, stylish Bond makes sure his epic chases occur on the world’s most scenic roads, which is why the 15-minute adrenaline-charged opening sequence of the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was shot on the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Garda in Italy’s Lake Region. The lake level road alternates tunnels and stunning panoramas as it hugs the water’s edge, before circling the north end of the lake and climbing into the steep foothills of the Tremosine overlooking Garda’s west coast.

Big Island Belt Road, Hawaii

Hawaii has many famed drives, but nothing beats the Big Island for, well, big variety. Heading south from the Kona coast you’ll pass through the only coffee country in the United States, and past Kealakekua Bay, where intrepid explorer James Cook’s travels abruptly came to an end, before traversing a long stretch of lava fields en route to Volcanoes National Park. From Hilo, the main town on the opposite side of the island, the loop back includes a viewpoint overlooking the famed Waipio Valley, an 850-foot (259-metre) deep Eden widely regarded as one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Return across the island’s north shore, through ranch country, past grazing cattle and paniolo, Hawaiian cowboys, and through the charming town of Waimea.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

A consensus pick, the Great Ocean Road, a 150-mile (241-kilometre) stretch of road on the south shore of Victoria, is so compelling that for driving buffs it is one of the must-do’s of any trip Down Under. It lives up to its name, hugging the coast with endless views of the Southern Ocean, as well as climbing headlands, brushing beaches, crossing river estuaries and occasionally diverting into lush rain forest. One of the many highlights is the Twelve Apostles rock formation, comprised of a dozen limestone towers, within Port Campbell National Park.

These are just a few of the many scenic roads for travelling drivers around the globe. What’s your favourite?


24 Comments about Where is the World’s Best Scenic Drive?

  1. Clarke says:

    All the coastal drives around Cape Town. Stunning. More spectacular than the beautiful Big Sur, by far I’d say, and even more astonishing than the magnificent Amalfi Coast Drives.

    Driving from Langebaan to Cape Point, via Clifton and Chapman’s Peak Drive, then to Gaansbaai via Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay. That’s around 200 miles of the most gorgeous driving I’ve ever done. The colors of the sea, the cliffs, the plants and the mountains have to seen to be believed. It’s amazing.

  2. Randy Jorden says:

    The north coast of Palma de Mallorca offers great views in a secluded setting. There are miles of scenic Mediterranean vistas from the high perch of the winding coastal road. No commercial development–only a few charming villages to interrupt the blissful drive.

  3. sola says:

    I AGREE with posts above! most beautiful drives I have been on have been in South Africa. The coast near Cape Town is more beautiful than the Amalfi Coast, more beautiful than Big Sur, more beautiful than any other coast I have ever seen! Chapman’s Peak and the road between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay past Kogelberg are unimaginably lovely. The Swartberg Pass, Seweweekspoort and Meiringspoort are all incredible drives in the Swartberg mountains. The Outeniqua pass, Sani pass and Mafiki Lisiu pass (the last in Lesotho) also totally gorgeous!

  4. VCR says:

    Coastal drives, most beautiful are are Clarens Drive and Chapman’s Peak (both near Cape Town). I think both are more beautiful than Amalfi or Big Sur, which are also amongst the top five coastal I would say, but clearly the South African ones take the prize. Gorgeous.

  5. Alex says:

    And when you finish Chapman’s, take a detour of a few kilometers to the beach at Kommetjie. My eyes could scarcely believe it!

    Other awesome roads… The Amalfi Coast, Great Ocean Road, Route 101, the Coromandel Peninsula, The Bernina Pass.

  6. Alex says:

    Three most beautiful drives I’ve been on were all on a trip to South Africa (which must be the most beautiful country on Earth, it’s incredible). In no particular order:

    THE SWARTBERG PASS between Oudshoorn and Prince Albert is absolutely astounding. It’s baby sister, Meiringspoort, would be on this list if the pass did not exist. Almost as amazing.

  7. Derwood says:

    Paramatta Road, Sydney at 5:30pm on a Friday arvo :)

  8. Enrique Padrón says:

    Have you ever been at La Gomera Island?
    Drive through the Garajonay National Park, nice place, or through the Teide National Park road at Tenerife Is. too

  9. Leanne says:

    Drive from Banff to Jasper in Alberta Canada has been rated has top 5 in world (rightly so). Having done your complete list….reckon Banff/Jasper must go on the Bucket List!

  10. J Sylvester says:

    Hi There
    Two Fantastic drives in South Africa, I have forgot the names But people will know them, No1 The drive over the great mountain into Prince Albert most of the way no side barrier Fantastic, no 2 The toll drive along the ocean out of Cape town Very modern.
    Great country, Great People.

  11. Nancy says:

    Beautiful drive through Ring of Kerry, Ireland; Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler; Road to Hana in Maui, fragrant tuberose along the highway; drive through Navarra Region in Spain towards San Sebastian; also, as previously mentioned, PCH from Santa Barbara through San Francisco

  12. issie weissglas says:

    There are 2 World’s Best Scenic Drives:
    (1) the Amalfi coast;
    (2) from Kapalua to Hana on the island of Maui;
    The drive from Calgary to Vancouver rates right up there too.

  13. Paula Devereaux says:

    Some others to consider: Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (already mentioned); Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur, CA (already mentioned); Route 100 in VT in the fall-gorgeous colors, farmlands, rolling hills and mountains; and finally the back roads and Corniches in French Riviera region.

  14. Lynn C says:

    Chapman’s Peak Drive,outside Cape Town-dramatic craggy rocks and wild sea – awesome!

  15. cliff says:

    Two suggestions:
    1. Cape Town to Noordhoek via Hout Bay and Chapmans Peak Drive – shorter but spectacular
    2. The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Nova Scotia , Canada

  16. Kathleen Munroe says:

    WITHOUT an ABSOLUTE doubt, the winelands of the Cape, South Africa, in the autumn – Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, in particular – but EQUALLY the Sir Lowry’s Pass and Chapman’s Peak drives, also in the Cape. Anyone who has experienced these will know they’ve had a glimpse of heaven, whilst realising the majesty and exceptional nature-al beauty of our Earth! An absolute MUST-SEE!

  17. isa says:

    The Dalmatian coast in Croatia, between Zadar and Sibenik. Amazing views to the Kornati archipelago. Surreal beauty!

  18. Gary says:

    Chapman’s Peak Drive in Western Cape, South Africa!

  19. Winnie Wong says:

    PCHighway one from Santa Barbara to Big Sur, to Carmel Highland, National parks, 17-mile Drive, then onto to the beautiful city by the Bay- San Francisco.

  20. Jerry Wayne says:

    Amalfi Coast, without a doubt, BUT you can’t be the driver!

  21. e mackie says:

    sea to sky highway,vancouver to whistler bc. Mountain and ocean views to die for

  22. Juan Carlos Alonso says:

    Amalfi Coast

  23. David Kwiat says:

    The Hamakua Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii–the stretch from Honoka’a to just outside of Hilo….

  24. Gwen says:

    The West Coast Highway on the South Island of New Zealand. Rainforests, glaciers, pristine beaches. Hours of uninterrupted, magical, stunning scenery.

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