What are the most spectacular drives in the world? National Geographic Traveler seems to enjoy taking a spin around this topic and they just came out with another feature that covers some of “the world’s greatest scenic routes.” Here are just a few of their choices:
Amalfi Coast, Italy– The Costiera Amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, is widely considered Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline, a landscape of towering bluffs, pastel-hued villages terraced into hillsides, precipitous corniche roads, luxuriant gardens, and expansive vistas over turquoise waters and green-swathed mountains. Deemed by UNESCO “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values,” the coast was awarded a coveted spot on the World Heritage list in 1997.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts– A drive around Massachusetts’ vintage Cape Cod serves up miles of beaches, restful resort towns—and, yes, lobster and clam shacks. There are capes all along the New England coast, but when anyone talks of “the Cape,” the meaning is immediately clear. This drive takes in virtually all of Cape Cod: the quiet villages along the bay side, the beautifully desolate dunelands of the outer Cape’s national seashore, lively Provincetown, and the busy resorts that face Nantucket Sound.
North Island, New Zealand (Lord of the Rings route) – Boasting some of the most varied and rugged landscapes on Earth, New Zealand has long been a source of adventure. In addition, its eclectic Polynesian and European heritage makes it a remarkable center of culture and history. Given New Zealand’s varied attributes, it is little wonder it was the pick of Kiwi Peter Jackson as the stand-in for Middle-Earth in his film adaptation of the Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy.
Hana Highway, Hawaii– A restorative for mind and body, Maui’s Hana coast delivers black-sand beaches, plunging waterfalls—and a doozy of a drive. Peel a fresh mango purchased from a roadside stand, get ukulele music going on the radio, and embark on one of Hawaii’s great drives: the Hana Highway on the island of Maui. On your left will be the azure ocean; on your right, rushing waterfalls, limpid pools, patches of taro plants, and luxuriant jungles of bamboo and fruit trees. But this highway serves up more than beauty: It’s an impressive feat of engineering, dug out of Maui’s precipitous eastern coastline with hand tools. Clinging to the cliffs, it slinks around some 600 curves and across 59 bridges (over half of which are just one lane wide). This serpentine coastal route offers a perfect antidote to the vagaries of mainland winters—and a complete escape from daily life.
Check out the entire article to see the other drives selected by National Geographic Traveler. What other routes would you select?