10th Jun 2012 4:58pm | By Editor
The road trip is a cultural touchstone of 20th and 21st century society, a concept so familiar you could even argue it’s a genre of (classic) film – Easy Rider, Thelma & Louise … er, Britney Spears in Crossroads?
Crucially, the ethos of the road trip is exactly how TNT likes to travel – striking out in search of adventure, fresh experiences and new friends.
Our number one pick, therefore, has to take in the country that arguably invented the notion of the road trip as it is generally accepted today. Thanks to the US of A, that means you better pack your potato chips, practise swerving off the road and ploughing into desert to lose the police car that’s tailing you, and hole up in a series of increasingly bleak motels.
The Pacific Coast Highway is everything you could ask from the all-American road trip – a twisting, cliff-bordered beauty that covers 123 miles from Monterey to Morro Bay. En route, you’ll pass through gorgeous village Carmel-by-the-Sea, Point Lobos State Reserve (a tree-clad headland with underwater ecological reserve, great for diving), and the unapologetically dramatic Big
Sur, a 90-mile stretch of wild natural beauty comprising ragged rocks and groves of giant redwoods.
In Big Sur, you’ll see the Bixby Bridge (pictured), one of the most photographed features of all the west coast. After that, motor on to the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, for 3000ft-high ridges, whale watching and hiking to the McWay Falls, which pour 80ft into a scenic cove.
You know you’ve reached Morro Bay when you see its landmark Morro Rock, a huge lump of volcanic stone said to be about 23 million years old. Perhaps recommending it more than the stops along the way, however, is the act of simply driving this route. The views from your window will be nothing short of spectacular, as the almost cerulean sea crashes onto the cliffs that hem the highway. Don’t forget to soak up some R&R on California’s picture-perfect beaches as you go.
An 800-mile round trip is the way to see the very best of Norway, taking in gorgeous greenery inland from Bergen to Oslo, and returning along the coast. A highlight is the Atlantic Road from Kristiansund, linking small coastal communities over eight bridges that curve across the water. Travel during autumn to see stormy seas pounding the road. You’ll also pass through Stavanger on your way back to Bergen, the country’s top spot for surfing.
So picturesque is the Amalfi Coast, it was awarded Unesco World Heritage status in 1997. Begin a road trip in Salerno and weave your way towards Ravello, providing a glut of gorgeous views of the coast from its idyllic gardens. Then skip through pricey Amalfi and spy the green waters at Grotta dello Smeraldo, followed by the Vallone di Furore gorge, before parking up at Sorrento.
At more than 5000km long, this is an epic road trip for an epic country. Starting at party town Salta in the north, the route follows the snowcapped Andes, winds through Tampaya National Park in La Rioja, with its incredible red rock formations and dinosaur fossils, and happily hiccups into the heart of Argentina’s wine industry in Mendoza. Pack a sense of adventure – and, considering the distance, perhaps a cushion for your butt – for the road trip of a lifetime.
Travel from Bilbao and take in the best of the Basque Country, sneaking into France for a 300-mile round trip drive across the rooftop of Europe. From Bilbao, head to Pamplona and through the Pyrenees into France, taking the high mountain Roncesvalles pass (famous for a historic battle in 778 which saw the Basque tribes beat Charles The Great). Once in the foothills you’ll swing by surf mecca Biarritz, then head west back to Bilbao with a view of the Bay of Biscay.