Often the most satisfying way to explore a new place is to grab a car, hit the highway and see what takes your fancy along the way. A vague plan of where you’re headed is advised (only so you don’t miss anything – we’ve got some great ideas below), and after that you’re free to follow your curiosity and make as many pit stops as you please!
First stop: Canada
With friendly folk, excellent roads and breathtaking scenery everywhere you look, Canada is self-drive holiday heaven. One bucket-list route is the Alaska Highway, which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. It stretches 1900km through British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska, and is steeped in history, wildlife, nature and cultural gold. Also in Yukon, the Top of the World, Dempster and Klondike highways have much to offer the avid road-tripper (midnight sun, for example).
Outdoorsy types will appreciate the action-packed Sea-to-Sky Highway from Vancouver to Whistler, where crystal-clear lakes, mountain vistas and adrenaline sports are par for the course. Elsewhere in the Rockies, keep your camera at the ready on the magnificent Icefields Parkway, which snakes between Lake Louise and Jasper through two national parks in Alberta.
Further east, coast along the Maritime routes from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island and soak up the seaside villages, crayon-coloured lighthouses and the best seafood of your life.
Second stop: USA
Get your hands on a Chevy or Cadillac and set sail on the romantic Route 66 from Chicago to California! Expect a thrilling, rather retro tour through small-town America as you make your way through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. A delight for nostalgia buffs.
Closer to home, we also adore the drive down the east side of Oahu in Hawaii, from the North Shore to Waikiki. Don’t miss Kailua Beach Park and Haleiwa.
Third stop: France
Take the coastal route along the French Riviera in the South of France from Montpellier to Nice. It’s the nicest, tastiest way to experience the glamour of Cannes and St Tropez as well as the rustic terracotta charm of Provence. C’est magnifique!
Equally fascinating in a vastly different way is the prehistoric Vézère Valley drive in the Dordogne region, which sits between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees. Cave paintings from 15,000 B.C and fairytale chateaux await.
Nearly home: New Zealand
Only three hours from our shores, the coolly beautiful South Island Circuit is just waiting to be admired. Deserted beaches, native forests, rolling hills, snowy peaks and waterfalls are all in a day’s viewing. Arguably the most amazing part? Between Queenstown and Mount Cook.
Meanwhile, the North Island is certainly not without its charms – don’t miss the Corramandel Coast and the Bay of Islands.
Local treasures: Australia
Tour the world-famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria and remember our World War I soldiers as you admire the startling rock formations of the Twelve Apostles. Further south, give into the wild, untamed beauty of The Tasmanian Peninsula drive, where rugged coastline gives way to stunningly clear waters. Highlights include Tasman’s Arch and the Devil’s Kitchen.
Presented by Destination Canada.