You can’t really like coach tours without being a fan of hitting the open road – after all, the essence and indeed the very beauty of coach travel is the sense of a good old road trip. Inspired by the new tour of the famous Orbital of London (the M25), we thought we’d take a look at some of the world’s best, most scenic or just plain scary road trips.
1. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Fancy an Italian job? The Costiera Amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, is considered Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline, a breath-taking landscape of villages terraced into hillsides and expansive vistas over the sea. Deemed by UNESCO “an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values” the coast was awarded a coveted spot on the World Heritage list in 1997. Brace yourself for the narrow winding coastal road that runs from Amalfi to Sorrento through Positano, a challenging drive as you dodge the behind-the-wheel bravado of the Italian locals! Amalfi itself offers a stunning seafront setting with plenty of cafes and top end shopping boutiques where you can spend, spend, spend! So grab a bottle of vino (after all, you’re not driving) and say salute to the great Amalfi drive!
2. Texas – The Hill Country Drive, USA
So y’all want to hear about another road trip that might cut the mustard? Well then, don your Stetson and say ‘howdy partners’ to The Hill Country route which sweeps in a 200-mile loop along US Highways, starting in San Antonio continuing onto Cowboy capital Bandera, then Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock, Johnson City and New Braunfels, before returning back to San Antonio. In Bandera, travellers can pop into the Frontier Museum to view the human shrunken head and purchase a must have rubber tomahawk! Finally, Texan tucker is not known for its low fat qualities but it’s darn tasty all the same so on this route you can sample local delights such as chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken or a catfish platter. Mmmmmmmm.
3. The Will Rogers Highway, Route 66, USA
Probably the most famous route in the world. Whether you drive like your Nan or you drive like your hair is on fire the Route 66 cuts right through the heart of America and offers roadies a broad spectrum of states along the way: running Northeast to Southwest The Mother Road starts in Chicago, then onto Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California finally ending in Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles. And staying true to the cause why not head for the Route 66 Museum on Gary Boulevard, Oklahoma where visitors can walk through 6 decades of ‘route history’. Oklahoma is also the proud home to country singing sensation, Garth Brooks. If you want to stay somewhere a bit different then The Wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona offers guests a retro looking concrete tee pee, each with a vintage car parked outside for authenticity. Finally for weary drivers reaching the end of the road, go get y’all a traditional style pattie at the Route 66 Classic Grill in Santa Clarita – what better way to finish off your American adventure?
4. The Cape and Winelands of South Africa
For the wine connoisseurs amongst us, how about a circular road trip around the Cape Peninsula? Cape Town and its surrounds of beautiful beaches and countryside views provide you with a stunning backdrop for this trip. Visit the world famous wine estate of Stellenbosch, sample the grape juice of the heavens and perhaps come face to face with a hand-reared cheetah at the Cheetah Outreach. Or perhaps float into the blue abyss on a balloon trip over the region of Paarl with a view of Table Mountain off in the distance. Whether you visit the Artfunto Gallery in Franschhoeck or take part in a traditional African dance experience, the Winelands has plenty to do for all who visit. The captivating scenery, coupled with a rich cultural history, unique flora and some incredible wildlife makes this is a fantastic destination for driving enthusiasts who enjoy the open road and a variety of activities to boot!
5. Old Yungas Road AKA ‘Death Road’, Bolivia
This delightful auto-route is NOT for the faint-hearted driver nor passenger. Named the “world’s most dangerous road” this treacherous road twists and turns for approximately 40 miles between the capital city of La Paz and the town of Coroico in the Yungas jungle region. Dropping nearly 12,000 feet in overall elevation (that’s roughly the same as a skydive) the road is extremely narrow, subject to frequent landslides and fog and offers user absolutely no protection from the sheer cliffs that drop straight down for several thousand feet at a time. If other roads seem risky, the Old Yungas Road is nothing less than a suicide mission! Not a restaurant or a bar in sight, this route is purely for locals, weary bus and coach tourists and thrill –seeking cyclists.
6. The London Orbital, England
And finally, it’s certainly not as glamorous or as hair-raising as its aforementioned cousins but it is most definitely quirky as far we as we’re concerned. Run by The Brighton & Hove Bus Company the brand new tour is proving popular with die-hard coach goers. Tickets cost £15 to partake in the 117-mile circuit which begins at Junction 7. A twist you’ll be delighted to learn is that the company will surprise you on direction of travel be it clock-wise or counter –clockwise! Hotspots included in the whistle-stop tour are Lakeside, Heathrow’s terminals and the ‘stunning’ views from the Queen Elizabeth Dartford Crossing Bridge. Passengers can also take in the delights of Clackett Lane Services. Passengers up for this road trip will learn that on 29th October 1986 Maggie Thatcher opened the last section of the M25 and at the time it was celebrated as “a showpiece of British engineering skills, planning, design and construction” but in 2002 BBC4 radio listeners voted the M25 the most hated road in Britain. Perhaps participants hope to catch a re-run of some of the delights that M25 has had to offer as in Sept 2010 a lorry driver was caught munching on a bowl of cornflakes as he thundered along. It was later reported that police said he was a cereal offender! Or could the day trippers be treated to another episode of udder chaos as in May 2011 a cow caused a 6 minute closure of the road before police moo-ved her back to her field… Soooo, if a tour of the M25 tickles your driving fancy then book a trip or jump in your car and get motoring.
What’s the best (or worse) road trip you’ve ever been on? Let us know in the comments!