The 10 Best Places for Luxury Road Trips
Many travellers agree that the best way to see any destination is from the ground. Walking or hiking is one option, but if you’ve got a lot on your itinerary across a country that you want to tick off then a road trip is an excellent option.
Whilst living out of the boot of your car, sleeping at campsites and roadside hostels and wearing the same clothes seven days in a row can all add to the authentic road trip experience, it doesn’t always have to be that way. If you’d like to explore a destination from behind the wheel but still want to enjoy a high-end holiday then a luxury road trip could be the perfect solution.
Luxury road trips include all the essential elements of a luxury travel itinerary and add them to the classic self-drive experience. No matter what part of the world you are visiting, it’s a great way to combine stays in a variety of high-end accommodation options with a range of different activities, all with a bespoke edge that makes your holiday more than just a typical road trip.
In this post, we run through some of the best places in the world to enjoy luxury road trips, along with recommendations of what to see and do in each location.
If you’ve been wondering where to go on a road trip then California is often the first suggested destination that comes up. The Golden State is a stunningly beautiful part of North America that gives you the option to explore the coast, cities and rural landscapes, offering a wide variety of places to stop off and enjoy.
California is one of the best places in the states for luxury USA road travel, and the sunny state has a fantastic selection of bespoke accommodation, resorts, and experiences on offer that visitors can pick and choose from. The iconic Route 1 is the most popular way to explore the state on a road trip, with itinerary highlights including glamorous Palm Springs (one of the most luxurious cities in the US), stunning Big Sur, the bright lights of Los Angeles, and Napa’s famous wine region.
California is also a fantastic place to really commit to the American luxury road trip experience and hire a classic vintage car to cruise along the highways in.
For a luxury road trip experience that is the total opposite of the West Coast, Ireland is another incredibly popular destination that has a lot to offer travellers looking for a bespoke experience. There’s no better way to see the country by car, and whether you’re driving along the rugged coastline or winding through gloriously green hillsides, you can get off the tourist trail and make some truly unique memories.
A luxury travel itinerary in Ireland looks like overnight stays in historic castles, exclusive opportunities to sample incredible local food and drink, and a scattering of sightseeing across the charming towns and lively cities. Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route is one of the most popular ways to spend a road trip, but there are plenty of roads with beautiful scenery rolling by that offer a great alternative option.
3. New Zealand
When you think about road trips around New Zealand, you might assume we’re talking about living out of a van for a couple of months and camping in the back seat whenever you can’t find anywhere to stay. That’s far from the only option if you want to explore this unique part of the world by car, however; luxury road trips are the perfect way to combine independent travel with high-end experiences of the country.
New Zealand is a fantastic part of the world if you’re looking for a luxury travel experience that focuses on the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors. From helicopter rides over breathtaking landscapes to exclusive retreats in the countryside and restorative treatments, classes and meals made from local produce, there’s no better place to visit for a road trip that allows you to totally unwind and disconnect.
Once you get up into the rugged highlands of Scotland the only real way to get around is by car. Couple this with the fact that this northern part of the UK is a brilliant place for a bespoke travel experience, and you’ve got the recipe for an unforgettable luxury travel itinerary.
It’s enough to spend a holiday winding through the incredible Scottish countryside from accommodation to accommodation, whether you’re spending the night in a country estate, rural hotel or even a converted castle on the coast. You can also enjoy exceptional food and drink from local producers, enjoy world-class spas, golf courses and resorts between drives, or even take your road trip further to the Outer Hebrides islands for a truly unique experience.
5. New England
For an American road trip with a bit of a difference, New England is a region that is ideal for those looking for luxury travel from behind the wheel. There are plenty of jewels in the crown of this part of the USA, with New York, Boston and Washington all providing excellent start or finish points for a road trip that has a little bit of everything on offer.
Other destinations that are ideal for luxury road trips include Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, providing plenty of opportunities to cruise along the coast with the top down. If visiting in the autumn then a road trip around Vermont offers incredible scenery and exceptional luxury accommodation options, from countryside inns to log cabins and rustic farmhouses.
6. South Africa
South Africa is a destination that most people associate with safari holidays, but it’s also a brilliant place for a road trip that is more than just your classic self-drive holiday. A favourite starting point for an itinerary is The Garden Route, which is ideal for travellers who want to combine driving along a gorgeous coastal highway with wine tasting, vineyard trips and walks along beautiful beaches.
Route 62 is another favourite road trip journey for those who are spending longer in South Africa, connecting the Western and Eastern Capes of the country from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. As well as more opportunities for vineyard trips, there are also hot mineral springs and private Roman baths en route, game reserves for a safari, and plenty of gorgeous natural scenery to explore on foot when you need a break from driving.
Norway is a wonderful holiday destination for luxury travel, and getting around the country by car allows you to admire the unique range of scenery from the ground. You can connect exclusive tours of the fjords with expeditions to try and catch the Northern Lights, dog sledding adventures with stays in cosy log cabins in the snow, and trips between vibrant cities like Oslo and Bergen with peaceful drives through rugged landscapes.
Whilst it’s not enough to fill a full driving itinerary, The Atlantic Road in Norway is a highlight that many travellers include on their route. The islands between Molde and Kristiansund in the western fjords are linked together by eight low bridges and not only do you get to experience the thrilling curves and dips of the road, but you can also spot whales, seals and native birds from the passenger seat.
Canada is a classic destination for luxury road trips and is particularly suited to travellers who enjoy outdoor experiences and activities on their holidays. From mountainous vistas to arctic landscapes, dense green forests and wild stretches of coastline, the views throughout Canada are simply stunning and the experiences on offer in each region have something to offer for everyone.
There are several established road trip routes around Canada if you’re looking for a classic experience, such as The Alcan Highway to Alaska, the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton and the Trans-Canadian which takes you through all ten provinces. Combine any of these routes with trips to spas and hotels, exclusive tours of natural wonders, visits to famous cities and even exhilarating activities like helicopter rides, and you’ve got a holiday itinerary you’ll never forget.
Many travellers decide to explore Italy by rail or by air, but it’s actually a brilliant country for a road trip that is ideal for those looking for a luxury experience on their holiday. The Italian Lakes are a firm favourite for a luxury travel itinerary, where you can combine visits to the charming lakeside towns with stays in luxurious hotels overlooking the water or up in the mountains.
The Amalfi Coast road is another great route for a high-end trip, as long as you’re comfortable traversing winding, coastal roads in a hired car! Visit Positano, Amalfi and Salerno, enjoy boat trips out to islands like Capri, and dine at some of southern Italy’s most famous restaurants with views of the ocean glimmering in the distance.
The final recommendation in our guide for where to go on a road trip is Switzerland. This European country is known for being a mecca of luxury travel experiences and the best way to combine all of these is by driving between alpine resorts, skiing villages and lakeside towns.
You’ve got to be a confident driver if you’re going on a road trip around Switzerland, as the majority of roads are through valleys or mountains and require nerves of steel as you navigate sharp turns and steep hills. Popular routes include the drive from Appenzell to St Moritz, the Furka Pass, Zurich to Bern and the Julier Pass, all of which promise jaw-dropping scenery and plenty of highlights to enjoy along the way.
Can a travel agent plan a road trip?
Travel agents can plan road trip itineraries for their customers, and many agencies exist for this exact purpose. If you’re looking for a luxury road trip experience then it can often be easier to organise it through a travel agent, especially if you’re visiting a country you haven’t been to before, as it will save you masses of time trying to find and book accommodation and read reviews to ensure that the stops along the way are actually worth doing.
How do I create a road trip itinerary?
Many people use existing road trip itineraries as the starting point of their own, and if you’re visiting a new destination or travelling a classic road trip route then this is often the best option. Otherwise, start by making a list of everything you want to do and the places you definitely want to see, look at where all of these are on a map, and figure out an itinerary based on the time it will take to drive between them, including any other necessary stops along the way.