8 of the best road trips in the world
8th August 2021
Road trips are about so much more than getting from A to B. Slow down and watch fjords trace paths between the plains in Norway, crystal lakes make way for crooked peaks in Argentina, or stalactites clinging to cave walls in South Africa along, with plenty of culture-filled pit stops along the way.
Our local partners’ will plan a self drive holiday that’s completely tailored to you (with no chance you’ll skip any highlights hiding off the beaten track).
South Africa is a fascinating country. But did you know any of our top three facts about it?
If you're looking for something to get you in the mood before you set off on your travels to Argentina, we've gathered a list of our favourite books to inspire you.
'In Patagonia' by Bruce Chatwin
Renowned British travel writer Bruce Chatwin explores seventies Patagonia through a series of short anecdotes and historical insights – a true classic which shot Chatwin to fame.
'The Tango Singer' by Tomás Eloy Martínez
Written by one of Argentina’s most celebrated journalists and authors, this fictional novel charts the story of a New York student in search of an elusive tango singer. The book is at once a homage to the writer Borges, and a glimpse into Buenos Aires’ scintillating tango scene.
'Hard Times in Buenos Aires' by Miranda France
A fun and accessible portrait of Buenos Aires in the troubled nineties. Written by a British foreign correspondent it captures life in the city with all its quirks and flaws intact.
This long, slender country has countless charms, but what are some of the best things to do in Italy? These are some of the top things recommended by our local partners.
Enjoy the cultural riches
Delve into Italy's great historic cities like Rome, Florence and Venice - each awash with fine art and architecture including some of the world's finest masterpieces, often housed in breathtaking palazzi with historical importance. To experience culture at a community level, make time to enjoy convivial local festivals dedicated to food, wine, patron saints or the changing of the seasons. Join the Italians on their evening passeggiata, a gentle daily riot of chatter, browsing shop windows, parading the latest fashions or just indulging in a gelato.
The baroque delights of historic Sicily jostle with the wonderful cuisine, glittering coastline and impressive landscapes for your attention. Will you find yourself admiring the stunning churches of Palermo, perusing the raucous fish market in Catania or scaling the heights of Etna for its amazing panoramic views? The cluster of baroque towns such as Siracusa, Ragusa and Modica in the south east of the island are a delight, as are the seaside destinations of Toarmina and Cefalù.
Food glorious food
Italians take enormous pride in their gastronomic heritage, and each region has a distinct food culture all of its own. The best way to understand the soul of Italy is through experiencing first hand the reverence placed upon cooking and eating. A family meal is traditionally so much more than a refuel. Ideally, several generations are present, many hands will have contributed to the preparation, the produce will be local and seasonal, and the recipes will reflect regional culinary preferences. Then of course, the meal will last for hours and conversation will flow. This is the foundation of Italian family life.
The drama of the Amalfi coast will transport you to the past, when the diminutive maritime villages held huge importance to seafaring, reflected in the sumptuous churches and impressive architecture of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello which perch precariously above the waves. Sardinia's beaches are the finest in Italy, many with soft white sand clearly visible through the tempting turquoise water which is usually crystal clear and calm. Whether you prefer exclusive resorts or traditional farmstays, you can find your perfect base to enjoy Sardinia's charms.
Tuscany's stunning scenery
Many of Italy's most memorable views are waiting for you in iconic Tuscany, not least the iconic leaning tower in Pisa. Add to that the famous Ponte Vecchio over the river Arno in Florence and Brunelleschi's gravity defying dome; Siena's shell shaped piazza and San Gimignano's 72 medieval towers - the whole region is a photographer's dream. Add to that a thousand jaw dropping vistas over the endless Tuscan hills, home to ancient olive groves, vineyards and bucolic stone hamlets.
While there are many well-known things to do in Iceland, what about the lesser-known highlights? Our local experts have shared some of their top tips for where to go and what to do if you fancy a bit of an alternative Icelandic adventure.
Soak in the GeoSea Spa Baths
This new and purpose-built thermal bathing experience is located in Húsavík. The region’s underground thermal source is actually hot seawater, which is too mineral rich to be used heating houses. Instead, a luxurious complex has arisen. The GeoSpa’s hot seawater baths are known for their therapeutic qualities at an optimal temperature of 38°-39°C, with the waters overflowing back to the sea for a reassuringly clean bathing environment. Soak in the waters and the views, with Skjálfandi Bay and the Arctic Circle in the distance.
Animals and adventures
Iceland is one of the world’s top adventure tourism destinations, and activities can be combined with a love for animals. Undertake an incredible cross-country horse treks on one of Iceland’s unique, Viking-descended horses, or head out to the country’s Western or Northern extremities such as Dalvik Village to embark on a whale or puffin-spotting boat tour. Long-weekenders can even whale-watch out of Reykjavik or visit the capital’s Whales of Iceland Museum.
Trek an epic trail
The Laugavegur Trail is an iconic point-to-point hike that takes around five days to complete. Every day on the trail exceeds the last, with truly phenomenal steaming, volcanic, snow or black ash covered terrain and vistas at every turn. It’s genuinely remote and only possible in summer, with campsites, simple lodgings and food available at most huts. Travel light and prepare to have your mind blown by these staggering landscapes.
Norway has bountiful attractions, but there are a few highlights that are considered the most popular things to do when visiting. Read on to discover them.
Explore the fjords
A quick glance at any map of Norway will instantly explain why this is a country famous for its fjords. The entire coast is a jagged riot of rocky, mountainous land laced with waterways carved by glaciers, more than a thousand of which are designated as fjords. Cruising through calm waters either by ferry, kayak or stand-up paddle board surrounded by soaring cliffs and waterfalls is a wonder, as is the sight of marine life and birds in this pristine environment. Some of the most popular include Sognefjord, Norway's longest; Nærøyfjord; Geirangerfjord; Hardangerfjord and Lysefjord, but there are literally hundreds of lesser visited fjords waiting for you to discover. Our local partners know them better than anyone and can advise you on the ones they would recommend the most.
Discover the Lofoten islands
Straight out of a fairytale, this collection of islands is the jewel in Norway's sparkling crown. Rugged mountains rise sheer from the sea, sheltering fjords and pretty little fishing villages with red clapboard cottages on stilts clinging to the shore. Arctic nature has an elemental beauty that is abundant here, best enjoyed by getting out into the wilds to appreciate the varied wildlife, epic landscapes and clean, sweet air. The Lofoten archipelago is on the fringes of Europe and takes some getting to, but you will be rewarded by the awe-inspiringly beautiful scenery, viking heritage and the untainted purity of nature.
Experience life in Oslo
Impeccable environmental credentials and a brilliant flair for modern architecture and design make Oslo a truly trailblazing city. Around 50% of the capital's buildings are powered using energy recouped by waste incineration, and it is at the forefront of similar sustainable technologies on the global stage. Oslo is also packed with fascinating museums and galleries, don't miss the Viking longship museum for deep dive into Norway's traditional seafaring prowess. Relax in the city's contemporary spaces and waterside promenades, enjoy the sophisticated dining scene and admire the harmonious Scandinavian culture and society.
Heading out into the cold waters off Norway's spectacular coastline and watching these majestic creatures as they blow, breach and roll not far from the railing of your boat is truly a bucketlist experience. And if you go at the right time of year, you have a 95% chance of seeing them - far better odds than your average wildlife seeking excursion! The most common type of whale in Norwegian waters is the sperm whale, but you can also see orcas, pilot whales, fin whales and humpbacks. The official whale watching season in Norway runs from October to mid-January, but usually you're in with a reasonable chance of spotting a humpback or two until the end of March, particularly in the more sheltered waters near the fjords. If you're after orcas and porpoises, then you should head to the Lofoten islands sometime between the end of May and September. Speak to our local partners and they can give you the best advice on where you want to head when for your optimum whale sightings.
Breezy, bustling Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords. It's a friendly place with lots to see and easy access to some of Norway's most majestic scenery. Bergen thrived as part of the Hanseatic league, and relics from those heady days of trade remain at the historic, picturesque wharf of Bryggen where today you can dine on fresh seafood at the numerous fish stalls in the market. Ascend via cableway or funicular to the top of nearby mountains to appreciate the maritime activity at the busy port, the colourful cityscape, and Bergen's amazing surroundings from on high.
"We had 3 weeks travelling, and the advice in their self-drive book meant that we didn't miss a turn!"
Neil (UK) in South Africa
"We had an amazing time in Namibia on a self drive tour - we drove 1500 miles but it was never dull!"
Katie (UK) in Namibia