There’s no shortage of beautiful roads with scenic vistas, from the Atlantic Road in Norway to the Great Ocean Road in Australia and the famous Route 66 in the United States, to name a few. However, as the popularity of road trips increases, so does the traffic along well-known routes.
If you’re looking for a more offbeat experience for your summer getaway, consider these scenic drives that, according to one recent studyare among the world’s top-rated under-the-radar routes:
#1 Causeway Coastal Route, United Kingdom
Research has found that the most underrated road trip is the UK’s Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. Despite having 98.1% positive reviews on Tripadvisor, the road trip only had 23,700 searches in the last 12 months. Stretching from Belfast to historic Derry, the entire route is dotted with spectacular sea views, picturesque villages, majestic castles and cathedrals, and well-known Game of Thrones filming locations.
#2 Route des Crêtes, France
In second place, the Route des Crêtes in France. Stretching from the port town of Cassis to the Provence village of La Ciotat, the narrow cliff-top road offers striking panoramic views of rugged limestone mountains, scenic countryside, rugged coves and shingle beaches with the vivid blue waters of the Mediterranean as a backdrop. Despite garnering 98.5% positive reviews, the player was searched just over 130,000 times last year.
#3 Foothills Parkway, USA
In third place is the United States Foothills Parkway. The scenic route skirts the foothills of the ancient Great Smoky Mountains that span both North Carolina and Tennessee. The 72-mile route offers striking mountain scenery on one side and sweeping views of the Tennessee Valley hills on the other. Even though the road trip has garnered an impressive 97.5% positive reviews, it has only been searched on Google 68,700 times in the last 12 months.
#4 Lamar Valley, USA
Close behind is another US-based road trip: Lamar Valley with just 68,000 annual Google searches despite 97.4% rave reviews. Flanked by towering mountain ranges, the river valley is located in the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. The 33-mile route is lined with numerous setbacks for wildlife viewing. Besides bison and wolves, drivers may be lucky enough to spot grizzly bears, pronghorns, badgers, bald eagles, ospreys, deer and coyotes, especially at dawn or dusk when wildlife is most active.
#5 Trail Ridge Road, USA
Traversing the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park from its southern entrance to the eastern entrance, Trail Ridge Road is an exhilarating drive that will delight any driver with its sweeping views of lush aspen groves, wildflower meadows and evergreen forests. , hairpin bends and elevation that tops out at 12,183 feet. There are plenty of lookouts, setbacks, and trailheads along the 48-mile route to rest and soak up the stunning scenery.
#6 Beartooth Highway, United States
Glistening alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks, plunging canyons and grand cirques chiseled by glaciers form the fascinating landscape along this seasonal route, which ends in the mountain towns of Red Lodge and Cooke City. Additionally, the 68-mile route climbs 10,947 feet above sea level, making it the highest highway in the Northern Rockies.
#7 Route Napoleon, France
Winding through the French Alps, this historic route traces the journey of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his army from the Côte d’Azur to the Alps after his escape from exile in early 1815. The breathtaking panoramic views of soaring peaks, plunging gorges, emerald green lakes, charming medieval villages and the picturesque Côte d’Azur along the way make this route a tourist destination in its own right.
#8 San Juan Skyway, USA
Nicknamed “the road to heaven,” this 233-mile loop in Colorado winds through majestic mountains, alpine meadows, rugged ridgelines, historic mining towns, and rolling hills dotted with ancient Pueblan ruins, making makes it one of the most scenic drives in America. Although the route has only been searched for just over 24,000 times in the past year, it has garnered an impressive 95.7% positive reviews from road trippers.
#9 Needles Highway, USA
Winding through Custer State Park in South Dakota, this scenic drive is lined with the giant needle-like granite formations that give the highway its name. With narrow tunnels, spiral bridges, hairpin bends and dense forests of birch, pine and spruce as a backdrop, driving the Needles Highway is a thrilling experience of a lifetime. Aside from the spectacular views, the most famous aspect of this road trip is undoubtedly the Needle Eye Tunnel. Formed by centuries of erosion by rain, ice and wind, this fearsome one-way tunnel is just 8 feet wide and 11 feet high.
#10 Great St. Bernard Pass, Italy
At 8,100 feet, the Great St. Bernard Pass is one of the highest road passes in the Swiss Alps. Panoramic views of lush valleys, glaciers, steep canyons and pristine lakes greet drivers along the route. Adrenaline junkies will especially love the added challenge of threading the car through steep inclines, steep drop-offs and tight turns.