Top 10 drives in the world

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Whether it’s to be a dizzying Alpine pass or an epic Pacific road trip, this guide to the top 10 drives in the world will help you choose the right hotel.

Pacific Coast Highway, USA

A 485-mile California dream of a drive, the Pacific Coast Highway stretches from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to Los Angeles. Roll down the window and slip on shades to drive past golden beaches thrashed by waves, cliff-hugging Big Sur and billionaire’s folly Hearst Castle.

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Glasgow to Skye, Scotland

Even driving rain can’t dampen the beauty of the 215 miles of dramatic Highland scenery between Glasgow and Skye. Allow a day to take in shimmering Loch Lomond, Glencoe’s rugged splendour and the ever-changing greenery of Skye’s mountains.

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Great Ocean Road, Australia

Vertical limestone cliffs, luxuriant rainforest and the occasional koala await on Australia’s 160-mile Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Warrnambool. Make time for breaks on deserted golden bays, the Otway Ranges’ giant sequoia treetop walks and the Twelve Apostles rock stacks.

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Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Clinging precipitously to volcanic cliffs, Maui’s Hana Highway is a rollerc oaster of a road with 617 hairpin bends and 56 narrow bridges. The sublime 50-mile route takes in the pounding surf of Pacific beaches, waterfalls and lush jungle with mangos so close you can almost pick them.

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French Riviera, France

For sheer James Bond feeling, choose an open-top car to cruise the 112 miles from Hyères to Menton on the French Riviera. The road swings giddily past cliffs and palm-fringed bays, lemon groves and yacht harbours. Celebrity spotters stay in hotels in ritzy Cannes and Monaco.

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Icefields Parkway, Canada

Discover the remote wilderness of the Canadian Rockies on the 143-mile route from Lake Louise to Jasper. When the snow melts, Icefields Parkway is one of the top 10 drives in the world, blazing past waterfalls, glaciers and soaring peaks. Look out for elk and bighorn sheep.

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Garden Route, South Africa

Leave Table Mountain behind to follow the coast east past placid lakes, rainforest and white-sand beaches on the 500-mile Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Factor in breaks for whale watching at Port Beaufort and elephant encounters in Knysna. May to November is the best time to travel.

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Haugesund to North Cape, Norway

Traversing the length of Norway, the 1,500-mile route from Haugesund to North Cape’s sheer cliffs is a silent symphony of deep fjords, glaciers and bright fishing villages. Drive in summer for 24-hour daylight. The roads become lonelier as you approach the Arctic Circle and reindeer may be your sole companions. 

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Grossglockner Road, Austria

Austria’s dizzying Grossglockner Road corkscrews past the Hohe Tauern National Park’s jagged peaks and gemstone lakes. Accessible from May to October, the road wriggles through high pastures and mountains to 3,797m-high Grossglockner and the dazzling Pasterze Glacier. 

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Nelson to Invercargill, New Zealand

The outstanding landscapes of Zealand’s South Island unfold on this 615-mile, north-south drive from Nelson to Invercargill. The route sweeps south to whale-watching town Kaikoura, the Southern Alps’ glaciated peaks, the Fjordland National Park and adventure sports mecca Queenstown. 

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