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While I was on a recent trip to southern Oregon with my brother-in-law, I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble (yes, a *real* bookstore) for $4.99 titled “The World’s Most Scenic Drives: 101 Trips to Take.” I couldn’t wait to crack it open.
Included were several road trips with which I was already familiar. But overall I’ve only taken a few of them, and even then only pieces. Our trip to Canada in 2015 included a portion of the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. But we actually didn’t even complete half of the scenic loop on Cape Breton Island (lesson learned: we tried to see too much too fast that trip!).
After browsing the book (which was a fantastic buy for $5), three of the drives I’d already dreamed of taking cemented themselves at the top of my list:
Coastal Norway from Bergen to Tromsø
Driving the scenic Norwegian coast for 2-3 weeks tops my list of road trips I hope to undertake in the next few years. The fjords look spectacular, and the towns utterly picturesque.
The route I would like to take is from Bergen all the way up to Tromsø, above the Arctic Circle. The book actually only suggests Steinkjer to Bodø, but I’d like to extend this a bit. I envision plenty of stops along the ways, some for days at a time. Drive time? Probably in excess of 48 hours, not including return.
The other benefit of road-tripping Norway is the chance to drive the Atlantic Road, a scenic stretch of highway that hops from islet to islet along the edge of the North Sea.
Norwegian Air flies nonstop from Oakland to Oslo, so I hope to score a deal on our flights.
Ireland’s West Coast
My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Ireland as part of our European adventure last summer (SEE: Thirty Days in Europe). But we really didn’t see the best of the county. Nevertheless, our trip was great. We had a leisurely time in the midlands, and then several days in Dublin (SEE: 9 of the best hotels in Dublin, Ireland). It was nice to wind the trip down at a slow pace.
But I was definitely left yearning to come back to Ireland. Next time we visit we will absolutely be taking a coastal tour along the western coast of the Emerald Isle. It will stretch from the Ring of Kerry all the way to the Giant’s Causeway in the north (technically, the book only suggests the Ring of Kerry drive, but I want to do *much* more).
The scenery looks spectacular. My desire is to drive from Cork to Donegal over 10-12 days, winding along the western coast, to be able to really enjoy the adventure.
With all the fare sales on WOW Air from SFO to Reykjavik, it is honestly a miracle I haven’t booked a $250 round trip to Iceland by now. I’ve had my eye on the tickets for quite some time. WOW seems to offer a sale at least once a month.
Driving the circuit of highway around the perimeter of Iceland can be done in about 16 hours (according to Google). However, this is another trip where I would want to plan numerous stops, taking at least a week, and preferably more like 12 days to explore.
Spending a few days in Vatnajökull National Park would be a must, as would a detour to drive some of the fjords. We’d of course also need to see Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss, two of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
Although there are plenty more road trips that I would love to take, I know that I’ll be prioritizing these over the others. My wife and I are unsure what our traveling future will look like (as we will be going from just the two of us to a family of 5 later this year!), but I would love to make these our next three Europe trips.
Tips on hotels for these trips: I’ll be picking up a Club Carlson card (or two) and actually devoting some spend to them as well. These cards are generally underrated and under-appreciated since the “last night free” benefit went away, but Club Carlson is the most prolific “hackable” hotel chain for all of these trips.
Featured image (Atlantic Road) courtesy of Ernst Vikne under CC 2.0 license. Photo of mountains in Norway courtesy of Simo Räsänen under CC 3.0 license. Photo of Irish ruins courtesy of Tony Webster under CC 2.0 license.