If you’re used to sticking to the usual highways and commuter routes lined with dull scenery and horn-happy fellow commuters, taking on an amazing coastal drive as part of a relaxing holiday, can prove there’s still a driving thrill to be found amongst the beautiful scenery and sea air. Combining driving with a luxury holiday means you’ll want to do it in style. Choose a classic or modern convertible to get around in and the experience will be a comfortable and memorable one.
Pacific Coast Highway – Montery South to Santa Barbara (Distance: 250 miles)
Live out your American dream on this coastal drive that takes you along California State Route 1 following the twists and turns of the pacific coastline. The whole route of the pacific coast highway actually spans more than 1500 miles from North to South, but the 240 miles between Montery South and Santa Barbara offers up some of the best scenery along the route.
The 250 mile route can be completed comfortably in one day, but with many attractions to see along the route, if you have the time to spare, extend the trip with overnight stays along the route.
Ideally, to make the most of the drive, it’s recommended to travel from North to South as the ocean will be on your side of the road, meaning you can make the most of the views whilst keeping a careful eye on the road.
The route begins at Montery, around 115 miles south of San Francisco, home to the Montery Bay aquarium, and nearby Pebble Beach (five-time hosts of the U.S Open).
There are many highlights along the route but the 30 mile stretch between Carmel and Big Sur is amongst the best, offering up iconic coastal views of beaches, cliffs and crashing waves. Take the opportunity to pull over and admire the views and sample local foods and wine (if you’re not the one driving).
The route ends at Santa Barbara, home to one of the prettiest buildings and tourist attractions in Mission Santa Barbara (a church founded in 1786). Santa Barbara is the perfect place to rest and spend a couple of days soaking up the Californian beach atmosphere, local seafood and wine.
Great Ocean Road – Torquay to Warrnambool (Distance: 151 miles)
Situated South of Melbourne, the Great ocean road is one of Victoria’s biggest attractions. The route begins at the surf capital of Torquay, famous as being the birthplace of the Rip Curl and Quicksilver brands as well as the world famous surfing beach of Bells Beach. Stretching for 151 miles, the road was built between 1919 and 1932 by returned servicemen in memory of those fellow servicemen who had become casualties of World War I.
Although it is possible to complete the route in one day, there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way as well as sampling wines from the local Geelong region, enjoying a relaxing spa treatment or just a welcome break from driving.
Journeying along the route from East to West, the rugged coastline reveals natural highlights including the popular attraction of the 12 apostles (a group of 12 rock stacks rising out of the sea that were formed and shaped from the soft limestone rock over time by the pounding wind and water of the southern ocean).
Winding west along the South coast, you pass through towns including Anglesea and Port Campbell before ending at the city of Warrnambool. And if after your drive, you find yourself in the mood for a spot of golf, carry on a little further west to the small fishing town of Port Fairy and its 18-hole links course.
Amalfi Coast – Salerno to Positano (Distance: 27 miles)
Italy has some beautiful scenery and none more so than the Amalfi Coast which many regard as the country’s finest. Lying on the southern coastline of the Sorrento Peninsula, the drive between Salerno and Positano takes in traditional Italian hillside villages, exotic gardens and turquoise coloured waters.
The journey starts in the port town of Salerno before winding eastward toward the scenic coastal village of Positano. Carved out of the side of the coastal cliffs, the road is a true coastal classic providing views of the Tyrrhenian Sea whilst taking you round hairpin bends.
At under 30 miles, it’s possible to whizz through the route in under an hour, but due to the narrow and winding roads you’ll be reminded to keep one eye on the road and not just on the scenery.
If you leave time to do one thing along the route, make it’s to enjoy some locally produced limoncello made using lemons grown in nearby hillside. Obviously if you’re the one doing the driving, you’ll have to make do with a souvenir bottle to sample when you’re not behind the wheel.
Instead of taking on the route in one go, why not spend some time in the local region. This will give you time to enjoy the drive more than once, whilst also allowing you to explore the historical villages like Praiano or Amalfi found along the route.
Alternatively, you could also choose to extend your trip to the village of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi where the Don Alfonso restaurant resides. With two Michelin stars to its name, you can be guaranteed a fine dining experience that many believe to be the best available in southern Italy.
Kate Rose is the Head of Travel Insurance at Confused.com.