Road Trips To Soothe The Soul

Nick Nomi

Senior Contributor

While some are craving the proximity of other humans, others are still wary of returning from the dubious mundanity of this new, but rapidly ageing normality. So while those with travel anxieties may not want to venture too far, or at all by mass transport, we’ve curated these road trips specifically for their seclusion. They are enveloped by Instagrammable views, and while accessible, many have isolation worn into their time trodden DNA, and others are simply a link between two places, speckled with the everyday beauty of their very fortunate locations. Some will take days to traverse, others mere moments en route to a grander destination, but all are worth the journey, if only for the expression of freedom that travel and exploration brings.

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

This road trip could take one as little or as long a time as desired but in terms of driving, the route is a gloriously long 50 hours of pure driving, passing along breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, with otherworldly cliffs, idyllic coves, blue flag beaches, lively towns like Galway and some of the prettiest countrysides in Europe along the route. Stretching across the entire Atlantic (west) coast of Ireland, the route can be planned to take in as little or as much civilisation as one wants. But highlights include Dursey Island, the iconic Cliffs of Moher, 16th-century Dunguaire Castle and the astounding beauty of Kylemore Abbey.

The Snake’s Pass (A57), England

Not known for romantic epithets, the Peak District chose to name its most notorious road after its winding, slippery nature rather its beauty — though it is often closed and barren in the winter and filled with sightseers in the summer due to its infamy. Those old enough to remember Def Leppard might be interested to know that it's on this road that the drummer lost his arm, but don’t allow its frightful reputation to ruin what is otherwise a beautifully winsome route between Manchester and Sheffield. Instead, (slowly) enjoy the spiralling turns and breathtaking descents into lonely shadowed lanes, and at the highest point, 1679 metres above sea level (look for the kissing gates marking a crossing point of the Pennine Way) take in the staggeringly pretty topographical cinematics: steep hills with fluffy sheep shaped dots staring at craggy ravines and lush pastures blending into inky reservoirs, a fully woven tapestry of bucolic artistry.

Geneva to Montreux

While not quite as remote as others on this list, this particular road trip can easily be enjoyed in entirety from the comfort of the car — with views aplenty — if one needs a quick reset and there are plenty of detours stopping in idyllic lakeside villages and atop immersive hills with views of Switzerland and France for those in need fresh air and nature. From Geneva, head towards Montreux, but make a slight detour to the delightful village of Yvoire to take in the flowery harbour and the old fortifications. And once in Montreux, stop in the hills for the vistas of the lake enhanced by the stunning postcard view of Chillon Castle set against a backdrop of jagged mountain peaks. Complete the circuit around Lake Geneva, via always pretty Lausanne. For a longer trip, add on the vineyards of Lavaux, the waters of Evian and the Roman Amphitheatre of Martigny.

Old Strynefjell Mountain Road (Road 258), Norway

The Atlantic Ocean Road is the goto drive when it comes to Norway but the Old Strynefjell Mountain Road is beguiling, with 27km of truly remote wilderness inhabited only by wild reindeer, birds of prey and sheep. Drives here should be slow and thoughtful, hours spent stopping to watch the dramatic landscape morph from steep ravines into ice-blue lakes, from the side of the bumpy narrow road (commercially replaced by a newer road — with three view-ruining tunnels), marked by handmade stone walls and rows of lumpy guard stones.


Unlike the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, driving the winding countryside roads and castle dotted villages of Tuscany doesn’t, generally speaking, come with the traffic. The most common route is between Florence and Pisa, but that’s exactly where one should deviate. Slow down and take in the villages and winding hillsides. Turn unmarked roads lined with evergreen Tuscan Cypresses into ancient villages to explore the unmarked beauty of Tuscany’s alluring countryside— everything that makes it so very special. Take the roads over comic-book green hills to Pelago, Poppi and Il Borro. Stop at Arezzo and idyllic Montalcino for views of the vineyards. Just before Pisa, Buonconvento has beautiful villas and castles, and for a little exercise, one can walk a slice of the Via Francigena pilgrimage route that leads, in its entirety, from Canterbury, through France Switzerland and Italy, before finally coming to an end in Vatican City. 

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!