01. The Causeway Coastal Route
Spreading over 120 miles, from Belfast to Londonderry, the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland offers a landscape of natural and man-made treasures. The waterfalls, razor-sharp cliffs, numerous castles and the renowned Giant’s Causeway are best experienced over a five-day trip. The scenery has a rich historical heritage, and inspired Cair Paravel in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
02. Great Ocean Road
The 151-mile road from Torquay to Allansford in Victoria, Australia is a blend of sporty and picturesque. It offers opportunities for surfing, diving, and exploring ancient caves and seaside villages. The 12 Apostles are one of the highlights of the trip. These columns are separated from the limestone cliffs on the shore, and they change color according to the sun’s position.
The Otways, a national park, is another stop worth at least a day. Renowned for its giant ferns, this rainforest hides superb waterfalls plunging into fern-fringed pools, cliffs and access to secluded beaches.
03. Porto To Faro
Portugal’s Alentejo coast remains one of Europe’s concealed treasures. While foreign tourists are drawn to Porto and Lisbon, locals know that farther down the coast, empty beaches and cork oak forests await. The busiest months are July and August — the Portuguese take the region by storm during the summer.
During the rest of the year, the region travels back in time. Whitewashed villages exude stillness and quiet and the locals are in no rush. The coast acts as a gentle reminder to simply stop, sit down and enjoy the moment.
04. Hanoi To Ho Chi Minh City
The Vietnamese coast along the South China Sea is an edgier alternative to the traditional road trip. The journey through the whole country by motorcycle takes about a month. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are located inland, but you can travel along the coast between the two via the QL1A, a winding coastal road that passes through seaside villages, historic temples and burial grounds.
Here, nothing should be planned in advance. Locals along the way are happy to help with any technical transport-related issues or recommendations that might otherwise be overlooked. On the way down, make a side trip to visit the visually stunning Ha Long Bay, where junk boats float among limestone karsts jutting out of the turquoise waters.
05. The Pacific Coast Highway
No list of coastline road trips would be complete without this classic American journey. California’s Pacific Coast Highway snakes along sheer cliffs and picturesque bridges and through groves of towering redwoods, with turquoise surf crashing below. The most iconic stretch is the 123-mile route between Carmel and Morro Bay. Stop in at Hearst Castle for an opulent throwback to the early 20th century.
With numerous alternative, smaller roads and famous highlights such as the McWay Falls, the Californian coast can offer both a touristic and an off-the-beaten path experience. Often considered a spiritual road trip thanks to its mesmerizing landscapes, Big Sur and the surrounding coastline is best appreciated from the back of a motorcycle.
Written by Kamila Beyssembaeva
Headline image of Australia’s Great Ocean Road by pisaphotography/Shutterstock