There’s no dearth of beautiful roads with picturesque vistas, from the Atlantic Road in Norway to the Great Ocean Road in Australia and the famous Route 66 in the U.S, to name a few. However, as the popularity of road trips increases, so does traffic along the well-known routes.
If you’re looking for a more offbeat experience for your summer getaway, consider these scenic drives that, according to a recent study, are among the top-rated under-the-radar routes in the world:
#1 Causeway Coastal Route, UK
The research revealed that the most underrated road trip is the UK’s Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. Despite 98.1% positive reviews on Tripadvisor, the road trip had just 23,700 searches in the last 12 months. Winding from Belfast to the historic city of Derry, the entire route is dotted with spectacular seaside views, quaint villages, majestic castles and cathedrals as well as well-known filming locations from Game of Thrones.
#2 Route des Crêtes, France
Ranking second is the Route des Crêtes in France. Stretching from the harbor town of Cassis to the village of La Ciotat in Provence, the narrow clifftop route offers striking panoramic views of craggy limestone mountains, picturesque countryside, steep coves and pebbly beaches with the vivid blue waters of the Mediterranean as the backdrop. Despite raking in 98.5% positive reviews, the drive was searched only a little over 130,000 times in the last year.
#3 Foothills Parkway, USA
At the third spot is USA’s Foothills Parkway. The scenic route runs along the foothills of the ancient Great Smoky Mountains that span both North Carolina and Tennessee. The 72-mile drive offers striking mountain landscapes on one side and sweeping views of the rolling hills of the Tennessee Valley on the other. Even though the road trip has garnered an impressive 97.5% positive reviews, it was looked up on Google a mere 68,700 times in the last 12 months.
#4 Lamar Valley, USA
Following closely behind is another US-based road trip—Lamar Valley with just 68,000 annual Google searches despite 97.4% stellar reviews. Flanked by towering mountain ranges, the river valley is located in the northeastern corner of Yellowstone National Park. The 33-mile drive is lined with numerous pullouts for wildlife spotting. Besides bison and wolves, drivers may get the chance to spot grizzly bears, pronghorn, badgers, bald eagles, osprey, deer and coyotes—particularly at dawn or dusk when the wildlife is most active.
#5 Trail Ridge Road, USA
Traversing through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park from its south entrance to the east entrance, Trail Ridge Road makes for an exhilarating drive guaranteed to thrill any driver thanks to its breathtaking views of lush aspen groves, wildflower meadows and evergreen forests, hairpin turns and elevation that peaks at a staggering 12,183 feet. There are plenty of overlooks, pullouts and trailheads along the 48-mile route to rest and soak up the stunning scenery.
#6 Beartooth Highway, USA
Glistening alpine lakes, snow-capped peaks, plunging canyons and large cirques chiseled by glaciers form the mesmerizing landscape along this seasonal drive that is bookended by the mountain towns of Red Lodge and Cooke City. What’s more, the 68-mile byway climbs to a whopping 10,947 feet above sea level making it the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.
#7 Route Napoleon, France
Winding through the French Alps, this historic road traces the journey of emperor Napolean Bonaparte and his army from Côte d’Azur to the Alps after he escaped from exile in early 1815. The jaw-dropping panoramic views of sky-scraping peaks, plunging gorges, emerald green lakes, charming medieval villages and the picturesque French Riviera along the way make this drive a tourist destination in its own right.
#8 San Juan Skyway, USA
Dubbed “the road to the sky”, this 233-mile loop in Colorado meanders through majestic mountains, alpine meadows, craggy ridges, historic mining towns and rolling hillsides dotted with ancient Pueblan ruins—making it one of the most scenic drives in America. Though the route was looked up only a little over 24,000 times in the past year, it has garnered an impressive 95.7% positive reviews by road trippers.
#9 Needles Highway, USA
Weaving through South Dakota’s Custer State Park, this scenic drive is lined with giant needle-like granite formations that give the highway its name. With narrow tunnels, spiraling bridges, hairpin bends and dense birch, pine and spruce forests as the backdrop, driving the Needles Highway is a thrilling experience of a lifetime. Spectacular views aside, the most famous aspect of this road trip is definitely the Needle Eye Tunnel. Formed by centuries of erosion by rain, ice and wind, this daunting one-way tunnel is only 8 feet wide and 11 feet high.
#10 Great St. Bernard Pass, Italy
At 8,100 feet above sea level, the Great St Bernard Pass is one of the highest road passes in the Swiss Alps. Sweeping views of lush valleys, glaciers, steep canyons and pristine lakes greet the drivers along the route. Adrenaline junkies will particularly love the added challenge of threading the car through steep slopes, sheer drops and tight twists and turns.