Road-trips are the perfect way to experience many different countries, cultures and landmarks all in one epic journey.
Being in control of your destiny and the freedom that comes with jumping in the car and driving wherever you see fit can be liberating. Whilst road-trips do need a decent period of time to undertake there are plenty of options to suit whether you’ve got a long weekend or taking a year to travel the world.
We’re concentrating today on those longer trips, those inspirational life affirming journeys that take you from one side of the world to the other by looking at the world’s longest road trips.
The furthest that you can drive without the need of ferries or trains is from Sagres in Portugal to Talon in eastern Russia.
This 9,414 mile (15,151km) journey will take around 200 hours of continuous driving. Clearly you’ll be wanting to break up the journey, doing so means you’ll be able to explore a number of wonderful countries from the start point in Portugal, through Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus and across the breadth of Russia via Moscow, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk and to Talon.
The Pan American Highway spans the North and South American continents, from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to the southernmost city in the world Ushuaia in Argentina.
It’s a distance of 19,000 miles (30,000km) making it the longest road in the world. It would take an estimated 720 hours to drive the length of the Pan American Highway – which is a solid 3 months of driving, but most people choose to take a much more leisurely approach over the course of 6-12 months.
The journey takes you through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, United States and Canada – which gives you plenty of places to explore and enjoy along the way. From the Patagonian icefields to the Atacama Desert and the Rockies mountains.
We should be honest and admit that this isn’t fully achievable by car alone, the Darien Gap, which separates South America and Central America is a region of mountainous rainforest and swampland which can only be covered by boat.
Australia’s Big Lap is essentially the world’s biggest ring road. The 9,000 mile (14,500km) Highway 1 connects the capitals of Australia’s states (except Hobart and Canberra) by joining Perth (Western Australia), Darwin (Northern Territories), Brisbane (Queensland), Sydney (New South Wales), Melbourne (Victoria) and Adelaide (South Australia).
In doing so it becomes the second largest road in the world. It showcases all that Australia has to offer from the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide to the isolation of the north eastern coasts with swamps, deserts and scrubland in between.
Although the record for the Big Lap is a remarkable 6 days, those of us with more time could enjoy the journey over the course of 3-6 months. Taking in all that Australia has to offer in that time.
Many would have heard of the Trans-Siberian Railway, but did you know there was a highway as well?
Running the length of Russia from St Petersburg in the north west to Vladivostok in the south east it covers 7,000 miles (11,000km) making it the third longest road in the world.
The journey takes goes from the Baltic Sea coast to the Sea of Japan, through some inhospitable terrain making it one of the toughest road trips you can choose to do.
Driving constantly and going at full tilt will still take around 14 days to make it from one side to the other. Happily though, if you allow 4-6 weeks you can make the journey in a more manageable way and enjoy the cities of Moscow, Kazan and Irkutsk whilst the natural wonder of Lake Baikal.
Canada is the second biggest country in the world, so it’s not a surprise to see it on a list of the world’s longest road trips. The Trans-Canada Highway meanders from St John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador in the east to Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia on Canada’s west coast.
The journey is 5,000 miles (7,000km) takes you through ten Canadian provinces and takes you from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Coast in the west. In total, it would take around 120 hours of pure driving, but more realistically a 2-month trip would allow you to leisurely journey where you can take in all that Canada has to offer.
Along the route, stop in the beautiful Quebec City, explore the lakes and mountains of Alberta and try whale watching in Vancouver Bay.
India’s longest road trip in 3,600 miles (6,000km) long and connects 4 of India’s largest cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
In doing so it forms a quadrilateral where the highway gets its name. It is the newest highway on this list having been completed in 2001
2-4 weeks driving this route around India would be able to provide good time to explore each city and immerse yourself in some of India’s most famous landmarks including the world-famous Taj Mahal.
America and road trips go hand in hand, although Route 66 is probably the famous road trip in the world, the longest road trip in the United States is actually Route 20 which connects Boston, Massachusetts on the east coast with Newport, Oregon on the Pacific coast in the north west of the country.
Covering 3,365 miles (5,415km) it runs through 12 different states and some fascinating cities including Cleveland – where you can visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Minneapolis - for some retail therapy at the Mall of America, and Chicago - The Windy City. Aside from cities you can also experience the USAs natural beauty including Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Preserve and, if you’re willing take a 2-hour detour, you can see Mount Rushmore.
The 60 hours of driving that it will take can make for an excellent 3-week journey across the route, giving you enough time for a leisurely drive and multiple night stays along the way.
The longest road trip across Asia spans 12,774 (20,557km) from Istanbul in Turkey – known as the gateway to Asia – to Tokyo in Japan.
Asian Highway 1 takes around 125 hours to complete, but given the number of different countries through which it runs you’ll likely want to allow yourself 4-6 weeks to fully appreciate everything that this route has to offer.
The route runs through South Korea, North Korea, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Whilst some of these countries may not be the easiest to navigate through geo-politically speaking the routes does hold some magnificent treasures throughout south east Asian and parts of the Indian sub-continent.
If you’re not sick of driving by the time you arrive in Istanbul, it is possible to continue the trip via the E80 which will lead you across Europe to Lisbon in Portugal.
Here’s one that is perfect for us Brits. A 200 hour drive takes us 9,100 miles (14,650km) from the UK’s most northerly mainland point – John O’Groats to Cape Town in South Africa.
It would take just over a week of solid driving to make the distance, but a much more sensible timescale will be 2 to 3 months – that way you can enjoy your trip through Europe and down the length of Africa.
This unique journey travels through France, Spain, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Namibia and South Africa – allowing you to get up close and personal with the wildlife of Africa in the various deserts, game reserves and national parks with the Algerian Sahara and Deadvlei and Etosha National Park in Namibia being particular highlights.
If you’re willing to push the definition of a road trip a bit further and are happy to use a number of ferries, then the longest land route you can do with ferries is between Cape Town and Serai, North Sulawesi in Indonesia.
The longest road trip covers a distance of 20,885 (33,612km) through Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia and then across Europe from Belarus to Spain. Then head over to north Africa and travel through Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and more.
This is a mammoth journey that with constant driving would take 550 hours – the equivalent of 23 days straight!
Have we inspired to take a road trip? Even if you don’t have the time or the willing to travel tens of thousands of miles there are some excellent road trips closer to home including:
- North Coast 500 – Scotland
- Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland
- Ring Road - Iceland
- The Amalfi Coast - Italy
- Atlantic Road – Norway
If you are planning a driving adventure this year, remember to get yourself covered with travel insurance and car hire excess cover and breakdown cover to make sure you’re fully protected before you hit the open road.