So if you’re set on road trip this year, but need ideas on which places will make the most of your car rental, than look no further, as we’ve listed our favourite road trip destinations.
1. New Zealand
Ah, New Zealand, it would be impossible to write a car rental destinations list without mentioning our Antipodean neighbour. The driving routes here are incredible: on the North Island you can rent a car in Auckland, drive around to the Coromandel Peninsula, then down to the Bay of Plenty, and onto Rotorua and Lake Taupo, before stopping off in the harbourside Wellington, arguably the country’s prettiest metropolis. From Welly, you can get on a ferry with your rental car and then drive through Abel Tasman National Park, and along the western coast where you can trek glaciers, and then into the Fjordland for a chance to see dolphins play in Milford Sound. And then there is the Otago region, where you will find Queenstown and Wanaka, which not only has some spectacular stretches of road (check out Queenstown to Glenorchy), but all sorts of activities, from skiing, to adventure sports, restaurant hopping, winery touring, and horse riding.
We also would be remiss if we didn’t mention that there are Lord of the Rings driving trips, and these typically take you through Matamata (read: Hobbiton), then onto the Tongariro National Park (where Mount Doom lies), and then down into the Otago and Canterbury regions for Isengard and Rohan. YES, WE LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS OKAY?
The USA is the car country; home to wide roads, an insane landscape, and some sweet lookin’ wheels. Car rental in the USA is really easy, and there are some fantastic routes available. Our fave itinerary is to rent a car in Los Angeles, and drive up the 101 along the California coast, where you will pass golden beaches, rolling vineyards, an increasingly rugged coastline, before ending in San Francisco. If you have a little more time, you can turn inward to the extraordinary Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, or continue your drive north, detour to Lake Tahoe, onwards to the Oregonian coastline, stop off in Portland, and then end your trip in the Emerald City of Seattle.
Or throw all of that to the wind, and sort a car rental in Los Angeles, and drive the long desertous stretch of the I-15, where you will pass Death Valley, an exhibit with Bonny and Clyde’s getaway car, and the famed Zzyzx Road (←that is its real name) before arriving Las Vegas!
Okay, so we all know Hawaii is technically part of the USA, but since it’s not all that easy to cruise a car thousands of kilometres over the Pacific Ocean, this Polynesian archipelago gets its own car rental category. The islands of Hawaii are remarkable: think volcanoes, lush forests, palm-tree fringed beaches, and water the colour of sapphires. The indigenous culture here is also incredibly rich, and worth learning about in the Polynesian Cultural Centre.
Rent a car and drive around Oahu, and explore the more secluded beaches outside of Waikiki by hopping on Route 72, also known as the Kalanainaole Highway. Then book flights to Maui and drive the renowned coastal Hana Road, or go to the otherworldly Haleakala National Park. You can also tour the largest island of Hawaii, where a drive along the island’s eastern side will take you to Volcanoes National Park, one of Hawaii’s most dramatic attractions, thanks to Kilauea, which has been erupting with molten lava for over 30 years.
Iceland is one of those magical places, where the landscape feels like it isn’t quite part of this world. We’re talking huge ice blocks washed up on black beaches, rainbow misting waterfalls, fjords, glacial lagoons, and the Northern Lights all making a home here. There are loads of great drives in Iceland, but the Ring Road is probably its most famous, as it essentially circumnavigates the whole country (though you’ll have to make side trips to see the fjords and attractions like the Blue Lagoon). Hire your car in Reykjavik, and then pop on Ride of the Valkyries, because, you know, you have to.
4. United Kingdom
Hiring a car in London means you get to explore all the cool cities, towns and villages outside of the capital first, and then you can end your trip in the bumping city of London. Book a car hire from London Heathrow or Gatwick, and then drive to Kent, and go to Canterbury (yes, Chaucer’s Canterbury) and see its remarkable cathedral, or drive out to the spectacular tracts of the White Cliffs of Dover. If you’d prefer, you can head south, where there are attractions like the fun seaside town of Brighton, the ancient monuments of Stonehenge, or the atmospheric woodlands of the New Forest.
In the southwest you’ll find the gorgeous beaches of Cornwall, and the historic city of Bath, in the north you’ll find the Peak District and the Lake District, as well as the northern cities of Manchester and Newcastle, which are known for being friendly, hip, and far cheaper than London! Lastly, don’t forget to spend time in Wales, where the Arthurian legend was born: drive down the coastline, spend a few days in Cardiff, see sites like Caenarfon Castle, and hike in the celebrated national park, Snowdonia.
Again, we know we’re cheating by popping Scotland into a separate category from the UK, but have you tried to tell a Scotsman they’re part of England? It isn’t worth the punch up. Renting a car in Edinburgh will mean you get to explore Scotland’s national parks, coastlines, islands, and of course, its Highlands. Drive to Glasgow for a taste of Scotland’s trendiest city, then up to Loch Lomond, Oban, Glencoe, and Fort William for a chance at seeing some of the best sites of this nation’s exceptional landscape.
Then drive out to the Isle of Skye, frequently cited as one of the most beautiful islands in the world thanks to its mountains, machair covered meadows, sea lochs, and its pristine beaches. After a few days in the Hebrides, head back to the mainland and drive up to Inverness for a chance glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. On your way back to Edinburgh, cruise through the Cairngorms, the largest national park in Europe.
Arranging a car rental in Canada for a sweeping North American road trip is a bit of a bucket list item, especially because there is just so much damn country out there. Fly to Halifax and drive the Cabot Trail, a 300km loop that takes you through some of the best scenery in Nova Scotia. Or start in Montreal, and drive to the Gaspe Peninsula, where you can see heritage towns and cities like Quebec City—also, top tip, if you fly to Montreal in October/November time you will be gifted with those perfect riotous red maple leaves that grace the Canadian flag.
You can also fly to Vancouver, spend a few days by the seaside, and then rent a car and drive to Tofino; the Pacific Rim Highway offers some awesome outlooks, and plenty of woodland trails available for hiking. Then last, but in no way least, drive from Calgary to Banff and Canmore, and see the Rockies in all their glory. Particular highlights of this trip are Moraine Lake, and Lake Louise, the star of a million Instagram pics thanks to its crystal clear waters, and the perfect mirror it makes of the snow-capped mountains that shelter it.
Have you seen pics of our country? It’s staggeringly beautiful, and we love to show it off. If you’ve never driven the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and seen the 12 Apostles, braved the Red Centre Way in the Northern Territory, or wound your way down the Great Tropical Road to snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef, then you definitely need to start at home.
It’s easy to book a cheap rental car if you do so in advance, and with Skyscanner Australia, you can also book your hotels and flights through our website, or with our convenient app. So go out and buy yourself some fancy driving gloves, because it’s time to hit the road.