One of the most famous highways for driving adventures is of course the classic Route 66, aka The Mother Road. It shoots through eight states, which you’ll know if you’re a fan of the eponymous 1943 song, Get Your Kicks…, which lists them all in the lyrics and has been covered by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Rolling Stones.

Route 66 was one of the first in the US highway system, stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles. While it no longer exists as a single route, you can still drive through most of the trail along other interstate highways. And naturally, you remain able to jump out of your car for a thumbs-up snapshot by the iconic white emblem painted on the tarmac.

As for where to stop along the way, there’s all the scenery, history and straight-up Americana you could ask for. Start with the 3300ft-long Navy Pier in Chicago on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, then after a long drive through Missouri and Kansas, stop at Oklahoma for some Wild West action. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has racked up around 10 million visitors since opening in the Fifties, and is a showcase of western and American Indian culture that includes a 14,000 square foot turn-of-the-century Western prairie town.

Soon you’ll be screeching into Amarillo (cue raucous rendition of Tony Christie’s Is This The Way…) where you’ll want to stay at The Big Texan Steak Ranch for a crack at the the 72oz steak challenge – polish it off within the hour and it comes free.

Finally, stop at Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave Desert, California, where you can find out about the cutthroat  silver panning days of the past.

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 2. Nakasendo Highway,  Japan

This road between Kyoto and Tokyo opens up a rich cross section of Japanese culture. Dating from the 8th century, it was first built for feudal lords travelling between provinces.

Nowadays, you can fuel up on blueberry cheesecake Kit Kats and other wacky snacks at the Dangou Zaka service area, before driving through traditional mountain villages and stopping at a ryokan (traditional inn) for dinner and local teas.

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3. Yorkshire Moors, UK

Embrace your inner Brontë sister for a brush with the Yorkshire Moors on a drive to York via Kirkbymoorside. At less than four hours, this isn’t an epic drive, but it’s still a classic.

Between July and September, the hills and valleys are covered in pink and purple heather, and you can also include the Cleveland Way national trail, Castle Howard and Whitby’s Dracula trail on the itinerary. Finish up at a traditional Yorkshire pub for a pint of ale.


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4. Black Forest, Germany

For some fairytale fun, take a trip to the setting of the Grimm Brothers’ imagination. Take the Schwarzwaldhochstraße (that’s B500 if your pronunciation isn’t up to scratch), or Black Forest High Road, between Freudenstadt and Baden-Baden. A high-altitude road which reaches between 800 and 1000 metres high, it passes picturesque villages and ancient picture-book castles, plus all those seriously creepy woods that the route is named after.

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5. Basque Circuit, Spain

This 480km route takes in Bilbao, Pamplona, the Pyrenees and miles of pristine Spanish coastline. But don’t leave Bilbao too quickly. The biggest city in the Basque Country delivers banging party nights, as well as great food in the form of bite-sized pintxos (the region’s take on tapas).

Plus of course there’s feast-your-eyes contemporary art and architecture to see at the Guggenheim museum. Then drive on to enjoy the Basque’s beaches and small villages.


Photos: Thinkstock