10 Most Beautiful Road Trips, According to Instagram Data
In the time of Covid, the open road is more appealing to would-be travellers than ever. It promises thrilling shifts in scenery, fresh breezes and a healthy distance from crowds.
But back to that scenery part––the UK’s Pentagon Motor Group has done some number crunching. The team identified a list of popular road trips and their mileage, then analysed more than 7 million relevant Instagram hashtags to calculate how many Instagram posts were shared per mile of each drive.
So what did they find? The world’s most Instagrammed road trip is Australia’s Great Ocean Road, which covers 157 miles and has a staggering 1,321,570 associated hashtags, resulting in 8,418 posts shared per mile.
Another iconic drive, California’s Big Sur stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, came in second, with routes in Asia and the Middle East also making the top 10. Come along for the ride below.
1/10 Great Ocean Road, Australia
The stats: 157 miles; 8,418 pictures per mile
The route: Torquay to Allansford, Victoria
Instagrammers can’t get enough of the scenery along the Great Ocean Road, which is as epic as it sounds. This is where you’ll encounter the 12 Apostles, rock stacks that rise spectacularly from the crashing Southern Ocean. Beyond rugged seascapes, the route passes waterfalls and rainforests with towering ferns and eucalypti (keep an eye out for koalas). It’s easily accessible as a side trip from Melbourne, 1.5 hours east of Torquay, the official starting point.
2/10 Big Sur, USA
The stats: 90 miles; 5,226 pictures per mile
The route: San Simeon to Carmel, California
Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and Saint Lucia Mountains, Big Sur is coastal California in all its misty, atmospheric glory. The winding, two-lane road delivers photo-ops around every virtually bend, from natural wonders like ancient redwoods and migrating whales to lighthouses and Bixby Bridge, an art deco marvel that’s starred in car commercials. Stop to soak up the views, along with local wines, on Nepenthe’s terrace.
3/10 Jebel Hafeet, United Arab Emirates
The stats: 7 miles; 4,840 pictures per mile
The route: Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road
Built in 1980, Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road cuts its way through limestone rock in the starkly beautiful desert southeast of Dubai, near the Oman border. It packs 60 bends and an ascent of about 4,000 feet into 7 miles, with a variation of U-shaped turns and short, straight stretches for speeding. Time the 2.5-hour drive so that you reach the peak and its palace for sunset – no Instagram filters necessary.
4/10 Hai Van Pass, Vietnam
The stats: 13 miles; 4,298 miles pictures per mile
The route: Da Nang to Lang Co, Hue
The name Hai Van (“Ocean Cloud”) Pass poetically captures its setting. Expect hair-pin mountain curves and sweeping views of the South China Sea on this segment of central Vietnam’s National Route 1A. While a tunnel opened nearby in 2005, cutting the travel time, Hai Van Pass remains the scenic route and preferred choice for motorcyclists and selfie-takers alike.
See also: 3 Of The Best Driving Holidays To Book After Covid-19
5/10 Chapman’s Peak Drive, South Africa
The stats: 5.5 miles; 3,425 pictures per mile
The route: Hout Bay to Chapman’s Point, Noordhoek
From the fishing town of Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak Drive hugs the edge of the Cape Peninsula, with a sheer drop-off to the Atlantic Ocean on one side. Whales and dolphins splash in those deep-blue waters under the intense South African sun. Fondly known as ‘Chappies,’ the road climbs up, up, up and then gradually descends to Noordhoek, making a total of 114 bends.
See also: 48 Hours In Cape Town, South Africa
6/10 Blue Ridge Parkway, USA
The stats: 469 miles; 1,148 pictures per mile
The route: Virginia to North Carolina
Undulating mountains fading into the distance – dotted by old-time farms and towns – give the Blue Ridge Parkway a distinctive Appalachian charm. It’s most Instagrammable in autumn, when the landscape erupts in fiery shades. Connecting Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the route was designed as a ‘ride a while, stop a while experience.’ The town of Asheville, North Carolina, is one excellent stopping point for craft beers, live bluegrass tunes and more scenic views.
7/10 Going-to-the-Sun Road, USA
The stats: 50 miles; 940 pictures per mile
The route: Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacial lakes, cedar forests and deep gorges await on this exhilarating drive, which crosses the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. The ribbon of two-lane road spans the length of Glacier National Park, one of America's most majestic and yet crowd-free national parks. Going-to-the-Sun Road gets heavy snowfall in winter, making conditions hazardous, so check opening dates (roughly June through October).
8/10 Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
The stats: 1,553 miles; 853 pictures per mile
The route: Inishowen Peninsula, Donegal to Kinsale, Cork
The Wild Atlantic Way extends along the western coast of Ireland from top to bottom. Brace yourself for windswept landscapes and photogenic scenes of country life – complete with thatched cottages, castles, churches and grazing sheep. There are megalithic sites to explore, along with offshore islands, and pubs where you can kick back with a fireside pint.
9/10 Olympic Peninsula Loop, USA
The stats: 300 miles; 798 pictures per mile
The route: Olympic Peninsula, Washington
The northwest corner of Washington State is an under-explored gem – emerald, clearly, given the moss-draped trees of Hoh Rainforest, an old-growth forest within Olympic National Park (a popular side trip from Seattle). The Olympic Peninsula Loop skirts the park perimeter, taking in an awe-inspiring variety of terrain, including glacial lakes teeming with salmon and beaches with tidepools and driftwood. Fans of the Twilight books and movies will be right in their element.
10/10 Icefields Parkway, Canada
The stats: 144 miles; 781 pictures per mile
The route: Lake Louise to Jasper, Alberta
The expansive panoramas of Icefields Parkway show off Canada’s wild side. With 100 snow-capped glaciers and valleys laced with hiking trails and picnic spots, you could happily spend a day taking it slow on this drive through Banff National Park, from pristine Lake Louise to the ski resort town of Jasper.
See also: Take A Virtual Drive Through Some Of The World's Most Beautiful Cities