Is there anything quite like a coastal drive? These amazing, sometimes treacherous roads wind their way along the shoreline, threading along the line between land and sea. They’re often narrow, with scarcely enough room to let 2 vehicles pass, as they twist and turn alongside the coast.
They’re also epic because of the views they provide. Coastal areas are home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes. You’ll often find sheer cliffs and towering peaks, sandy beaches and cute resort towns dotted along the seashore. Beyond that, you’ll be able to see miles of deep blue sea, stretching onward to the horizon.
Could anything make these already amazing road trips better? How about an epic sunset view? Whether it’s the setting sun glinting off the waves below or reflecting off the rocky faces of mountains, hitting these 20 roads at the right time of day will guarantee you stunning vistas (and enviable Insta pics).
While we highly recommend traveling these roads at a time when you can catch the sunset, do keep in mind that coastal highways and roads can be dangerous. Their narrow lanes, bridges, and curves can make them fun and challenging to drive on. After dark, they become even more challenging, so don’t linger too long after the rays of the day begin to fade.
20 The California Sunset Is Even Better From This Highway
California is one of the westernmost locations in the United States, so it only makes sense you could catch some fairly epic sunsets here. Take a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, a portion of State Route 1. If you want to go for a longer drive, the PCH is a part of the lengthier PAH, which will take you through most of the Americas.
The California section is particularly scenic, twisting and turning along some of the most stunning coastlines in the world. July and August are the most popular times to travel. The sun sets later during these months, so head out in the late afternoon and grab dinner on the way.
19 The Road to Hana Is Gorgeous (But Dangerous)
The Hawaiian Islands have miles of coastline to spare, and as you might imagine, sunsets in tropical paradise can be particularly intense. Travel to the island of Maui, the 2nd largest in the chain, and you’ll find a stunning coastal drive along the Road to Hana.
If you do choose to travel the 52 miles (or 84 kilometers) of the Road to Hana, keep in mind this is also one of the world’s most dangerous roads. There are 617 switchbacks, and 56 single-lane bridges! Don’t look down either. The drop-offs are incredibly sheer. Be sure you’re close to your destination when the sun begins to set.
18 This Is One Of Australia’s Most Famous Drives
Australia’s B100, also known as the Great Ocean Road, snakes its way along the southeastern coast of Australia for 151 miles (243 kilometers). It links Torquay and Allansford in the state of Victoria, providing epic views of the ocean almost the entire way.
Along the way, you’ll pass by the awe-inspiring 12 Apostles limestone formations, which look even more stunning at sunset, or stop by the famous Bells Beach for some surfing. Any time of the day or night, the Great Ocean Road has to rank as one of the world’s most incredible coastal drives. It’s little wonder that it’s easily one of Australia’s most famous road trip routes.
17 Norway Takes Coastal Drives To The Extreme
The Atlantic Ocean Road, situated along the western Norwegian coastline, is relatively short. It’s just slightly over 5 miles (8.2 kilometers or so), but it includes a shocking 8 bridges in that span.
The road, which is now a popular tourist destination, was finally completed in 1989, after 6 years of construction. Linking the Fjord towns of Kristiansund and Molde, the Atlantic Ocean Road feels a bit like a roller coaster as you speed along over curving bridges. The ocean itself is always near at hand, reminding tourists of the potential danger of the road as well.
This is a great drive to take near sunset, since you’ll get excellent views and the ride will be over long before dark.
16 Drive From Sorrento to Salerno Along This Road
No one will argue with the fact the Amalfi Coast is a stunning location in Italy. The Amalfi Coast route, SS 163 Amalfitana, is a great way to take in the breathtaking vistas. The road travels south from Sorrento, linking up with Salerno. It hugs close to the shoreline, winding its way through hairpin turns, zig-zagging around the coastal cliffs. The steep incline adds another challenge for drivers, as do the narrow lanes.
The route is famous for its views of the ocean, which you can imagine are even more spectacular at sunset. The road tends to be crowded during the summer, so if you can, travel it during the off-seasons in October and May.
15 Canada’s Cabot Trail Is Quintessential East Coast
The sun sets in the west, but we’re going to have you travel to the province of Nova Scotia, located on Canada's east coast. With the Atlantic Ocean stretching to the eastern horizon, you may not think the Cabot Trail is a great place to see sunsets.
Well, think again. The trail is actually a loop around Cape Breton, a small island at the northern tip of Nova Scotia. Stretching 185 miles (nearly 300 kilometers), it will take you between Victoria and Inverness Counties. Traveling through the scenic Cape Breton Highlands is breathtaking at any time of year, but the fall is highly recommended. Go at sunset, and watch the autumn colors reflect the multi-hued sky.
14 Calanques de Piana Is One Of Europe’s Best Drives
The D81 snakes its way along the west coast of Corsica, a French island in the Gulf of Porto. It travels through the famed Calanques de Piana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll travel about 7 miles (11 kilometers or so) between Piana and Porto, winding your way through a jaw-dropping landscape of red granite cliffs. The rocky outcrops along the coast are bizarre, shaped by wind and water.
At sunset, the red-hued cliffs take on an even more vibrant color. Find a safe place to pull over or make your way to a beach along the way, and watch the sun go down in a blaze of glory.
13 You’ll Be Surrounded By The Open Ocean On This Drive
Bridges are one of humanity’s most ingenious inventions. In the modern era, they’ve become wonders of both engineering and architectural design. Every year, new bridges push the boundaries of length and strength. Places that previously couldn’t be driven to become accessible when bridges span greater distances.
Such is the case with America’s Overseas Highway, which links the Floridian mainland and the Florida Keys. Considered one of the most scenic drives in America, “The Highway That Goes To Sea” follows the route of the Florida East Coast Railroad.
Hit the road at sunset, and you’ll be rewarded with an epic display of color across the ocean waters.
12 Carretera a Punta Allen Is Great For Seeking Solitude
Some of these coastal drives are popular tourist destinations. You may not find the open road you’re craving along the Amalfi Coast or driving through California. If you’re seeking solitude, check out Mexico’s Road 15, located in the state of Quintana Roo.
This is almost 54 kilometers (or nearly 34 miles) of rough track from Tulum to Punta Allen, at the entrance to the Bahía de la Ascensión. You’ll wind along the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, with the Caribbean Sea always at your side. This is an escape unlike any other. Be prepared to leave behind your Internet connection. The area is a biosphere reserve, so expect to see plenty of animals and birds, but few other people.
11 This Coastal Highway Is One Of The World’s Most Challenging
Between sparsely populated rural areas and the harsh terrain of the expansive Himalayas, it only makes sense some of the world’s most challenging and even dangerous roads cross through Pakistan, Nepal, and other Asian countries.
The Makran Coastal Highway in Pakistan is one of those roads. It spans nearly 600 kilometers (or 373 miles), running along the coast of the Arabian Sea. It features almost innumerable twists and turns as it winds its way through Balochistan province, between Karachi and Gwadar. It links the port towns of Ormara and Pasni, the N25 road, and the Iranian border. Sometimes exposed and dangerous, the Makran Coastal Highway provides epic sunset views, but you may not want to drive after dark.
10 Chile’s Ruta 1 Delivers On Epic Sunsets
With the South Pacific on one side and the Atacama Desert on the other, you know Ruta 1 through northern Chile is going to deliver some of the most incredible sunsets in the world.
The road spans nearly 500 kilometers (311 miles), starting in the coastal town of Iquique, to the west of the Atacama. The road winds up in Antofagasta, another port town and the capital of Antofagasta Province. It’s a drive made for tourists, with wonderful surfaces and little traffic at its southern terminus. The route offers plenty of stunning views, so plan to take your time along Ruta 1.
9 Island-Hop Along This Swedish Road
The Haparanda archipelago, located in the northeastern reaches of Sweden and adjacent to the Finnish city of Tornio, doesn’t get as much love as it should. The numerous islands in the area dot the coastline of the Gulf of Bothnia, making for a fantastic coastal drive.
The Nikkala-Seskarö road, also called Industrivägen (Industry Road), links the tiny, rural towns of Nikkala and Seskarö. Although it’s relatively short in the grand scheme of things, clocking in at just under 7.5 miles (or about 12.5 kilometers), it includes some bridges as you pass over some of the intermediate islands. Pull over on one of them, and take in the sunset.
8 China’s Over-Water Highway Is A Marvel
China has no shortage of engineering and architectural feats, something proven by the Over-Water Highway, which links Xingshang County and Zhaojun Bridge in the province of Hubei.
While the 7-mile (11-kilometer) road doesn’t follow an ocean coastline, it does provide some epic panoramas as it follows the curve of a river valley cutting through the mountains. Just over 4 kilometers of the highway span over the river itself. The decision was made to avoid cutting through the forests. We think it makes for an amazingly scenic drive! The gorgeous colors of the setting sun reflecting off both the mountains and the water can only enhance the natural beauty of the area.
7 This Winding Road In South Africa Has Spectacular Views
There isn’t really a bad time to travel the twisting, 9-kilometer (5.5-mile) route from Noordhoek to Hout Bay in southwestern South Africa, near Cape Town. It’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful roads. Despite being under 10 kilometers, the road has 114 curves and provides stunning 180-degree views of the Atlantic coastline.
Chapman’s Peak Drive is named for Chapman’s Peak, a 593-meter (1,954-foot) peak along the rocky coastline here. If you feel inclined, take on the peak itself during a daytime hike. Then traverse the coast in your car at sunset, on your way to a well-deserved meal and a warm bed.
6 This Breathtaking Drive Was The Most Dangerous Road In Spain
The GC-200, which wends its way through the island of Gran Canaria, was long considered one of Europe’s top drives. It was also considered to be Spain’s most dangerous road, which only made it more appealing to daredevil drivers. Hairpin turns and narrow laneways combined with coastal and mountain scenery made for a truly exhilarating experience.
In 2016, 300 tonnes of rock fell on the road between La Aldea and Agaete, closing that section of GC-200 permanently. Other sections of the GC-200 remain open, although they’re less hair-raising than the 25-kilometer (15.5-mile) section that clung to the cliffs through Tamadaba Natural Park. You can still access the Anden Verde viewpoint and drive to El Risco village.
5 You Can Have It All Along The Serra Da Arrábida
There’s plenty to see and do in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. But if you’d rather get out of the city, consider taking the scenic route. The Serra Da Arrábida travels through the Arrábida Natural Park, less than an hour outside of the capital.
The road follows the Atlantic coast through the park, linking the city of Setúbal with Sesimbra, a small fishing village. On one side, you’ll have the azure expanse of the ocean, and on the other, the forested hills. Stop at one of the many white sand beaches, such as Portinho da Arrábida, or plan ahead and visit the 16th-century Convento da Arrábida.
4 This Ligurian Road In Italy Is An Epic Tour
The Strada provinciale 227 di Portofino (SP 227) links the town of Rapallo and the resort town of Portofino in northern Italy. The 13-kilometer (8-mile) road will take you through some of the most stunning coastal scenery that the province of Genoa has to offer.
Spend some time exploring Rapallo, which is a picturesque pilgrimage site famed for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro and its sea vistas. At the other end of the road, you’ll find Portofino, which was once a fishing village and is now known for its harbor and famous visitors. Take the drive at any time of day, but you won’t be disappointed by a sunset over the waters of the Ligurian Sea.
3 This South African Drive Is A Sister To Chapman’s Peak
Head 30 miles (almost 50 kilometers) east of Chapman’s Peak, and you’ll find yet another stunning South African road. R44, or “Clarens Drive” for tourists, is a 30-mile stretch of road that hugs the coastline between Gordon’s Bay and Kleinmond.
The road is overshadowed by the mountains towering over it. Hangklip, the Hanging Rock, to Kogelberg presents a single, 10-mile (16-kilometer) length of uninterrupted mountain, soaring to more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters). The mountains here jut up to their full height in sheer cliffs, creating a wall of rock overhanging Clarens Drive. Along the way, you’ll also find a 2-mile (3-kilometer) white sand beach, which glows as the sun dips below the horizon.
2 The Magistrala Winds Between The Alps And The Adriatic
If you ever travel to Croatia, you should seriously consider driving the Adriatic Road, also known as the Magistrala. The road passes through both Split and Dubrovnik, making it an excellent way to see some of the major sites in the country.
The road is considered a must-do by some enthusiasts. The contrast of the Dinaric Alps and the Adriatic Sea is what makes the area so incredibly beautiful. The area is also home to many islands, include Brac, Korcula, Mljet, Hvar, and Pasman. Whether you travel all 650 kilometers (400 miles) or a much shorter section, you’re bound to have your breath taken away.
1 The Causeway Coastal Route In Ireland Is A Sight To Behold
This stunning coastal road starts off in Belfast and travels to Derry-Londonderry. Depending on who you talk to, it might be called the Causeway Coastal Route, the Giant’s Causeway Road, or, more simply, one of the world’s greatest drives.
The route winds nearly 200 kilometers (124 miles) along the coast of Northern Ireland, and it will take you to most of the major tourist sites along the way. You’ll see legendary landmarks, stunning scenery, and local villages in the Glens of Antrim. Perhaps best of all, you’ll definitely see some epic sunsets, like this one, pictured over the Giant’s Causeway formation.
Sources: MSN.com, CondeNastTraveller, DangerousRoads, BuzzFeed, MRReporter, TimeOut