Tag: long trip

The Best Mexico Road Trip Itinerary

Anyone should visit Mexico at least once in their lifetime. Afterall, this fascinating country truly has it all. Attractions range from postcard-like sandy beaches to Mayan ruins hiding deep in the jungle. Mexico will amaze any kind of traveler no matter if you’re going with your family, a group of friends, or by yourself.

If you’re planning the ultimate Mexico road trip itinerary, you have come to the right place!

Road Trip Overview

total driving distance: 2350km (1460 miles)

Cancun to Tulum- 130 kilometers (80 miles) 

Tulum to Lake Bacalar- 200 kilometers (120 miles) 

Lake Bacalar to Palenque- 650 kilometers (400 miles) 

Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas- 220 kilometers (140 miles) 

San Cristobal de las Casas to Campeche- 570 kilometers (350 miles)

Campeche to Merida- 270 kilometers (170 miles)

Merida to Valladolid- 160 kilometers (100 miles)

Valladolid to Cancun- 160 kilometers (100 miles)

This curated travel guide will take you on a 2300-kilometer long (1460 miles) loop starting in the paradise resort town of Cancun. For the best experience, we strongly recommend renting a car for this road trip.

Hesitant about renting a car for a road trip? This blog post will change your mind!

These are some of the beautiful spots you will visit during this Mexico road trip:

What is the best way of getting around Mexico?

Unless you’re planning to stick to just one city, the best way of getting around Mexico is by car. Click here to find the best rental car deals for your Mexico road trip.

That way, you’ll get to see scenic drives and see areas that you’d never get to visit otherwise. Not to mention the irreplaceable freedom of altering your itinerary on the go, whenever you please.

Rental Car Insurance in Mexico

Check out this informative blog post to learn all you need to know about rental car insurance in Mexico. It’s not as complicated as it may seem!

Contrary to popular belief, driving around Mexico is safe for tourists. Nonetheless, it’s best to come prepared and read through our rental car tips before the journey.

Book your car via Rentalmoose, a worldwide car rental platform with over 15 000 locations around the globe. Check out our website to compare rental car deals in Mexico.

Cancun- Your Mexico Road Trip Begins Here

Beautiful seaside resort in Cancun, Mexico. Pristine sandy beach, turquoise water and an empty pool. Enjoying the beach is one of the best things to do in Cancun.
Photo by Baumhan

Your Mexican road trip begins in the spectacular coastal city of Cancun! For maximum convenience, we recommend picking up your rental car directly from the Cancun International Airport as you arrive.

Remember to check Rentalmoose for the best deals on rental cars in Mexico.

Cancun is home to some of Mexico’s best beaches, make sure to spend some time in town before setting off on your Mexico road trip.

What to do in Cancun

Cancun is most famous for its pristine sandy beaches, don’t forget to soak in the sun before leaving town. You should definitely visit Playa Delfines, Playa Tortugas, or the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art.

Playa Delfines

The wide, sandy shore seems to stretch endlessly at the Playa Delfines. This quiet beach is favored among locals, and it’s a great escape from some of the town’s busier spots.

Soft sand, turquoise water, free umbrellas, and plenty of amenities, what more could you ask for?

Cancun Playa Tortugas, white sandy beach in Mexico's Cancun. Tall palm tree can be seen in front of the calm turquoise crystal-clear ocean water, clear day in Cancun Mexico.

Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas could very well be the best beach in Cancun. Apart from a wide, sandy shore as well as crystal-clear water that’s perfect for swimming, Playa Tortugas offers spectacular restaurants that serve guests practically right on the waterfront.

Don’t miss the wooden pier to enjoy the best views. Adrenaline junkies can bungee-jump from the tower at the pier, too.

Cancun Underwater Museum of Art

The MUSA is a museum unlike any other. Sure, you will find sculptures here. However, that’s as far as MUSA’s similarities to other museums go.

The sculptures found at MUSA are all, as the name may suggest, at the bottom of the ocean. In fact, the only way to see them is to take part in a scuba diving tour or snorkel beneath the surface.

Visiting MUSA is an unforgettable experience.

Cancun to Tulum by Car

Tulum Archeological Site is a must-see on any Mexico road trip in the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins are set in a picturesque setting, on a seaside cliff. After, visit the sandy beach below.
Tulum Archeological Site

Once you’ve spent enough time in Cancun, it’s time to get in your rental car and drive along the coast down to Tulum! The drive from Cancun to Tulum will take you roughly 2 hours.

What can you see on a drive from Cancun to Tulum?

Before you reach Tulum itself, check out the following hotspots along the way.

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a picturesque port town only around half an hour from downtown Cancun. The town is home to even more spectacular, sandy beaches that are worth at least a short visit.

What’s more, the waters off of Puerto Morelos host a great treasure, the best-preserved section of the second largest barrier reef in the world is located right here!

Playa del Carmen

Stormy day, lots of clouds above playa del carmen near cancun in mexico. Cancun to Tulum by car, playa del carmen is one of the best places to see in yucatan peninsula.
Playa del Carmen looks beautiful- even on a stormy day!

Just a stone’s throw away from Puerto Morelos is Playa del Carmen, yet another picturesque coastal town that’s home to spectacular sandy beaches, just look at the photo above!

What’s more, you can take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to the nearby Cozumel island. If you have the extra time, it can make for a great addition to your Mexico road trip!

Adrenaline junkies should definitely drop by the adventure-packed Xcaret park. Some of the attractions inside include swimming in underground rivers, raft tours, visiting a wine cellar, or a children’s waterpark filled with slides and activities.

Akumal

Akumal is yet another coastal resort that you’ll pass on a drive from Cancun to Tulum. Keep your eyes wide open, turtles can often be spotted around here!

What are the best things to do in Tulum

Cenotes

Swimming in cenotes is likely an activity that’s worth marking down on any great Mexico road trip itinerary.

Cenotes are natural water-filled pits that are created after limestone bedrock collapses. They can be found scattered all across the region, and they make for exceptional spots for a swim.

The Cenotes Casa Tortuga can be enjoyed either on your own or during a guided tour. Either way, you will have to pay an admission fee to enter.

Note that a lifejacket and snorkeling equipment is included in your admission fee.

A great alternative is the Gran Cenote, which is perhaps even more breathtaking.

Rentalmoose insider tip: You will be asked to rinse off any makeup products and oils from your skin. Please do so carefully, in order to keep the water in the cenotes clean and crystal-clear.

Taking a boat tour through a river in the jungle, Mexico wilderness near Tulum. Stunning scenery on a cloudy day in the yucatan peninsula.

Mayan Port Ruins

It is no secret that Mexico is home to spectacular archeological sites. You’ve probably heard of the Teotihuacan near Mexico City or the Chichen Itza (which you’ll see later on this road trip). The site in Tulum may not be as monumental, yet it is still most definitely worth visiting when in town.

What makes this archeological site spectacular is its setting, the ruins are right next to the sandy beach. That means you can reward yourself with a swim in the crystal-clear water after touring the Mayan Port.

Open daily between 8AM and 5PM, admission costs 70 pesos per person.

Where to stay in Tulum?

Sophisticated travelers should consider renting a villa at The Strabon. This elegant property features luxurious villas and rooms, as well as an outdoor pool, a great restaurant, and a bar.

If you’re after a cheaper place to stay in Tulum, consider checking in at the LiveTulum. This aparthotel features air-conditioned rooms, a buffet breakfast, and a great location.

Lake Bacalar

Lake Bacalar is a beautiful lagoon in souther Mexico, and a great place to see on a Mexico road trip around the Yucatan peninsula.
Photo by Marc Tran

After a night in Tulum, it’s time to hit the road for your most intense day, driving-wise of course. We recommend setting off early in the morning, as the first milestone of the day is 2 hours away.

Is Lake Bacalar worth visiting

Most certainly! Lake Bacalar is a great under-the-radar destination that you’ll pass on your drive to Calakmul anyway, it’s definitely worth dropping by at least for a short visit.

Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar

Head to the center of this small town, park your rental car, and explore the stunning stone fort. Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar dates back to 1729. Inside, guests will find a museum full of precious, local artifacts, as well as decorative murals.

The fort also has a moat built around the structure, making for a great photo opportunity.

Open all week except Mondays between 9AM and 7PM.

Afterward, why not head into the town and explore some of the local eateries?

Cenote Azul

Don’t miss the opportunity to swim at the Cenote Azul, you’re on a Mexico road trip after all. After a dip in the cenote, you can enjoy lunch at the restaurant right by the water.

As the next point of interest is a 4-hour drive away, you may want to add an overnight stop here in Lake Bacalar. Luxury seekers should check-in at the lavish Mia Bacalar resort, while a great alternative would be the Hotel Urban Bacalar with an outdoor pool and a budget-friendly price per night.

Calakmul

calakmul archeological site, beautiful mayan ruins are hidden deep inside the jungle. Exploring them is a must on any Mexico road trip itinerary in the yucatan peninsula.

The next stop on your Mexico road trip is the spectacular archeological site of Calakmul.

The Mayan ruins of Calakmul are set deep inside the jungle. Not only does the remote location make exploring the ruins an unforgettable experience, it also lowers the amount of tourists!

Is Calakmul Worth Visiting

Yes! As getting to Calakmul requires a lengthy hike, many tourists decide to skip these ruins. What’s more, guided tours aren’t too frequent here, Calakmul is a real gem hidden in the jungle.

Expect to walk around 1.5 miles (2.4km) to get to the Calakmul ruins.

As visiting Calakmul will likely be an all-day adventure, it’s best to set off from your hotel early in the morning for the next stop on your Mexico road trip.

Admission costs 80 pesos ($4) per person.

Palenque

palenque archeological site. Large mayan pyramid is a must see in this part of mexico.
Photo by Dezalb

It’s time to leave behind the Yucatan peninsula (for now!) and head over to Palenque. As the town is almost 6 hours away from Calakmul, you may want to add an overnight stop somewhere along the way. You can spend the night at the 2-star Tutul-Ha in Escarcega, no detour required.

Unlike the Calakmul ruins, the Palanque Archeological Site is very easily accessible.

The ancient city of Palenque, together with Calakmul and Tikal, formed the three most significant cities of the Classic Maya period. The city was at its peak between 500 and 700 AD.

Due to its historical significance, the remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Admission to the Palenque archeological site costs 80 pesos ($4) per person.

Open daily between 10 AM and 3 PM.

Where can you stay in Palenque?

Luxury seekers should spend the night at the 5-star Piedra de Agua Boutique Hotel. The property features a secluded jungle feel, spacious rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and great staff.

Looking for a more budget-friendly stay? Spend the night at the affordable Axkan Palenque. The hotel features modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant.

San Cristobal de las Casas

Agua Azul waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico. Great sight to see on a mexico road trip.
Agua Azul Waterfalls by Nathan Pickford

The journey from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas will take you 5 hours in total. However, do consider adding stops at these attractions along the way:

Misol-Ha Waterfall

You can drop by the spectacular Misol-Ha Waterfalls on your way to San Cristobal.

Some of the activities here include tours to the viewing deck where you can get the best view of the area, touring the grotto or visiting the tilapia (fish) farm.

Afterward, you can grab freshly-prepared fish for lunch at the Misol-Ha restaurant.

Movie fanatics might recognize this waterfall. Misol-Ha was a filming location for the Predator movie.

water flowing down at the misol-ha waterfalls in chiapas mexico, near palenque archeological site.
Photo by Angelika Fuss

Agua Azul Waterfalls

The Agua Azul Waterfalls simply cannot be skipped when visiting Chiapas. The picturesque waterfalls are famous for the blue-colored water, hence the name which translates to Blue Water.

Admire the picturesque waterfalls or the washed-up banks of the river shaped by mother nature herself. The scenery here is an absolute paradise for photographers!

Note that the color of the water is the best during the dry season between November and May.

What to do in San Cristobal de las Casas

Sumidero Canyon

Don’t miss the Sumidero Canyon, a monumental canyon around 90 minutes east of San Cristobal. The grand scenery is best observed from the surface of the water, hop on a guided boat tour and take in the views!

The body of water is surrounded by limerock walls that are 900 meters tall! These unbeatable views are perfect for photography.

Sumidero Canyon seen from the river on a cloudy day in Chiapas, Mexico. Sumidero Canyon is one of the best attractions to see near San Cristobal de Las Casas
Photo by Gretta Bartoli

Guadalupe Church

The Guadalupe Church is perhaps the most photographed landmark in town. Once you get here, you’ll likely find yourself taking lots of pictures as well!

This picturesque church is set atop a hill, providing a great overlook of the city after you climb up the stairs.

Later, step inside the church and admire the decorative interior. The best time to visit the Guadalupe Church is undoubtedly on Guadalupe Day (December 12th of every year).

La Maldita Restaurante

After spending a day in town, unwind at the La Maldita Restaurante. Enjoy dinner at the rooftop terrace, whilst watching the sunset.

La Maldita also offers budget-friendly accommodation where you can spend the night.

Alternatively, you can spend the night at Casa Santa Lucia. This traditional hotel offers stylish, classic rooms with free wi-fi set in a building from the 1700s. Add in the great location by the heart of town, and you have one of the best stays in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Campeche

surfer strolling down a sandy beach at sunset, orange sky and calm waves on the ocean. Beautiful evening in Campeche, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
CamboriuVisual

After you’ve spent time at San Cristobal de las Casas, drive back into the Yucatan Peninsula. After a lengthy 10-hour drive, you will arrive in the scenic city of Campeche!

What can you do in Campeche

Don’t miss these spots on your next visit to Campeche.

  • Fuerte de san Miguel
  • Malecon
  • Restaurant El Langostino

Fuerte de San Miguel

At first, this fort was used during local conflicts throughout the 19th century. Fuerte de San Miguel is a great example of military architecture in Campeche.

Today, however, the fortification is home to Mayan relicts found in nearby archeological sites, including the ones found in Calakmul. The precious items are stored in 10 rooms within the old fort.

The museum can be accessed for just 55 pesos ($2.7) per person.

Open Tuesday to Saturday between 9 AM and 3 PM.

Malecón

After a day of driving, stretch your legs as you stroll down the Malecón waterfront promenade. The path is favored among both tourists and locals looking to get exercise or to enjoy a peaceful stroll.

The path stretches for 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) and is a great spot for a jog, or a bike ride.

At the northern tip of the Malecón, you can reward yourself with fresh seafood for dinner. Opposite of the car park, you will find a row of cozy restaurants that serve some of the best food in town.

Don’t know which eatery to pick? You can’t go wrong with Restaurant El Langostino, of the favorites in Campeche!

What are the best hotels in Campeche?

Luxury seekers should most certainly check out the Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a lavish 5-star property right in the heart of the city. The hotel is set in a restored 17th-century Hacienda and features upscale rooms and suites, great decor, two swimming pools, and a spa.

Looking for a hotel that won’t break the bank? Spend the night at the Hotel Plaza Campeche. This property features well-equipped rooms, an outdoor pool, and a great location near the heart of Campeche.

Mérida

uxmal archeological site, mayan structures seen emerging from green  jungle rainforest. Storm and clouds in the distance. Must-see Mayan site on a mexico road trip
Uxmal photographed by Darvin Santos

On your way to Mérida, don’t miss the breathtaking Uxmal Archeological Site. It’s a must on any road trip in this part of Mexico.

Uxmal Archeological Site

The Uxmal Archeological Site could very well be the best Mayan site in all of the Yucatan Peninsula. For this reason, we believe it’s crucial to include it in your Mexico road trip itinerary.

Visitors can admire the famous pyramids, or pay attention to the details such as the decorative facades.

In order to get the most out of your visit here, consider hiring a guide to show you around. A licensed guide will cost you around 700 pesos ($35).

The site is open all week from 8AM to 5PM, though the entrance is closed from 4PM onwards.

Admission costs 418 pesos ($17) per person.

Progreso

If you’re looking to spend some time at a sandy beach, drive up to the coastal town of Progreso.

The wide, sandy shore stretches for miles and makes for a great spot for sunbathing or swimming in the ocean.

What’s more, Progreso is full of affordable, waterfront hotels where you can unwind for a day or two. Alternatively, you can hit one of the town’s beach clubs, too.

Izamal

beautiful yellow church and courtyard with blue and white flags over green yard in the town of izamal. A must-see town on a mexico road trip.

Izamal is a scenic town, largely undiscovered by tourists, a little over an hour east of Merida.

In fact, we suggest stopping here on the way to Chichen Itza to take a few pictures of the bright yellow-colored buildings, stroll down and take in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, the scenic architecture and an authentic vibe make Izamal a great addition to your Mexico road trip itinerary.

Valladolid

beautiful picture of chichen itza mayan pyramid during sunset, on a sunny day in Mexico. Chichen Itza is an absolute must see when visiting Mexico.
Chichen Itza by José Andrés Pacheco Cortés

Depart Mérida and begin the final leg of your journey before returning back to sunny Cancun. On your way to Valladolid, be sure to drop by the Chichen-Itza Archeological Site. You cannot miss it on your road trip!

Chichen-Itza Archeological Zone

The ancient city of Chichen-Itza is definitely the most famous archeological site in this part of Mexico. While the site is, without a doubt, breathtaking, keep in mind that it is usually packed with tourists.

Chichen-Itza was the capital of the region back between 987 and 1200 AD, the same period saw the peak times of the gigantic city.

The ancient city is dominated by the El Castillo Temple pictured above. Unlike some of the other sites in the Yucatan, guests are not permitted to climb the pyramid.

The site is open all week from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Admission costs 417 pesos ($20.7) for tourists.

Swimming in Cenotes

The are around Valladolid is home to some more colorful cenotes where you can go for a dip in the crystal-clear waters.

Cenote Samaal is one of the best cenotes in Valladolid. After paying an admission fee of 150 pesos ($7.5), you can swim in the crystal-clear water, while accompanied by the soothing sound of the waterfall. Adrenaline junkies can drop down into the water from the jumping area.

Cenote Samula cannot be missed on a road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula. Nearly all of this cenote is enclosed in a cave, resulting in otherworldly scenery as you swim across the water. In fact, it looks so amazing it is hard to believe that it’s not man-made!

Rentalmoose tip: If you only have time to visit one cenote in Valladolid, see Cenote Samula.

Cenote Samaal, large cenotes are sinkholes in mexico taht are popular for swimming. Swimming in cenotes is an unforgettable experience.
Cenote Samaal by Dolanh/Flickr

Zona Arqueológica de Ek Balam

Ek Balam is another Mayan archeological site that’s worth visiting when in the Yucatan Peninsula, it’s located around 25 kilometers outside of Valladolid.

The site features well-preserved structures in a beautiful, jungle setting. It may not be as spectacular as the Chichen-Itza, but it makes a great addition to the itinerary.

Ek Balam is easily accessible by car. The site is open daily between 8 AM and 5 PM, though the ticketing booth closes an hour earlier.

Admission costs 338 pesos ($17) for international tourists.

Rio Lagartos

Before returning to Cancun, make sure you stop by the Parque Natural Ria Lagartos. In this park, you’ll be able to spot thousands of flamingos in their natural habitat.

What’s more, you can take a boat tour around the area to see the spots that are otherwise inaccessible.

Don’t forget to see the beautiful pink lake, which is another highlight in the park!

Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deal for this road trip!

Post your pictures from this Mexico road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in our travel guides.

Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

The Ultimate Nevada Road Trip Itinerary

This travel guide will take you on a journey across the best places to visit in Nevada, United States. The 1200-mile road trip will take you to Las Vegas, The Great Basin National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Yosemite National Park. You’ll also see some of the area’s less-popular, yet equally beautiful State Parks. Check out our ultimate Nevada road trip itinerary!

Before you go: What are the must-see National Parks in the west US?

The West of the US is home to nearly 30 different National Parks. You can find the most parks around California, Utah, and Nevada. Some of the best National Parks on the West side of the US include:

Are you a fan of National Parks?

National Park lovers should definitely take a look at this blog post, where we list out the 7 best National Park road trips you need to add to your bucket list next year!

Road Trip Extension to Utah’s National & State Parks

Why not extend your road trip to see even more spectacular National and State Parks? Utah is home to some otherworldly parks, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Click here to check out our road trip itinerary around Utah’s best national parks and extend your road trip further!

Road Trip Extension to Arizona and The Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon National Park is an absolute must-see for any tourist visiting this part of the US. Click here to check out our curated travel guide to The Grand Canyon National Park and extend your road trip further!

Las Vegas

scenic driving road next to lake mead recreational area, on the outskirts of Las Vegas Nevada.
Lake Mead, right outside of the city. Photo by Esudroff

Your National Park Road Trip begins in Las Vegas, dubbed the Sin City. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the McCarran International Airport. Find the perfect rental car for this road trip via our online platform.

What is Las Vegas known for?

The unarguable highlight of Las Vegas is the city’s countless casinos, extravagant resorts, and vivid entertainment venues. If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Vegas, take a look at this travel guide. As this road trip itinerary is made especially for nature lovers, we’ll skip out on the city’s craze and instead focus on the spectacular natural beauty around Las Vegas.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds is a spectacular site just north of Las Vegas. The area, once home to mammoths, camels, and lions, is a fresh addition to the list of the American National Monuments. In fact, it was recognized as a National Monument in 2014.

As the park has only been open for a couple of years, there is no visitor center and the facilities are rather limited. You can leave your car by the side of the road and reach the monument on foot. On the other hand, admission is free of charge.

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is open between sunrise and sunset from Monday through Sunday, 365 days a year.

You can find more details on the park at the official website.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead is an artificial reservoir that was America’s first-ever National Recreation Area. It is only about 25 miles out of the center of Las Vegas, and is definitely worth the slight detour!

This National Park is packed with fun attractions to spend the day (and night!). You can hike around the massive slot canyons, swim in the clear waters, or get a different perspective during a boat tour of the lake. After dusk falls, the night skies are ideal for stargazing.

When in Lake Mead, you can’t skip the iconic Hoover Dam!

Consider spending the night at one of the local campgrounds. Keep in mind that there is no reservation system, spots are subject to a first-come, first-serve availability.

You can learn more about Lake Mead and its local attractions on the park’s official website.

An entrance pass to Lake Mead costs $25 per vehicle, it is valid from 7 days from the date of purchase.

Rentalmoose insider tip: be sure to see the Valley of Fire State Park, located pretty much right after the Lake Mead park. Alternatively, you can drive through both of these parks on your way back to Las Vegas from the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is perhaps the favorite local escape from the Las Vegas craze. On top of tens of various hiking trails, Red Rock Canyon is known for its spectacular 13-mile-long Scenic Drive. Scenic driving roads are the highlight of any proper road trip, and this is no exception.

The stunning Scenic Drive is open all year from 6 AM until the late afternoon. A 1-day entry pass costs $15 per vehicle.

Learn more about the Red Rock Canyon on the park’s website.

Where to stay in Las Vegas?

Within Las Vegas itself, the majority of the extravagant resorts, casinos, and restaurants have reopened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Room rates for the city’s iconic hotels are still lower than last year, this could be the perfect time to try out a 5-star resort that would usually be out of the budget.

The Venetian

Consider booking a room at the lavish 5-star Venetian Hotel, right on the famous Las Vegas Strip. The resort is full of attractions, including a casino, an outdoor pool, restaurants, as well as spacious rooms and suites.

Flamingo Las Vegas

Staying along the world-class Las Vegas strip does not have to break the bank, and the 3-star Flamingo Hotel proves it. The renovated hotel is situated between lavish resorts, yet the rooms here are available for a fraction of the price. Some of the amenities include a variety of restaurants, an outdoor pool, and a spa.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Death Valley, 2 hours

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park, wonderful rock formations and otherworldly scenery seen from an outlook at Artists Drive. Drive down the scenic drives in Death Valley on our Nevada road trip.
View from Artists Drive.

Head towards California, leaving behind the lively city of Las Vegas. After roughly 2 hours behind the wheel, you will arrive at the Death Valley National Park.

Admission to the Death Valley National Park will cost you $25 per vehicle (with unlimited re-entry). The pass is valid for 7 days from the date of purchase. Consult the park’s official website for details and local alerts.

What is there to do in Death Valley?

Badwater Basin

Once you’re inside the National Park, be sure to stop by the famous Badwater Basin. The giant salt flat spans across the horizon, it is also one of the hottest spots in all of the United States! Be sure to stay hydrated, it is not recommended to stay in the Basin for too long during the hottest months.

Artists Drive

Artists Drive is a spectacular one-way scenic driving road. The drive is around 9 miles long and takes below 30 minutes to complete. The panoramic views along the way make Artists Drive an absolute must-see when visiting Death Valley.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is the most popular lookout in the park, be sure to drop by when driving around Death Valley. For the best views and absolutely magical experience, come here during sunrise or sunset.

Ubehebe Crater

Drive up to the Ubehebe crater located in the Northern part of Death Valley National Park. Admire the views from the car park, you can even walk around the rim of the crater during the winter months. The drive up to the crater itself is an attraction on its own, as well.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

Drive up the scenic Emigrant Canyon Road. At the end of the road, at around 5000 feet (1500 meters) above sea level, you will find a complex of 10 charcoal kilns. These are believed to be the best-preserved examples of such kilns in this part of the country. Charcoal kilns aside, the drive up the mountain will provide unbeatable views, too.

Rainbow Canyon

As you drive across Death Valley National Park, be sure to stop at the Father Crowley Overlook. Leave your car at the car park and admire a panoramic view of the Rainbow Canyon. If you’re lucky, you might see low-flying fighter jets, as the area is frequently used for military training.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Yosemite National Park, 3 hours

Yosemite National Park

green pinetrees and small river with grand boulders in the background. The scenic beauty of Yosemite Valley in California attracts thousands of tourists every day.

Leave Death Valley behind and continue North towards Yosemite. Death Valley is around 3 hours away by car from Yosemite National Park, and it is the third stop on your road trip itinerary.

Is Yosemite open?

YES! From the 1st of March onwards, reservations are no longer required to enter Yosemite National Park! Find out more about visiting Yosemite during COVID-19 right here.

Can you drive within Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park can be accessed by private vehicles, making it the perfect park to see during a road trip. However, some of the roads can remain closed during winter. Consult the park’s website for current closures.

How much does it cost to go to Yosemite?

As of 2021, the admission cost to enter Yosemite National Park is $35 per vehicle. An admission ticket is valid for 7 days from purchase, with unlimited re-entries.

What to see at Yosemite National Park?

Although there are tens, if not hundreds, of beautiful spots worth visiting in Yosemite, we have listed the major must-see attractions below. Be sure not to miss these activities during your road trip to Yosemite National Park!

Tuolumne Meadows

Once you enter Yosemite National Park, make sure to pay a visit to the Tuolumne Meadows. This peaceful Highland is home to wonderful, moderate hiking trails.

You can learn about the local history at the Parsons Memorial Lodge, right by the Pacific Crest Trail.

Keep in mind that Tuolumne Meadows is only accessible between June and October.

El Capitan

Next, drive to the heart of the Yosemite Valley. Stop by the El Capitan Meadows and photograph El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith.

Take a pair of binoculars and try to spot rock climbers as they try to reach the top of El Capitan. Travelers can stretch their legs and enjoy a hike along the El Capitan trail. Afterward, you can enjoy a picnic at the El Capitan Picnic Area just off Northside Drive.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls are divided into the Upper, Middle, and Lower waterfalls. The three waterfalls combined make up the highest waterfall in all of North America, spanning a whopping 2425 feet (739 meters).

If you’re a beginner hiker, be sure to stroll around the easily-accessible Lower Falls. Advanced hikers can take the advanced trailhead to reach the Upper Falls.

When visiting Yosemite Falls during Spring and early Summer, be sure to take rain gear and dress appropriately.

Half Dome

The Half Dome is perhaps the most famous landmark in Yosemite and an absolute must-see on any road trip to this National Park.

Travelers can admire the Half Dome during a hike down to Mirror Lake, the trailhead begins by the Yosemite Valley Stables by the Merced River.

If you’re an experienced hiker, you can hike along the hard Half Dome Trailhead. Note that a permit is required to access the trailhead, it is recommended only for highly-advanced hikers.

Glacier Point

Before leaving Yosemite National Park, be sure to drive up to Glacier Point. Drive down Wawona Road, leaving behind Yosemite Valley (don’t worry, you’ll pass it again on your way out of the park!). Then, turn left into Glacier Point Road. Drive until you reach the end of the road.

Glacier Point will provide you with unbeatable views of Yosemite Valley, more than 7000 feet above sea level. For the most magical experience, consider heading to the overlook during sunset.

Keep in mind that Glacier Point Road, the only way to access the overlook by car, remains closed during winter. What’s more, the drive will be closed to all traffic in 2021 and the only way to access the overlook will be via hard trailheads, such as the Four Mile Trail.

Consult the park’s official website for current closures.

Wawona Tunnel

As you return back from Glacier Point, enjoy the view as you pass the Wawona Tunnel. The scenic Wawona Tunnel opens up to panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. You can stop by the Wawona Tunnel View to enjoy the view, it’s located right by the exit of the tunnel.

The Ahwahnee Dining Room

A day of exploring Yosemite National Park will surely make you hungry. Don’t miss the grand Dining Room located in the famous Ahwahnee Lodge. Movie fans might find this lodge familiar, as the monumental interior of the Ahwahnee inspired Stanley Kubrick when creating The Shining’s Overlook Hotel.

The Dining Room is open all year long for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Despite suspending tableside service, guests can still enjoy their delicious meals while admiring panoramic views of the Valley.

Click here for details on the Dining Room.

The Ahwahnee

Before setting off back to Nevada, consider spending the night in Yosemite National Park. You can’t go wrong with the iconic Ahwahnee. Enjoy cozy rooms with unbeatable views, as well as luxurious facilities such as a heated pool and legendary dining at the Dining Room.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Lunar Crater, 5 hours 30 minutes

Lunar Crater

Nevada is famous for empty, deserted roads. Empty two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, red rocks in the distance. Nevada, USA
Photo by Esudroff

Leave Yosemite National Park and drive back to Nevada. Although the next National Park on this road trip is the Great Basin, around 7 hours from Yosemite, there are lots of cool spots around Nevada worth dropping by along the way.

Detour to Goldfield

You can make a small detour and head south from the town of Tonopah. Continue driving for around half an hour until you reach Goldfield. This small town is home to quirky attractions, such as the International Car Forest.

Enjoy a refreshment at the Santa Fe Saloon in Goldfield, the town’s oldest continuously-run business. It has been welcoming guests since 1905!

Nevada’s Lunar Crater

The Lunar Crater was first recognized as a National Natural Landmark back in 1973. Turn right off of the US-6 and follow the dirt road that will take you around the crater.

The crater is 430 feet (130 meters) deep and makes a cool sight to see. Perhaps it’s not as impressive as the Yosemite Valley, but it can make a great addition to your National Park road trip.

For the best views, stop at the elevated overlook along the east rim of the crater.

The drive to Great Basin National Park is around 3 hours. If you’re tired, consider spending the night at Lane’s Ranch Motel by Preston. There isn’t much of a choice, as the cozy 3-star motel is essentially the only hotel in the area. Click here for directions.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Great Basin National Park, 2 hours 50 minutes

Great Basin National Park

Skygazing at the clear skies in Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Milkyway can clearly be seen as the sky remains free of light pollution
Great Basin is a great destination for skygazing, photo by Skeeze

The last major stop before heading back to the south of Nevada is the spectacular Great Basin National Park, an absolute must during your Nevada road trip. The Great Basin provides a dramatic change of scenery compared to the rest of Nevada.

The entrance to the Great Basin National Park is free of charge. However, do note that some activities within the park may require a special permit. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge, either.

What to do in Great Basin National Park?

Lehman Cave Tours

Once you drive into the Great Basin National Park, be sure to stop at the Lehman Caves. Admire impressive rock formations while strolling around two natural caves within the complex.

You can enjoy a tour of the two caves guided by the park rangers. Check the park’s website for information on ticketing and the opening hours. The cave tours are available year-round.

Keep in mind that the temperature in the cave is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Dress appropriately. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge.

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

The route to Wheeler peak is yet another Scenic Drive during this road trip to national parks. This wonderful road stretches for 12 miles and will take you up to the majority of the attractions in this national park.

Drop by Mather Overlook, a viewpoint around halfway up the road, for a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next trip!

Note that the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is closed during Winter. Consult the park’s official website for current closures and other safety alerts.

Once you reach the end of the drive, drop your car off at the Bristlecone Parking Lot and continue exploring on foot!

Alpine Lakes Trailhead

Drop off your car at the car park and follow the Alpine Lakes Trailhead. The trail forms a 2.7 mile (4.4km) loop, passing two pristine Alpine lakes: Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. What’s more, the trail offers panoramic views of Wheeler Peak for that perfect photo from your road trip.

Bristlecone Trailhead

Before heading back to your car, hike up the Bristlecone Trail. This trailhead is famous and an absolute must-see during your visit to the Great Basin National Park.

When following the Bristlecone Trail, you will stumble upon the oldest organisms on Earth. Bristlecone pines are significant trees that can be found in this part of the park, they date back to ancient times!

Stargazer Inn

Great Basin National Park has some of the darkest skies in all of the US. Why not take advantage of the dark skies and enjoy some stargazing before continuing on your road trip?

Book your room at the Stargazer Inn, located just minutes outside of the park itself. The small hotel features quiet rooms and a seasonal restaurant. Check their website for details.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Cathedral Gorge State Park, 2 hours

Cathedral Gorge State Park

unique rock formations are what makes Cathedral Gorge State Park in nevada famous. Unique landscapes in this part of the USA
Photo by Natalie Faulk

Your final stop on this road trip before making your way back to Las Vegas is the monumental Cathedral Gorge State Park. This State Park is only around a 2-hour drive away from the Great Basin National Park.

Cathedral Gorge State Park features otherworldly slot canyons that were formed over thousands of years. It is also one of the original State Parks in Nevada.

Find information regarding current pricing and closures on the state park’s official website. As of October 2020, the admission fee to the park is $5 per vehicle.

What to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park?

Cathedral Gorge State Park Visitor center

Be sure to drop by the visitor center during your road trip to the Cathedral Gorge State Park. Inside, you can gather insight about the park and its local history before setting off to explore it yourself.

Bullionville Cemetery Trailhead

After a short peek in the Visitor Center, it’s time to explore the park! Follow the Bullionville Cemetery Trail, it will lead you to an eerie cemetery that’s been around since the early 1900s.

Miller Point

Miller Point is perhaps the best trail and attraction within this state park. If you’re only dropping by for a short visit, be sure not to miss this beautiful trailhead. You’ll get to see the absolute best parts of the park, including breathtaking slot canyons. Not to mention that an elevated overlook will open up to spectacular, panoramic views, perfect for another photo opportunity in the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Next: Las Vegas, 2 hours 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for this Nevada road trip.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Nevada road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance

The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Itinerary For Nature Lovers

This road trip itinerary will take you on a picturesque Colorado road trip around the state’s best National parks. See the state’s best natural beauty with this curated travel guide.

Driving directions:

Denver to the Garden of The Gods– 70 miles (120 km) 

Garden of The Gods to Great Sand Dunes – 230 miles (370 km) 

Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde– 200 miles (330 km) 

Mesa Verde to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison– 240 miles (380 km)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Rocky Mountain– 450 miles (720 km) 

Rocky Mountain to Denver– 70 miles (120 km) 

2000 miles (3200 km) in total

Before you go

Are there any National Parks near Denver?

Yes! Denver itself is known as a city that provides a great mix between urban life and natural beauty, and the Rocky Mountain National Park is only around 90 minutes away from the city center. This park is a must on any Colorado road trip.

What National Parks are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to four different National Parks:

  • Great Sand Dunes
  • Mesa Verde
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  • Rocky Mountain

This Colorado road trip itinerary will take you across all four of these parks, along with some other great attractions!

Road Trip Extension to Utah

Why not combine this road trip with a drive around Utah and the state’s spectacular parks, such as Zion or Bryce Canyon? When in Mesa Verde, you can continue west into Utah and explore some of the best natural beauty in this part of the US! Click here for the itinerary.

Denver

Denver colorado, often called the mile high city, seen from above. Aerial view of the city, rocky mountains in the distance, clear skies
Photo by David Mark

Your road trip begins in Denver, the largest city in all of Colorado. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the Denver International Airport. Unless you’ve driven here in your private vehicle, of course.

What is Denver known for?

Denver, often referred to as the Mile High City due to its elevation precisely one mile above sea level, is a fascinating city where culture meets the outdoors. The city’s countless outdoor attractions are overlooked by the iconic Rocky Mountains. Proximity to parks makes Denver the perfect destination for a road trip.

Continue reading to check out some of the best attractions for nature lovers in and around the city of Denver.

Denver City Park

The City Park is a peaceful park near downtown Denver that dates back to the 1880s.

Some of the attractions within the City Park include a selection of trails ideal for a stroll or cycling, a golf course, tennis courts, and the world-class Denver Zoo.

If you’d like to spend your day actively, consider renting a bicycle from Wheel Fun Rentals directly within the park.

Admission to the City Park is free of charge, though some of the attractions inside may require a ticket. Tickets to the Denver Zoo have to be booked online, consult the official website for details.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

The Red Rocks Amphitheater is a one-of-a-kind attraction that’s an absolute must during a road trip in Colorado. Come by for one of the live shows (check the calendar on the venue’s website) or to simply enjoy the spectacular backdrop.

If you get hungry, grab a bite to eat at the Ship Rock Grille, all while taking in the spectacular views.

Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park is a great scenic getaway around 40 minutes away from Downtown Denver. Admire red rock formations as you stroll along the winding hiking trails. Choose from a large network of trailheads, each ranging between .5 to 8 miles in length. For more details, check out the park’s official website.

Admission to this state park costs $9 per vehicle.

The Fort Restaurant

A day of exploring the city will surely make you hungry. In this case, head over to The Fort Restaurant, dubbed Denver’s favorite Western eatery. This restaurant features delicious regional dishes with an elegant twist.

Tasty food aside, The Fort is worth visiting even just for its authentic decor.

Check the restaurant’s website for opening hours, reservations, and the menu.

Four Seasons Denver

Consider spending the night in town before continuing on your road trip. Luxury seekers should check-in at the elegant Four Seasons Denver. The 5-star property features upscale rooms and suites, as well as countless amenities such as a rooftop pool, a spa, and a fitness center. Add in a perfect location in the heart of the city, and you get one of the best stays in town.

Warwick Denver

Travelers on a slightly tighter budget should consider spending the night at the Warwick right in the heart of Denver. This classy property features modern rooms & suites, along with facilities such as an outdoor pool.

Next: Garden of The Gods, 1 hour

Garden of The Gods

spectacular red rock formations in garden of the gods park in colorado springs near Denver. Pikes peak can be seen in the distance.
Photo by B Wellensiek

The first leg of the journey is a short drive to the Garden of The Gods, a State Park near Colorado Springs. The drive from Denver to the Garden of The Gods will take you around an hour. Admission to the park is free of charge, and it is not to be missed during a Colorado road trip!

Consult the park’s official website for current opening hours as well as any closures.

What to do at Garden of The Gods?

Visitor Centre

Begin your visit to this public park by dropping by to the visitor center. In here, you can pick up a map of the park with a highlighted 15-mile trailhead network within the park.

Once you’ve picked up your map, drive inside the park and admire the spectacular rock formations from the comfort of your car. There are lots of different photo opportunities and lookouts throughout the park. Follow the one-way Juniper Way Loop.

Kissing Camels

After you drive into the park, a walking tour of the Kissing Camels rock formation is an absolute must during your road trip. Drop your car off at the car park and follow the paved trailhead. The moderate hike is wheelchair accessible and provides breathtaking views along the way.

Siamese Twins

Next, continue along the one-way Juniper Way Loop, then turn into Garden Drive. Next, leave your car at the Spring Canyon car park and follow the Palmer Trailhead until you reach the Siamese Twins rock formation. The elevated rock formation is known for panoramic views of the rocks, as well as Pikes Peak in the distance.

The Palmer Trail is a little more challenging than the previous, paved trailhead. The hike is around 0.5 miles (800 meters) round trip.

Balanced Rock

The final must-see point in the Garden of The Gods is the Balanced Rock formation at the southern tip of the park. The gravity-defying rock formation is hard to miss- it’s directly next to the road. Stop by for a great photo opportunity.

Balanced Rock is a popular tourist attraction in Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs near Denver.
Photo by Beverly Lussier

Don’t forget to post your photos from this trip online using #rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Pikes Peak Highway Scenic Drive

Before you continue to the next point on this road trip, consider driving up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway up to the summit of America’s Mountain. It is the essential point of any road trip in Colorado, it’s one of the best scenic drives in the country!

The scenic drive is open all year round, as long as the weather allows it. Admission costs around $15 per adult as of October 2020. Check this website for current information on pricing and closures.

Next: Great Sand Dunes National Park, 2 hours 40 minutes

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park are a spectacular sight not to be missed on a Colorado road trip.
Photo by Mike Goad

The second leg of this road trip is a drive from the Garden of Gods to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, into the heart of Southern Colorado. It should take you below 3 hours to complete this leg of the journey.

The admission fee to the park is $25 per vehicle for a 7-day visit. Note that the fee is not charged when the visitor center and entrance station is closed.

Check for current closures and updated pricing information on the park’s official website right here.

What are the best things to do in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

These are some of the best must-see attractions in the newest National Park in the United States.

Hike the sand dunes

Pass the Visitor Center and enter the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drop your car off at the large car park off of Medano Creek Road and explore the dunes on foot!

The great thing about this National Park is that pets are, unlike most parks, allowed to roam the area with you.

If you want the absolute best panoramic views of the area, hike the 750-feet (230 meters) High Dune. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next road trip.

Rent a Sand Board

Sandboarding and sledding are great activities for all ages. Rent your equipment from the Oasis Store and hit the dunes! It’s an experience like no other to be able to go sledding in the sand.

A full-day board rental costs around $20 as of October 2020.

Drive down the Medano Pass

If you came here in a 4WD vehicle, why not drive down the Medano Pass Primitive Road? The 22-mile road will prove challenging for any off-roading enthusiasts, and a great adventure for the entire family. Pass through creeks, admire the panoramic views, and don’t get stuck in the sand!

A 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance is required to drive the Medano Pass Primitive Road. For current conditions, check the park’s website and consult the Visitor Center before departing.

Are you a fan of camping? There are 21 camping sites along the pass, each one is free of charge. Free spots are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Zapata Ranch

If you want to spend more time in the area, consider checking-in at the Zapata Ranch. The working ranch features upscale accommodation, great cuisine, and a wide array of activities. Explore the natural wonderland during a horseback tour, or give rock climbing a shot. After dusk falls, enjoy stargazing at one of the darkest skies in the country.

Note that the Zapata Ranch requires a 2-night minimum stay during the winter, and at least three nights during the summer season.

Best Western Movie Manor

It is no secret that Colorado is filled with quirky stays and attractions, and the Movie Manor is definitely one of them. Located less than an hour west of the Great Sand Dunes, the Best Western Movie Manor is an absolute must-see for any cinema enthusiast on this Colorado road trip.

This is possibly the world’s only drive-in cinema with an attached motel. Yes, you read that right. Instead of a small TV in the room, guests can peek outside the bedroom window and enjoy a movie screening.

UFO Watchtower

If you’re a fan of quirky attractions like the Movie Manor, be sure to drop by the UFO Watchtower. It only requires a small detour on the way to the drive-in motel, yet it is arguably even quirkier. The small watchtower features panoramic views of the San Luis Valley, infamous for UFO sightings.

Admission, as of October 2020, costs $2 per person. For the ultimate quirky experience, spend the night at the campground by the tower for just $15 per tent.

Next: Mesa Verde National Park, 4 hours 20 minutes

Mesa Verde National Park

cliff dwellings in mesa verde national park, colorado.
Photo by Kristy Lee

This is the longest leg of this Colorado road trip. The drive will take you around 4 and a half hours.

Rentalmoose insider tip: This part of Colorado is very close to Utah. Take a look at this national park travel guide to Utah and extend the trip further.

The fee to enter Mesa Verde National Park is $20 per car between May & October and $15 outside of those months. Take a look at the park’s official website prior to visiting to see current information on pricing, closures, and any safety alerts.

What to do at Mesa Verde National Park?

These are the must-see attractions in Mesa Verde during your Colorado road trip.

Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Pay a visit to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum when visiting this Colorado park. That way, you can learn about the history of the region before exploring it for yourself.

The museum itself dates back to 1922, when it replaced a small cabin that had previously stored the park’s precious artifacts. It’s one of the oldest archeological museums in any national park in the US.

You can check the opening hours on the park’s website.

Petroglyphs

Did you know that Mesa Verde National Park is home to some of the best-preserved Petroglyphs in all of Colorado? You can admire them along the Petroglyph Point Trail. The moderate hike is around 2.4 miles (3.9 km) long. The hike begins right next to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

Cliff Dwellings

Don’t miss Mesa Verde’s famous cliff dwellings, the park is known for these sites that date back as far as the 13th century.

The best way to see these dwellings is during a guided tour. You can book your tour in advance at the park’s official website, or pop by the Visitor Centre at the park’s entrance. Note that the tickets are given on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to book them online during peak season.

The most popular dwellings in this park are:

  • Cliff Palace
  • Long House
  • Balcony House

COVID-19 Update: As of October 2020, the Cliff Dwelling tours are suspended until further notice. Check the park’s website for updates.

Mesa Top Loop Road

If you have a limited amount of time, be sure to at least drive around the scenic Top Loop Road within the Mesa Verde National Park. The 6-mile driving road features at least 12 different stops along the way, either to admire archeological sites or to enjoy the panoramic views from overlooks.

Don’t be fooled by the road’s short length. Expect to spend plenty of time here, you’ll be stopping practically every few hundred yards to take in the breathtaking landscape.

Metate Room

Before departing, consider booking a table at the Metate Room restaurant for dinner. This upscale eatery features a selection of delicious meals served with a panoramic view of the park.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Walk-ins may be possible based on availability, though it is highly recommended to book a table in advance!

Spend the night

Looking to spend extra time in Mesa Verde? Stay the night at one of the park’s lodges. The Metate Room is located within the Far View Lodge.

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, check out some accommodation alternatives in Cortez, a town just a stone’s throw away from Mesa Verde. Consider checking-in at the Holiday Inn, for example.

Next: Black Canyon National Park, 3 hours 30 minutes

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

black canyon of the gunnison, stunning canyon and rock formations seen during a colorful sunset in colorado.
Photo by rjdoc

The 3-and-a-half hour drive to Black Canyon is one of the most scenic highways in this part of Colorado. The road, full of exciting turns and elevation changes, will take you across green hills and mountains.

Million Dollar Highway Scenic Drive

When going to the Black Canyon, check the driving directions carefully. The shortest route will be the 145, however, one of Colorado’s most scenic drives is just a stone’s throw away. Drive along the 160 to Durango, and head north along the Million Dollar Highway. The detour will only add 10 minutes to your trip, and it is well worth it!

This park got its name from the monstrous dark cliffs that plummet 2000 feet down (600 meters) into the Gunnison River. It’s an otherworldly view that’s a must-visit point on any Colorado road trip itinerary.

The entrance fee for the Black Canyon National Park is just $15 per vehicle. Check the park’s official website for current closures and safety alerts before coming.

What to see at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

These are the best attractions in Black Canyon National Park. The majority of the park can be seen by driving down the roads listed below.

South Rim Road

Begin with driving down the South Rim Road. This 7-mile road hosts 12 panoramic overlooks of the Black Canyon. Make sure to stop at the following overlooks for the best views in Black Canyon National Park:

  • Gunnison Point
  • Pulpit Rock Overlook
  • Chasm View
  • Painted Wall View
  • Sunset View

The South Rim Road finishes at the High Point, the short trailhead offers some more panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Note that the South Rim Road is closed beyond Gunnison Point during winter.

East Portal Road

The East Portal Road is an exciting driving road that will take you down to the Gunnison River. This steep road (16% grades) features lots of chicanes and tight hairpins. Once you’re down by the river, you can relax at the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Here, road trippers can enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, and picnicking.

During the summer, you can take part in a ranger-led boat tour of the Gunnison River.

Note that vehicles longer than 22 feet (6.7 meters) are not permitted to enter the East Portal Road. The drive is closed during winter.

North Rim Road

Before continuing to the next destination on your Colorado road trip adventure, drive down the North Rim Road. This road offers 6 different viewing points. The best viewpoints and overlooks along the North Rim Road are:

  • The Narrows View
  • Exclamation Point
  • Island Peaks
  • Kneeling Camel View

Much like the majority of this park, the entire North Rim Road remains closed throughout winter.

The Inn at Tomichi Village

After dusk falls, consider booking a room at The Inn at Tomichi Village. This well-rated property features cozy rooms with complimentary wifi, a pool, a gym, and free parking.

Next: Rocky Mountain National Park, 4 hours 40 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance
Lake Haiyaha by Skeeze

The last leg of this Colorado road trip is a drive up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Follow the scenic driving road as you cross the mountains and approach Denver.

A 1-day pass to the Rocky Mountain National Park will set you back $25 per vehicle. For current closures and safety alerts, consult the park’s official website.

What are the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Trail Ridge Road

Arguably, the best way to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park on your Colorado road trip is via Trail Ridge Road. This picturesque drive is one of 10 America’s Byways in Colorado, and a national All American Road. You can’t miss it!

Driving along the Trail Ridge Road, you will see unbeatable views of the Rockies virtually everywhere you look. Expect to make many stops along this 48-mile road, the route is packed with overlooks to take in the unbelievable views.

Old Fall River Road

The Old Fall River Road is a piece of local history, it was the first road constructed within this National Park back in 1920. The narrow road has a speed limit of just 15 miles per hour, it is definitely worth a drive if you have the time. The road passes through the subalpine forest and offers an intimate, one-on-one experience with the local nature.

Beware, the road is relatively safe for motorists but there are no guard rails.

Old Fall River Road is closed during winter.

Hiking- Bear Lake, Glacier Gorge & Emerald Lake Trail

Stretch your legs after hours of driving during this road trip. Drive up to the beginning of the Bear Lake Trailhead, right by the Bear Lake Comfort Station. From here, you can stroll around the picturesque Bear Lake, or choose from one of the other trails.

Alberta Falls is worth dropping by, too. Follow the Glacier Gorge Trailhead until you reach the spectacular waterfall. Alternatively, follow the 3.5-mile Emerald Lake Trail and see crystal-clear lakes along the way.

Check out more details about the local trailheads here.

Next: Denver, 1 hour 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

golden sands by shangri la resort in batu ferringhi green palm trees ocean and pools on a clear day in penang malaysia

Malaysia Road Trip Itinerary From Singapore

Road Trip Itinerary Across Western Malaysia and Singapore

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Singapore to Malacca- 240 kilometers (150 miles) 📍  27 Ringgit highway toll and border crossing

Malacca to Kuala Lumpur- 150 kilometers (95 miles) 📍20 Ringgit highway toll

Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands- 250 kilometers (155 miles) 📍

Cameron Highlands to Penang- 250 kilometers (155 miles) 📍16 Ringgit highway toll

Penang to Mersing- 720 kilometers (450 miles) 📍 50 Ringgit highway toll

Mersing to Singapore- 150 kilometers (95 miles) 📍7 Ringgit border crossing

1760 kilometers (1095 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Long Trip, Malaysia, Singapore, Asia

The majority of Malaysia is often overlooked by tourists visiting South East Asia, as most international visitors just focus on Kuala Lumpur. In reality, there are lots of beautiful destinations scattered all over the country that are worth a visit. 

This travel guide focuses mainly on the Western part of Malaysia. Begin by exploring the fascinating city-state of Singapore, a modern country just below the southern tip of Malaysia. Then, cross the bridge to enter Malaysia and continue to Kuala Lumpur with a stop in the historic port town of Malacca. 

Later, drive up the steep mountain roads until you reach Cameron Highlands. Taste the delicious locally-grown tea and strawberries before continuing north to the island of Penang, where you can spend the evening sunbathing on a sandy beach. 

On your way back to Singapore, make a stop at Mersing and take the ferry to Tioman Island.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

As the trip is over 1500 kilometers in total, Rentalmoose highly recommends making four overnight stops at the very least, plus an extra night in Singapore before beginning the trip and an optional night off the coast of Mersing if you decide to stop there. 

In order to truly explore each location, spend at least two nights in every city.

When is the best time to visit Malaysia?

As the region is close to the equator, the tropical weather is warm and humid all year round. The dry season (March to August) sees a lower amount of rainfall. However, tourists should expect rain and thunderstorms multiple times a week even during the dry season.

Why should I book a rental car for a Malaysian road trip?

Some of the attractions along this journey can’t be accessed by plane, and the freedom to change your route as you go can only be achieved with a car. What’s more, Malaysian highways are mostly modern and well-maintained, and the tolls are affordable.

Numerous rental companies offer car rentals out to Malaysia. Browse through available options via Rentalmoose.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Plus- Malaysian Highway Toll System

You will need to pass through several paid highway segments along this trip. The pricing is reasonable, as all highway tolls, Penang bridge toll, and border crossings cost below 130 Ringgit (27.5 EUR) in total. 

Tolls can either be paid by cash or credit card, some booths accept prepaid Touch ‘N Go cards too. For tourists and short-term visitors, it is the most convenient to pay by cash or card directly at each booth.

Can tourists drive in Malaysia and Singapore? 

Absolutely! In Malaysia, tourists can use their domestic license as long as it’s in English (or if it was issued in one of ten ASEAN member countries) and it has a photograph. 

If your domestic license is not in English, an International Driving Permit is required. Click here to learn all you need to know about International Driving Permits.

The same rules apply for tourists in Singapore. Keep in mind that both nations have left-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Malaysia road trip!

Singapore

marina bay sands hotel illuminated by green and blue laser beams and white merlion statue in the foreground seen at night in singapore

Welcome to Singapore, an intriguing, diverse country south of Malaysia. The country is known for being a major business hub in Asia, as well as its ultra-modern architecture and delicious cuisine. 

As public transportation in Singapore is very well-developed, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car the day you set off to Malaysia.

What can you do in Singapore?

As Singapore is a very multicultural city, you can experience an authentic part of various Asian cultures around the city. 

Chinatown

For starters, head to Chinatown. The colorful streets are lined with all sorts of small shops and delicious restaurants. 

Admire the monumental Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, situated between colonial buildings and tall skyscrapers, or visit the local wet market opposite of the temple.

Hawker Centers

Singapore is essentially a paradise for foodies, as the country is the melting pot of Asian cultures. Budget-friendly, authentic eateries (hawker centers) can be found all across the island. No matter which hawker center you pick, you will end up eating delicious meals.

When in Chinatown, try the Liao Fan Hawker Chan, the world’s first Michelin-star hawker ever. 

Rentalmoose order tip: You can’t go wrong with chicken rice, a local specialty.

Gardens By The Bay

Get a break from the busy city at Gardens By The Bay, a sci-fi-like park by Marina Bay Sands. The majority of the park can be accessed for free, however visitors need to purchase tickets to come inside the two large glass domes. 

Don’t miss the magical light show at the Supertree Grove, which takes place every evening at 7:45 PM and 8:45 PM.

1-Altitude

When the night falls, enjoy the best panoramic view of the city from 1-Altitude. The trendy rooftop bar offers unbeatable views, delicious drinks, and an elegant vibe. 

Admission costs below SG$50 (32 euro) and includes 2 welcome drinks. 

singapore-city-view-from-singapore-flyer

An aerial view of Suntec and Rochor seen from The Singapore Flyer.

Lau Pa Sat

Craving a delicious meal in the middle of the night? Head to Lau Pa Sat, one of the best hawkers open 24 hours a day. Right outside the building is the famous Satay Street. Every day from 7 PM onwards, tens of satay (freshly grilled meat/seafood skewers) stalls start serving food on the street. Rentalmoose’s favorite is the satay stall #7.

The Fullerton Hotel

Luxury-seekers will be happy to see the wide selection of prestigious hotels in Singapore. One thing’s for sure: you can’t go wrong with The Fullerton Hotel.

This elegant 5-star hotel sits at the heart of Marina Bay and has been a crucial part of the country’s history. Classy rooms and suites with amazing views of the city, exquisite restaurants, and luxurious amenities make The Fullerton one of the best picks in town.

YWCA Fort Canning

Breaking the bank is easy when traveling in Singapore. A moderately-priced, 3-star alternative near the heart of the city is YWCA Fort Canning. The hotel offers cozy air-conditioned rooms and suites, as well as an outdoor swimming pool for guests to cool down in after a scorching day.

singapore-street-food-cheun-chuen-crispy-seafood

Singapore is absolute heaven for foodies! The photo was taken at Chuen Chuen in Bugis, one of my personal favorites in the country.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Malacca, 2 hours 30 minutes 27 Ringgit highway toll (5.7 EUR)

Malacca

malacca-christ-church-facade-malaysia

Cross the causeway and enter Malaysia, a true gem situated on the western coast of Malaysia. The border can get crowded, so it is recommended to cross it early in the morning. The current border fees can be found here.

Then, hop on the AH2 until you reach the historical town of Malacca. The highway toll until Malacca costs 20.34 Ringgit (4.2 euros) as of March 2020.

What can you see in Malacca?

Malacca’s rich history is deeply reflected in the city’s attractions and sightseeing opportunities.

A’Famosa

The remains of A’Famosa highlight Melacca’s historical significance. The fortress, built in the 1500s by the Portuguese, was a part of Portugal’s network of ports linking the country with China. The ruins can be explored free of charge.

Christ Church

Next, stroll around the area until you reach Christ Church, a beautiful red-brick structure built by the Dutch in the mid-1700s. Admire the building’s well-preserved facade or head indoors for one of the regular services in either English or Chinese.

Jonker Street

Jonker Street, the city’s Chinatown, is located across the road from Christ Church. Visit the area during a weekend evening to experience the busy night market. Shop at some of the exotic stores or grab a bite from one of the appetizing stalls.

Nancy’s Kitchen

Once you get hungry, visit Nancy’s Kitchen. One of the best eateries in the city is located in the heart of vivid Jonker Street. The restaurant specializes in Peranakan cuisine, originally invented by early Chinese migrants who settled throughout Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Nancy’s Kitchen offers cooking classes, too.

What are the best hotels in Malacca?

The Majestic Malacca

Indulge yourself in the city’s historic vibe and stay at The Majestic Malacca, a refined 5-star hotel located in a riverside 1920s mansion. The hotel offers classy rooms and suites, along with a wide array of facilities and a convenient location near the heart of Malacca.

Eco Tree Hotel

Travelers on a tighter budget can still opt for luxury at the Eco Tree Hotel. The 3-star hotel features well-equipped rooms and suites as well as a modern rooftop sky deck where guests can enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool, order a snack at the bar or simply admire the panoramic views.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Kuala Lumpur, 1 hour 30 minutes 20 Ringgit toll (4.2 EUR)

Kuala Lumpur

kuala-lumpur-petronas-towers-skyline-daytime

Leave Malacca and hop back on the AH2 highway. Prepare around 20 Ringgit (4.2 euros) for the highway tolls. In around an hour, the city’s monumental skyscrapers should emerge on the horizon. Welcome to the vibrant capital of Malaysia! 

Petronas Towers

Head to downtown KL and visit the massive Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin structures. The 452 meter high towers are hard to miss and have become a symbol of modern Malaysia.

Visit the observation deck (Rentalmoose knows a better observation point in KL, keep on reading to find out!), go for a shopping spree at the Suria KLCC mall located on the lower levels, or relax in the park directly in front of the spectacular towers.

KL Tower

In order to get the best view of the city, visit the KL Tower. There is an open-roof sky deck atop the tower, over 300 meters above the ground! If the weather is bad, enjoy the panoramic view from the enclosed observation deck at the structure’s top floor.

kuala-lumpur-downtown-view-from-kl-tower-malaysia

The view from the KL tower is rather overwhelming.

Batu Caves

Batu Caves can’t be missed when in Kuala Lumpur. The famous tourist attraction is located less than 20 minutes away from the city center. The world-famous flights of stairs, guarded by a massive Hindu God statue, lead up to the mysterious natural caves.

Admission costs below 20 Ringgit (4.2 EUR) per person.

The Row

Visit The Row for a trendy, modern dining experience. Various restaurants and cafes are lined in a row of renovated heritage houses minutes away from the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t know which eatery to pick? Walk inside Limapulo: Baba Can Cook, and try their incredible Laksa, a local specialty.

Which hotel should you pick in Kuala Lumpur?

Grand Hyatt

Sophisticated travelers should consider checking into the Grand Hyatt, a prestigious 5-star hotel near the Petronas Towers. The hotel offers elegant rooms and suites with a panoramic view of the city, as well as countless facilities and top-notch service.

Bintang Warisan

Bintang Warisan is a cozy, colonial hotel in the Bukit Bintang district. The hotel is made up of over 100 neutral-tone rooms and offers exceptional service and a stylish colonial coffee house.

A car park is available for hotel guests.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Cameron Highlands, 3 hours 30 minutes

Cameron Highlands

cameron-highlands-colorful-tea-plantation-malaysia

Leave Kuala Lumpur and head north up into the highlands. The twisty roads will take you to Cameron Highlands, a picturesque region famous for its tea plantations and strawberry farms.

Developed during the British colonial period, Cameron Highlands used to be the getaway for Brits in Malaysia throughout the 20th century.

As the area is high above sea level, the climate is more moderate than in the rest of the country, with the temperature averaging in the low 20s centigrade.

 What is there to do in Cameron Highlands?

Tea Plantations

Begin by visiting one of the many tea plantations in the region. Afterall, tea is exactly what made this part of the country famous.

Head over to the Boh plantation, specifically the Sungei Palas Tea Garden. Taste the locally-grown Boh tea while enjoying panoramic views of the plantations. Guests can also opt for a factory tour or purchase tea from the gift shop.

Admission is free of charge.

Strawberry Farms

Once you’ve had enough of the local tea, proceed to Raju Hil Strawberry Farm, where you can taste fresh strawberries, try a slice of strawberry cake or drink freshly-squeezed strawberry juice. You can even go out on the farm and pluck your own fruit!

Golden Hills Night Market

On the evening of every weekend, the streets of Golden Hills host the busy Night Market. The stalls sell all kinds of products, from locally-picked crops and vegetables through to souvenirs and t-shirts. Delicious food is available too, of course!

The night market opens as early as 4 PM and lasts nearly till midnight. However, bad weather can affect the hours.

cameron-highlands-tea-plantation-cloudy-malaysia

Even if the weather is less than ideal, the plantations look stunning.

Where can you stay in Cameron Highlands?

The Lakehouse

Experience the colonial vibe at The Lakehouse, a beautiful 4-star hotel. The Tudor-style hotel-transformed country house offers colonial-style rooms and suites and amazing service. Unique amenities include complimentary jungle trekking activities and a scenic lake-view terrace.

Century Pines Resort

Century Pines Resort is a more affordable, yet high-standard alternative in Cameron Highlands. The 4-star hotel features classy rooms with balconies, elegant common areas, a spa and fitness centers and a wide array of activities.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Penang, 3 hours 30 minutes 16 Ringgit toll (3.4 EUR)

Penang

penang-batu-ferringhi-shangri-la-resort-palms-pool-sunny

Drive down one last twisty mountain road and come back to lower ground. Jump back on the AH2 highway and head north until the Simpang Pulai toll booth.

Cross the monumental Penang bridge (7 Ringgit toll, around 1.5 euro) and enter Georgetown, the main city on this island.

China House Penang

Dive into the heart of Georgetown and head inside China House Penang, an authentic group of restaurants and cafes located in 3 renovated heritage buildings.

The 14 eateries all have one thing in common- every single one of them serves outright deliciousness. Enjoy a cup of Kopi (local coffee), a slice of cake or lunch.

Open daily between 9 AM to 1 AM.

Kek Lok Si Temple

Did you know that Penang is home to one of the largest Buddhist temples in all of South East Asia? Explore Kek Lok Si Temple, an absolute must-see in Penang.

The monumental temple complex is constructed in a mix of Asian styles, making it a colorful symbol of the region’s cultural diversity.

street-food-malaysia-shrimp-food-court-tiger-beer

Local food courts may not look very appealing, but I can assure you the food served there is incredible!

Tropical Spice Garden

Get a break from the busy city and stroll around the Tropical Spice Garden, a harmonious escape in the northern tip of the island. Enjoy a guided tour in the gardens, learn all about the local flora and fauna or take part in one of the regular cooking classes. 

What is the best beach in Penang?

Batu Ferringhi

Surely, every traveler will enjoy a beach day after hours on the road. Drive up to the north-western part of the island, until you reach Batu Ferringhi.

The little town is Penang’s best beach resort, with luxurious beachfront hotels and a beautiful beach. Cool down in the sea, sunbathe or enjoy a drink in one of the bars. Adventure junkies can rent a jet ski or go parasailing if they dare.

batu-ferringhi-penang-beach-malaysia

Batu Ferringhi.

Picking the right hotel in Penang can be a challenge, depending on whether you’re looking to stay along the busy streets of Georgetown or at a peaceful beachfront resort.

Eastern and Oriental

If you’d prefer staying near the heart of Georgetown, book a night at the classy Eastern and Oriental. The 5-star 19th-century hotel offers elegant, well-equipped rooms and suites and luxurious facilities, such as a spa, an outdoor pool, and a gallery where guests can discover the region’s rich history.

Magazine Vista Hotel

 A cheaper alternative with an equally convenient location is the Magazine Vista Hotel. The chic 4-star hotel is located in a renovated historic building and features spacious suites at an affordable price.

The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La

Looking for a beachfront resort on the island of Penang? Rentalmoose recommends checking in at The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. The 4-star resort offers chic rooms and suites, a wide selection of facilities for the whole family and of course, a sandy beach.

The hotel is located at Batu Ferringhi, the island’s best beach resort.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Mersing, 7 hours 50 Ringgit toll (10.5 EUR)

Mersing

mersing-beach-turquoise-pulau-tioman-malaysia

Photography by David Russo.

On the long drive back to Singapore, Rentalmoose recommends making a slight detour and heading to Mersing. Prepare around 50 Ringgit (10.6 Euro) for the AH2 highway tolls. The town itself is not particularly exciting, but it serves as a great base for island hopping.

Island hopping from Mersing

Park your car at the Mersing Harbour (a fenced and guarded car park is available for around RM20 [4.2 EUR] per day) and take a ferry to one of the stunning islands in the region.

The most popular, Tioman Island, is an absolute paradise for snorkeling fans and divers. The island’s turquoise waters and secluded beaches make it one of the best escapes in the region.

Air Papan Beach

If you’re not planning to spend the night, or simply prefer to stay on the mainland, drive to Air Papan Beach. The sandy beach is favored by locals and is less touristy than the islands, yet equally beautiful. Go for a swim in the sea or enjoy the afternoon wandering around the white sand.

Next on your Malaysia road trip: Singapore, 2 hours 10 minutes 7 Ringgit border toll (1.4 EUR)

Drop-off

For maximum comfort, drop off your car directly before departing Singapore at Singapore Changi Airport. Rental companies that allow trips to Malaysia can be found via Rentalmoose.

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next Malaysia road trip. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Malaysia road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.


Sydney's opera house and high rise buildings and harbor on a clear sunny day

Sydney To Melbourne- Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Australia’s East Coast from Sydney to Melbourne, explore the best of Australia with our Australia road trip itinerary.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Sydney to Jervis Bay- 200 kilometers (125 miles)📍 

Jervis Bay to Batemans Bay- 140 kilometers (85 miles)📍

Batemans Bay to Narooma- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

Narooma to Eden- 140 kilometers (85 miles)📍

Eden to Lakes Entrance- 240 kilometers (150 miles)📍

Lakes Entrance to Wilsons Promontory- 280 kilometers (175 miles)📍

Wilsons Promontory to Phillip Island- 130 kilometers (80 miles)📍

Phillip Island to Melbourne- 140 kilometers (85 miles)📍

1340 kilometers (830 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Drop-off at another location, Australia, Beaches

Pristine sandy beaches, dramatic coastlines, fascinating marine life, and exotic forests await! Explore the stunning natural beauty of the land Down Under during a coastal road trip from Sydney to Melbourne. Kangaroos, koalas, and surfing opportunities are guaranteed, of course!

This travel guide takes you on an epic Australian road trip along the picturesque coast of New South Wales and Victoria. Pick up your rental car in the vibrant city of Sydney, then head south along the picturesque Grand Pacific Drive, one of the most scenic driving roads in the country.

Continue through Jervis Bay, where you can sunbathe with kangaroos on Pebbly Beach. Drive south until you reach Batemans Bay, where you can stay overnight.

Try the best seafood in your life at the famous Narooma Oyster Festival, go on a whale-watching cruise in Eden or stroll down the Ninety Mile Beach, one of the longest beaches on the planet.

Stay overnight near Lakes Entrance, then hike Mount Oberon to admire the panoramic view of Wilsons Promontory National Park. Stop for the night at Phillip Island, where you can peek at the Little Penguins Parade or lap a racetrack in a go-kart.

Later, continue to Melbourne and indulge in the city’s Greek cuisine.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

Rentalmoose recommends making 3 overnight stops during this Australian road trip at the very least.

This travel guide is designed to take you around the absolute must-see highlights, though expect to make more stops along the way.

To put it into perspective, this road trip took me nearly two weeks to complete, and I would dedicate even more time if I had the chance to do it again!

When is the best time to visit Australia?

Keeping in mind that the seasons in Australia are switched (Summer is between December and February), it’s usually best to go right before the summer or directly after it finishes.

The weather is still warm enough to swim in the ocean, yet the crowds are smaller compared to the summer when the tourist season peaks.

Great Ocean Road Trip Extension

Once you get to Melbourne, consider adding a few extra days to your road trip itinerary to drive down the coastal Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic driving routes.

Admire the monumental Twelve Apostles (right by the Great Ocean Road) during a helicopter tour, attend the surfing championship in Bells Beach, tour the coast in a World War 2 aeroplane or swim in a volcanic lake in Colac.

Click here for the adventure-packed travel guide around the Great Ocean Road, starting in Melbourne.

Why should I book a rental car in Australia?

Unless you’re planning to stay in a single city, a rental car is definitely the go-to means of transport in Australia. Some of the smaller towns along the way, as well as beaches or hiking trails, can only be accessed by car. Road trips in Australia are the best ways to see the country.

What’s more, the ability to change your itinerary on the go can only be achieved when traveling by car.

Not to mention the absolutely breathtaking views along the coastal roads, such as the Grand Pacific Drive (one of the best driving roads on the planet!).

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Can tourists drive in Australia? 

Yes! You can drive with your foreign driver’s license for up to 3 months in Australia, as long as it’s in English. If your driver’s license is not in English, you need to obtain an International Driving Permit prior to leaving.

Check out this blog post to learn all you need to know about the International Driving Permit.

The traffic laws in Australia are strictly enforced.

Driving under influence is completely unacceptable and can land the offender in jail. 

In terms of speeding penalties, the Department of Transport and Main Roads claims that the average speeding ticket is $210, which equals just below 130 euros. Going less than 13km/h over the limit will cost you $177 (105 EUR).

Traffic in Australia is on the left-hand side of the road.

Once you’re all set, let’s dive into this Australian road trip around the East Coast!

Sydney

sydney downtown opera house during sunset

Your Australian road trip begins in the vivid city of Sydney, the capital of New South Wales. For maximum comfort, pick up your car directly at Sydney Airport.

Find car rental companies that support drop-off at another location and airport pick-up via Rentalmoose. Once you’ve got your car, it’s time to dive into this diverse city!

What can you do in Sydney?

Begin by exploring the busy heart of Sydney. Drop off your car at the Sydney Opera House Car Park just a walk away from the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The car park is open nonstop 7 days a week, the current rates can be found on the official website.

Wander around the waterfront and continue towards the famous Opera House. Admire the unique architecture, photograph the landmark with the Harbour Bridge in the background or step inside and attend one of the daily events (click here for the schedule). Explore the heart of Sydney even further by taking a ferry to other parts of the city.

Continue strolling around the waterfront and enter the colorful Royal Botanic Gardens. Enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze as you examine the exotic flora and observe the colorful birds, admire the monumental Government House or lay down in the vibrant grass and simply watch the ocean.

Those who are curious about the park’s history can take part in one of the guided tours of the park.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are open all year round from 7 AM, admission is free of charge.

No visit to Sydney could possibly be complete without a day at Bondi Beach. Often ranked as one of the best urban beaches in the world, Bondi Beach is the precious jewel of Sydney.

The busy sandy beach is the perfect place to swim or surf in the ocean, lay down and sunbathe or hop inside one of the numerous eateries and cafes along the streets. Hate it or love it, Bondi Beach is a piece of Sydney’s history and shouldn’t be missed when in town. 

Looking for a change of scenery? Drive up to the glamorous Blue Mountains, a National Park less than 2 hours west from the heart of Sydney. Admire the view from viewpoints high above the ground, ride down the world’s steepest railway or explore the eerie Jenolan Caves all within the park.

The winding roads around the park provide spectacular views and are extremely fun to drive around. As we all know, scenic driving is a must on any proper road trip.

aerial view cliff in blue mountains national park nsw australia

Sydney is packed with attractions of all kinds, including a vibrant nightlife scene. That’s why Rentalmoose recommends spending at least one night in town before continuing the journey.

What are the best hotels in Sydney?

Luxury travelers should check out the Park Hyatt Sydney in the heart of town. The modern 5-star hotel offers a selection of elegant rooms and suites overlooking the Sydney Harbour or the city’s landmarks. Relax after a scorching day at the rooftop pool or indulge in fine dining cuisine at the award-winning restaurants.

Sydney is known for being one of the most travel destinations in the world, and the city’s hotels are no exception. In recent years, however, stylish budget-friendly hotels began popping up all over the city. One of the most interesting hotels in town that don’t break the bank has got to be the Rushcutters Bay Vibe Hotel.

The affordable 4-star hotel is located just a 5-minute drive away from the heart of Sydney and offers modern rooms and suites as well as a rooftop pool and a fitness center. A private car park is available at an extra cost. 

Next on your Australia road trip: Jervis Bay, 2 hours 40 minutes

Jervis Bay

jervis bay secluded beach turquoise water green plants white sand australia

Photography by Anna Palinska.

Depart Sydney and head south towards the city of Wollongong. The picturesque coastal road, known as the Grand Pacific Drive, is one of the most scenic driving roads in the country and serves as the perfect introduction to see the natural beauty of Australia. 

Grand Pacific Drive

Don’t hesitate to get off the main road and discover the region more thoroughly, there are hundreds of pristine beaches along the way and it is impossible to mention them all.

To put it into perspective, Wollongong alone has nearly 20 wonderful beaches.

And that’s just one of the cities you’ll be passing!

That said, a must-see on your drive to Melbourne is the famous Jervis Bay. The bay is lined with various unspoiled sandy beaches, safe turquoise water, and hiking trails through the exotic wilderness of the nearby forest.

Don’t skip the Callala Beach, the longest beach in the entire bay.

Pay a visit to Huskisson, the most adventure-packed town in Jervis Bay.

Looking to explore more of the underwater world?

Go on a snorkeling tour with Woebegone Freedive.

Relax at the Shark Net Beach, or rent a kayak next door and make your way around the crystal-clear ocean on your own.

There are plenty of hotels in Huskisson if you decide to extend the trip and stay overnight.

Once you get hungry, drop by Stonegrill Huskisson for a tasty meal. Guests can choose from the a la carte menu or cook on the stone grill themselves. The delicious food paired with welcoming service makes the Stonegrill the go-to restaurant in Jervis Bay.

Open daily from 5:30 PM until 9 PM on weekdays and 10 PM on weekends.

Next on your Australia road trip: Batemans Bay, 1 hour 50 minutes

Batemans Bay

kangaroo looking at ocean pebbly beach australia batemans bay

Is Batemans Bay worth visiting?

Continue south along the highway for around 2 hours until you reach Batemans Bay. The vivid coastal town is one of the favorite getaways in New South Wales, offering breathtaking beaches, delicious fresh seafood, and an overall cool, coastal vibe.

Murramarang National Park

When in Batemans Bay, you can’t skip the Murramarang National Park. The National Park is packed with wild forests full of colorful, exotic birds, as well as secluded beaches.

Don’t know what to see in Murramarang National Park?

Visit the scenic Pebbly Beach. The wide beach is often completely free of tourists. If you’re lucky, you might spot the local kangaroos.

Your rental car can be dropped off by the campground, just a 5-minute walk from the beach itself. 

Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve

Hikers will enjoy their time in Batemans Bay as well.

Visit the Cullendulla Creek Nature Reserve, a large park near the bay which is absolutely perfect for hiking. The tracks will take you among mangroves, forests, gum trees and beaches.

Choose the Square Head Track 2, as this short trail is just below 2 kilometers round-trip and offers an easy hike between exotic gum trees, finishing with a perfect picnic spot on a secluded beach.

Sunday Market

If you’re looking to observe the local life, take part in the Batemans Bay Sunday Market. The market, held on the first and third Sundays of every month, is full of stalls selling all sorts of antiques, clothing, jewelry, and accessories of all kinds.

Wander around the stalls while listening to live music played by local artists, drink an aromatic coffee or indulge in some local delicacies.

The stalls are open between 8 AM and 1 PM. 

Rally of The Bay

Petrolheads are in for a treat, as Bateman Bay is home to the Rally of The Bay. Watch as powerful rally cars race across 7 different stages around the bay, filled with chicanes, skids and hops.

The adrenaline-packed rallying event takes place annually. Visit the official website for more information including the event schedule.

Where to stay in Batemans Bay?

BIG4

Traveling with kids? Consider spending the night at the BIG4 Batemans Bay. The beach resort offers well-equipped homes, along with a wide array of attractions such as an outdoor pool, a tennis court and a beachfront location.

A private car park is available at no extra cost.

Mariners on The Waterfront

If you would rather stay near the heart of Batemans Bay, book a room at Mariners on The Waterfront. The hotel is situated just a short walk away from local eateries and cafes, and 600 meters from the closest beach. The hotel features modern rooms, an outdoor pool and a free private car park.

Next on your Australia road trip: Narooma, 1 hour

Narooma

ocean waves hitting rocks narooma wagonga inlet australia beautiful beach

What can you see in Narooma?

Hop back on Princes Highway for another hour until you reach the scenic coastal town of Narooma. The serene Wagonga inlet, the town’s famous oyster festival, and heavenly beaches make Narooma an absolute must-see.

Wagonga Inlet

When in Narooma, be sure to visit the Wagonga inlet. The best way to explore the magnificent inlet is from the water.

Drop off your rental car by Riverside Drive and head go for a Walgonga Inlet Cruise. Choose from daily cruises between 1 and 3 hours each. Admire the best views during the sunset cruise, watch the sea life and photograph the scenic surroundings.

Check the pricing and schedules on their website.

Montague Island

Discover Montague Island, one of the most popular tourist attractions in this part of Australia. Choose from a selection of boat tours that best suits your needs, as the only way to access the island is by boat.

Whale watching out in the ocean, snorkeling with seals, or admiring Little Penguins or just some of the activities to choose from. Montague Island itself is known for its natural beauty and plenty of wildlife and should definitely be marked on your itinerary. 

Narooma Oyster Festival

Are you a seafood lover?

If so, you should most definitely visit the town during the annual Narooma Oyster Festival. The award-winning festival is a celebration of the region’s yummy oysters and is perfect for foodies, families, and friends. Indulge in the locally-caught seafood while enjoying live music, purchase local art or simply admire the spectacular views.

Next on your Australian road trip: Eden, 1 hour 40 minutes

Eden

eden australia green fields and ocean dramatic coastline nsw

Continue along Princes Highway for a little over an hour and a half until you reach the charming town of Eden. Eden, famous for its fishing culture, whale watching tours, and of course, immaculate beaches.

Long Beach

Before you reach the city, take a slight detour off the highway and spend some time at Long Beach. The secluded beach (not to be confused with Long Beach in Batemans Bay, or the one in California) is overlooked by monumental Pinnacles.

Drop your car off at the free car park and walk directly to the beach, or hike along the Pinnacles Walk.

Hooked On Seafood

As Eden is known for its fish, it only makes sense to try some fresh seafood while you’re here. Head to Hooked On Seafood, the best restaurant in town. Choose from a selection of fish, shrimps, crab or oysters. Observe local fishermen as you feast on regional seafood right by the ocean.

Open daily between 9:30 AM and 7 PM. 

Whale-watching tours

Go for a whale-watching boat trip with Cat Balou Cruises. The operator offers a selection of sightseeing cruises between 2 and 4 hours each.

See playful dolphins in Twofolds Bay, admire the wilderness in secluded parts of the coast or watch enormous whales. No matter which cruise you pick, each one offers an unforgettable experience. Click here to book.

Next on your Australia road trip: Lakes Entrance, 2 hours 50 minutes

Lakes Entrance

lakes entrance town aerial view on a sunny day from ocean

Photography by Mark Wyld

Drive down Princes Highway and cross into Victoria until you reach Lakes Entrance, another major hotspot that you should visit during a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne.

What is there to see in Lakes Entrance?

Gippsland Lakes

Don’t skip the Gippsland Lakes, the most popular tourist destination in the region. Wander around the wilderness, rent a boat and cross the lakes yourself or have a go at fishing. If you’re lucky, you might spot the endangered Burrunan Dolphins.

Raymond Island

You’ve seen kangaroos at Pebbly Beach back in Batemans Bay, now it’s time for the second animal that’s become an easily recognizable symbol of Australia.

Take the free ferry from Paynesville to Raymond Island, which is home to Victoria’s largest koala population. Hike down the Koala trail and see if you can spot any of the cute furry animals.

You can also rent a bicycle and cycle around the area instead.

Ninety Mile Beach

Did you know that the beach by Lakes Entrance is one of the longest in the entire world? Check for yourself and visit the famous Ninety Mile Beach. Stroll down the golden sands, go for a dip in the turquoise ocean or try to spot whales and dolphins from the shore. 

Waterwheel TAV

Getting hungry? Visit the Waterwheel TAV, a local pub that offers tasty cuisine including steaks and pizza along with a wide selection of drinks. What’s more, guests can enjoy their meals while admiring the lakes at the pub’s outdoor terrace.

Open daily from 10 AM.

Spend the night at the Bellevue on the Lakes. The 4-star hotel features well-equipped modern rooms, an outdoor pool, a heated indoor pool and barbecue facilities available for the hotel guests. A car park is available free of charge.

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider checking into the Lakes Waterfront Motel. The motel offers either rooms or standalone cottages with retro decor, an outdoor swimming pool, and an incredible waterfront location. Free parking is available.

Next on your Australia road trip: Wilsons Promontory National Park, 3 hours 30 minutes

Wilsons Promontory

wilsons promontory national park sand beach turquoise ocean australia

Photography by Siggy Nowak

Set off from Lakes Entrance and continue near the coast. You will arrive in Wilsons Promontory, one of Australia’s best national parks, in around three and a half hours.

What can you do at Wilsons Promontory?

Norman Bay

Relax at the picturesque Norman Bay. Go for a swim in the ocean, sunbathe on the shore or hike the local trails. Travelers can go for a canoe tour any day between December and January, or rent their own kayaks from First Track Adventures.

Surfing is allowed on one part of the beach.

Sightseeing Cruise

Drive down to Port Welshpool and park your rental car by the old ferry terminal building at the end of Lewis Street. Then, go for a sightseeing cruise to Refuge Cove.

The secluded spot is home to fascinating marine life, including sharks, seals, and dolphins. Cruises are available daily, check the schedule and pricing information here.

Hike up Mount Oberon

Looking for the best photo opportunity in Wilsons Promontory? Hike up to the summit of Mount Oberon. The trek up to the top does get exhausting, but the panoramic views from the 558-meter high summit are absolutely worth the effort!

Admire the Southernmost point of mainland Australia and the islands scattered around the crystal-clear waters. Watching the sunset from high above the ground is that extra touch that completes the magical experience.

Next on your Australia road trip: Phillip Island, 1 hour 50 minutes

Phillip Island

phillip island australia victoria green beach on cloudy day
Photography by Wei Chung Low

Is it worth going to Phillip Island?

Absolutely! Phillip Island is one of the favorite getaways for locals and tourists in Melbourne, and it is clear to see why. The island, apart from spectacular beaches and a dramatic coastline, is the perfect place to experience Victoria away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Don’t forget that it is one of the best places to spot Little Penguins, too.

Surfing

Phillip Island is known as one of the best spots in Australia when it comes to surfing, why not try this exciting watersport for yourself? Experienced surfers can hire equipment from Island Surfboards and hit the beaches.

Never tried surfing? Don’t know where to start? Island Surfboards offers surf lessons for intermediate surfers as well as beginners who have never touched a surfboard. Click here for details.

Cowes Beach

Relax at one of the beaches scattered around the island. One of the favorite beaches for swimming has got to be Cowes Beach, right by the vivid heart of Phillip Island. Go for a refreshing swim in the ocean, walk down the golden sands or wander around the seaside cafes and shops in Cowes.

Phillip Island Circuit

Motorsport fans are in for yet another trip during this road trip. The Phillip Island Circuit is a world-class racing track that hosts events such as the MotoGP, as well as a series of local automobile races and track days.

Watch as powerful cars or motorcycles lap the track, book a passenger hot lap around the track, or have a go at the famous circuit yourself in a go-kart.

Penguin Parade

As the sun is about to set, be sure to head to Summerland Beach. Observe as little penguins return to their home after a day of fishing, known as the daily Penguin Parade. Watch one of Australia’s largest penguin colonies from the viewing platform, or peek at the animals from the underground viewing point.

Click here to book your tickets. 

Phillip Island is packed with adventures, that’s why Rentalmoose recommends stopping here for the night. There are plenty of elegant hotels, villas and holiday homes that offer spectacular ocean views, great service, and an amazing experience overall.

The Clifftop

Get the best panoramic views of the ocean when you check-in at the Clifftop. The hotel is situated by Smiths Beach and offers stylish rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a beautiful shared space with a pool table and a cozy fireplace, as well as scenic natural surroundings.

A private car park is available free of charge. 

North Pier Hotel

If you’d rather stay in the vivid center of Cowes, consider booking a room at the North Pier Hotel. The budget-friendly, recently renovated hotel features modern rooms with ocean views, a beach just across the street as well as a convenient location in the heart of the Cowes township with lots of nearby eateries, shops, and bars.

Next on your Australia road trip: Melbourne, 1 hour 40 minutes

Melbourne

melbourne skyline aerial view melbourne skyscrapers during sunset victoria australia
Photography by Moerschy

What should you see in Melbourne?

Head to downtown Melbourne and get a photo with the picturesque Flinders Street Station. The main railway station in town has been open since the early 1900s and now serves as a major tourist attraction due to its monumental facade.

The station is present on many Melbourne postcards and souvenirs, despite the fact that what’s inside is fairly uninteresting. Don’t expect to spend too much time here, as pretty as it is to look at it’s not much more than a busy train station.

Cross the street to enter Federation Square, the vibrant cultural heart of Melbourne. Admire the abstract art installations or the magnificent buildings surrounding the square.

Step inside one of the art galleries, such as the Australian Center for the Moving Image, and discover the country’s artistic history. Wander around the trendy cafes and bars, or simply sit down and take in the artsy vibe.

Your rental car can be dropped off at this Wilson Parking multi-story car park. 

For the best view of the city, take the elevator up to the Skydeck on top of the 91-story Eureka Tower. Admire the panoramic views high above the ground, or try The Edge experience and enjoy the view from a glass cube suspended 300 meters above ground level, if you dare.

Open 7 days a week between noon and 8:30 PM.

A private car park is available right beneath the tower.

Great Ocean Road

Though the city itself is packed with attractions and various activities, a 90-minute drive west will take you to the beginning of the scenic Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s best scenic drives. Extend the trip and explore the natural beauty of the western coast of Victoria with our travel guide.

Where is the best Greek food in Melbourne?

Did you know that Melbourne has the most Greeks out of any city outside of Greece? With such a large Greek community, you definitely shouldn’t miss out on trying some authentic Greek cuisine when in Melbourne.

Head to Stalactites, a family-run restaurant with some of the finest Greek dishes in the country. Let the fresh meals take you on a journey to Greece.

Rentalmoose order tip: try souvlakis, grilled meat, or moussaka.

Don’t worry about coming too late or too early, the restaurant is open 24 hours a day, all week.

Where to stay in Melbourne?

Luxury seekers should consider booking a room at the QT Melbourne. The 5-star hotel features extremely stylish rooms and suites, as well as a fitness center.

The highlight of the hotel is its trendy rooftop venue where guests can grab a drink while admiring the city’s skyline. Add in the perfect location in the very heart of Melbourne and you will clearly see why this is one of the top picks in town.

A private car park is available at an extra cost.

Those looking for a more budget-friendly alternative should spend the night at the Plough Hotel. The hotel features well-equipped rooms, a convenient location near the city center and an outdoor terrace, as well as a bar and restaurant.

A private car park is available at no extra cost.

Looking for more attractions and hotels in Melbourne? Check out the Rentalmoose Great Ocean Road travel guide, where you will find more exciting things to do in Melbourne including trendy laneways, vibrant gardens and a local market.

Drop-Off

If you’ve decided to end your journey in Melbourne, Rentalmoose recommends dropping off your rental car directly at Melbourne Airport when you’re leaving. Browse through rental companies that support drop-off at another location, as well as airport drop-off, via Rentalmoose.

Win a free rental car!

The scenic journey between Sydney and Melbourne is packed with incredible natural beauty, secluded beaches, and dramatic coastal views, so I’m sure you will take lots of photos. Post your best photos from this trip with #Rentalmoose. Rentalmoose’s favorites will be rewarded with a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

kangaroo on green field australia pebbly beach

traditional walking street in gdansk medieval old town lined with restaurants on a summer day

The Best Things To Do in Poland During A Road Trip

A Summer Getaway in Poland- Road Trip Itinerary Through Northern and Central Poland.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Warsaw to Mikołajki- 220 kilometers (140 miles)📍  

Mikołajki to Malbork– 240 kilometers (150 miles)📍  

Malbork to Gdańsk– 60 kilometers (40 miles)📍  

Gdańsk to Toruń– 170 kilometers (100 miles)📍  30 PLN Highway toll (6.6 EUR)

Toruń to Łódź– 180 kilometers (110 miles)📍  

Łódź to Warsaw– 130 kilometers (80 miles)📍  

1000 kilometers (620 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Poland, Summer

When planning a summer road trip in Europe, you probably don’t think of Poland. In reality, Poland is the perfect under-the-radar tourist destination in this part of Europe. 

Wander around the world’s biggest castle, admire the Leaning Tower in Torun or party till the morning in Lodz’s renovated factories. Discover the best of what Poland has to offer in this travel guide!

This travel guide takes you on a road trip through central and northern Poland. Your adventure begins in Warsaw, the country’s capital.

After spending a night in town, drive across the picturesque Masurian Lake District and relax in Mikołajki, a local resort town. Then, head to the Tricity, stopping at the world’s biggest castle in Malbork on the way.

After a memorable night in Tricity, drive south to the Medieval Town of Torun and explore the historical streets. Make an overnight stop in the trendy city of Lodz before returning to Warsaw.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The driving distance is nearly a thousand kilometers in total and the route is divided into shorter segments, each one takes around two hours to complete. Rentalmoose recommends dedicating at least four days for this road trip, with overnight stops in Mikołajki, Gdańsk, and Łódź. If you have the time, add extra nights in Gdańsk.

Road Trip Extensions

Berlin

Your journey in this part of Europe doesn’t have to end! Check out the Berlin to Warsaw travel guide that will take you through southern and western parts of Poland, before finishing off in the capital of Germany.

Discover the underground chambers of a fascinating salt mine, admire the medieval architecture in the Old Towns and find the best Kebap in Berlin. Click here for details.

Summer in the Baltics

Explore the Baltics even further during this perfect road trip around Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Relax on sandy beaches, party your heart out in beach clubs, or wander around the old town of Riga. Click here for the travel guide.

When is the best time to visit Poland?

The weather is the hottest during the summer (late June-August), if you want to swim in the Baltic Sea it’s best to go during those months. However, keep in mind that it is also the peak of the tourist season.

The beaches around Gdańsk, as well as the Masurian Lake District, both get very crowded during the summer.

Go in the first weeks of June or the beginning of September, when you can still catch a glimpse of the summer weather without the hordes of tourists.

Why should I book a rental car in Poland?

As the points of interest are all scattered within driving distance of each other, getting a rental car is the most convenient way of getting around during this trip.

The roads in Poland are well-maintained (except for some B-Roads in remote parts of the country), and the route across the Masurian Lakes is quite scenic. What’s more, the ability to freely alter the itinerary on the go can only be achieved when traveling by car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Can tourists drive in Poland? 

Absolutely! If your driving license was issued in an EU country, you can drive in Poland without any limitations.

Driving licenses issued in countries that are mentioned in the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (list here) are valid for 6 months, as long as the driver is over 18.

 If your driving license was issued in a different country, you will have to obtain an International Driving Permit before coming.

To learn more about International Driving Permits, check out this blog post.

Poland, is a member of the open-border Schengen zone, meaning crossing the borders is quick and hassle-free shall you extend the trip to other European nations.

Check out this blog post to read about tips that will definitely come in handy when driving in Poland, including information about speed limits, penalties for offenses and common roadside scams. You definitely want to read this post before going on a road trip to Poland.

Traffic in Poland is on the right-hand side of the road.

Are highways in Poland free?

Some of the highway segments in Poland are paid. The total toll cost for this trip doesn’t surpass 30 PLN or 6.6 Euros. Fees can be paid directly at the toll gates scattered along the A1 highway, either in Polish Zloty, Euro or US Dollars. Click here for the current fee calculator on the A1.

Warsaw

Warsaw illuminated castle and zygmunt stary column, castle square and Warsaw's Old Town medieval buildings in the distance. Sunset on a summer day in Poland's capital.

This road trip begins in the capital of Poland, welcome to fascinating Warsaw! This history-rich city is an up-and-coming tourist hotspot in this part of Europe. For maximum convenience, pick up your car directly from the Warsaw Chopin Airport and head into the city.

What is there to do in Warsaw?

Warsaw is a fascinating city with unique art galleries, museums, and trendy nightlife spots. It is the biggest city in Poland, it is most certainly worth a visit! Although not as popular among tourists as Kraków.

Wilanów Palace

Visiting the Wilanów Palace is a must when in Warsaw. The monumental structure is surrounded by a colorful park which is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Travelers can step inside and admire the glamorous interior while learning about local history at a selection of exhibitions.

Purchase your tickets here. Prices vary depending on the exhibition you decide to visit.

Warsaw Rising Museum

Don’t miss the Warsaw Rising Museum, where you can discover the most devastating parts of the nation’s history. The interactive exhibition showcases all aspects of life during the uprising, including day-to-day life during the war.

Admission tickets can be purchased either online via the official website or directly upon entrance. Entry tickets cost under 30 PLN per person (6.5 EUR). 

Rental Moose mascot posing with thumbs up at the market square in Warsaw's old town tourist district. Rental Moose is the local guide for road trip itineraries in Poland.

Where to eat out in Warsaw?

Na Lato

Once you get hungry, consider going to Na Lato for lunch. The restaurant offers a wide selection of delicious dishes, including pizza, fish and chips or burgers. Enjoy your meal at the seasonal outdoor terrace.

What’s more, the trendy restaurant transforms into a club on weekend nights. Open until midnight on weekdays and up to 5 AM on weekend nights.

Rentalmoose order tip: Try Na Lato’s delicious pizzas. Though not a regional dish, it is truly delicious!

The Christmas Market

Are you in Warsaw around Christmas? Be sure to head to the Old Town and attend the charming Christmas Market. Wander around the stalls selling Christmas decorations, mulled wine, juicy grilled sausages, and accessories of all sorts.

Christmas at the Wilanów Palace

Alternatively, go to the garden by the Wilanów Palace to see a magical light display. Admission to the Warsaw Christmas Market is free, meanwhile the Royal Garden of Light at the Wilanów Palace costs around 20zł per person (4.4 EUR).

Warsaw is packed with adventures and things to do, including a vibrant nightlife scene, that’s why Rentalmoose highly recommends spending at least one night in town before departing further.

What are the best hotels in Warsaw?

Bristol Hotel

Luxury seekers should consider checking into the Bristol Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. The historic 5-star hotel features elegant rooms and suites, an indoor pool, a spa and wellness center and a perfect location along Krakowskie Przedmieście, just a short walk away from the Old Town.

Hampton by Hilton

Traveling on a tighter budget? Spend the night at the Hampton by Hilton near the center of Warsaw. The 3-star hotel offers well-equipped rooms, a complimentary breakfast, and a convenient location near the heart of Warsaw all at a reasonable price tag.

Looking for more fun attractions in Warsaw? Check out the Berlin to Warsaw travel guide, where you can find more things to see in town, such as the wonderful medieval Old Town or a trendy eatery in the heart of the city.

Next on your Poland road trip: Mikołajki, 3 hours

Mikołajki

masurian lake district and forest at sunset aerial view poland nature

Photography by Marcin Lewicki.

Leave Warsaw and hop on the S8 expressway up north to the scenic Masurian Lake District. After around three hours, you will reach the cute resort town of Mikołajki.

The Sailing Village

As Mikołajki is the Polish hotspot for sailing, you should definitely check out the Sailing Village in the harbor. Stroll down the picturesque promenade lined with shops and eateries, step inside one of the restaurants and enjoy fresh fish as you observe sailing boats pulling in and out of the busy harbor.

The public beach

Cross the bridge and go for a dip in the lake at the public beach. Your rental car can be left at the designated on-street parking spots along Michała Kajki street. Alternatively, try this car park.

Watersport and yacht charters

Adrenaline junkies will be happy to hear that there are plenty of jetski, boat and paddleboat rentals available in the Sailing Village.

Experienced sailors can also charter a sailing yacht in advance and sail out on the beautiful lake. Most boats can be rented directly from the jetty, though some may require an upfront reservation. 

Stare Sady- Peaceful Chillout by the lake

Relax at Stare Sady, a calm lakeshore resort a few kilometers north of the busy center of Mikołajki. Go for a swim at the sandy beach, grab lunch at the local restaurant or head out onto the lake and try flyboarding or waterskiing.

Where to eat in Mikołajki?

For lunch, consider heading to the New Island across next to Mikołajki’s Public Beach. The restaurant is a part of the 5-star Hotel Mikołajki and offers a delicious, upscale dining experience with unbeatable views of the lake.

During the summer, guests can dine in the seasonal outdoor area. The New Island is open daily from 1 PM to 11 PM.

masurian lake district poland rural b-road colorful fields and large trees

What are the best hotels in Mikołajki?

Hotel Mikołajki

Looking for the best luxury accommodation in Mikołajki? Check-in at Hotel Mikołajki, an elegant hotel next to the heart of town. The 5-star property features well-equipped rooms with lake views, 2 pools, a spa and wellness center and onsite restaurants, as well as a bar with a pool table and bowling alleys.

Hotel Santa Monica

Hotel Santa Monica is a budget-friendly alternative to some of the more expensive hotels in the area. The 3-star hotel offers spacious rooms and an outdoor pool at an affordable price. A car park is available at an extra cost.

Next on your Poland road trip: Malbork, 2 hours 40 minutes

Malbork

malbork castle surrounded by water large palace poland

Photography by Jan Nijman.

Depart Mikołajki and drive west along the twists and turns towards Malbork, a city that is home to the largest castle in the world measured by land area.

The largest castle in the world

The Malbork Castle and fortress is considered the largest in the world measured by land area. Its history dates back to the 13th century when it was constructed by the Teutons. Today, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes curious visitors and tourists.

Admire the castle’s massive facade and the well-preserved fortress. Then, experience a trip back in time as you step inside the authentic medieval interior. Visit tens of historic rooms and magnificent chambers, learn about the castle’s history at various exhibitions or wander around the terraces.

The self-guided walking tour of the castle takes around 3 hours to complete.

Admission costs below 50 PLN per person (11 EUR), with reduced prices in winter and a 10 PLN discount (2.2 EUR) when entering after 5.15 PM.

During the high season between July and August, travelers can attend a guided tour in English every day at 11:30 AM. Click here for more info about tickets.

Next on your Poland road trip: Gdańsk, 40 minutes

Gdańsk

gdansk old town in summer colorful medieval buildings cobblestone road people restaurants poland

Photography by Makalu.

Head north from Malbork for around 45 minutes until you reach the port city of Gdańsk. The two neighboring cities (Sopot and Gdynia), along with Gdańsk make up the Tri-City, one of the main tourist hotspots in the country.

Is Gdańsk worth visiting?

Gdansk is certainly worth visiting! Wander down the cobblestone streets in the Old Town, sunbathe on one of the public beaches or explore some of the other attractions throughout Gdańsk as well as the rest of the Tri-City.

The Old Town

You can’t skip the historical Old Town, the very heart of Gdańsk. Your rental car can be dropped off nearby at one of the designated on-street spots. On busier days, try this car park instead for around 5 PLN (1.2 EUR) per hour.

Stroll around the vibrant streets lined with colorful medieval buildings, make your way down to the Długi Targ (Long Market), the main walking street in the Old Town. Get a photo with the popular Neptune Fountain, then continue along the marina and admire the historical crane.

Remember to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge.

The Pier in Sopot

Drive north along the Tri-City until you reach the famous Pier in Sopot. Stroll down the longest pier in the Baltic Sea (over 500 meters long) and feel the refreshing sea breeze.

Watch the street performers or step inside one of the fish bars, where you can find locally-caught grilled fish. If the weather allows it, you can head to the public beach right by the pier and go for a dip in the sea.

Admission to the pier costs below 10 PLN per person (2.2 EUR).

poland baltic sea sandy beach calm water cruise ship in background
Photo by Aleksander Filip

Bohaterów Monte Cassino Walking Street

You will find the heart of Sopot right opposite the Pier. Walk down the Bohaterów Monte Cassino walking street, lined with vivid pubs, clubs, and restaurants of all sorts. Step inside some of the top attractions, such as the Sopot Wax Museum and the picturesque Crooked House.

Visit the area during the evening to experience the best of the local nightlife, it really is the place to be.

Your rental car can be dropped off at designated on-street parking spots. Beware of the “private car parks” in the area, as they might try to scam tourists and ask for crazy amounts of money.

On a busy day, drop your car off at Sheraton’s underground car park (around 10 PLN per hour, 2.2 EUR).

Where can you find the best food in the Tri-City?

Eliksir

When you get hungry, go for dinner at the Eliksir restaurant and cocktail bar in Gdańsk. The award-winning restaurant is known for food-pairing its unique dishes with creative cocktails, and is considered one of the best places to dine in the entire Tri-City.

Choose from a tasting menu and pick your favorite from a wide selection of beverages. Open from 4 PM onwards on weekdays and 2 PM and 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays respectively.

The Tri-City is filled with fun activities and spots worth seeing, that’s why Rentalmoose highly recommends spending the night in town.

Luxury travelers should check-in to one of the beachfront hotels in Sopot. My personal favorite is the 5-star Sheraton, located in the very heart of Sopot directly by the pier. Admire the sea views from the hotel’s modern rooms and suites, relax at the indoor pool, book a treatment at the serene spa and wellness center or dine at the restaurant. A private car park is available at an extra cost.

Traveling on a tighter budget? The Smart Hotel in Gdańsk might just be the perfect choice for you. The affordable property features modern rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and a restaurant. A car park is available at an extra cost.

Next on your Poland road trip: Toruń, 1 hour 40 minutes 30 PLN Highway toll (6.6 EUR)

Toruń

torun old town colorful medieval buildings on a sunny day vistula river in background

E-Gabi/Pixabay.com

Hop on the A1 highway and drive south, leaving the Tricity behind. Keep in mind that on Summer weekends there can be extremely heavy traffic on the highway, resulting in long queues by the toll points. Drive on weekdays to avoid the traffic.

What is Toruń famous for?

Toruń was the hometown of Copernicus, a famous Polish astronomer who lived in the 1400s. Today, the medieval heart of the city is perfect for a trip back in time, and the historical buildings are often home to museums that showcase local history and culture.

The charming city is often overlooked by international tourists, though it is most certainly worth a visit!

The Medieval Town

When in Toruń, you can’t skip the Medieval Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historical buildings are very well-preserved and the cobblestone streets are perfect to get lost in.

Wander around until you reach the monumental Old Town Hall, which has been turned into a museum after the Second World War. Step inside and walk through the exhibitions located within the wonderful historical interiors.

Travelers can climb the Town Hall tower to get the best view of the city.

Admission tickets cost 15 PLN (3.3 EUR) per person, entry is free of charge on Wednesdays. Tickets to the tower cost an additional 15PLN per person.

The Leaning Tower… Of Toruń

Did you know that Poland has its own equivalent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa? It may not be as large or as famous as the one in Italy, though the Leaning Tower of Toruń is a landmark worth visiting nonetheless.

Admire the medieval tower from the outside, sadly the interior is not accessible to the public. From the tower, you can follow the large defensive walls that protected the city in medieval times.

The Planetarium

Travelers who wish to learn more about astronomy should pay a visit to the Planetarium. The attraction offers astronomical shows along with two interactive exhibitions.

Check the official website for the daily show schedule. An admission ticket costs below 15 PLN (3.3 EUR) per person.

Next on your Poland road trip: Łódź,1 hour 50 minutes

Łódź

lodz piotrkowska walking street in the summer shops city center poland

Photography by Marcin Polak.

Hop back on the A1 highway and continue south. In around 2 hours, you will reach the city of Łódź (or Lodz in English), the last stop on the journey before making your way back to Warsaw.

What can you do in Lodz?

Łódź isn’t a popular tourist destination in Poland, despite being one of the largest cities in the country and just an hour and a half west of Warsaw. The times when Łódź was just an industrial town are long gone, and the city’s countless trendy hangouts and cultural venues prove it.

Piotrkowska Street

When in Łódź, you should definitely stroll down Piotrkowska Street, the longest commercial street in the entire country and the cultural heart of the city.

Some travelers may not be willing to walk down the whole street, as it is over four kilometers long. In that case, be sure to at least visit the northern part of the street as that’s where all the busy bars, restaurants and shops are situated.

Visit the street after dusk falls and experience Lodz’s vibrant nightlife in one of the numerous clubs or bars.

Off Piotrkowska Center

When you’re exploring Piotrkowska, be sure to turn into the Off Piotrkowska Center. The trendy venue is home to unique shops and exotic restaurants all located in and around a renovated industrial factory. Even if you’re not in the mood for dining, the spot is worth visiting solely for its cool industrial vibe.

Manufaktura

Be sure to drop by Manufaktura, another factory-turned-cultural spot in Łódź. Guests can satisfy their shopping needs at the local shopping gallery, dine at one of the restaurants, learn about the city’s history in the museums or wander around the outdoor area and simply enjoy the architecture.

Your rental car can be dropped off at the car park off Drewnowska Street, there are over 3500 complimentary parking spots.

What is the best restaurant in Łódź?

Anatewka

For dinner, consider going to Anatewka. The unique restaurant just off Piotrkowska Street serves traditional Jewish cuisine. Łódź has historically been a melting pot of four cultures, and the eatery focuses on the Jewish culture and its delicious dishes. Open daily between 11 AM and 11 PM.

Which hotel should you pick in Łódź?

Vienna House Andel’s

Spend the night at the Vienna House Andel’s Lodz, an elegant 4-star hotel near the heart of the city. The property features modern rooms, an indoor pool, a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, and a stylish interior design. A private underground car park is available at an extra cost.

Boss Hotel

A good budget-friendly alternative in Łódź is the Boss Hotel. The hotel features well-equipped rooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and a bar and restaurant. Guests can relax at the seasonal outdoor terrace. A car park is available at no extra cost.

Next on your Poland road trip: Warsaw, 1 hour 30 minutes

Drop-off

Your Polish adventure doesn’t have to end here! Click here for our travel guide that will take you through Kraków, Wrocław, and Poznań before finishing in Berlin.

If you choose to end the trip here, drop off your rental car directly at Warsaw Chopin Airport before leaving. Car rental companies that support airport drop-off can be found via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on one of the best road trip in Poland? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next Polish road trips. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip in Poland online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

amalfi coastal village colorful hillside whitewashed buildings and pebbly beach on a clear day

The Sunny South of Italy- Road Trip Itinerary

Explore the South of Italy with our curated Italy road trip itinerary.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Bari to Gargano- 150 kilometers (90 miles)📍 

Gargano to Naples- 230 kilometers (140 miles)📍 14.7 EUR highway toll

Naples to Amalfi Coast- 70 kilometers (40 miles)📍 2.1 EUR highway toll

Amalfi Coast to Matera- 220 kilometers (140 miles)📍 

Matera to Lecce- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 

Lecce to Bari- 150 kilometers (90 miles)📍 

990 kilometers (615 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, South of Italy, Beaches, History

This travel guide takes you on a magical road trip around Puglia, Campania, and Basilicata regions of Southern Italy. Explore the best parts of Italy by rental car, guided by our curated Southern Italy road trip itinerary.

Begin by exploring Bari, then drive along the coast to Gargano, where you will find some of the most jaw-dropping beaches in the whole world. Continue west until you reach Naples, a historic city guarded by the spectacular Mount Vesuvius.

Then, make your way across the winding roads of the glamorous Amalfi Coast before heading inland to Matera, known as “the City of Caves”. After an unforgettable night in a cave hotel, drive back to Bari through Lecce.

Planning- Before You Leave

Before setting off on your South Italian road trip, take a look at the essential information below.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

There are lots of attractions worth dropping by in Southern Italy, and this travel guide only highlights some of them.

Rentalmoose recommends dedicating at least 3 nights for this road trip.

In order to discover each town, add an extra night in each major city. 

When is the best time to visit The South of Italy?

The best time to go on a South Italian road trip is in Spring (April to June) or Autumn (September to October), when the weather is moderate and there aren’t too many tourists.

The hottest weather is during the Summer between late June and August, but it is also the peak of the tourist season. 

Why should I book a rental car in Italy?

The South of Italy is perfect to be discovered via a rental car. The spots worth visiting are all located within driving distance of each other, and the freedom of changing your itinerary during the trip can only be achieved when traveling by car.

Driving enthusiasts are in for a treat, as the coastal roads of Puglia and Amalfi Coast are along the most scenic in the whole world. 

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Road Trip Extensions

You can easily continue exploring Italy’s immaculate natural beauty, fascinating history and delicious cuisine even further!

Explore Tuscany and the region’s picturesque countryside, stroll down cute medieval towns or indulge in some of the best wine ever. Click here to check out the Rentalmoose travel guide around Tuscany.

Alternatively, head further north and go on a shopping spree in Milan, relax at the scenic Lago di Garda before finishing in Venice. Check out this Rentalmoose travel guide to North Italy and plan your ideal Italian road trip.

Can tourists drive in Italy? 

Yes! You need an international driving permit to drive in Italy along with your domestic license unless you are an EU-citizen. These can easily be obtained in your local country and are mandatory for non-EU driver licenses when driving in the country. 

Check out the Rentalmoose blog post on International Driving Permits to find out all you need to know about IDPs!

Driving in Italy for the first time might be quite a hectic experience. Getting around large cities is chaotic and driving around tight cobblestone streets can be a nightmare. On top of all this, the locals don’t really seem to be following the speed limits.

Speeding is common among drivers in Italy. Once you get caught, you will probably realize it was not worth it. Tourists in Italy have to pay the fine on the spot to the police and can additionally be charged by the car rental company. 

Going up to 21km/h over the limit on the highway will cost you around 150 Euros, while breaking a “no-parking” rule will cost you around 80 Euros.

The traffic in Italy is on the right-hand side of the road.

Are there tolls in Italy?

The Italian highway system is not toll-free. Fees can be paid at toll gates by cash or credit card, alternatively using a prepaid Viacard that can be purchased at gas stations and roadside shops. The map of toll highways and a toll calculator can be found here.

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to dive into this exciting Southern Italy road trip itinerary!

Bari

beautiful small italian sandy beach surrounded by whitewashed buildings and cliffs blue sea near bari south of italy sunset

Photography by Giancarlo Composto.

Your Southern Italy road trip begins in the gorgeous city of Bari. For maximum comfort, pick up your car directly from Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport. Car rentals that offer pick-ups at the airport can be found via Rentalmoose.

Is Bari worth visiting?

Sunny Bari is one of the most important cities in the South of Italy. The city has a lot in store for travelers, it is especially ideal for history lovers, beachgoers and foodies. It is most certainly worth a visit!

Get started with a visit to the city’s historic district, Bari Vecchia. Wander around the narrow streets, admire the Adriatic Sea from the old port or admire the monumental facade of the Basilica of San Nicola. 

Getting hungry? Bari Vecchia has some of the best street food in all of Italy! All sorts of local eateries are lined around the cute streets, serving regional delicacies such as focaccia or panzerotti.

Although the city of Bari itself is fascinating, Rentalmoose highly recommends exploring some of the best spots nearby.

Discover the picturesque coastal town of Polignano a Mare. The cute town is home to Lama Monachile, a famous beach surrounded by cliffs. Snorkel in the turquoise waters or go for a boat tour of the eerie caves along the shore.

Your rental car can be parked on-street near the beach, white-marked spots are free and blue ones need to be paid for at the nearest meter. Yellow spots are strictly for local residents.

Grotta Palazzese

For an unforgettable dining experience, book a table at the magnificent Grotta Palazzese. The restaurant’s jaw-dropping terrace is situated in a natural cave, offering guests spectacular views and making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Rentalmoose insider tip: The restaurant does get very busy during peak season, it’s best to book a table prior to arrival.

Alberobello

Continue south for another half an hour until you reach Alberobello. The fairytale-like village is made up of over 1500 of Trulli houses, making it the biggest concentration of Trulli in the region. The picturesque town is perfect for a stroll.

It’s best to visit Alberobello on a weekday, as the town tends to get overcrowded by tourists during peak hours.

Are you looking for the best place to stay near Bari? Consider booking a room at the elegant Grotta Palazzese, previously mentioned for its breathtaking restaurant. The 5-star hotel features modern rooms and suites with an unbeatable sea view, private crystal-clear beach access, and complimentary parking.

A budget-friendly alternative near the heart of town is the 2-star Hotel City Bari. The affordable hotel offers air-conditioned rooms and a paid car park.

Next on your South Italy road trip: Gargano, 2 hours 

Gargano

gargano pebble beach crystal clear sea white sandstone cliffs tourists swimming and sunbathing forest in background sunny day south of italy

Photography by Gianni Crestani.

Where are the best beaches in Italy?

Don’t forget to take your swimwear when you depart Bari, as you are about to visit some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Europe. The two-hour drive leads along the coast, scenic views along the way are guaranteed.

Mattinata Beach

Take a break at Mattinata Beach, one of the most popular pebble beaches in the region. Enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear sea or wander along the coast. It is best to visit during the week, as Mattinata Beach tends to get very busy on weekends.

Mattinatella Beach

One of the most picturesque beaches in the Gargano region is Mattinatella Beach, just minutes away from Mattinata. The beach is famous for the crystal-clear water and breathtaking scenery. If you’re planning to swim in the sea, it is recommended to take footwear, as there are many rocks beneath the water.

Continue driving North along the twisty roads and explore the other beaches in the area.

Did you find a stunning beach near Gargano that is worth mentioning in our travel guide? Post a photo with #rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

Where can you find the best food in Gargano?

Like all of Italy, Gargano is home to loads of delicious regional restaurants. Drive up to the small town of Monte Sant’Angelo. Inside, you will find Li-Jalantuumene.

The restaurant serves traditional food with a modern, creative twist. It is the perfect spot to take a break from beach-hopping all day.

Next on your South Italy road trip: Naples, 3 hours

Naples

naples dramatic coast small pier sunset skyline traditional buildings mount vesuvius in background italy. Naples is a must-visit city on a Southern Italy road trip.

Photography by Antonio Speranza.

Depart Gargano and drive across to the west coast of Italy. You will know you’re close as soon as Mount Vesuvius will emerge on the horizon. The active volcano is looking over Naples, one of the most important cities in the country.

Is Naples safe for tourists?

Naples, Italy’s third-largest city, is often seen as an unsafe city, especially for international tourists. While the city does have some uglier, dodgy districts (which major city doesn’t?), the biggest danger for tourists is the chaotic traffic. 

If you use common sense, there is no reason to feel unsafe in Naples.

What should you do in Naples?

Naples is favored among travelers as it isn’t spoiled by tourism as much as Venice, Rome or Florence. The narrow, cobbled streets are filled with local eateries and cafes, vibrant markets and cute shops.

Head to the city’s mysterious underground world: The Catacombs of Naples. The historical sites are scattered around the city. Catacombs of San Gennaro, for example, are a 2-floor complex around the Basilica of Sant’Agrippino.

The catacombs’ ambient lighting highlights the eerie vibe and makes for a one-of-a-kind experience. Purchase your tickets online prior to visiting.

Every traveler visiting Naples should get up close to Mount Vesuvius, Europe’s only volcano that has erupted within the last century. Drive up the mountain road and park your car at the end of Piazzale di Quota 1000, you will have to hike for roughly 30 minutes to get to the very top. The hike is well worth it, as the panoramic views of Naples and the volcano’s crater are just unforgettable.

What makes the experience even more exciting is the fact that the frightening volcano that has completely devastated Pompeii will eventually erupt once again.

SSC Napoli Football Team

Football fans will be happy to hear that Naples is home to the SSC Napoli, a famous Italian soccer team. You can find more information, including match dates and tickets, on their official website.

Pompeii

 Learn all about the Roman civilization while strolling around the Ruins of Pompeii. The ancient city became forgotten after it was covered by ashes following a massive volcano eruption.

It was discovered in the mid-1700s and has become one of the most important archeological sites in the entire world. The ruins can get crowded, your rental car can be dropped off at Parking Zeus directly next to the entrance.

What are the best hotels in Naples?

Grand Hotel Vesuvio is a seafront 5-star hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1882. The hotel features stylish rooms and suites, 2 panoramic restaurants with perfect views of Mount Vesuvio, as well as luxurious facilities such as an indoor pool and fitness center.  

Looking for a comfortable stay in Naples without breaking the bank? Consider checking into The Bellini House. This boutique bed and breakfast attracts travelers with a convenient location near the historic center of the city, retro decor and delicious breakfast.

Next on your South Italy road trip: Amalfi Coast, 1 hour 40 minutes

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coastal village beach tourists and ships traditional italian village on seaside cliff hills in background

Photography by Andreas Precht.

As you leave Naples, prepare to drive across some of the world’s most scenic roads. Rentalmoose recommends making a slight detour and driving along the SS145 and SS163 coastal roads that lead to the picturesque Amalfi Coast. 

Which towns should you visit on the Amalfi Coast?

Before you reach the town of Amalfi, make a stop at the colorful town of Positano. Admire the unreal scenery from one of the viewpoints along SS163 (Amalfi Drive) before driving into the heart of the village.

Stop for a snack or breakfast in one of the eateries scattered around the winding streets. Like all of the Amalfi Coast, it is best to go early in the morning to avoid massive crowds and traffic jams.

On your way across the coast, be sure to make a stop at Grotta Dello Smeraldo. The beautiful cave was named “Emerald Cave” because sunlight enters the cave under the water, illuminating it in a magical color. Travelers can enjoy the unique vibe during an affordable (roughly 5 EUR) boat tour. 

There is an elevator next to the SS163 coastal road. Park your car nearby and head beneath the ground into the caves.

Amalfi

Make your next stop in the town of Amalfi, the main tourist hotspot on the coast. Prepare for tons of tourists and long traffic jams leading to the city. The unbeatable views, however, are absolutely worth the wait!

Visit the scenic Piazza Duomo and admire the Amalfi Cathedral. The busy beach may not be the most secluded in the country, but it is a spot worth at least a quick peek.

Where can you find the best authentic food in Amalfi?

Head for lunch at the cute Antica Trattoria Barracca, a local restaurant located inside the town of Amalfi. The eatery dates back to 1945 and continues to serve some of the best Italian dishes in town, including fresh seafood and delicious tiramisu. The food is surprisingly affordable compared with other restaurants in town.

Rentalmoose order tip: After a mind-blowing lunch, be sure to try Tiramisu accompanied by a cup of real, Italian coffee.

Where to park in Amalfi?

Try leaving your car at Luna Rossa, a large multi-story car park outside the town, which costs below 5 EUR per hour. If there are no spots, try your luck parking along the street; lots of locals do it and as long as you’re not blocking any gate or road you should be fine.

Parking in Amalfi can get tricky, especially during peak season.

Next on your South Italy road trip: Matera, 3 hours

Matera

matera city of caves italy stone buildings traditional town during sunset

Photography by blank76 from Pixabay.com

Continue inland, leaving behind the glorious Amalfi Coast. Head east until you reach Matera, a historic Italian city situated in the hills of the Basilicata region.

The third oldest continuously inhabited city in the whole world, Matera has gone full circle from an important ancient city to an Italian slum and has now become one of the most significant landmarks in the country.

What can you see in Matera?

Belvedere di Murgia Timone

Visiting the historic part of Matera will make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. The City of Caves is best admired from Belvedere di Murgia Timone, a viewing point that overlooks Matera. Head there and enjoy the panoramic views before you enter the town. Your rental car can be left at the public car park directly by the viewpoint.

Casa Noha

After you’ve seen the city from a distance, it is time to head inside. Begin with learning the city’s fascinating history at Casa Noha. The exhibition reveals the culture, art, and history of the Sassi as well as the local people.

Sassi di Matera

Park your rental car at one of the public car parks within Sassi di Matera and continue exploring the town on foot. Wander around the winding streets whilst admiring the unique rock-cut architecture. Appreciate the caves, many of which have remained untouched since the 20th century, or peek inside some of the refurbished ones that have become stylish boutique hotels and eateries.

Cathedral of Saint Mary ‘della Bruna’ and Saint Eustace

Step inside the magnificent Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century. The cathedral looks more elegant than ever following a 10-year restoration project. The interior features a remarkable decorative style.

When you get hungry, go for lunch at Baccanti Ristorante, a traditional Italian eatery situated in an ambient cave in the heart of the historic district of Matera. Enjoy a selection of local meat and cheese along with a variety of Italian dishes. The pricing is higher than the average restaurant in town, but the delicious cuisine and a unique atmosphere are absolutely worth it.

What is the best cave hotel in Matera?

The historical town offers unforgettable stays in unique hotels situated within the caves. Enjoy a one-of-a-kind night at the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita. The extraordinary 4-star hotel features fabulous rooms and suites within the caves, as well as a wellness center and a perfect location in the historic part of Matera.

If you’re looking for a unique cave-hotel experience on a more affordable budget, check-in at the Caveoso. The 3-star hotel offers rooms and suites that open up to the panoramic Sassi and a private car park available at an extra cost.

Next on your South Italy road trip: Lecce, 2 hours

Lecce

lecce seaside cliffs crystal clear sea during sunset. Lecce is a must on any Southern Italy road trip.

Photography by Luigi Martina.

Leave Matera and continue east back into the Puglia region. Head near the southeastern tip of the country and enter the charming city of Lecce.

What is there to do in Lecce?

Lecce, although nowhere near as historically significant as Matera, is certainly swinging by. Filled with 18th-century baroque architecture, the charming city is another example of well-preserved history in the South of Italy.

One of the best ways to experience the old part of Lecce is a stroll around Piazza del Duomo and its surroundings. Getting lost in the maze of narrow streets lined with local businesses is a pure treat.

Admire the architecture, which is a fascinating mix of medieval and baroque styled-buildings.

Photograph the monumental facade of Basilica Cattedrale di Maria Santissima Assunta or step inside for a guided tour of this significant cathedral.

Grotte della Poesia

Escape the busy city and drop by the astonishing Grotte della Poesia. The majestic caves surrounded by crystal-clear, turquoise water make for a marvelous view. Take a break from driving at the nearby sandy beach.

As this is one of the main attractions in the region, do not get fooled by the photos that might make the cave seem like a secluded spot. Expect crowds, especially during the weekends.

Castro

Find out why Castro is called the “pearl of the Salento” as you head inside the sweet town. Stroll along the vibrant Castro Marina, feel the Adriatic breeze as you observe the traditional fishing boats.

There are countless secluded coves and caves in the area and the best way to see them is during a boat tour directly from the marina.

Castro isn’t a major tourist hotspot and finding an empty parking spot along the streets shouldn’t be a challenge.

Marevivo- The best seafood in Castro

As Castro is a village known for fishing, indulge in the fresh local seafood at one of the town’s restaurants. Head for lunch at Marevivo, one of the best eateries in the area. A wide selection of fish and other seafood awaits!

Torre Sant’Andera

The Lecce province is home to some paradise-like beaches and dramatic coastlines. Torre Sant’Andera is most definitely worth a stop.

The picturesque spot offers unbeatable views of unique rock formations surrounded by crystal-clear water. The nearby beach is perfect for a swim, though Rentalmoose recommends going in the morning to avoid crowds.

Next: Bari, 1 hour 40 minutes

Drop-off

For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends dropping off your car directly at the Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport before leaving. Rental companies that support airport drop-off can be found via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on one of the best road trips in Italy? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next Italy road trips. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next South of Italy road trips online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

large seljalandsfoss waterfall surrounded by green fields and small river seen during sunset in iceland

The Complete Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Explore the natural wonderland of Iceland. See the country’s majestic glaciers, massive waterfalls and mountains, all while following one of the most scenic roads in this part of the world. This travel guide takes you on an exciting road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road, discovering the country’s best attractions along the way.

1350 kilometers (840 miles) in total

Before You Leave For The Iceland Ring Road

Before setting off on your road trip in Iceland, have a look at some of the essential information listed below.

Is Iceland Worth Visiting

For starters, the remote country is home to some of the most dramatic, untouched landscapes on the entire planet, and the lack of civilization is beyond fascinating. 

Explore the best of this country during an epic road trip in Iceland, with a start and finish in Reykjavik, the capital city. Admire the monumental waterfalls, photograph the astonishing glaciers, and relax in the never-ending green fields all around the country.

Best Time To Visit Iceland

If your main priority is experiencing the best weather, consider going between June and August. Keep in mind that it is also the peak tourist season and some of the spots might get relatively crowded.

Planning a road trip to Iceland between September and November? That’s when the weather gets harsher, though there are fewer tourists and you will have a chance to see the Northern Lights.

Book A Rental Car in Iceland

Driving around Iceland is an absolute pleasure, the scenic driving roads provide spectacular views and are very well-maintained. What’s more, the freedom to change your itinerary, skip a city, or extend the road trip whenever you please can only be achieved when traveling by car. 

Car rental companies in Iceland offer a range of cars, from budget-friendly compacts through to buffed-up 4×4’s that will get through any terrain. 

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Don’t forget that driving off-road is illegal in Iceland. Don’t wander off paved roads or gravel paths. 

Tourists Driving In Iceland- Practical Information

International Driving Permit Is Not Required In Iceland

Tourists can drive in Iceland as long as their domestic driver’s license is written in the Roman alphabet. If your license is in a different alphabet, i.e. Arabic or Mandarin, you will need to obtain an International Driving Permit in your home country before leaving. Click here to learn everything you need to know about IDPs.

Remember that you always need to present your driver’s license along with your International Driving Permit.

 Additionally, UK driver license holders need to provide evidence of any driving endorsements.

Fines For Speeding In Iceland

Think twice before speeding in Iceland. Not only is it very dangerous due to the roads’ unpredictable conditions, it can also drain your trip budget. Penalties for speeding in Iceland vary between 180 and 630 Euros. 

If you do happen to get caught speeding in Iceland, there are two options for tourists to pay their fines.

If you’re pulled over by a police officer, you can choose to either pay on the spot (the penalty is then reduced), or pay the full price once you receive your ticket in the mail.

 You can dispute a speeding ticket and go to court if you believe you were fined unfairly.

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary

Reykjavik

reykjavik iceland calm town skyline panoramic view from distance with large mountain and water in background on a sunny day

Photography by Marcel S.

Your trip around Iceland’s Ring Road begins in Reykjavik, the capital of what is probably the most remote country in Europe. Pick up your rental car in town and begin exploring the marvelous country of Iceland!

Things To Do in Reykjavik

  • Hallgrimskirkja
  • Einar Jonsson Museum
  • Blue Lagoon

Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja is a monumental, unique church in the heart of Reykjavik and the second tallest building in Iceland. Its strange architecture is inspired by the country’s nature, travelers can admire the exterior or take the stairs atop the tower that overlooks the entire city. Admission costs around 1000 ISK (6.7 EUR).

Einar Jonsson Museum

Walk across the street from Hallgrimskirkja cathedral and you will end up in the Einar Jonsson Museum. The artist offered all of his works as a gift to the people of Iceland in 1909, in return for receiving a museum to house the art. The idea followed through and the museum has remained open ever since.

Examine the sculptures inside of the gallery, as well as the ones scattered around town. The museum is open all week except Mondays between 12 PM and 5 PM.

Blue Lagoon

Drive south for roughly 40 minutes until you reach Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most famous geothermal spa.

Admission costs around 7000ISK (46 EUR) per person. Go for a swim in the warm outdoor pools, have a drink at the in-water bar or relax in the sauna.

The Blue Lagoon is open all year round.

Looking for more attractions in Reykjavik?

If you’re looking for more fun things to do, check out this insightful travel guide by Ecksplorer.

Where To Stay in Reykjavik

  • Ion Adventure Hotel
  • Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel

Ion Adventure Hotel

For your first night in Iceland, consider checking in at the remote Ion Adventure Hotel.

The stylish 4-star hotel is a getaway situated around 45 minutes from the city, featuring spacious rooms and suites with a panoramic view as well as an outdoor pool and a spa, along with a selection of day tours and adventures. Guests can unwind at weekly yoga sessions, perfect before an exhausting day.

Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel

Would you rather stay in the city?

Spend the night at the affordable Hlemmur Square Hotel and Hostel.

The 3-star hotel offers 18 elegant rooms, either ensuite or with a shared bathroom, as well as a convenient location along one of Reykjavik’s main shopping streets.

Next on your Iceland road trip: Vik, 2 hours 30 minutes

Reykjavik to Vik

Seljalandsfoss waterfall captured by Ecksplorer.

As you head towards Kalfafell, there are multiple hotspots that are worth at least a quick peek. Set off from Reykjavik early in the morning to have enough time to see all of the attractions.

Iceland Ring Road- Reykjavik To Vik

  • Seljalandsfoss
  • Skogafoss
  • DC-3 Airplane Wreck
  • Reynisfjara Beach

Seljalandsfoss

The first stop on your road trip is at Seljalandsfoss, a gorgeous 60-meter tall waterfall. It is one of the most popular waterfalls among tourists, as it can be admired from every angle. Tourists can walk inside the cave to get behind the powerful stream of water and appreciate it from a unique perspective.

Keep in mind that although admission is free, visitors are required to pay 700ISK (5.7 EUR) for parking. The funds are used to maintain the car park and nearby facilities.

Skogafoss

Continue along the Ring Road for another 30 minutes until you reach another, equally monumental waterfall: the Skogafoss. This waterfall features a drop 2 meters longer than the Seljalandsfoss and is situated along the former coastline.

On the right-hand side of the waterfall, you will find a hiking trail that will take you up the cliff where you can photograph Skogafoss from above.

Unlike Seljalandsfoss, the parking at Skogafoss is free of charge.

dc-3 plane wreck tourist attraction on black pebble beach seen on a misty day in iceland

The DC-3 plane wreck is a photographer’s dream. Photography by Steve Riot.

The DC-3 airplane wreck

Follow the Ring Road for another 10 minutes. To be completely honest, this attraction is very easy to miss as it is not visible from the road at all. Roughly 10 kilometers away from Skogafoss, you will see a car park and a gate in the middle of the field. Park your car and follow the black sand trail for around 50 minutes.

If you pass any tourists on your way, you are probably in the right place. At a certain point, you will see an eerie plane wreck emerge on the horizon.

The DC-3 had crash-landed on the beach (everyone onboard survived) in the 70s and remained in the same place ever since,  becoming one of the country’s photography hotspots.

Reynisfjara Beach

A sight you can’t miss in the South Coast of Iceland is Reynisfjara Beach. Located just 20 minutes from the car park leading to the DC-3 wreck, the glorious black sand beach is unlike any other place on the planet.

Stroll along the black sand beach, examine the surreal rock formations or watch the view while enjoying a sip of coffee at the Black Beach Restaurant.

Then, continue along the South Coast of Iceland to the town of Vik.

Where To Stay in Vik

  • Hotel Kria
  • Farmhouse Lodge

Hotel Kria

Spend the night in Vik, a peaceful village by Reynisfjara Beach. Consider checking in at the Hotel Kria, a stylish 3-star hotel that features modern rooms and suites with a breathtaking view, a bar and restaurant, and a complimentary car park.


Farmhouse Lodge

Hotels in Iceland are relatively costly, therefore it may be crucial for some travelers to find budget-friendly accommodation.

Book your room at the cozy Farmhouse Lodge, a property roughly 10 minutes away from Vik and just 250 meters off the Ring Road. Parking is available at no extra cost.

Next on your Iceland road trip: Höfn, 3 hours 30 minutes

Vik to Höfn

svartifoss waterfall from unique rock formation interesting cliff iceland natural beauty

Svartifoss Waterfall. Photography by Ronile.

As you continue along the road, make sure you have enough petrol prior to leaving Vik. After Vik, there is no gas station for around an hour.


Iceland Ring Road Attractions- Vik To Hofn

  • Fjadrarljufur
  • Skaftafell National Park
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
  • The Diamond Beach

Fjadrargljufur

Make your first sightseeing stop of the day at Fjadrargljufur.

The massive river canyon is believed to be almost ten thousand years old. Game of Thrones fans might recognize it, as the canyon was featured in the series.

The canyon stretches for around 2 kilometers and is roughly 100 meters high. The slight detour from the Ring Road is definitely worth it!

Skaftafell National Park

The next spot that’s worth a visit is the Skaftafell National Park, specifically the Svartifoss Waterfall inside of it (pictured above).

The waterfall’s surroundings are green, despite being situated near the glacier.

The hike between the car park and the waterfall itself is below 1 hour each way and can be challenging compared to Seljalandsfoss.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

No Iceland road trip would be complete without a stop at the Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon.

Turn left right as you cross the monumental bridge and park your car at the car park. From there, you can choose to go on a boat tour around the lagoon or explore the ice caves (seasonal) on a guided tour.

The current pricing can be found here. There is a cozy cafe by the car park where you can choose from a selection of snacks and beverages. 

If you’re not in a rush, cross the road onto the beach. The area was named “The Diamond Beach”, as there are large chunks of ice resting on the black sand all over the coastline. Rentalmoose wouldn’t qualify the beach as an absolute must-see, but it is worth dropping by if you’re already at the Ice Lagoon.

Where To Stay in Hofn

  • Milk Factory
  • Aurora Cabins

Milk Factory

Stop for the night in Hofn, one of the largest towns in Southeastern Iceland. Consider booking a room at the cozy Milk Factory. The guesthouse features 17 recently-renovated modern rooms with spectacular views of the Vatnajokull glacier, great hospitality, and a complimentary car park.


Aurora Cabins

If you want to experience a night in a cozy cabin, and have slightly deeper pockets, book your stay at the Aurora Cabins.

The cabins feature modern interior, a sun terrace and unbeatable views of the area. Complimentary parking is available for all guests.

Next on your Iceland road trip: Egilsstadir,3 hours 30 minutes

Höfn to Egilsstadir

Vestrahorn Mountain captured by Ecksplorer.


Set off from Hofn in the morning, your first stop is not far out of town. Turn right from the Ring Road right when you see the small sign for Stokksnes (directly before a large left turn) and follow the road all the way to the end.

Ring Road Attractions Between Hofn and Egilsstadir

  • Stokksnes
  • Hengifoss

Stokksnes

You can park your car and take a stroll along the beach, with a perfect view of the Vestrahorn mountain in the background. Tour the village that was part of the “Vikings” hit series filming set. If you’re lucky, you might spot a sea lion or too.

The entry fee to Stokksnes is below 1000ISK (6.6 EUR).

Next, enjoy a scenic drive along the Ring Road all the way up to the town of Egilsstadir, the largest town in Eastern Iceland. Be prepared, as there isn’t much civilization between Hofn and Egilsstadir, make sure you are topped up on petrol before continuing the trip. Enjoy the absolutely unreal views, if you’re lucky you might spot reindeers and sheep.

Hengifoss

 If the weather allows it, you can take a detour from the Ring Road and visit Hengifoss, one of the tallest waterfalls in the entire country, prior to your arrival in Egilsstadir.

The waterfall is roughly a 50-minute hike from the car park, and there are lots of activities available nearby. Adventure junkies can go on ATV tours, relax at the hot springs or discover the ruins of a 16th-century monastery at the Skriduklaustur cultural center.

hengifoss tall waterfall coming from colorful cliffs and rocks in foreground iceland

Hengifoss Waterfall photographed by Jacqueline Macou.

Once dusk falls, consider spending the night at the Valaskjalf Hotel.

The cozy hotel offers clean rooms in a quiet part of town. Enjoy a daily breakfast buffet or a fun evening at the hotel bar. Complimentary parking is available.

Next on your Iceland road trip: Akureyri, 3 hours 20 minutes

Egilsstadir to Akureyri

hverir geothermal site evaporating from geysers in iceland

Unbelievable Hverir geothermal site. Photography by Adrian Kirby.

Don’t Miss These Spots On The Iceland Ring Road

  • Dettifoss
  • Hverir
  • Godafoss

Dettifoss

Depart from Egilsstadir and continue along the Ring Road, crossing the country’s glorious mountain passes and highlands. Turn right at a junction onto route 864 and follow it for roughly 30 minutes until you reach the Dettifoss Waterfall car park.

Hike down for around 15 minutes and you will get a clear view of Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Half a million liters of water plunge down the 44-meter drop every single second. The sight is truly spectacular.

If you follow the 864 gravel route until it finishes, then turn left onto route 85 and turn left to visit the Asbyrgi, a breathtaking glacial canyon. Enjoy one of the hiking trails or photograph the lake in the middle of the canyon.

Hverir

Once you get back on the Ring Road, make a stop at Hverir right before the lake of Myvatn. The fascinating geothermal site sits at the foot of the Namafjall volcanic mountain. Observe the out-of-this-world hot springs, steam vents and many more.

The site looks like the surface of another planet and can’t be missed when in Iceland!

Godafoss

Next, make a stop at the Godafoss Waterfall, meaning “Waterfall of the Gods”. This natural wonder is located just off the Ring Road, no detour is necessary. The hike to get the best view of the waterfalls may be challenging as the rocks are wet and slippery, mind your step! 

It’s a must on any Iceland road trip!

The hiking trail loop to Godafoss is just below 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) in length.

godafoss wide short waterfall ice and snow covered in winter iceland

Godafoss Waterfall photographed by Nathan from Pixabay.com

For your night in Akureyri, consider checking in to Hotel Kea.

The 4-star hotel is located in the center of town and is a great alternative to the remote hotels around the country. Modern rooms, breakfast buffet included in the room rate as well as complimentary parking make Hotel Kea an attractive choice in town.

Next on your Iceland road trip: Reykjavik, 5 hours

Akureyri to Reykjavik

small garage metal and wooden shed on the shore of water and snow covered mountains in background on a cloudy day in akureyri iceland black and white

Photography by Marcel S.

The final day is also the longest, with almost 400 kilometers to cover. The West of Iceland is the most remote part of the country and the majority of attractions here require a major detour off the Ring Road.

Iceland Ring Road- Attractions Between Reykjavik and Akureyri

  • Grabrok Crater
  • Borgarnes
  • The Settlement Center

Grabrok Crater

Don’t miss the Grabrok Crater on your way to Reykjavik.

The massive crater rises around 170 meters above ground level, so it is hard to miss. Park your car at the public car park and hike up to the stairs for the best view.

The hike up the crater and back to the car will take you under an hour in total and is most definitely worth doing.

Borgarnes

As you approach Reykjavik, be sure to stop by the cute town of Borgarnes.

The little village is situated on a picturesque peninsula, if you’re lucky you can spot two glaciers from Borgarnes.

Stroll around the colorful streets, enjoy the view from the coast and indulge in the town’s peaceful atmosphere.

When you get hungry, go for lunch at the Settlement Center.

The restaurant, one of the oldest in the area, serves a variety of Icelandic dishes, such as fresh fish and lobster tails. After lunch, enjoy one of the exhibitions hosted at The Settlement Center, where you will gather insight about the region’s history and culture.

Don’t have a car you can take on an Iceland road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next road trip. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next Iceland road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

wooden pier at secluded sandy beach and calm blue ocean in key west florida during sunset

The Sunshine State- Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Pristine beaches, vibrant cities, and prestigious resorts all prove that you can’t go wrong with a road trip in The Sunshine State. Read this travel guide to plan your dream Florida road trip.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Miami to Key West- 170 miles📍 $6 Toll

Key West/Miami to Daytona Beach- 430 miles📍 $25 Toll

Daytona Beach to Orlando- 60 miles📍 $5 Toll

Orlando to Tampa- 90 miles (145km)📍 $5 Toll

Tampa to Naples- 170 miles (274km)📍  

Naples to Everglades National Park- 90 miles (145km)📍 

Everglades National Park to Miami- 30 miles (48km)📍 

1040 miles (1674km) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Florida, Beaches

This travel guide takes you on a road trip across the Sunshine State starting in the bustling city of Miami. Drive south across the scenic Florida Keys to the Southernmost Point in the Continental US before making your way up north to Daytona Beach, a city known for its motorsport heritage and “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.

Then, enjoy an adventure-packed day at one of Orlando’s theme parks and head to the state’s west coast, stopping in Tampa and Naples. After a night in a prestigious resort, admire the world’s biggest reptiles in Everglades National Park and return to Miami.

Planning- Before You Go

Here is all you need to know before you set off on your unforgettable Florida road trip!

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

This Florida road trip is a little over a thousand miles in total. As there is a lot of driving ahead, Rentalmoose highly recommends going to Key West on a day trip from Miami.

As you get on the road, spend at least two nights in Orlando and Naples respectively.

In order to get the most out of each destination, allocate at least 7 days for this exciting road trip around Florida.

When is the best time to visit Florida?

The best time to go on a road trip in Florida is anywhere between late November through the middle of May, when the average temperature during the day is around 20-25 Celsius (68-77 Fahrenheit).

Keep in mind that the tourist season tends to peak between late December and May.

If you want to avoid the biggest crowds consider booking your trip outside of said months.

Why book a rental car in Florida?

Scenic driving roads, well-developed infrastructure, cheap petrol, and a large distance to cover all make a private car the perfect means of transport for a road trip in Florida. Not to mention the freedom to alter your itinerary on the go that can only be achieved when traveling by car.

Miami has a wide variety of rental cars from numerous companies available for pick-up directly at the airport. Alternatively, you can always go on a Florida road trip in your own car.

Find the perfect rental car for you via Rentalmoose, whether that means a budget-friendly hatchback, a large comfy SUV, or an exciting drop-top muscle car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car, just in case anything happens during your Florida road trip.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the vehicle using the Rentalmoose app to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Can tourists drive in Florida? 

Absolutely! Tourists with domestic driver licenses issued outside of the US may drive in Florida without an International Driving Permit for up to one year.

However, some car rental companies may require extra documentation, be sure to check with the company prior to leaving to make sure what paperwork is necessary. 

Are you looking for more information about International Driving Permits? Read this blog post to find out when you need an IDP, how to obtain it, and more! It will surely come in handy for your other road trips.

Remember to keep your passport with you when driving in Florida, as it is required for identification alongside your foreign driver’s license.

If you do happen to get stopped by the police during your Florida road trip, be sure to stay calm. Put both hands on the steering wheel, avoid sudden movements, and present your license when the officer tells you to do so. 

Be careful not to pass the speed limits when driving in Florida! If you’re caught going just 6MPH (~10km/h) over the limit, you can be fined around $150 (137 EUR).

Driving under influence, or DUI in short, is a serious crime in the US. Police enforce drink-driving related rules very strictly. Do not drink and drive, offenders can even land in prison.


How do toll roads work in Florida?

Keeping up with all the toll roads in Florida can get tricky, especially for tourists and short-term visitors. Most rental companies will automatically add any toll fees to your credit or debit card, that way you won’t have to worry about paying the fees in cash, it’s best to contact your rental company to make sure.

Paying by cash? You can check the SunPass Toll Calculator for the most recent toll fees.

Florida, like all of the United States, has right-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to begin your exciting Florida road trip!

Miami

miami beach skyscrapers city skyline and water in foreground during colorful sunset in florida. See this coastal city during a Florida road trip

Photography by MustangJoe.

Welcome to Miami, one of the most famous cities in the entire world! For maximum convenience, pick your rental car up directly from Miami International Airport as soon as you arrive. Find companies that support airport pick-up via Rentalmoose.

What is Miami best known for?

Miami is one of the world’s most popular getaways, and after a day in town it’s easy to see why. The city’s pristine coastline and miles of sandy beaches are absolutely perfect for sunbathing, swimming, watersports and diving. Once dusk falls, you can head to the heart of Miami Beach and indulge in one of the planet’s most exciting nightlife scenes. What more could anyone ask for?

Miami Beach

Cross the bridge from mainland Miami to Miami Beach and enter the city’s tourist and nightlife hotspot. Drive down the spectacular Ocean Drive, lined with all sorts of bars and restaurants.

Try to find an on-street parking spot as you make your way down to South Beach, arguably the best (or at least the most popular) beach in town.

You may be out of luck on weekends or during the holiday season. In that case, drop off your car at this car park along Collins Avenue.

Expect to pay up to $5 per hour for parking in South Beach.

Art Deco Historic District

After relaxing by the ocean, go for a stroll in the Art Deco Historic District. The neighborhood is known for its picturesque architecture and is loved by photographers. Admire the colorful buildings or take part in an insightful walking tour.

Looking to gather even more knowledge about the architecture of Miami Beach? Visit the Art Deco Museum situated along Ocean Drive.

Enjoy a trip back to the 80s when you visit The Anderson. This trendy neighborhood bar offers artful drinks and a casual, welcoming vibe. The 80s-inspired interior makes for a perfect backdrop for your insta pics, too.

Where to party in Miami

A trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the city’s vivid nightlife scene. What is the best club in Miami? Which club do the celebrities visit?

The best spot to party in Miami has got to be the vibrant Club Space. Get on the dance floor at The Terrace at Space or have fun at a live concert at The Ground downstairs. 

If nightclubs are not your thing, consider heading to a beach club instead. Visit the world-class Nikki Beach Miami for an unforgettable, exquisite beach club experience.

Sunbathe on the day beds, order a delicious lunch, or simply sip on a cocktail while listening to the music and admiring the Atlantic Ocean.

Where to eat in Miami

Once you get hungry, make your way to Pura Vida Miami. The cozy restaurant features some of the best healthy dishes in town and beautiful, bright decor. Open daily from 7 AM to 10 PM.

Try local, fresh seafood at The River Oyster Bar. The venue, considered one of the best eateries in town, offers a wide selection of seafood dishes. An absolute must-try is the stone crab, a regional delicacy.

The best hotels in Miami

Luxury travelers will find themselves in paradise, as there are countless prestigious hotels and resorts scattered all around Miami.

If you can’t take your pick, consider booking a room at The Miami Beach Edition. The 5-star beachfront hotel features rooms and suites with either ocean or city views, and a selection of luxurious facilities including a pool, a nightclub, a fitness center, and an open-air cinema.

There are plenty of attractions in Miami to splash out on.

If luxury accommodation isn’t your main priority, Urbanica The Meridian Hotel might be the perfect fit for you. The stylish hotel features well-equipped, modern rooms as well as an outdoor pool and a unique decor, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Once you’ve spent enough time in Miami, head south towards the scenic Florida Keys. It’s the first driving segment of your Florida road trip!

Next: Key West, 3 hours 30 minutes $6 Toll

Key West

wooden pier near clean sandy beach palm trees and calm blue ocean in key west florida. See it on a road trip with Rentalmoose

Photography by Don Stelmaszek.

Here it is, the first leg of your Florida road trip!

Make your way down to Key West along one of the most scenic driving roads in the entire country. The Overseas Highway is a mix of bridges connecting tiny islands (Florida Keys) that makes for absolutely spectacular views.

As Key West is below four hours away from Miami, Rentalmoose recommends making a separate day trip there before setting off on your road trip up to Daytona Beach.

Is Key West worth visiting?

Absolutely! Unlike most of the Sunshine State, Key West may not be popular for its beaches. It still is worth at least a quick visit, at least to drive down the scenic Florida Keys. Here is why you should visit Key West.

The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States

Begin your Key West adventure with a photo by the Southernmost Point of the Continental US, located at the corner of Whitehead Street and South Street.

The iconic spot is a must-see when in town, and is situated just 90 miles north of Cuba. Post your photos online using #Rentalmoose to stand a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a free rental car!

Ernest Hemingway’s Home

Find out about the region’s most famous artist, Ernest Hemingway. The artist’s Key West Home is situated within the Old Town and is open to visitors daily between 9 AM and 5 PM.

Inside, guests can find all kinds of Hemingway memorabilia. As the house does tend to get crowded, it is highly recommended to visit around the opening time or late in the afternoon. Guided tours are available, too.

Mallory Square

Don’t forget to pay a visit to Mallory Square, a vibrant seafront plaza in the heart of Key West’s Historic District.

Mallory Square is especially worth visiting right before the sun sets, as the Sunset Celebration takes place every evening.

Watch as the street performers try to catch tourists’ attention, grab a snack at one of the eateries and admire the magnificent sunset.

As Key West is situated less than a hundred miles north of Cuba, Rentalmoose recommends trying out Caribbean and Latin cuisine.

One of the best Caribbean eateries in Key West is Bien, a cozy restaurant a short walk away from Mallory Square. Pick from a selection of affordable sandwiches and seafood.

Next, it’s time to drive up north to Daytona Beach!

Next: Miami and then Daytona Beach, 7 hours 20 minutes $25 Toll

Daytona Beach

wide sandy beach small waves clean blue water and hotels in background in daytona beach florida

Daytona Beach photographed by Paul Brennan.

Depart Miami and head north towards Daytona Beach, a city most praised for its motorsport heritage and home to “The World’s Most Famous Beach”. If you’re driving from Key West, the journey will take around 7 and a half hours.

What can you do in Daytona Beach?

The famous Daytona International Speedway

When in Daytona Beach, you can’t skip the Daytona International Speedway. The iconic track has become the city’s symbol and is a fascinating attraction no matter if there are ongoing events.

Petrolheads can purchase tickets to one of the races that take place on the track, check the official event calendar for more details.

Even if there are no events, visitors can take part in guided tours of the speedway and explore the Motorsports Hall of Fame museum.

Daytona Lagoon

Adrenaline junkies, as well as families with kids, can spend a day at the Daytona Lagoon waterpark. Dare to ride down the thrilling slides or relax in the gentle Lazy River.

No matter how old you are, you will find a fun attraction in this waterpark.

Do you prefer “dry” attractions?

Head to the park’s dry section, where you can find go-karts, an arcade, laser tag, and much more. Purchase your tickets here.

The World’s Most Famous Beach

Don’t forget to visit the beach itself, dubbed the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. The 23-mile long, wide beach used to be the racing ground for motorsports in the early 1900s.

Today, tourists can follow in motorsport pioneers’ footsteps and drive their own cars across the beach, as long as the weather allows it.

You can always go for a dip in the ocean, stroll along the beach or head to the busy waterfront pier filled with eateries and bars.

When you get hungry, head to Caribbean Jack’s waterfront restaurant, one of the favorites in Daytona Beach. Head to the stunning outdoor deck, where you can have a delicious Caribbean lunch while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean.

The next stop on your Florida road trip is a city known for its theme parks and a vibrant art scene.

Next: Orlando, 1 hour $5 Toll

Orlando

walt disney and mickey mouse partners black and gold statue in crowded walt disney world orlando theme park

Disney World in Orlando photographed by HenningE.

Orlando is home to some of the best theme parks in the country that successfully steer most tourists outside of the city itself. That’s why Rentalmoose suggests exploring at least a bit of the city as well as the famous theme parks during your Florida road trip.

Orlando’s famous theme parks

Walt Disney World has indubitably become a symbol of Orlando, and not paying it a visit is essentially like going to New York City without seeing Times Square or the Statue of Liberty.

Park guests can choose from 4 theme parks and 2 water parks within the massive complex, as well as countless shops and restaurants on the premises.

If you would rather go to a different theme park, consider spending the day at Universal Studios Orlando instead, where you can pick from two theme parks and a water park to spend your day. 

What is there to do in Orlando except for theme parks?

Kennedy Space Center

Don’t forget to visit the Kennedy Space Center outside of the city, where you can learn all about NASA and the US space programs, both past and present. Visitors can admire rockets and explore interactive exhibitions, or even go on a tour guided by astronauts.

If you’re lucky, you can even catch a rocket launch live. Check the launch schedule here.

The Orlando Museum of Art

Head to the Orlando Museum of Art to get a break from all the theme park craze.

Guests can pick from a selection of temporary and permanent art collections presented at the venue. Learn about the region’s underrated local art scene.

Open until 4 PM all week except Mondays and holidays. Purchase your tickets to skip the queues right here.

The Mall at Millenia

Shopping freaks shouldn’t miss The Mall at Millenia. The large shopping venue is Orlando’s go-to spot for the best luxury and upscale goods. The entire complex is indoors, making it perfect for a rainy day.

Getting hungry? Consider going to Prato for lunch or dinner. Although not exactly regional, this restaurant offers a modern interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine, with a truly delicious outcome. Some specialties include Italian meatballs, a selection of pasta and pizza, of course.

Luxury seekers will most definitely enjoy their stay at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando. The picturesque 5-star resort features spacious rooms and suites with balconies, as well as luxurious amenities such as 3 heated outdoor pools, a golf course, and countless activities in the resort’s scenic surroundings.

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider checking into the affordable Surestay Plus International Drive. The 3-star hotel offers cozy rooms, as well as facilities such as an outdoor pool and a bar.

The next leg of your exciting Florida road trip is a drive down to the west coast of the state!

Next: Tampa, 1 hour 20 minutes $5 Toll

Tampa

two modern glass residential skyscraper buildings and three green palm trees on a clear summer day in tampa florida

Photography by Chalo Garcia.

Leave Orlando and make your way to the west coast of Florida. After around an hour and a half, you will arrive in Tampa, the biggest city in the Tampa Bay area.

Where to go in Tampa?

Busch Gardens

Tampa’s most famous tourist attraction is the Busch Gardens park. The park is a combination of theme park roller coasters and rides, an exotic zoo and live performances.

Adrenaline junkies will find themselves at home, as the park is famous for its adventure-packed roller coasters.

There is also a wide selection of kiddie rides, water rides, animal viewing platforms and a night safari that welcomes guests in the evenings.

More details on the live performances and shows can be found here.

The Tampa Theatre

Art enthusiasts should definitely visit The Tampa Theatre for a unique cinematic experience.

Rentalmoose loves one-of-a-kind art venues. That’s why I consider the Astor Film Lounge a must-see when in Berlin, read about it in The Heart Of Central Europe travel guide.

Similarly to Berlin’s Astor Film Lounge, the Tampa Theatre is a glamorous movie palace in the heart of the city. Catch the latest Hollywood production or travel back in time when you watch a timeless classic from the fifties. The cinema’s decor makes for an unforgettable vibe.

Check the current film schedule here.

Ybor City

Head to the historic Ybor City, the neighborhood is the center of Tampa’s Latino community. Learn about the district’s history at the Ybor City Museum, or stroll around the area during a guided tour.

Columbia Restaurant

In the historic Ybor City neighborhood, even the foodies can get a taste of the local heritage. Go for lunch at the Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest continuously-operated restaurant.

The eatery has been serving guests for over a century and is the city’s favorite Latin food heaven.

Rentalmoose order tip: Try anything from a wide range of regional delicacies, including what could very well be the best Cuban Sandwich in the entire state.

Next: Naples, 2 hours 30 minutes

Naples

wooden pier atop blue wavy ocean during sunset in naples florida

Naples Pier photographed by Waldo Malan.

Continue south along the west coast until you reach the upscale city of Naples, a must on any Florida road trip itinerary. The city’s beach is often ranked as one of the best in the state, don’t miss it!

What is Naples known for?

The Naples Pier

Begin with a visit to the Naples Pier (pictured above). The pier, located just a stone’s throw away from downtown, is a picturesque spot perfect for a sunset stroll, people-watching or simply relaxing after a lengthy drive.

You should be able to find an on-street parking spot for below $3 per hour, pay at the nearest parking meter.

Naples Beach

Walk down from the pier and turn onto Naples Beach, repeatedly ranked as one of the best beaches in the state.

Go for a swim in the breathtaking emerald-green Gulf of Mexico, stroll on the pristine white sand, soak up the sun (remember to put on sunscreen!) or watch the local fishermen as they fish from the historical Naples Pier.

Make sure you stay to watch the sunset, too!

Tin City of Naples

Go for a unique shopping spree at the waterfront Tin City of Naples, a selection of quirky locally-owned shops and eateries. Visit one of the many businesses selling clothing, jewelry, toys and all sorts of accessories.

Open Monday through Saturday until 9 PM and Sundays till 5 PM.

Enjoy a Cuban meal at the Van Van Cuban Cafe, located along Tamiami Trail in the north of the heart of Naples. Choose from a selection of Caribbean dishes on either the lunch menu or the all-day dinner menu.

Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t know which Cuban dish to pick? Give the Ropa Vieja a try, it’s a shredded flank steak covered in tomato sauce.

Where to stay in Naples?

For your night in Naples, consider checking in at the Inn On Fifth. The stylish hotel features elegant, well-equipped rooms and suites, as well as luxurious amenities such as a spa, an outdoor pool and an ideal location in the heart of Naples.

Naples’ upscale and prestigious reputation is reflected in the town’s hotels and resorts. However, it certainly does not mean that Naples has zero affordable accommodation options. Travelers on a tighter budget can stay at the Gulfcoast Inn. The 2-star hotel features spacious rooms and a heated outdoor pool and is conveniently located just a few blocks away from the local beach.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Spend the night in Fort Myers, a city less than an hour north of Naples. The average hotel price is lower than in Naples, and the city is equally beautiful.

Next: Everglades National Park, 1 hour 30 minutes

Everglades National Park

alligator crocodile reptile hidden in yellow leaves swimming in water in everglades national park florida

Photography by Skeeze.

As you make your way back to Miami on the eastern side of the state, be sure to drop by the Everglades National Park. The most popular National Park in the Sunshine State, and one of the iconic symbols of the United States, is home to fascinating wildlife such as alligators and crocodiles. You don’t want to miss it during a road trip in Florida.

Iconic airboat tour

Arguably, the best way to explore the Everglades wetlands is on a guided airboat tour. There are various tour operators to choose from, Rentalmoose recommends going with Coopertown Airboats. The operator has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and has earned its reputation as the go-to Everglades airboat operator. Get a first-hand look at both crocodiles and alligators during a private airboat tour.

Go for lunch at the Coopertown Restaurant following your airboat tour. Inside, you can enjoy Floridian delicacies, including alligator tail and frog legs. Incredible and welcoming service is included with every order. 

Cycling in Everglades National Park

You can rent a bicycle through Flamingo Adventures and explore Everglades’ best cycling trails. The detailed biking guide around Everglades can be found on the park’s official website.

Next: Miami, 30 minutes

Drop-off

For maximum comfort, Rentalmoose recommends dropping off your rental car directly at Miami International Airport when you finish your Florida road trip. Car rental companies that support drop-off at MIA can be found via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on this Florida road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Florida road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

busy hollywood boulevard lots of tourists in front of chinese theatre on a sunny day in hollywood california

The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

The ultimate road trip around California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Los Angeles to Santa Barbara– 100 miles (160 km) 📍 

Santa Barbara to Monterey– 230 miles (370 km) 📍

Monterey to San Francisco– 120 miles (190 km) 📍

San Francisco to Yosemite & Death Valley– 520 miles (840 km) 📍

Yosemite & Death Valley to Las Vegas– 130 miles (210 km) 📍

Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon– 130 miles (210 km) 📍

The Grand Canyon to San Diego– 450 miles (720 km)📍

San Diego to Los Angeles– 120 miles (190 km) 📍

1800 miles (2900 km) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Long Trip, USA, California

Planning- Before You Go

What is the best road trip in the Western US?

North America’s West Coast is one of the world’s most iconic hotspots for an epic road trip. There are tons of attractions across California, Nevada, and Arizona. 

The best California road trip begins in Los Angeles, going along the Pacific Coast Highway up until San Francisco. 

Then, continue south-east through Yosemite and Death Valley until you get to Las Vegas. After a memorable night in Vegas drive, a stop at the Grand Canyon is an absolute must. Later, head back to Los Angeles through San Diego.

The length of this California road trip is just below 2000 miles, or 3000 kilometers, in total.

How much does a California road trip cost?

There are a couple of factors worth considering when budgeting your ideal California road trip. A rental car in California can cost as little as $40 per day. 

Gas prices in the US, compared to Europe, are rather affordable. California, Nevada, and Arizona have some of the highest prices in the US at roughly $3 per gallon (a gallon is 3.785l), which equals to about $0.79 per liter. 

Current gas prices can be found here.

The average daily cost for a California road trip that includes a rental car, fuel, accommodation, food and beverages, and attraction tickets will be around $200.

Of course, the prices will rise depending on the amount of luxury you desire during the road trip.

How long does it take to complete this California road trip?

This ultimate California road trip is rather long, at around 2 000 miles (3200km) in total.

The route is divided into segments between 100 and 520 miles (160km and 840km) each, there is a lot of driving ahead. 

In order to have enough time to discover each of the stops along the way, Rentalmoose recommends dedicating 7 days for this road trip at the very least.

Don’t forget to take a look at our guide on renting a car in California before setting off.

When is the best time to visit Western USA?

The US West Coast is famous for its beaches and sunny cities. If you want to be able to go for a swim in the Pacific Ocean, it is best to visit between June and August. The weather is still more moderate between April and June as well as September and October.

panoramic view beautiful secluded california sandy beach and wavy ocean surrounded by green hills on a clear day. See the beautiful coast of California during a california road trip

Why should I book a rental car in the US?

 The United States of America is perfect to be discovered via a rental car. The country is full of beautiful, scenic driving roads and well-developed road infrastructure, making it ideal for a road trip.

Petrol is cheap compared to Europe, the US has the absolute perfect conditions for a rental car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding the excess cover when booking your rental car.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Road Trip Extensions

Why not extend your road trip even further? Consider adding a few days to your road trip and driving over to explore the scenic states of Nevada, Utah, or Colorado.

As far as extensions go, consider adding a day to spend some time at the Joshua Tree National Park.

Can tourists drive in the USA? 

Yes! Tourists are allowed to drive in the United States using a foreign driving license as long as they are at least 18 years old, and the license covers the type of vehicle they are driving. 

It is recommended to get an International Driving Permit if your driving license is not in English. For more info regarding IDP’s, check out this blog post.

While driving around California, you will soon realize that practically nobody follows the speed limits strictly. Going 5-10 MPH over the limit is common on freeways, for example.

Keep in mind that the police can still pull you over, even if you are caught going just a few miles per hour over the limit.

If you do happen to get stopped by the police during your trip, be sure to stay calm. Put both hands on the steering wheel, avoid sudden movements, and present your license when the officer tells you to do so. 

Driving under influence, or DUI in short, is a serious crime in the US. Police enforce drink-driving related rules very strictly. Do not drink and drive, offenders can even land in prison.

The US has right-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to dive into this exciting California road trip itinerary!

Los Angeles

los angeles city skyline view at night time. See the city of angeles during a California road trip

Photograph from Pixabay.com

Your California road trip begins in one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world, known as the city of angels. 

I recommend picking up your rental car directly at the LAX Airport and driving into town. If you are planning to stay in LA for a few days consider renting your car a day before leaving the city, as Los Angeles is infamous for notorious traffic jams. 

What is LA famous for?

Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood, is the heart of the American film and entertainment industry. Begin your US adventure with a drive to Hollywood, where you can spend some time at the Hollywood Boulevard, stroll down the Walk of Fame or drive up the hills to get panoramic views of the city.

What are the best attractions in Los Angeles?

Universal Studios Hollywood

Adrenaline junkies can enjoy a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. This attraction first opened in the 60s as a studio tour, a first-hand look at real film sets for Universal Studios productions. 

The studio tour has gained lots of popularity over the years and has developed into a full-size adventure-packed theme park, filled with roller coasters and rides for all ages. 

The iconic studio tour still remains as one of the highlights of the park. Admission tickets start at $109 and can be purchased here.

Santa Monica Pier

Don’t forget to visit the famous Santa Monica Pier. You have probably seen it at least once in a Hollywood blockbuster or TV show. 

The pier is one of the vibrant hotspots of LA. Park your car and stroll along the vivid pier, go inside one of the restaurants, enjoy a hot dog, or ride the rollercoaster (tickets between $5 to $10 per ride). 

You can use the Spot Angels app to find the cheapest car parks in the area. After the Santa Monica Pier, walk over to the next attraction.

Venice Beach

You will find Venice Beach just a 30-minute walk away from the pier. The neighborhood is known for its artistic atmosphere, luxury shops, and delicious restaurants. 

Walk along the sandy shore, sunbathe or go for a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Go for a seaside jog or a workout at Muscle Beach Venice. A day pass costs $10.

Los Angeles’s cultural diversity is reflected in the city’s delicious cuisine. For an authentic Venice Beach vibe, head over to Hinano Cafe

Open since 1962, this spot is known for being Jim Morrison’s favorite hangout in Venice. Delicious burgers, a wide selection of drinks, pool tables and live music every weekend. Open daily till 2 AM.

What are the best hotels in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is packed with attractions worth visiting, I highly recommend staying at least one night in town before departing further. Spend the night at the Hollywood Roosevelt,

It’s one of the best and most famous hotels in town. Once home to the Academy Awards Gala, the Roosevelt is a 4-star hotel with various bars, a pool, and a perfect location on Hollywood Boulevard.

A more affordable alternative within Hollywood is the BLVD Hotel and Suites. The venue offers rooms and suites just a 10-minute walk away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After a good night’s sleep, it is time to begin one of the best road trips of your life!

Next: Santa Barbara, 1 hour 50 minutes

Santa Barbara

santa barbara whitewashed buildings and tile rooftops and green palm trees with ocean in background california

Santa Barbara. Photo by Lela Khajadourian from Pixabay.

The next highlight of the trip begins as soon as you set off from Los Angeles. The route to Santa Barbara is the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, arguably the best driving road in the US, and an absolute must-visit for your California road trip.

There are lots of panoramic views guaranteed along the way, leave LA in the morning to make sure you have enough time to discover them all. 

Is Santa Barbara worth visiting?

Santa Barbara is one of the most scenic cities in this part of the United States. It is certainly worth a visit during your road trip! The region is known for its beautiful landscapes, great weather, and local wineries. 

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is the perfect point to begin exploring Santa Barbara. Explore the vivid pier lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. 

If you are craving local seafood, look no further. Head inside the Shellfish Company, a delicious eatery where you can enjoy grilled shrimp, crabs, and various fish. Click here for the menu.

Arroyo Burro County Park

For a relaxing hike, visit the Arroyo Burro County Park. The park is perfect for a barbecue, jogging along the shoreline, or hiking along one of the trails. You can also go for a swim in the Pacific, it’s a quieter setting than Venice Beach.

After some time in Santa Barabara, continue the road trip over to Monterey.

Next: Monterey, 5 hours 10 minutes

Monterey

monterey canning company big red building and two pedestrian crossings with people on a clear summer day in california

Photography by Travis Wise.

Take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway for another 250 miles. The drive takes roughly 5 hours to complete, there is a faster route that will save you an hour but it’s a lot less interesting (directions here). 

The Pacific Coast Highway may seem familiar, it’s a very popular filming location for Hollywood movies. Iron Man, Fast and Furious along with many others were all filmed here.

This section of the California road trip will take you along the famous Big Sur. Tell your passenger to get the camera, you’ll be taking lots of photos along the way! There are many pullouts where you can stop by and take in the panoramic coastal views. The Big Sur is hard to miss, just follow the coastal highway.

beautiful ocean cove in california surrounded by green hills and calm water in california

What is there to do in Monterey?

Monterey Car Week

Petrolheads may have heard about Monterey, as the town is home to the Monterey Car Week. Thousands of exotic cars flood the city every summer, from modern supercars to some of the rarest, multimillion-dollar classics. 

There are various events throughout the week, with a grand finale being the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance.

Laguna Seca Raceway

Another highlight for automotive enthusiasts is the Laguna Seca Raceway. The track is a historic motorsport venue that hosts races such as the MotoGP. 

You can find the event calendar here. Adrenaline junkies can even lap the track in a formula car with the Allen Berg Racing School.

The 17-Mile Drive

One of Monterey’s best attractions is the 17-Mile Drive. The beautiful coastal road will take you along monumental cliffs, mysterious forests, and at the doorstep of prestigious resorts and villas, right by the Pacific. What better way to end the day than with a spectacular, scenic drive?

 The admission costs around $10 per car and can be paid directly at the gate. If you spend over $35 at Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants, entrance is free of charge.

Monterey Harbor

Don’t forget to visit Monterey Harbor and the city’s waterfront area. Cannery Row features some of the town’s best dining and shopping venues. Head into the Chart House, a delicious seafood restaurant that offers great views of the surroundings.

Where to stay in Monterey?

Sophisticated travelers will enjoy a stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. The luxury 5-star lodge provides a good balance between prestige and immaculate natural beauty. The stay includes luxurious amenities such as a golf course, spa and wellness center and a beautiful seaside pool.

Another good overnight stop in Monterey is the Carmel Valley Ranch. The 4-star ranch is the perfect getaway known for its stunning location and panoramic views, as well as a beautiful golf course, a pool, and spacious suites. Free parking is available.

Next: San Francisco, 2 hours 20 minutes

San Francisco

red golden gate bridge monument in san francisco with fenced path in foreground seen during sunset

Photography by Pexels.

Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway one last time until you reach the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, steep streets, and some of the best seafood in the world. Without a doubt, this is San Francisco. It’s an absolute must-see point on any proper California road trip.

What to do in San Francisco?

Lands End

Visit Lands End park for the best views of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Hike the trails along the rocky cliffs, explore the Sutro Baths ruins, or photograph the eerie Historic Shipwrecks. Keep an eye on the ocean, if you’re lucky you might just spot a whale!

The admission is free of charge.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island once served as a fort, a military prison, and a federal prison. It has been transformed into a museum that can be explored by visitors curious about Alcatraz’s rich history. 

The Island can only be accessed by boat (tickets here). Tours begin at Pier 33, your rental car can be left by a parking meter for up to 4 hours (tours typically take around 2 hours).

The parking meter rates are between $2 and $3.5 per hour. On busier days, try this multi-story car park across the street for around $25 per day.

Chinatown district

One of the most recognizable spots in San Francisco is the city’s famous Chinatown district.

It is, in fact, the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia.

Stroll along the streets lined with exotic shops and restaurants and indulge in the district’s one-of-a-kind vibe.

Enter the area via Grant Avenue to see the iconic Dragon Gate.

san francisco yellow 3 story home on a crooked street with two cars in the front and iconic tram route

After a day of exploring the city, treat yourself to dinner at the Waterbar, one of the best seafood restaurants in town. Delicious food aside, the venue offers absolutely breathtaking panoramic views of the Oakland Bay Bridge. Click here for the menu.

Stay the night at the Via Hotel in South Beach. The stylish boutique hotel is conveniently located near restaurants, cafes, and shops. AT&T Park is across the street. Valet parking is available at an extra charge.

After a memorable night in San Francisco, your road trip route will continue inland towards spectacular National Parks.

Next: Yosemite & Death Valley, 11 hours

Yosemite & Death Valley

death valley national park panoramic view of dry hills on a clear day, seen from artists drive scenic drive. Death Valley National Park is a must on any california road trip.

Death Valley National Park.

The longest segment of this road trip is the drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas, which takes about 11 hours to complete. 

Two of the region’s most popular National Parks are along the way: Yosemite and Death Valley, and Rentalmoose recommends making a stop at both of them for at least a short visit. Afterall, a California road trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Yosemite.

Can you drive your car into Yosemite National Park?

Yes, most roads within Yosemite can be accessed via your rental car! Some of the roads are closed in winter (others may require tire chains in snowy conditions), so it is certainly best to visit during the summer. 

Getting around in Yosemite and Death Valley might be tricky due to low, or sometimes non-existent, phone service.

What’s more, GPS may not always be up to date in terms of road closures, it’s best to check the official website for current conditions and closures.

Does Yosemite National Park have an entrance fee?

Yosemite is not free to enter. The park has had an entry fee since 1913, as of 2020 Yosemite National Park admission costs $30 per car.

What to see in Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks?

 Both of the parks are famous around the world, begin with a visit to Yosemite’s most popular highlight, the Yosemite Valley.

Observe the monumental mountains surrounded by dark pine trees, photograph the picturesque waterfalls, and hike around the trails spotting local wildlife along the way.

There can be heavy traffic within the valley, especially on weekends, so it is recommended to leave early in the morning to avoid crowds. There are various parking zones within the park, and you will be directed to the one with the most spots.

Before setting off for Death Valley, don’t forget to visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. The grove is home to over 500 giant sequoia trees, the largest group in all of Yosemite. There are limited parking spaces available by the grove, it is best to visit on weekdays or early in the morning.

Death Valley is roughly 4 hours away along the 395, though if you are visiting outside of the summer there will likely be road closures. In that case, the journey is around 8 hours along the CA-99.

As of 2020, the admission fee for the Death Valley National Park costs $25 per vehicle for unlimited, 7-day access.

Once you’re inside the park, head towards the Badwater Basin first. The large salt flat is located below sea level and remains one of the hottest spots in the nation. Be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun, especially in the summer.

Next, drive along the Artists Drive, a 9-mile long scenic one-way driving road that will take you through breathtaking scenery. If you’re a Star Wars fan, some of the spots may look familiar, as parts of “A New Hope” were filmed in the area.

Before departing for Vegas, be sure to get a good panoramic view of the park from higher ground. Visit Zabriskie Point, the park’s most popular lookout, to get a perfect perspective of Death Valley. 

death valley sandy bright hills on a clear sunny day

Where to stay in Yosemite and Death Valley?

There are various lodges and hotels between Yosemite and Death Valley parks, there are two particular lodges recommended by Rentalmoose.

The Ahwahnee Hotel is located inside the Yosemite Valley. It is hands down one of the best places to stay in the area. The lodge was what inspired Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel, a location used for The Shining. The Ahwahnee is a historic, atmospheric hotel that offers rooms and suites with retro decor and luxurious amenities.

The Oasis at Death Valley is the perfect overnight stay for sophisticated travelers visiting Death Valley. The resort consists of two hotels: The Ranch and The Inn. The Inn is a more prestigious and pricey alternative. The resort includes luxurious amenities such as a pool, spa, and wellness center and a golf course.

Next: Las Vegas, 2 hours 30 minutes

Las Vegas

the strip in las vegas seen at night aerial view of fountain show and large hotels in nevada

Photography by Young Soo Park from Pixabay.com

What should you not miss in Vegas?

The Strip

Las Vegas, often called Sin City, comes alive once dusk falls. Any road trip to Vegas couldn’t possibly be complete without paying a visit to the famous Las Vegas Strip

The boulevard is lined with numerous casinos, hotels, restaurants and nightlife spots. The Strip itself is filled with tourists from around the world, street performers and promoters for local venues. Hate it or love it, the Strip is unarguably the top spot to visit in Las Vegas. 

The High Roller

If you want to get panoramic views of the city, visiting the High Roller is an absolute must. The enormous Ferris wheel is the go-to spot for city views from above. There are also open-bar cabins where you can begin your unforgettable night in Sin City.

World-class nightlife

Most tourists that come to Las Vegas want to experience the city’s vivid nightlife scene. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of bars, casinos, and clubs to go to every night of the week, it may be hard to choose where to start. 

One of the city’s favorites for clubgoers is the Marquee Nightclub, located inside the Cosmopolitan. If you’re looking to get the party started during the day, head to the Marquee Dayclub. Check the official calendar for upcoming events in both venues.

The Hoover Dam

The city can be overwhelming even for the wildest party animals. Visit The Hoover Dam to get a break from all the Vegas craze. The monumental dam is open for visitors daily from 6 AM to 6 PM and is a 40-minute drive away from the Strip. Rentalmoose recommends visiting the Hoover Dam on your way to The Grand Canyon, as the dam is located along the way.

Once you’re ready to jump right back in the city’s insanity, head for lunch to the Heart Attack Grill. As the name suggests, this restaurant is as crazy as food in Vegas can get. The unique hospital-like decor elements, amazing service, and a silly menu will surely make dining here a memorable experience.

Chunkier travelers who weigh 350 pounds and above can even eat for free.

Looking for more attractions in Vegas? Check out the Rentalmoose Utah Travel Guide, where you will find must-do activities in Sin City that haven’t been mentioned here. Stroll down the Old Strip, find out which hotel features a waterslide through a shark tank and more!

Click here for the guide.

What are the best hotels in Las Vegas?

Similarly to nightlife spots, picking the right hotel in Vegas can be hard as there are lots of attractive options to choose from. One thing’s for sure, you can’t go wrong with The Venetian. The luxury 5-star resort consists of two towers, a large casino, pools, and all kinds of luxury amenities you can think of. If you’re willing to splash out completely, go for one of the prestigious suites.

A more budget-friendly alternative with a great location along the Strip is The Luxor Resort & Casino. The hotel’s pyramid shape may seem kitschy and over-the-top, but isn’t that what Vegas is all about? The Luxor is a 4-star resort that offers attractive amenities such as a pool. Of course, there is a casino on the premises. 

Next: The Grand Canyon, 4 hours 30 minutes

The Grand Canyon

the grand canyon clear day red rock and tree in foreground on a clear day panoramic view

Soon after departing Las Vegas, you will enter the third state on this epic road trip: Arizona. The Grand Canyon is less than 5 hours away from Vegas.

Similarly to Yosemite and Death Valley, there is an entrance fee to get inside the Grand Canyon. As of November 2020, the admission fee for an unlimited, 7-day pass costs $35 per car. Current admission fees can also be found on the park’s official website.

Which side of the Grand Canyon is best to visit?

Begin by heading to the Mather Point along the South Rim, the most popular spot to get an amazing view of the canyon. You can grab a coffee or rent a bike at Grand Canyon’s Coffee Shop. There are four large parking areas nearby, leaving your rental car shouldn’t be an issue even on busy days.

Later, drive along the South Rim until you get to the Historic Village. Learn about the history of the area while enjoying architecture dating back to the 1900s. There are more stunning viewpoints in this part of the South Rim, too.

Next, head east until you reach Desert View. The lookouts in this part of the park offer great views of the Colorado River. The Desert View Watchtower is a historic structure built in 1932, tourists can climb atop the tower for the best views or visit the interior to learn about the local history and purchase souvenirs at the gift shop.

panoramic view of the grand canyon red rock and trees in foreground on a clear sunny day

Next: San Diego, 8 hours 30 minutes

San Diego

blue ocean waves coming to san diego shore with short cliff and bright buildings and palm trees during sunset in california

Photography by Mmorris76 from Pixabay.com

After visiting Grand Canyon National Park, it is time to head back to sunny California. During the 9-hour drive to San Diego, you can make a detour and stop at the Joshua Tree National Park.

What to see in San Diego?

Balboa Park

Visiting Balboa Park is a must when in San Diego. Inside the park, you can find San Diego’s world-famous zoo, a vivid botanical garden and historical Spanish buildings that have been transformed into museums. There are various free car parks throughout the park.

La Jolla

La Jolla is the city’s trendy seaside district with upscale homes, restaurants, and cafes. Head inside one of the sea-view restaurants to taste delicious cuisine, swim in the Pacific or sunbathe at the La Jolla Cove.

Embarcadero

After a long day, head to the Embarcadero harbour-front, next to downtown San Diego. The seaport village is a vivid area lined with local shops, eateries, and cafes. Stroll down the marina, feel the ocean breeze or spot the yachts parked in the port.

Once you get hungry, head to Nico’s Mexican Food on Newport Avenue. The restaurant has been blessing Ocean Beach with delicious Mexican cuisine from the 80s and is one of the best spots in town.

Rentalmoose order tip: If it’s your first time in San Diego, you absolutely need to try the California Burrito.

Where to stay in San Diego?

La Jolla is home to numerous trendy hotels and resorts, Estancia La Jolla is one of the popular choices for tourists in the area. This 4-star hotel is located in a beautiful Spanish Colonial building surrounded by colorful gardens, a spa, and a large pool.

If you’re on a tighter budget, consider spending the night at San Diego Downtown Lodge. The budget-friendly lodge features free parking and a great location in the heart of the city.

Next: Finish the trip in San Diego or head back to Los Angeles, 2 hours

Drop-off

Rentalmoose recommends dropping off your rental car directly at the airport for maximum comfort. If you decide to end your journey in San Diego, make sure you book a rental that supports drop-off at a different location.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Manuel Antonio National Park. Green, thick rain forest and long sandy beach, calm crystal blue sea on a clear day in costa rica.

Pura Vida Road Trip- Costa Rica Itinerary

Pura Vida – the magical word combination that all of us are searching for in this life. Simply translated Pura Vida means “pure life” or “simple life”. This is the motto of the people in Costa Rica. Not just a motto but actually a way of living. Discover your Pura Vida with our curated Costa Rica itinerary.

Shouldn’t it be the same for all of us? That’s why I decided to fly to Costa Rica and travel around the country by car – to find this magical Pura Vida for myself during an unforgettable Costa Rica road trip. 

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

San Jose to Arenal Volcano- 135 kilometers (85 miles)📍 

Arenal Volcano to Papagayo Peninsula- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 

Papagayo Peninsula to Jaco- 230 kilometers (140 miles)📍 

Jaco to Manuel Antonio- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

Manuel Antonio to Pacuare Lodge- 265 kilometers (165 miles)📍

Pacuare Lodge to Limon- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

Limon to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca- 60 kilometers (40 miles)📍

1000 kilometers (600 miles) in total

Planning- Before You Leave

Before setting off to explore Costa Rica with our detailed itinerary, take a look at some essential information listed below.

Why should you visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has it all the rainforests, the volcano, powerful waterfalls, the tropical jungles and beautiful Caribbean beaches (both white sand and black sand). There really is everything in this small country – from relaxation to hard parties. Let’s start to explore!

Rentalmoose tip: Get yourself a four-wheel-drive car to explore Costa Rica as some of the roads can get bumpy. And some places might not have roads at all. Find a suitable car for your Costa Rica road trip using Rentalmoose.

Can tourists drive in Costa Rica?

Absolutely! All you need to drive in Costa Rica is a driving license issued in your home country. International Driving Permits are not mandatory.

Although the general traffic rules are similar to those in other countries, the enforcement of traffic laws leaves a somewhat gray area. With that in mind, it is advised to follow all of the regulations.

Traffic in Costa Rica is one the right side of the road.

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Costa Rica itinerary!

San José

san jose costa rica  whitewashed government building, white facade traditional architecture in the heart of san jose on a sunny day. Costa Rican flag in the foreground.

San Jose photographed by Jose Conejo Saenz.

My flight took me to the capital of Costa Rica – San José – the biggest city in the country. I decided to stay here for a few nights to discover the city as well. San Jose is an absolute must on any Costa Rica itinerary by car.

My suggestion would be to stay 1 day or 1 night as Costa Rica countryside has so much more to offer than this big and noisy city.

It’s good to know that San José is the least violent city in the Latin American region! Some people even say that Costa Rica is the Switzerland of America. 

The architecture in San José is mostly not very beautiful with some exceptions. The pretty buildings can be found around the Paseo Colon. 

What can’t you miss in San Jose?

Teatro Nacional is a stunning Neoclassical building that is home to Costa Rica’s national opera and ballet companies.

If you have decided to spend a night in the city then go see a show – this is the best way to see the beautiful architecture of this building and of course to enjoy the lovely performance. 

It’s also possible just to buy a tour in the building if you have no time for the show. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: There are often art exhibitions or different performances on the square in front of the Theatre! These are free for the public, so keep your eyes open!

If you are interested in the history of the country then there is the National Museum of Costa Rica in San José. It’ll keep you occupied for a while. 

Another lovely building close-by is San José’s Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s famous for its stained glass windows but there’s a lot to see on the inside as well – like delicate tile work and sculptures. 

Where to stay in San Jose?

 There are some hotels with lovely Colonial-style architecture  – for example, Hotel Grano de Oro (which was chosen as a top hotel in Central America and Caribbean region by Condé Nast in 2018!) which has beautiful wooden decor in its rooms. 

The hotel also has a fabulous gourmet restaurant with the same name, which is one of the top restaurants in San José! Grano de Oro’s famous restaurant serves a fusion of Costa Rican and European cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Rentalmoose tip: When booking a hotel or a restaurant in San Jose, be careful – there is a city with the exact same name in the US as well! Make sure you make your reservations to the right city! Learn from other people’s mistakes (read – mine haha!). 

Next on your Costa Rica itinerary: Arenal Volcano, 3 hours

Arenal Volcano

Large arenal volcano mountain seen from a nearby rain forest. The tip of the volcano is covered by large white clouds, seen on a sunny day in costa rica.

Arenal Volcano in the clouds

 After wining and dining in San José it’s time to start the engine and set off on your Costa Rica road trip! The first stop is the Costa Rican volcano – Arenal. 

Arenal is one of seven historically active Costa Rican volcanoes along with Poás, Irazú, Miravalles, Orosí, Rincón de la Vieja complex, and Turrialba. 

There are 2 roads that can take you to Arenal, but we chose the longer one because there is a beautiful waterfall on the way and, well – who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls? 

La Paz Waterfall

My chosen road goes through Alajuela and I made a stop at the La Paz waterfall. It’s in the middle of the tropical forest – such a lovely view and refreshing air! By the way, it’s a popular wedding ceremony destination so you might get to witness one as well! 

Poas Volcano

 Very close to La Paz waterfall is another volcano called Poas volcano. It’s an active 2,708-metre stratovolcano. A stratovolcano is a conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and ash. 

There is an open viewing point from where you can actually see inside the crater of the volcano! A very cool experience indeed! 

Arenal Volcano

After experiencing the La Paz and Poas, it’s time to continue the drive to your final destination of the day which is Arenal Volcano National Park. The perfectly symmetrical Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano until 2010. And it’s in the top 10 of World’s most active volcanoes. 

 Thanks to the volcanoes, the area has another thing it’s famous for – its hot springs.

The whole area together with its hotels is basically a large spa, perfect after traveling the whole day! 

These springs originate in a geothermally heated underground river. Local hotels tap into this source and bring the water to the surface, creating mineral-rich hot springs for their guests to enjoy.

Need any more reasons to stay? I didn’t think so! 

Where to stay near the Arenal Volcano?

There are several hotels to choose from, my recommendations would be Tabacon Thermal Resort, The Springs Resort, or The Royal Corin Resort. Now relax and enjoy your time!

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Papagayo Peninsula, 3 hours

Papagayo Peninsula

empty, white sandy beach in papagayo peninsula in costa rica. Small waves, blue ocean and green resort lawn lined with tall palm trees. Sunny day in costa rica

You are probably totally soaked and relaxed and it’s time to live the wellness area behind because another resort is waiting for you – welcome to Papagayo Peninsula. The place with pretty beaches and tropical forests. 

The peninsula has been formed this way by the volcanic activity and weather.

There are 31 separate beaches on the 15mi / 24km of the peninsula. Not too many private wild beaches left in the world but this is your chance to find one!

 You now have 2 options – whether you prefer to stay in the peninsula to discover more of it or go hunt other beaches on the coast. 

Where to stay in the Papagayo Peninsula?

If you’d like to stay in the peninsula for longer and indulge yourself in the tropic but at the same time in luxury then the Four Seasons hotel is a place for you. A luxury in the jungle! 

Andaz Costa Rica Resort will also be just as good of an option for treating yourself. Find your inner explorer as the place has many experiences to offer, choose from hiking, surfing, paddleboarding, animal spotting, snorkeling, diving, and many more outdoor activities. 

What are the best beaches near Papagayo?

If you don’t plan to stay in the peninsula then hit the road again and start driving to the South. There will be many beautiful beaches along your way – Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande and Tamarindo to name a few. If you have plenty of time to discover Costa Rica – go and see all these different beaches and villages next to those. 

If you are on a strict time limit, then choose one of the following beaches: 

Playa Flamingo

Playa Flamingo is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches because it has the finest white sand, clear blue water, and lagoons. The prettiest and probably most crowded due to that.

Playa Grande

Playa Grande is, as its name suggests, a long beach. It is an important part of the national park because it’s a nesting place for leatherback turtles. It is still open to the public but it’s very protected. So take only pictures and leave only footprints!

Tamarindo

 Tamarindo is a surfers’ paradise, you can really feel the hippie lifestyle vibes here. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and nightlife in addition to beach life here. 

Rentalmoose tip: If you want to discover even more of the peninsula, you can also visit these beaches: Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Samara (this one is quiet with nice sand and trendy cafes), Ostional (home of turtles!) and Nosara beach

Next on your Costa Rica itinerary: Jaco, 3 and a half hours

Jaco

Jaco – the Costa Rican nightlife capital. Photography by Juliette Giannesini

 This will also be an optional visit along the route as Jaco is not just a town – but a beautiful and energetic beach spot. I put Jaco in the Costa Rica itinerary because it’s the surfing and partying capital of the country. So if you would like to do some dancing during your trip then this is the place for that! 

What is the best beach in Jaco?

Hermosa Beach

If you love surfing then head to the Hermosa beach to catch the big waves. By the way, the International Quicksilver Championship is held at this beach. If you happen to travel at the same time, you can enjoy the show while comfortably sunbathing on the beach. There are also smaller surfing competitions going on every Saturday!

Hermosa is also a great place for beginners so why not surprise yourself and take some surfing lessons or even participate in a surf camp?

2-hour surf lessons cost about 50.- US dollars per person and there are many cool surfing schools, like School of the World, Tortuga, and Jaco Surf School.

Playa Jaco

Playa Jaco is a very nice and clean beach and popular with tourists. Be aware that there are very strong tides here, so if traveling with kids, keep an eye on them at all times! 

Jaco is okay to travel with kids as its not party all over, there are plenty of other things to do and see here as well – like horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, ATV tours, kayaking, boat rides, rafting, canopy zip line, waterfall tour, a catamaran tour along the coast or a walking tour on the hanging bridges at the Rainmaker Park. I mean there is a lot to do for adventure seekers!

Rentalmoose tip: A good idea would also be a day trip to Tortuga Island. This will get you a real Caribbean feeling with its white sand and clear blue waters!

Herradura Beach

The best beach for kids would probably be Herradura beach – a more tranquil beach, which is also perfect if you need a break from the pulsing energy of more heavily-populated areas. 

The nightlife

 And now back to the party talk. After surfing this is the next reason people come to Jaco. There are many beer bars where the surfers go but also some fancier options to choose from. 

Popular clubs in Jaco are Le Loft, ManCave and Orange Pub. There are also two good beach clubs to check out – Black Marlin and Jaco Blu

After surfing and partying like there is no tomorrow, it’s time to escape from Jaco and head to a quieter place.

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Manuel Antonio, 1 hour

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park. Green, thick rain forest and long sandy beach, calm crystal blue sea on a clear day in costa rica.

The wonderful nature and beaches of Manuel Antonio photographed by Gloriana Anchetta.

 You have arrived at your next destination – Manuel Antonio National Park – the jewel of Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio is the most popular national park in all of Costa Rica. It’s not the biggest but it is so beautiful and has a diversity of wildlife. 

Manuel Antonio National Park has several beautiful beaches, especially if you’re into snorkeling! You’ll instantly fall in love with the place.

What is the best beach in Manuel Antonio National Park?

If you love white sand beaches then Playa Manuel Antonio is the place to be for you! By the way – Playa Manuel Antonio was voted as number 1 beach in the world by travelers in Tripadvisor’s “Traveller’s Choice Award 2019”. 

Or maybe you’ll prefer a little hidden beach? Head 20 mi / 32 km south from the Manuel Antonio National Park and you’ll get to the Playa Linda. This will be a complete escape from the highly visited typical tourist attractions. 

Next to Playa Linda, there is another hidden gem- Playa Matapalo

Local Farmers’ Market

 Another great experience near Manuel Antonio National Park is a local farmers market called Quepos Feria. Local feria in Quepos starts late afternoon on Friday and is open until 12 pm on Saturday. 

You can find everything you need for your perfect vacation from the Feria – local seasonal fruits and vegetables, artisanal fresh cheeses, fresh fish/chicken/meats, homemade desserts, jams, herbs and spices, flowers, fresh pipa water right out of the shell (coconut water) and even locally made jewelry and clothing. 

After the exciting time at the feria with the locals, go to Nahomi Park to enjoy the end of the day with tranquil sunset views. 

Whether you are traveling with a family, couple or friends, eco-tourists, seeking exciting adventures, or just to relax, you have come to the right place.

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Pacuare, 5 hours

Pacuare Lodge

single boat rafting down pacuare river. exciting sport to get to pacuare lodge is via whitewater rafting. The river surrounded by rainforest and large rock.
Rafting is the best way of getting to the lodge. Photography by Paco Martinez.

 Now it’s time to discover a real natural rain forest. Unfortunately, Costa Rica doesn’t shine with its roadways so you have to take the same road back which you used to come to Manuel Antonio.

Drive through Jaco and head towards San Jose. After passing the capital city and Irazu volcano you are about to arrive. 

Pacuare Lodge is a hotel that lies in the midst of the rainforest. It’s not possible to reach it by car, you have to leave your car at some parking place and the hotel transfer minivan will come to pick you up from there. 

Getting to the Pacuare Lodge

Take only a small bag with you because the journey to the hotel is something you have probably never experienced before – your bag will be put into a bigger waterproof bag and you will have to go rafting to the hotel through a Pacuare river! 

Rentalmoose tip: Keep in mind that the tides can be strong and the road to the hotel can be jumpy so it’s not the best idea when traveling with small kids. 

Once you arrive at the hotel you’ll be soaking wet, so keep that in mind when choosing the clothes for your rafting trip. 

The property

The hotel and its area are absolutely amazing. You are lucky if the weather is sunny but otherwise remember that you are in the rainforest so it can rain. A lot. Like, 48 hours straight. 

The rain won’t stop this place to be nothing but amazing. Your room is like a little wooden house – it doesn’t have windows or doors, just the insect net – which comes in handy as you can imagine what kind of life goes on in the rainforest! You will have an outdoor shower as well. Instead of slippers, you will have complimentary rain boots and umbrellas in your room.

The hotel provides many excursions in the forest which are good to participate in. The restaurant is amazing – great cuisine and an excellent wine list! 

For more romantic dining, they have a table built on the tree. That is something very different, so I definitely recommend giving it a try!

I think 2-3 days it the rainforest will be enough. After that the journey back will be (yeah, you guessed it) through the river rafting again!

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Limon, 1 hour 30 minutes

Limon

royal palm trees tall palm trees planted on a green lawn in limon costa rica. seen from below, natural beauty of costa rica on a clear day.

Royal palm trees are a frequent sight in Limon. Photo by Falco/pixabay.com

 After getting constantly wet on the rainforest there is no better plan than to go to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, to warm yourself up at the beach! The road trip heads to Limon,  the second-largest city in Costa Rica with a population of about 55 000 people. Arriving here can make you feel a bit confused – I sure felt like I had arrived in Jamaica instead. 

Limon is the home of the Afro Costa-Rican community. A part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón.

 Puerto Limon is not a very touristic place. Although big cruise ships dock here, most of the tourists still head to the West coast of the country. The port mostly is for exporting fruits. It can be a good thing to see a side of Costa Rica that is untouched by the Western world (with its port as an exception). 

Is Limon worth a visit?

Limon is a big port city, so it is good to visit it just for a day and head to a calmer place to spend the night. Unless you happen to visit it during mid-October when the 12-days annual Carnival takes place. 

What are the best places to eat in Limon?

 Treat yourself to a true Caribbean style meal in either of these restaurants: Soda El Patty, Mirador Da Domenico Red Snapper, or Caribbean Kalisi Coffee Shop

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 1 hour

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Small wave splashes the black sand coast of playa negra. black sand beach in puerto viejo de talamanca costa rica. Dark sand and mangroves near the shore.

Exotic black sand beach – Playa Negra

 After a day well spent in the Puerto Limon, it is time to head even more south – almost to the border of Panama – to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It’s a more quiet seaside resort where it’s good to have your final rest before heading back to the airport.

The best beaches around Puerta Viejo

Although it’s on the Caribbean side and you’d probably expect some white sand beaches, this place is actually known for its black sand beach – Playa Negra. For a white sandy beach experience try one of these – Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Playa Blanca.

Surfing in Puerta Viejo

 Puerto Viejo is already known for the surfers, it is actually becoming a hot spot for them. They come here to ride the famous Salsa Brava waves which have made the place one of the top-rated surfing paradises in the world. Be warned of the waters here, they have a strong rip current. So, swimming is not advised. This beach is for surfing experts only. 

Don’t worry, there are many other tropical beaches just within walking distance where it is safe to relax and swim. 

If you are not the one who has the patience to just chill on the beach, the place has many activities as well – horseback tours of the area, snorkeling, diving, mountain biking, kayaking, or boogie boarding. 

You can take a chocolate tour. Yes – chocolate is an important crop in this area of Costa Rica and you can take a tour to learn how they grow cacao trees, process the cocoa bean, and make chocolate. 

Nightlife

Puerto Viejo also has a lively nightlife – there are many bars, clubs, and restaurants in the area. It’s also great to know that the prices are not too high here (probably another reason after surfing why the place is popular amongst the hip youngsters). 

I must add that the roads here are in very poor condition. Except for the main highway, all the other roads are dirt paved. But it’s actually kind of cool to have a rustic place that hasn’t been changed by human hand so much.

As I have already mentioned that Costa Rica doesn’t shine with the amount of highways, you have to take the same road back to San Jose to reach the airport and drop off your rental car just nearby it. Browse through available rental cars for your road trip to Costa Rica via Rentalmoose

 Costa Rica is not about glamour. It’s about letting yourself be part of nature. Forget your daily worries that don’t have any meaning in the long terms of life. Be part of Mother Earth, appreciate it and all the living creatures on our planet. Take care of it. Enjoy what it has to offer and try not to change it. This is the meaning of living Pura Vida that I discovered for myself during this trip. 

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip in Costa Rica? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Croatia to Montenegro- Balkan Road Trip Itinerary

New stars of the road trips: Croatia and Montenegro. Check out this curated Balkan road trip itinerary!

Tags: road trip, travel by car, drop off at another location, Croatia, Montenegro, long trip, beaches

For years and years, people have been going to their summer vacations to the Mediterranean countries but always the preferred ones have been Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. Now, there are new, trendy hotspots – Croatia and Montenegro. See the best places in Croatia and Montenegro during this insightful Balkan road trip itinerary.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Rovinj to Plitvice Lakes- 240 kilometers (150 miles)📍 

Plitvice Lakes to Zadar- 120 kilometers (75 miles)📍 

Zadar to Krka- 75 kilometers (45 miles)📍 

Krka to Split- 85 kilometers (50 miles)📍

Split to Ston- 190 kilometers (120 miles)📍

Ston to Dubrovnik- 55 kilometers (35 miles)📍

Dubrovnik to Kotor- 90 kilometers (55 miles)📍

Kotor to Tivat- 10 kilometers (6 miles)📍

910 kilometers (565 miles) in total

Planning- Before You Leave

Before you set off on your Balkan road trip, take a look at some essential information below.

Why should you visit Croatia and Montenegro?

There is no surprise that Croatia and Montenegro have gotten popular among international tourists- they have the same natural beauty, crystal waters, lovely islands, and cheaper prices! Well, to be totally honest the prices have increased in the latest years when tourists have become more interested in the area. 

Croatia became well known when its city Dubrovnik was the shooting location for a scene in the Game of Thrones.

 Your road trip can start either from Rovinj, Croatia or Tivat, Montenegro. Whichever way you prefer. 

The closest airports to Rovinj are Pula Airport (40-minute drive) and Trieste in Italy (2-hour drive). 

Road Trip Extension to Northern Italy

As Rovinj is very close to Venice, Italy, you can extend the road trip and visit Northern Italy as well. Experience very different sides of Mediterranean countries and indulge in Italy’s delicious cuisine.

Click here for the travel guide. 

Ferries from 2 different companies sail between Venice and Rovinj 7 days a week and the duration of the journey is about 3-4 hours, depending on the ferry. Find more ferry information HERE.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The duration of this road trip is 13 hours, with a total driving distance equal to 908km (564mi). Rentalmoose suggests spending between 4-5 days and a week on the road, in order to really experience each attraction to the fullest.

What is the best time to visit Croatia and Montenegro?

The best time to visit Croatia and Montenegro would be the high season  – from May until the end of September. If you love cabriolet cars then a road trip around the Balkans is a great opportunity to rent one, you could enjoy the magnificent views. 

If you’re traveling in a larger group, then a normal car or a minibus would be the best choice. You can find different car options at Rentalmoose, just type your criteria and you’ll get the perfect car for this trip.

For your peace of mind, don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app to take photos of the car when receiving it to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee. 

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Balkan road trip!

Rovinj

Rovnij aerial view of port, blue sea and red-roofed traditional buildings, on a sunny day in Croatia.
Rovinj seen from above. Photography by Byungjei Lim.

This Balkan road trip starts from the fishing port town of Rovinj, in Croatia, on the Western coast of the Istria peninsula. 

An interesting fact is that originally the peninsula on which Rovinj lies was an island, separated from the mainland by a channel. The latter was filled in 1763. 

 Being so close to Italy makes this city bilingual, people speak both Croatian and Italian here. It also has the Italian feel to it, many people say Rovinj more like Italy rather than Croatia.

 The main economic activity in Rovinj is tourism. During peak season (May–September), its bars, restaurants, and art galleries are open ‘till late hours, while operating limited hours off-season. 

What should you see in Rovinj?

The heart of the city

 The busiest place is the center – fully pedestrian Carrera Street, with many independent shops and art galleries. There is also a farmer’s market located at the edge of the historic part of town, near Valdibora Square – the best place to fuel yourself with healthy and cheap snacks! In addition to the old town, you should definitely have a stroll along the harbor

What is the best place to eat in Rovinj?

Monte Restaurant

For a delicious meal, book yourself a spot at the Monte restaurant. People say not only is it one of the best in Rovinj but one of the best in all of Croatia – so it’s not to be missed!

But as the world moves fast, this place is already extremely popular. You have to make a reservation far in advance. 

Where to stay in Rovinj?

 To sleep off your travel exhaustion, opt for spending a night at the ultra-modern Lone Hotel, just about a 15-minute stroll away from the center. The hotel is set within the Golden Cape Natural Park.

There are various attractions onsite including a sushi bar, a nightclub, and several restaurants within the building. 

Another excellent 5* hotel is Hotel Monte Mulini. This place is also a short walk away from the old town but you can feel like in a resort here and leave the city bustle behind. Let the relaxation begin! 

Next on your Balkan road trip: Plitvice, 3 hours 30 minutes

Plitvice Lakes National Park

plitvice lakes national park, small wooden path with tourists on top of lakes and green forest. Natural beauty in Croatia.

Croatia is well known for its amazing natural beauty and waterfalls. One of the most famous ones is Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia.

 Plitvice Lakes National Park is listed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites. It is a popular visiting destination all year round, and a must-see for every visitor to Croatia. So yes – it’s about a 3-and-a-half-hour-drive, but I am sure you won’t regret going there. 

Is Plitvice Lakes National Park worth visiting?

 Most definitely! The national park has sixteen lovely emerald green lakes that are interconnected by cascades and waterfalls. Not only do humans love this natural wonder – animals do, too! This place is a home for many bears, wolves, otters, wild boars, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, and numerous bird species.

You probably won’t want to miss this exceptional natural beauty. Check the park’s official website for seasonal information and ticket prices.

After a serene afternoon in the park, the next leg of your Balkan road trip will take you to Zadar!

Next: Zadar, 1 hour 30 minutes

Zadar

zadar croatia. tourist attraction, greeting to the sun solar panels and a reflection of a cyclist with sea in background. Seen during sunset.
Zadar’s Greeting to The Sun photographed by Ivan Vuksa.

  Zadar – home to a historic old town of Roman ruins – is the urban center of northern Dalmatia as the administrative, economic, cultural, and political center of the region with 75,000 inhabitants.

In this intriguing city the old and the new live together – medieval museums next to cosmopolitan cafes. 

Zadar is a city of exceptional history and rich cultural heritage. The area of present-day Zadar traces its earliest evidence of human life from the late Stone Age, while numerous settlements date as early as the Neolithic times. 

 Zadar has good road infrastructure – the main road along the Adriatic passes through the city. And the natural beauty of the landscape will not leave you untouched.

I’m sure you will enjoy this Balkan road trip to the max! 

What to see in Zadar?

Sea Organ

 A must-see in Zadar is its “Sea Organ” – the first of its kind in the world. It is an architectural sound art object, an experimental musical instrument – a set of large marble steps, the pipes are located beneath it.

At the end of each pipe is a whistle, tuned to play seven chords of five different tones, creating sighs when the sea waves pushes air in them. This really needs to be seen and heard by yourself. 

The Greeting to the Sun

 Next to the “Sea Organ”, at the end of the Zadar peninsula, there is another masterpiece created by the same architect – Nikola Bašić. “The Greeting to the Sun” communicates with light, just like the “Sea Organ” does with sound. 

“The Greeting to the Sun” consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level with the stone-paved waterfront in the shape of a 22-meter diameter circle. Under the glass conduction plates, there are photo-voltage solar modules through which symbolic communication with nature is made. 

 Both are really cool experiences!

By the way, the film legend Alfred Hitchcock himself said that the prettiest sunsets in the world are in Zadar! Another must-see in town!

What are the best hotels in Zadar?

 After walking through the Plitvice and discovering Zadar you are probably really tired and need a good night’s rest. Book your room at the 4* Bastion Heritage Hotel in the Old Town. This is great for a car traveler as the hotel is very close to the only area you can reach with the car. So you wouldn’t need to carry your suitcases too long. 

In addition, there is a very famous fine dining restaurant “Kaštel” within the hotel. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in elegant interiors and on a spacious terrace overlooking the garden. 

After a good night’s sleep, you can start your journey in the morning. Rested and ready for a new great day ahead!

Next on your Balkan road trip: Krka, 1 hour

Krka National Park

wide waterfall white foamy water going into crystal clear, secluded emerald lake, surrounded by trees. Sunny day in krka national park croatia
Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Loved hiking yesterday at the Plitvice National Park? Well, this is not it – you can enjoy another day in beautiful nature again as there is another gorgeous national park on the way. Make a stop at the Krka National Park

This park has a gorgeous swimming area, roped off at a bend in the river below the crescent of waterfalls. Before stripping off, take the shaded one-mile walk past a chain of tumbling pools to spot fish and sapphire dragonflies. And yes – now go freshen yourself up with a swim under the waterfalls. Need I even say more?

Boat tour to Visovac

 By the way, inside the National Park there is a small island called Visovac. There is a Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded by the Franciscans in 1445. The monastery was founded during the reign of Louis I of Hungary. The island can be visited by a boat tour from Skradinski Buk.

Rentalmoose tip: A boat trip through the national park is included in the entrance ticket and it is a great way of seeing much more of the park!

Next on your Balkan road trip: Split, 1 hour

Split

Prestigious outdoor restaurant by the walls of Diocletian's Palace. Tourists, outdoor terrace next to palm trees and one large empty table. beautiful sunset in split croatia

The restaurant next to the walls of Diocletian’s Palace

Welcome to Split! The largest city on the Dalmatian coast and the second-largest in the whole of Croatia. Split is an important transport center for Dalmatia and the wider region. 

In addition to the Zagreb-Split freeway (A1), all the road traffic along the Adriatic coast on the route Rijeka–Dubrovnik (Adriatic Highway) flows through the city. Split is always buzzing, the old city walls are filled with many trendy hotspots. 

What can you see in Split?

Go see the Diocletian’s Palace – a Unesco World Heritage site that is one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments, built in 305 AD. 

It was built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement residence – not a bad place to retire, right? By the way, the palace is another shooting location for the Game of Thrones. If you are a fan, go and try to find the exact spots from the series!

 Within the huge Diocletian Palace, there are many sites to see, for example, the St Domnius Cathedral and its Bell Tower. This is said to be the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the world that still works in its original structure. When climbing to the Bell Tower, you can see the breathtaking views of Split and the city’s red rooftops. 

The Diocletian Palace is actually forming half of the old town, so if you go there, you’re already wondering around in the Split’s oldest parts of the city. 

There are also many restaurants and bars where you could have some snacks and a cold drink – for example, Zinfandel Food & Wine Bar.

 Another spot you should see in Split is its harbor, where hundreds of sailing boats take off to the gorgeous islands of Croatia. If you have more time on hand, I definitely suggest visiting an island or two  (the biggest and most famous being Hvar). 

Next to the harbor, there is a promenade called The Riva. It makes a lovely place for an evening walk after dinner. 

Where can you find the best food in Split?

 A great restaurant recommendation would be Dvor. The location of this restaurant is so beautiful and the food is delicious, it’s totally worth having the 20-minute walk from the old town! 

Which hotel in Split is the best?

 When you call it a day then go and have a good rest in Hotel Park Split. You will feel very special once entering the hotel as there is live piano music. The staff will offer you a glass of champagne when checking in as a welcoming drink. A truly luxurious experience!

Another great option is Villa Split Heritage Hotel in the old town – an authentic Roman house from the 3rd century AC. The house used to be a home for the most prominent Croatian writer Marko Marulić. For this reason, the place is still sometimes called “Marulić house”. It’s located in the Diocletian Palace. 

Next on your Balkan road trip: Ston, 2 and a half hours

Ston

the great walls of ston. medieval defense walls on a green hill, with traditional croatian buildings and tourists in the foreground. sunny day in ston, croatia.

The wall of Ston

 Rise and shine! This morning let’s start the journey towards another great Croatian city – Dubrovnik. But with a little stopover at the small town called Ston which will be on the way. The reason for visiting this place is food! The best oysters in Croatia come from the Bay of Mali Ston! 

What is Ston known for?

 Always dreamed of visiting the Wall of China but haven’t made it there? Don’t worry, in Ston, there is a Croatian version of it – one of the longest defense walls in Europe.

The Ston Walls are 1200 m long and were built to ensure protection from neighboring regions. The chronicles state that the construction of the wall lasted 18 months.

 It is possible to visit oyster beds by boat from Mali Ston. Shellfish cultivation in Mali Ston Bay is currently based on only two species: The European Flat Oyster (Ostrea edulis) and the mussels called Mytilus galloprovinicialis

The oysters are the most flavourful in March, when St Joseph’s Day is celebrated. Gastro expert’s claim that oysters are best served freshly opened with some lemon juice.

You will have the opportunity to taste the freshly opened oysters smelling of the sea around St Joseph’s Day (19 March) at the restaurants in Ston and Mali Ston. 

Where to eat in Ston?

 Of course, it’s possible to eat oysters in Ston during other times of the year as well. Visit the famous Kapetanova kuća or Konoba Bakus restaurants to try some regional delicacies. 

Rentalmoose order tip: Order oysters and try their mussels and black seafood risotto as well! Delicious! There is also a dessert called “Ston cake” which should be tried, it will give some mixed feelings as its a dessert with macaroni. But it actually tastes surprisingly good, give it a shot. 

Next on your Balkans road trip: Dubrovnik, 1 hour

Dubrovnik

Old town of Dubrovnik seen from an elevated view point. Wonderful red roofs of traditional buildings near the Adriatic sea. Dubrovnik is a great destination to visit on a Balkan road trip
Dubrovnik captured by Ecksplorer.

 Bernard Shaw once said: “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.” So yes – you have reached another amazing walled city on the Adriatic! It’s probably the most beautiful one! 

This will be your last stop in Croatia during this Balkans road trip. Dubrovnik is really a magnificent historical city, no wonder it has also been used as a filming location in Game of Thrones as King’s Landing.

Can you drive in Dubrovnik’s Old Town?

 I must warn you that the Old Town in Dubrovnik is pedestrian-only – no cars allowed. And the parking around the city is very expensive. I am talking Monaco kind of expensive.

I strongly suggest finding a hotel which offers a private car park. Alternatively, park your car a bit further from the center and take a short walk, or use the public transport instead. 

What is there to see in Dubrovnik?

Definitely don’t skip going to the Old Town – its aristocratic Baroque palazzos and medieval churches stand together with lively wine bars, classy seafood restaurants, and elegant hotels. 

 A must thing to do in Dubrovnik is taking a walk on the Dubrovnik Walls – the medieval walls surround the whole Old Town so you basically get to see it all during your stroll. 

It’s recommended to keep a hat on and keeping a water bottle with you. It’s not that the walk would need extra climbing or hiking skills, but just to protect you from the sun and heat (especially in July and August when the temperatures reach their peak). 

The views from the walls are amazing, so don’t forget to take your camera with you! Post your best photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

 After you’ve seen the Old Town from above, it’s time to see it from the ground as well. Get lost on these tiny cobbled streets – there are many small roads that lead to great bars with amazing sea views. So don’t make a plan and go with the flow! Dubrovnik is full of such small gems! 

Also, visit what’s said to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe! Set inside the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery, the pharmacy is called Ljekarna Male Braće (meaning Little Brother’s Pharmacy). 

Rentalmoose tip: Buy their legendary rose face cream – krema od ruža – which is made of a secret medieval recipe!

Another attraction worth trying is the cable car ride – enjoy great views of Dubrovnik and the small islet Lokrum just close-by. I suggest going there during the sunset. It’s extra lovely at that time but it can get very crowded, though. 

Panoramic view of Dubrovnik and its surrounding hillside area can best be seen from a cable car ride up the Sra hill. Sunset view of the Balkans
Hesitant whether or not the cable car ride is worth your time? This wonderful shot by Ecksplorer should be enough to change your mind!

For a bit more of a private visit, book a table at the Panorama restaurant and dine above the city.

 During the high season, the beaches can be extremely crowded. But if you’re traveling off-season, go check the Banje beach just nearby. You can pay for a sunbed or go with your own towel to lay on. Alternatively, visit the beachside restaurant and club.

After a day of exploration, recharge at Barba, a place that serves you fresh seafood street food. For example, try the octopus burger. I bet you’ve never had anything like that before!

Another great experience would be fusion restaurant Azur – Croatian fresh ingredients done with Thai spices and herbs. 

Where should you stay in Dubrovnik?

After a fulfilling meal, go to have a good night’s rest at the Hilton Imperial Hotel – just next to the Old Town. The hotel also offers a paid parking garage. 

Another great option would be the Hotel Excelsior which offers free private parking!

Next on your Balkans road trip: Kotor, 2 hours

Kotor

kotor croatia coastal village, turquoise Mediterranean bay with boats, green trees and mountains in the background.
Kotor and its beautiful surroundings. Photography by PixelRaw.

 This morning, you are heading to the border of Croatia and Montenegro. Let’s hope that there won’t be much traffic on the border as it sometimes may happen. The first stop in Montenegro is the spectacular Bay of Kotor, a must on any Balkans road trip. 

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. The bay of Kotor is a ria (a submerged river canyon) though people often call it the most southern fjord in Europe.

Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive landscape. 

What are the best places to visit in Kotor?

 Kotor, like Dubrovnik, has a beautiful old town which is said to be the best-preserved medieval old town in the Adriatic area. The old town is a medieval maze where you can wander around and find different museums, churches, Venetian palaces, and lovely cafes.

Although Kotor now is a tourist attraction, it still hasn’t lost its authentic charm. By the way: in 2016, Lonely Planet named it the number one city in the world to visit. So let’s dive into it!

 For a spectacular view you are again challenged for a little climb (nothing too much though!).

Go climb the Castle of San Giovanni from where you’ll be able to see stunning Kotor from a different perspective.

The view of the Old Town and the Boca Bay will take your breath away, if climbing the 1355 steps hasn’t already. The stunning views are worth every single step!

 If you want to see more magical places, then head to Perast. Perast is a tiny village on the edge of Kotor Bay. The village is said to be one of the most beautiful places in Montenegro! It is situated just a few kilometers northwest of Kotor. 

Another must-see on any Balkans road trip in Montenegro would be Our Lady Of The Rocks, or Gospa od Skrpjela.

It is one of the two gorgeous islands in the bay of Boka Kotorska, which are situated in the sea across Perast. It is actually an artificial island, which was created using a bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks. 

After a day spent in Kotor, it’s time to continue to journey to your final destination on this route. 

Next: Tivat, 20 minutes

Tivat

tivat montenegro, luxury superyachts parked in the marina. large white and red crane and small boats in the foreground, whitewashed building on the shore with palm trees and tall mountains in background.
Superyachts in Tivat photographed by Виктория Сидоренко

 Tivat is not far from Kotor, it’s also located in the Bay of Kotor. It’s one of the smallest municipalities in Montenegro with its population being just around 14 000.

Tivat is probably the most glamorous city on this road trip – it has a fancy marina with expensive superyachts, classy restaurants, and glitzy boutiques. So how did a modest and ordinary town end up like that? 

 Canadian businessman Peter Munk bought a naval shipyard in Tivat, intending to transform it into a luxury vacation resort and a marina for luxury yachts called Porto Montenegro. Tivat went through a major multimillion-dollar remodeling of its marina and the surroundings.

Today, it is a place where the world’s jet-set resides and rests during their summer holidays. 

As most of this Balkan road trip is in historic cities, it’s nice to see something different that Tivat offers. Although there are traces of history in this place as well. For example, the Renaissance Summer House Buca in the center of the city.

Where can you find the best food in Tivat?

 A great meal is found at restaurant One which can also boast with unbeatable views of the yacht marina, a million-dollar view indeed! 

Another option would be to buy yourself some green and healthy organic food from Bonella – a “supermarket” where you can only find the good stuff. Jet setters approved! 

Where to stay in Tivat?

 I suggest to book a room at Regent Porto Montenegro in Porto Montenegro. This way you’ll be inside the new and fancy area, or maybe even see the fabulous promenade and marina from your room window.

The hotel is located in the UNESCO-listed Boka Bay within a luxury Porto Montenegro Village in the town of Tivat. The luxury hotel is built in a Renaissance-Venetian style. 

Another great 5* hotel is The Chedi Luštica Bay. Set on the waterfront and boasting a private beach area and an outdoor pool, The Chedi Luštica Bay Hotel is located in Trašte Bay, 14 km from the center of Tivat.

Drop off

The good news is that Tivat airport is just 3km away from the centre. By the way, this small town’s airport happens to be the biggest airport in all of Montenegro! Browse through rental cars that support airport drop-off via Rentalmoose.

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