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Top Scenic Driving Destinations Worldwide

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 9/20/2019 Laurie Baratti
a person sitting on the side of the road: car, rental, drive © Solovyova / iStock / Getty Images Plus car, rental, drive

With GPS and SatNav, navigating foreign cities by car has become easier than ever, giving travelers a new sense of freedom and offering the thrill of independence as they set off to explore the unknown via local roadways.

Discover Car Hire recently polled over 2,500 participants about their driving experiences in cities all over the world in order to discern which destinations are the most inspiring and satisfying to road-tripping travelers. Their feedback helped researchers come up with a comprehensive list of the best destinations to visit on four wheels, with some surprising results.

It turns out that island driving is one of travelers’ favorites, with six island destinations making it into the top 20, including spots on the Canary Islands, the Balearics, the Azores and Cyprus.

Italy swept the poll, with seven of its cities achieving a satisfaction score of 7.5 out of 10 or higher, including Milan, Venice and Rome. Simultaneously, several Spanish locales took top spots, with mainland Barcelona and Malaga appearing alongside customer favorites in the Canary Islands.

We’ve outlined respondents’ top ten favorites, some of which you may never even have heard of:

Gran Canaria, Canary IslandsGran Canaria was voted joint top spot for amazing driving experiences. Touring through coastal Las Palmas, you’ll see quaint, colorful buildings, clear blue seas and following the motorway up the slopes of magnificent mountains. But, beware of the hairpin turns and goats that tend to wander onto the roadway.

Izmir, Turkey – With a 9.7 out of 10 rating, the bustling markets, back streets, ancient monuments and the spectacle of the azure Aegean Sea make this city on Turkey’s west coast a must-see for many intrepid explorers.

Cairns, Australia - Known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns was described by respondents as a ‘tropical paradise’ that offers an expanse of mountains, sea and spectacular views. Its well-maintained roadways lead seamlessly from stunning coastal paths to dense rainforests.

Kefalonia, Greece – One of several top choices adjacent to the Aegean, Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece, which offers an the abundance of unspoiled beaches, limestone cliffs and rolling hillsides.

Split, CroatiaCroatia’s second-largest city lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, this charming, 17-centuries-old Central European city attracts visitors with its classical architecture and rugged landscape. Interestingly, another Croatian city, Dubrovnik, scored lowest in popularity among tourist drivers.

Bourgas, Bulgaria – On the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, Bourgas offers stunning ocean views and astonishing ancient sites along its shoreline. In its favor are well-maintained roads and a wealth of cultural and archaeological attractions throughout the area.

Knock, Ireland – The lesser-known destination of Knock in County Mayo scored an average of 9.6 out of 10, praised for its beautiful scenery, quiet roads and tranquil pace of driving.

Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores - The capital of Sao Miguel in the Azores, is one destination cited time and time again as a firm favorite with its whitewashed buildings, narrow cobbled streets and crystal-clear waters. This spot earned an average score of 9.6 in drivers' satisfaction.

Johannesburg, South Africa – South Africa has earned a reputation among motorists as one of the world’s best road-trip destinations and its largest city, Johannesburg, is a diverse, vibrant urban spot that still offers access to natural reserves and is filled with around ten million trees, giving it a surprisingly refreshing, open feel.

Warsaw, Poland – Poland’s historic capital city is surrounded by rolling central lowlands, featuring winding rivers and blooming meadows. The lakes north of Warsaw and coastal areas of Gdansk are especially spectacular as seen through a car window.

According to the report, tourist drivers’ least favorite cities include:

— Athens, Greece

— Belfast, United Kingdom

— Glasgow, United Kingdom

— London, United Kingdom

— Dubrovnik, Croatia

Related video: These are the best road trips to take in the U.S., according to a new study [via T+L]

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