The perfect Snowy Mountains road trip itinerary

30 October 2023


You don’t need sugar on top to enjoy the sweet surrounds. The hidden villages and fantastic local produce make for the perfect Snowy Valleys Way road trip, writes Patrick Higgins. Photography by Elise Hassey

For a few months each year the Snowy Valley’s region of Australia, home to our most popular ski resorts and highest peaks, has to punch an extra notch in its belt to accommodate the bulge in population.

But as the dusting of white melts from peaks and the crowds swap snow boots for boardshorts and bikinis, what’s left could tempt even the most bronzed beach bum away from golden sands.

Rolling mountains of green, itching to be hiked and biked, are laced with streams and rivers filled to breaking point with meltwater and fish to lure keen anglers.

With an abundance of fresh produce ready for rumbling bellies, it’s time to buckle up for a journey to the Snowy Mountains… without the snow. Or the crowds.

Cosy room Moonbah Huts

Cosy room Moonbah Huts. (photo: Elise Hassey)

Day 1 – an afternoon in the orchards

From any city in Australia you can fly direct to the Snowy Mountains Airport, but for the full road-trip experience fly into Wagga Wagga (so nice they named it twice) and make your way down and around via two or four wheels to Gundagai, Batlow and Tumut.

With the mercury rising, melted snow has stuffed nature with goodness and the results are obvious as you head south to Batlow, taking in orchards of apple trees, stone fruits, berries and cherries. Via Batlow Road you’ll stumble across cute farmgate stores such as Mouat’s Farm and Wilgro Orchards with plump produce picked for your pleasure on display along with jams and preserves.

Apple picking kicks off in late February, and from December until early January you can pick your own cherries and berries, though the majority will find their way to mouths rather than back to the car. Batlow is also home to the famous Batlow Cider and Big Apple (no Aussie road trip is complete without a sighting of one of our many ‘big things’ ).

Stained fingers will steer you further down the road to Laurel Hill and the strikingly beautiful Sugar Pine Walk, which has become a very popular destination for couples to exchange rings.

Feel completely enchanted as you walk the 400-metre stretch across a bed of fallen pine needles through the natural cathedral of Native American Sugar Pine.

Planted in 1928, the grand pines have since grown in height and popularity, making this little turn-off before heading into Tumbarumba a must-see.

Fantastical landscape Tumut

Fantastical landscape just outside of Tumut. (Photo: Elise Hassey)

If you’re after a different perspective and a chance to break up the drive, book a scenic flight with a True North Heli Tours. Meet at Tumut Heliport for a Country Escape tour that includes a scenic flight through the the Snowy Valley and into Tumbarumba wineries for a wine tasting and three course lunch. The tour will end where it began, so you can jump back in the car and continue on the road.

If you’d rather skip the helicopter flight and continue on the road, stop in at Tumut River Brewing Co for a brewery tour and a bite to eat.

Day 2 – A flick and a pizza in Tumbarumba

You’ll need to fuel up for another day of wandering and, while in Tumbarumba, the pick of the litter is Nest Cafe and Cinema on Winton Street. This gem is straight out of a fairytale with book-lined shelves to ponder as you overindulge in blueberry pancakes with ice-cream and a side of coffee.

Owner Laura Fraumeni has also converted the back room into a cinema with Friday and Saturday evening flicks accompanied by a tempting pizza selection, the Original White is a favourite with crisp rosemary potatoes, prosciutto, parmesan and pesto.

From here roll the rubber round the bend for a short 10-minute drive to Courabyra Wines on Courabyra Road where brother-and-sister duo Cathy Gairn and Stephen Morrison have been blending together some mighty fine vino that even Sydney’s acclaimed restaurant Tetsuya’s has taken a liking to.

They offer private tours of the sub-alpine vineyard for scenery soaking and an insight into the region’s history finished off with a glass of bubbles on the balcony.

One winery just not enough? Johansen Wines should also be on your pit stop list.

It’s hard to leave such dolce vita, but the next leg of the trip is worth it – the landscapes that continuously unfold before you as you traverse along Tooma Road and then onto the Alpine Way towards Jindabyne are nothing short of spectacular.

The area is perhaps even more stunning without the snow-covered peaks, as buxom hills of varying shades of green force drivers to the roadside, smartphones in hand. Google maps estimates a three-hour drive, but allow for extra photo-taking time.

idyllic lake setting of Moonbah Huts

The idyllic setting of Moonbah Huts. (Photo: Elise Hassey)

Day 3 – your very own alpine hut

Moonbah Huts owner Brett Smith has taken the term ‘handmade’ to another level with his stunning cottages nestled neatly on the outskirts of Jindabyne.

The two stone huts, located on the banks of the Moonbah River, were built by Brett over a 10-year period from rocks pulled from the mountains that dwarf these idyllic dwellings.

Both huts sleep four and have an open fireplace perfect for post Mt Kosciuszko-climb tea-sipping, or the balcony rocking chair might take your fancy. Brett also caters for the keen angler with fly-fishing lessons in prime rainbow trout territory.

With the Kosciuszko National Park ready for wandering, head out of Jindabyne and follow the signs to Thredbo where the main chair lift stays open during the warmer months to take explorers and keen mountain bikers up to Australia’s highest peak at 2228 metres above sea level. Fingers crossed the weather is kind as cloud cover can sometimes spoil the breathtaking view out over the national park.

Heading back, make sure you pull into the Wild Brumby distillery just off Alpine Way to sample some of Brad and Monika Spalding’s schnapps range that will help wash down the veal schnitzel or bratwurst you’ve just inhaled.

They also do daily tastings and bottles are on hand for you to fill the car boot before you leave.

Period features at Yarrangobilly Caves House

Period features at Yarrangobilly Caves House. (Photo: Elise Hassey)

Day 4 – breakfasting in Jindabyne

Today you only need three words: Parc baked beans. This dish will have you nose deep in porcelain and asking for seconds as the crispy chorizo and poached eggs fuel a weary traveller’s appetite.

Parc cafe in the heart of Jindabyne is a must-stop for breaky before any activity, as the coffee holds a candle to Sydney and Melbourne cafes while dishes will leave you with a satisfied grin. For the sweet tooth, the waffles are worth a dig.

To keep your sugar-high going head out to Leesville Estate and the Snowy Mountain Cookies factory to be greeted by the infectious smile of owner Nolen Oayda and the aroma of fresh-baked cookies. The factory is a window into the growing company’s production and fills local kids with anticipation come school holidays.

A trip into Jindabyne wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop into the Banjo Paterson Inn for a schooner (or two, if you’re not driving) of Kosciuszko Pale Ale. ‘Koszy’ as it’s affectionately known around these parts, is micro-brewed on site by Chuck Hahn, of the famous Hahn brewing name, and close friend and business partner Richard Burton.

The taps at the inn are fed directly from the stills below – on display through glass windows – with frothy pours ready for patrons to rehydrate.

Vines and fresh Batlow apples at Courabyra Wines

Fresh Batlow apples in the orchard at Batlow. (photo: Elise Hassey)

Day 5 – caverns and wild horses

The Snowy Mountains Highway will lead you north out of town and towards the Yarrangobilly Caves. Much like the trek into Jindabyne, the scenery that accompanies you on your journey north is worth taking a little extra time to savour.

The five hauntingly beautiful caves that make up the Yarrangobilly network are getting a little long in the tooth – 440-million years long. The limestone caverns are decorated with stalagmites and stalactites and can be explored on a daily tour.

You should also take yourself on a self-guided tour of the river walk to experience the thermal pool, which is naturally warmed to a balmy 27°C from an underground hot spring. Stroll along the tranquil riverbank before taking in the gaping South Glory cave – the largest of the five.

As you drive out of Yarrangobilly Caves Road and back onto Snowy Mountains Highway, make a detour onto Long Plain Road a few hundred metres north on your right-hand side – this dusty track leads into wild Brumby territory, so drive with caution and keep an eye out for piles of manure as you creep along hoping to glimpse the majestic creatures.

The Swiss-like countryside greets you as you make your way towards Tumut, taking in the grand rivers and sweeping bends. Fond memories linger of the past few days, and you’ll realise that the Snowy Mountains, without snow, are truly captivating.

Kosciuszko Brewing Company micro brewery Banjo Paterson Inn

The Kosciuszko Brewing Company micro brewery at Banjo Paterson Inn. (Photo: Elise Hassey)

The details: Snowy Mountains

Get there:  Rex and Qantas fly to Wagga Wagga daily. Avis, Budget and Country Car Hire are available at the airport; you’ll need at least five days to take in the same path, but a few extra days will allow for time to savour it all.

Stay there:  You’ll find a range of deals at visitnsw.com and links to accommodation. Rates range from $195–$350 per night for the Lake Hut and $295–$495 per night for the River Hut at Moonbah Huts depending on the season and the number of guests. Creel Lodge in Jindabyne and Yarrangobilly Caves House are two other great options, which are available to book through nationalparks.nsw.gov.au with prices on application.

Play there:  The snow season ends around September, but has been know to filter into October on rare occasions – the picking seasons operate December through until May. Mouat Farm  and Wilgro Orchards are great places to stop and fill your basket with goodies.

Stop at Nest cafe for the blueberry pancakes alone

Stop at Nest cafe for the blueberry pancakes alone. (Photo: Elise Hassey)


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Comments (2)

We love the Snowy Mountains in Summer! I would also add that the Wild Brumby Distillery is a must (just outside Jindabyne) , a look through Ebony and Chrome Boutique (trust me ladies) and dinner at Cocina Mexican Grill and Cantina (overlooking Lake Jindabyne … so lovely on a balmy night).

There’s so much to do in the Snowy Mountains in the summer months. Try also trekking to the top of Mt Kosciuszko or mountain biking in Thredbo and the Thredbo Valley Track or around Jindabyne. There’s also fun horse riding tours and the lakes and waterways are spectacular. Well worth a visit.

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Home » Itineraries » Snowy Range Scenic Byway

Snowy Range Scenic Byway

The great sky road.

Over 2 billion years ago, the white-capped Snowy Range Mountains were nothing more than specks of quartzite sand along a vast ocean. Fascinating geological history is on view along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, a 29-mile road that traverses southeastern Wyoming’s majestic Snowy Range Mountains. As you climb up and over the state’s second highest mountain pass, discover a landscape that morphs from sagebrush prairies and lodgepole pine forests into an alpine tundra where snowfields glisten with the remains of last year’s squall. Soar to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation on the route once named “the great sky road” and surround yourself with lush wildflower meadows that dot the valleys like confetti. Unbelievable landscapes, dramatic views, and spectacular geology are yours to experience along the route.

Itinerary Overview

Suggested Time:

5 Days | 4 Nights

This itinerary was created in partnership with Carbon County and National Travel Center .

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Snowy Range Scenic Byway

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A Winter Road-Trip from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains

Road trips

On June 1st, the Australian court ruled to uphold a ban on most international travel to and from the country, with the exception of the trans-Tasman travel bubble allowing travelers from Australia and New Zealand to travel freely between the two countries without quarantine.

Australian citizens are hoping to see more of these “Travel Bubbles” between more countries soon! In the meantime, we can sit around dreaming about distant destinations, pondering how long these pandemic travel restrictions will last, or we can discover the beauty and diversity of our own backyard.

2021 The Year of the Road Trip

2021 is the year of the road-trip, a time to gather family and friends, create an epic playlist and hit the highways and byways on an iconic Aussie road trip to the Snowy Mountains.

The winter season is upon us! The snow-capped peaks, wide open spaces and world-class alpine resorts of the Snowy Mountains are calling. Travelling by car is by far the safest way to travel during the pandemic. Australia’s premier ski fields are only a scenic road-trip from the city streets of Sydney and our team at Alpine Country Holidays are ready to match you with the perfect holiday home for your Snowy Mountain ski trip.

Venture out safely, feel the freedom of the open road and reconnect with family and friends on a winter road-trip from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains.

Sydney to Canberra

Distance: 295km

Travel south from Sydney along the Hume Highway through the historic Southern Highland towns of Bowral and Berrima, the most preserved Georgian village in mainland Australia. If you’re a sports fan, make time to visit the International Cricket Hall of Fame and for wine lovers, a tasting at the highly-acclaimed Artemis Vineyard is a must!

June is Pie Time in the Southern Highlands so make a stop on the iconic “Pie Trail” and pick up some pies for the trip. Stretch your legs (or eat pies!) at the Weereewa Lookout at Lake George and onto Canberra, the capital of Australia. If time permits visit Canberra’s top national attractions, grab a bite at a waterfront restaurant on Lake Burley Griffin and drive to Mount Ainslie Lookout for picture-perfect views over the capital city before heading onto Jindabyne.

Canberra to Jindabyne

Distance: 175km

Drive south from Canberra towards Cooma on the Monaro Highway through the tiny village of Bredbo to the gateway to the Snowy Mountains, the gold rush town of Cooma. Learn about one of the engineering wonders of the modern world at the Snowy Hydro headquarters and Discovery Center and look back on the history of crime at the Cooma Gaol Museum.

Take a slight detour off the Snowy Mountains Hwy to admire views of the Monaro plains from Mount Gladstone Lookout, travel on through Berridale and soon you’ll be graced with spectacular views of Lake Jindabyne in the distance.

Scenic Road-Trips from Jindabyne

The journey need not end there! During your stay in Jindabyne there are iconic Snowy Mountain scenic drives in every direction that will leave you breathless (and thankful you embraced the freedom of a road-trip to Jindabyne this winter season)!

Top Tips for a Safe Road-trip  

  • Be prepared. Plan your journey and rest area stops in advance, allowing extra time for spontaneous adventures, exploring towns along the way and capturing picture-perfect memories at scenic overlooks. The Fuel Check App is a great resource to plan and keep track of fluctuating fuel prices along the way.
  • You’re not always guaranteed signal in the mountains and mobile coverage may be limited, so download your maps, apps and music ahead of time. A printed map is always a good back-up to navigate the Snowy Mountain roads safely.
  • Always check local driving conditions and if it’s your first time driving in the snow in the Snowy Mountains, be prepared ! As part of your planning check for road closures on your planned routes and predicted weather for your travel dates.
  • Stay up to date with local Covid-19 travel restrictions and interstate border closures prior to travel. Updates are available on the Department of Health and NSW Covid-19 websites.

Where to Stay & Play in the Snowy Mountains

Stay close to Australia’s premier ski resorts with Alpine Country Holidays. Whether you’re a powder hound in search of on the mountain adventures or a family looking for a safe, secluded escape far from the city limits, our Thredbo, Crackenback, and Jindabyne accommodation are the perfect place to stay and play in the Snowy Mountains this winter.

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Snowy Mountains Photography Road Trip: Best Itinerary

Photography locations in the NSW Snowy Mountains in Autumn

Ever wondered where you can capture Australia’s rugged beauty in all its glory? Look no further than the Snowy Mountains. 

This isn’t just another travel guide; it’s your comprehensive roadmap to photographing some of the most captivating landscapes down under. 

From the untamed elegance of wild brumbies to the rustic charm of historic homesteads, this guide is packed with insider tips and practical advice. 

So grab your camera, and let’s hit the road to explore the Snowy Mountains, one unforgettable shot at a time.

Get your free travel planning guide for road trips.

The Snowy Mountains NSW: A Year-Round Destination

The Snowy Mountains aren’t just a winter wonderland; they’re a year-round canvas for photographers. Each season paints the landscape with its own unique palette, offering an array of photographic opportunities that are as diverse as they are stunning.

Seasonal Variations

Spring : As the snow melts, the mountains come alive with blooming wildflowers and flowing streams. It’s an ideal time for capturing the rebirth of nature.

Summer : The warmer months offer clear skies and lush landscapes. Whether it’s the deep blue of Lake Jindabyne or the green canopy of the surrounding forests, summer provides vibrant colours that pop in any photo.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Autumn : The foliage turns into a sea of reds, oranges, and yellows, offering a contrasting backdrop to the evergreen eucalyptus trees. The cooler temperatures also make it comfortable for extended outdoor shoots.

Winter : This is the season of white landscapes and snow-capped peaks. The snow transforms the mountains into a serene, monochromatic world, perfect for minimalist photography.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Understanding the seasonal variations will not only help you plan your trip but also allow you to capture the Snowy Mountains in all their glory, regardless of when you visit.

Preparing for your Snowy Mountains Road Trip

A successful photography road trip to the Snowy Mountains starts long before you hit the road. 

From packing the right gear to ensuring your camera is up to the task, preparation is key. Here’s how to get started.

Packing for All Seasons

The Snowy Mountains offer a plethora of photographic opportunities year-round, so packing for various weather conditions is crucial. 

Layering is your go-to strategy: start with moisture-wicking base layers, add a fleece mid-layer, and top it off with a waterproof outer layer. 

Essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first-aid kit should also make it into your bag. 

And for those brisk mornings or sudden downpours, a thermal flask filled with your favourite brew can be a game-changer.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Essential Camera Gear

Your camera gear is essentially your toolbox for this adventure. Here’s a list of must-haves:

Versatile Lens : A 24-70mm lens offers a good range for various shooting conditions.

Extra Batteries : You’ll be shooting a lot, especially if you’re into long exposures or time-lapses. Also, if you’re going in colder conditions, your batteries can drain faster so don’t skimp on packing (and charging) ALL your batteries.

Sturdy Tripod : Essential for capturing sharp, stable images, especially in low-light conditions.

Filters : Given the diverse landscapes – from snow gums across the Snowy Mountains to historic huts – you’ll want a variety of filters like ND and polarising filters.

Memory Cards : Always carry extras; you’ll be surprised how quickly they fill up.

Cleaning Kit : Dust and moisture are inevitable; be prepared to keep your lens clean.

Trusty Tip : Road Trip Safety Essentials

  • Ensure your vehicle is in top condition and familiarise yourself with basic car maintenance tasks like changing a tyre
  • Always have a backup payment method and keep your devices charged. 
  • Exercise caution when sharing your travel plans and make it a point to check in with someone regularly. 
  • Trust your instincts—if something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to change your plans.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

6-Night Itinerary: Snowy Mountains Road Trip

Embarking on a photography road trip in the Snowy Mountains is an experience like no other. 

To help you make the most of it, I’ve crafted a 6-night itinerary that covers Cooma, Jindabyne, and Tumut. It starts and ends in Sydney making it a fabulous round trip.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Starting and Ending Points

Your journey begins and ends in Sydney. The city’s well-connected transport links make it an ideal starting point, whether you’re flying in or a local looking for a weekend getaway.

Cooma: The First Stop

Your first night will be spent in Cooma, a town rich in history and a gateway to the Snowy Mountains. It’s not just a pit stop; Cooma offers its own set of photographic opportunities, from its historic buildings to the surrounding landscapes.

Jindabyne: The Gateway

The second night takes you to Jindabyne, a town that serves as a gateway to the Snowy Mountains. Nestled beside Lake Jindabyne, the town offers stunning lake views and is a great spot for sunset and sunrise photography.

Tumut: The Extended Stay

The next four nights are spent in Tumut, a town that serves as a base for exploring the broader Snowy Mountains area. From capturing the wild brumbies to photographing historic huts, Tumut offers a range of experiences that cater to every photographer’s taste.

This itinerary aims to give you a balanced experience, combining well-known spots with hidden gems, ensuring you come away with a diverse portfolio of shots.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Cooma: More Than a Brief Stop

Cooma often gets relegated to a mere pit stop on the way to the Snowy Mountains, but it’s worth more than just a quick coffee break. This town is steeped in history and offers its own set of unique photographic opportunities that can add depth to your Snowy Mountains portfolio.

Historic Buildings and Architecture

Cooma is home to a number of historic buildings that make for excellent photography subjects. 

From the Cooma Courthouse to the old churches, these structures offer a glimpse into the town’s past. Their architectural details can make for compelling compositions.

There is also no shortage of stunning streets lined with trees if you’re visiting during autumn.

Trusty Tip : Best coffee in town can be found at The Lott Cafe .

Surrounding Landscapes

While Cooma may not have the towering peaks of the Snowy Mountains, it does offer beautiful rolling hills and farmlands. 

These landscapes provide a different but equally captivating backdrop for your photos. 

The golden hour turns these areas into a photographer’s dream, casting warm hues over the land.

If you get to Jindabyne in time, head to the lake for sunset. Rest up and get ready to head up to Charlotte Pass in the morning for sunrise. You won’t be disappointed!

boulders at sunset with tussock grass in the foreground with a colourful sky

By spending a bit more time in Cooma, you’ll discover that it’s more than just a gateway to the Snowy Mountains. It’s a destination in its own right, offering a variety of photographic opportunities that can enrich your overall experience.

Cooma to Jindabyne

The drive from Cooma to Jindabyne is more than just a transition; it’s a journey through varying landscapes that offer a multitude of photographic opportunities.

From rolling hills to expansive lakes, this stretch is a prelude to the visual feast that awaits you in the Snowy Mountains.

Rocky Plain Road: A Route Worth Taking

While the main road offers its own set of scenic views, taking a detour via Rocky Plain Road is highly recommended.

This less-travelled road offers unique landscapes that are often missed by those sticking to the main route.

From open fields to isolated groves, Rocky Plain Road is a hidden gem for landscape photographers.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Exploring Jindabyne and Surrounds

Jindabyne serves as more than just a convenient stopover; it’s a pivotal point for landscape photographers venturing into the Snowy Mountains. 

With its mesmerising lake views and easy access to Charlotte Pass, Jindabyne is a must-visit for anyone serious about capturing the essence of this region.

Jindabyne’s Hidden History: The Town Beneath the Lake

Jindabyne has a fascinating history that adds another layer of intrigue to your photography journey. Originally, the town was situated on land that is now submerged under Lake Jindabyne. In the 1960s, the township was relocated to its current location due to the construction of the Jindabyne Dam on the Snowy River, as part of the ambitious Snowy Mountains Scheme. This scheme was developed to increase the flow of inland rivers for irrigation and to generate hydroelectricity.

The Old Jindabyne: A Sunken Past

When the lake’s water levels are low, you can still see remnants of Old Jindabyne, particularly the foundations of the old St Columbkille Roman Catholic Church.

This adds a hauntingly beautiful element to your landscape shots, as you capture the interplay of past and present.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Charlotte Pass

A short drive from Jindabyne (around 30 minutes depending on the conditions), Charlotte Pass offers a diverse range of subjects; from panoramic views to the iconic snow gums. 

One of the most spectacular views in Kosciuszko National Park can be seen from Snow Gums boardwalk. It is an easy and accessible walk from the Charlotte Pass lookout to the Main Range lookout.

Year round you can see old snow gums that have been twisted and stunted by the blasting effects of wind, snow and ice.

 In spring, you’ll see a variety of wildflowers blooming at ground level.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Proximity to Other Photographic Spots

Jindabyne’s strategic location makes it an ideal base for exploring other landscape photography locations in the Snowy Mountains. Whether you’re interested in photographing historic huts or capturing the wild brumbies, Jindabyne puts you within easy reach of these subjects.

The Kosciuszko Huts Association has a great website including an interactive map with all the historic huts you can visit in the area.

By dedicating time to Jindabyne and its surrounding areas, you’ll not only capture some of the Snowy Mountains’ most iconic landscapes but also add a rich variety of scenes to your photography portfolio.

snow gums at charlotte pass

Tips for Photographing Snow

Capturing snow can be a bit tricky due to its reflective nature and the camera’s tendency to underexpose the white landscape. Here are some tips to help you get those pristine white shots:

  • Overexpose Slightly : Most cameras will underexpose a snowy scene, making it look grey. Overexpose by +1 or +2 stops to capture the snow’s true whiteness.
  • Use a Polarising Filter : This will help to darken the sky and remove any glare from the snow, making your photos look more vibrant.
  • Keep a Spare Battery : Cold weather can drain your battery quickly. Keep a spare battery close to your body to keep it warm.
  • Mind the White Balance : Auto white balance can make snow look blue. Use the ‘Daylight’ setting to maintain the snow’s natural colour.
  • Be Prepared for Quick Weather Change s: The weather in snowy regions can change rapidly. Always have layers and camera covers ready to protect both you and your gear.
  • Condensation Tips: Condensation can form on the outside and inside of your camera when you bring it in from the cold. To prevent this, don’t put it straight into a really warm environment, get it out of the bag ASAP and let it warm back up slowly to room temperature.
  • Long Exposures: For capturing snowfall, consider using a longer exposure to create a dreamy, soft-focus effect on the falling flakes.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

After sunrise at the lake or Charlotte Pass, it’s time for a well earned breakfast and coffee before heading off to Tumut via the most amazing road I’ve ever driven – The Alpine Way!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The Alpine Way: A Photographer’s Dream Drive

Introduction to the alpine way.

The drive from Jindabyne to Tumut via the Alpine Way is an experience that every landscape photographer should have on their bucket list. 

This winding road offers a plethora of opportunities to capture the Snowy Mountains’ diverse landscapes.

While winding your way through tall mountain forests, you’ll be treated to stunning views at every turn.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Trusty Tip : Park entry fees apply on Alpine Way and Kosciuszko RoadCheck out all the details here .

Dead Horse Gap: The High-Altitude Stop

Dead Horse Gap provides a unique vantage point for capturing the rugged beauty of the Snowy Mountains. 

The area is particularly stunning during autumn when the foliage turns into a sea of reds and oranges.

Khancoban: The Scenic Pause

Khancoban is more than just a pit stop. The serene landscapes here offer a tranquil setting that’s perfect for reflection photography. 

The reservoir and surrounding greenery make for compelling compositions.

Batlow: The Orchard Town

Known for its apple orchards, Batlow offers a different kind of landscape photography. The rows of apple trees create leading lines that draw the viewer’s eye, adding a unique touch to your Snowy Mountains portfolio.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Unveiling Tumut

Tumut serves as an excellent base for an extended exploration of the Snowy Mountains. 

With its proximity to unique locations like Coolamine Homestead, Yarrangobilly Caves, and Adelong Falls Gold Mine, look no further than Tumut For a great experience.

My tips from the ground: From Tumut you can head out for numerous day trips and I suggest taking picnic lunches, snacks and plenty of water. There will be a lot of driving involved and not a lot of shops or cafes etc. for supplies. Also make sure you fill the car up with petrol each day.

Brumbies: The Wild Horses of the Snowy Mountains

Spotting and photographing the wild brumbies is a highlight of any trip to the Snowy Mountains. Long Plain Road and Tantangara Road are the go-to locations for brumby sightings.

Three horses standing in a field of dry grass with snowy mountains in the background.

Tips for Photographing Brumbies

  • Use a telephoto lens to capture the brumbies from a distance.
  • Employ a higher shutter speed and ISO for sharp, well-exposed photos.
  • Be prepared for varying lighting conditions as the brumbies move in and out of shade.
  • Keep a steady hand; telephoto lenses are heavy and can lead to camera shake.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Coolamine Homestead: A Step Back in Time

Coolamine Homestead, located on Long Plain Road, dates back to the 1800s. The homestead offers a glimpse into the area’s pastoral history, and its rustic buildings serve as excellent subjects for photography, especially during the golden hour.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Keep your eyes out for kangaroos – I’ve seen them each time I’ve visited there.

Trusty Tip: Road Conditions and Closures

It’s crucial to note that Long Plain Road and some other high-country roads are closed during the winter months due to snow. Always check the latest road conditions before planning your trip.

Mobile coverage may be limited in the snowy mountains, so download your maps, apps, and music in advance.

When driving in the Snowy Mountains, check for  local driving conditions and road closures to make sure you’re prepared.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The Blue Waterholes

A bit further from the Coolamine Homestead, you’ll come across the Blue Waterholes. The area is a haven for landscape photography, with its stunning green gum trees and crystal-clear waters.

Allow a good couple of hours here to fully explore the area.

With toilets and picnic tables, it’s the perfect spot for a lunch break – bring your own though as there’s no cafes.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Yarrangobilly Caves: The Underground Marvel

The Yarrangobilly Caves are a geological wonder, roughly 440 million years old. They offer a unique underground photography experience, adorned with stalagmites, stalactites, and other delicate formations.

There is a fee to both park here and take a guided tour, but it’s totally worth it. There is a visitor centre where you can purchase hot coffee from a machine and snacks when you buy your tickets.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Make sure you also check out the thermal pools while you’re there.

Adelong Falls Gold Mine: The Forgotten History

The Adelong Falls Gold Mine was operational from 1857 until 1914. The ruins you see today offer a variety of textures and structures to photograph, from rusty old machinery to cascading waterfalls. 

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins is a state listed heritage industrial site located about a 20 minute drive from Tumut.

This mill processed ore from minders from Adelong and the Snowy Mountains district until 1914 and has since fallen into disrepair. It remains a very interesting sight to visit with numerous photographic opportunities.

You can either choose to view and photograph from the top near the car park. Alternatively, there is a walk down to Adelong Creek and the ruins that will take you for about an hour.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Additional Photographic Opportunities

Don’t miss other noteworthy spots like Blowering Dam, Big Red, Black Perry Lookout, Talbingo, and the Labyrinth for Peace. Each offers unique elements that will enrich your photographic portfolio.

Blowering Dam: A Reservoir of Opportunities

Blowering Dam is not just a water reservoir; it’s a reservoir of photographic opportunities. The dam offers a unique blend of industrial and natural beauty. Capture the dam’s structure against the backdrop of the Snowy Mountains, or focus on the serene waters for some long-exposure magic.

Located at the racecourse, Big Red is a sculpture that adds an artistic touch to the natural landscape. Its bold colour and intricate design make it a fascinating subject for photographers looking to add some abstract elements to their portfolio.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Black Perry Lookout: A Panoramic Paradise

Black Perry Lookout offers panoramic views of the Tumut Valley and the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park. It’s a must-visit for landscape photographers, especially during sunrise and sunset when the sky paints a colourful backdrop to the expansive views.

Talbingo: A Hidden Gem

Talbingo is a charming town that offers a variety of landscapes, from lush valleys to rugged mountains. It’s a less-visited spot, making it perfect for photographers looking for unique and untouched scenes.

Labyrinth for Peace: A Journey Within

The Labyrinth for Peace is more than just a maze; it’s a journey for the soul. The intricate paths offer a unique opportunity for some creative photography. Capture the labyrinth from various angles to reveal its complexity and beauty.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Wrapping Up the Trip

As all good things must come to an end, so does this incredible Snowy Mountains photography road trip. 

The drive back to Sydney from Tumut takes around 5 hours, but as you’ve probably learned by now, it’s not just about the destination – it’s about the journey.

A statue of a fish in front of a snowy mountains.

What is the best time of year to visit the Snowy Mountains for photography?

While the Snowy Mountains offer year-round photographic opportunities, each season brings its own unique landscapes and challenges. This guide is designed to be relevant all year round.

Do I need a 4WD to explore the Snowy Mountains?

While many areas are accessible with a standard vehicle, some roads, like Long Plain Road, are closed during winter and may require a 4WD during other seasons.

What wildlife can I expect to photograph?

Apart from the iconic brumbies, you can also expect to see kangaroos, wombats, and a huge variety of bird species.

How do I protect my camera gear from the elements?

Weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. It’s advisable to carry weatherproof covers for your camera and lens, as well as silica gel packs to combat moisture.

Is it safe to travel solo in the snowy mountains?

While many photographers do travel solo, just like anywhere, do your research, always let someone know your itinerary and check-in regularly, especially if you’re venturing into more remote areas.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Embarking on a photography road trip through the Snowy Mountains is more than just a journey; it’s an experience that enriches your portfolio and feeds your soul. 

From the historic charm of Coolamine Homestead to the wild allure of the brumbies, every moment spent in this region offers a unique photographic opportunity.

If you’ve ever felt the urge to capture the diverse landscapes of Australia, the Snowy Mountains should be at the top of your list. 

So, pack your camera gear, plan your itinerary, and set off on an adventure that promises not just stunning photos, but memories that will last a lifetime.

Ready to share your own Snowy Mountains experiences or have questions about the trip? Leave a comment below. 

Your insights and queries not only enrich this community but also help fellow photographers plan their own unforgettable journeys.

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Sam is the creator of cameracoffeeandcabernet.net, a website dedicated to photography and solo travel. Based in Australia, Sam combines her passion for photography and travel to bring you tips, insights and experiences to help you plan, pack, and make the most of your photography while on the road.

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Hit The Road, Here’s Your Complete Guide To The Glorious Snowy Mountains

By Jessica Best 3rd Jun 2020

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Top on our road-trip-worthy list at the moment? NSW’s incredible Snowy Mountains region (or, “The Snowies”).

Apart from all the skiing and snow-related activities you can obviously do in our state’s high country in wintertime, The Snowies is also a super scenic place for horse-riding, camping, hiking, fishing and serious feasting (this burgeoning food and drink scene that should definitely be on your foodie bucket list). 

It's approximately 5 hours drive from Sydney, with epic pit stops along the way like Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai, Batlow and Tumut. If you are driving, 2WD cars will need snow chains between June and October. 

Hit the road, here’s your complete guide to NSW’s Snowy Mountains beyond the slopes. 

First Things First

Alright people, if you’re planning on having a jam-packed getaway, then hover your eyes over the Snowy Mountains . Here, it’s all about the slopes of Perisher and Thredbo come wintertime—but we’d like to draw your attention to this region for all its other cultural, foodie and outdoorsy attributes: horse riding, fishing, mountain biking, road cycling, hiking and bushwalking in and around stellar lakes and waterways. Of course, your heavy-hitter here is Mount Kosciuszko herself, located within Kosciuszko National Park but there’s also plenty of towns surrounding the park that are absolutely worth the exploration. 

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The Snowy Mountains region was also traditionally the home of two Indigenous clans , with the Walgal people occupying the north of the region (Kosciuszko National Park) and the Ngarigo people living more towards the highlands.

Things To Do (Other Than Skiing) 

If you’re seriously eyeing up the Snowy Mountains region for a weekend away, you’re no doubt keen to get as much “adventuring” as you can into a couple of days. Inside Kosciuszko National Park, completing the Kosciuszko Walk is an absolute must. The hike to the top of the summit will span around 2228-metres and will only take you a couple of hours (plus it sits at around a Grade 3 trail, meaning it’s relatively suitable for all fitness levels). Illawong Walk is another track to add to your list. It begins in the charming Guthega Village and follows along Snowy River Valley through alpine shrubbery, snow gums and Illawong Hut (it’s a pretty cruisy 5km).

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

This is also a really major area for avid mountain bikers—if that’s you, we recommend trying the Cascade Hut Trail , which is a 20km return track that packs out with glorious wildflowers in Spring and winds its way towards a (sort of spooky) historic alpine hut. This ride can also be extended into an overnight adventure if you keep cycling out to Barry Way. 

If you sit more on the “easy does it” end of this spectrum, the Thredbo Valley Track should be your go-to (just note, there’s no wheelchair access here). You can spend as little as 30 minutes rolling around on this trail or as long as four hours — it’s really up to you. You’ll be spoiled with bridges to ride over and what will feel like a never-ending greenscape of trees and creeks.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

For kayaking, your best bet is to hit the crispy waters of Lake Jindabyne—the state’s largest freshwater reservoir. If it’s an insane drive you're after, Alpine Way is one of NSW’s prettiest drives , packed with picturesque valleys.

You’ll also want to make sure you stop by the Bundian Way Gallery, located halfway along the Bundian Way. This hub showcases local and regional art from First Nations people, exhibiting heritage elements of the Bundian Way and highlighting the ongoing connection to land and country for those belonging to the Snowy Mountains region. The Bundian Way is actually an ancient walking track (older than the Asian silk roads) and was used by First Nations people for trading, ceremonies, family gatherings and caring for Country for thousands of years. It’s currently in development for the public (so you can’t actually complete this trail yet) but you can always hit the Whale Dreaming Trail and the Story Trail , which will give you a bit of a taste of what’s to come.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Get To Know An Up And Coming Foodie Paradise

For the foodies out there, we guarantee you’ll really get to loosen your belt here with Australia’s only schnapps distillery, Wildbrumby Distillery . Situated between Jindabyne and Thredbo, Wildbrumby is the highest distillery in Australia which gives it access to pristine Alpine water, organically grown fruit and native mountain botanicals which have all inspired its schnapps, gin and vodka creations. It also has a drive-thru bottle shop you can access Mondays through to Wednesdays 10am to 5pm.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

You’ll also be able to scoop up some cool climate wines from Courabyra Wines , pies, coffee and pastries from Sundance Bakehouse (there are three of these around the region), drops from the dog-friendly Snowy Vineyard Estate and Microbrewery and some of Australia’s best pale ale from Kosciuszko Brewery —Australia’s first mountain brewpub.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Get Some Mountain R&R 

Alongside adrenaline-pumping bushwalks, hikes and food safaris, you can also head down this way for a bit of R&R. Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa should really be your first point of call when road-tripping is allowed again because this spot (which is also just 15 minutes from Thredbo and Perisher), is the ultimate sanctuary to reset. You can treat yourself to rejuvenating facials, an infinity-edge bath, and deep-tissue massages to relieve all those WFH aches and pains.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Camp Beside The Mountains

For times when you want to base yourself inside some nylon, the Snowy Mountains has some stellar camping spots to take advantage of as well. Tom Groggin campground is set on the banks of the upper Murray River just off Alpine Way and it’s loaded with open camping spots set to the backdrop of mountains and rivers. You’ll also be close to Scammels and Olsens lookouts.

Khancoban Lakeside Caravan Park is another camping goldie, spanning over six acres of land with epic lake and Snowy Mountain views. Here, you’ll find a selection of powered and unpowered lake view campsites plus a brand new “camp kitchen” and amenities block. To make things even better, this gem is also pet-friendly.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Snowy Cabins And Tiny Homes

If camping under the stars is not your vibe, this off-grid tiny house situated on acres of bushland near Jindabyne could be just for you. This extra-charming riverside cabin has room for four, and this log cabin features a loft, front porch and a fire pit. 

On the drive down, why not hit up this magical blue pools walk too.

Image credit: Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Will Stewart, Dilyara Garifullina, Lake Krakenback Resort & Spa, Destination NSW

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Children enjoying a fun day in the snow at Thredbo, Snowy Mountains

A 3-day winter itinerary in the Snowies with kids

When the mercury drops, the snowy mountains heat up. whether you’re carving up the slopes or soaking in thermal pools, here’s the ultimate way to spend a long winter’s weekend with your family..

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

  • Ski, snowboard, snowshoe and toboggan at a winter resort
  • Stay on a working farm, replete with friendly animal residents
  • Soak in warm thermal waters at Yarrangobilly Caves
  • Savour paddock-to-plate freshness at Crackenback Farm
  • Sip local spirits at Wildbrumby Distillery

Snow fun. Torah Bright Mini Shred. Image Credit: Thredbo.

DAY ONE: Discover farm-fresh winter produce

Day one key facts:.

Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines is located at

  • 230 Cappanana Road, Bredbo, NSW 2626
  • A four-hour (370km) drive from Sydney

Plan on arriving in Bredbo , just north of Cooma , by mid-morning so the kids have plenty of time to play with SongLu and Tawdiffu, the pair of adorable dog mascots that race around the grounds of Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines. The winter months are prime season for black Périgords, and the estate’s sharp-nosed pooches will help you uncover where they grow: at the base of oak and hazel trees. On the Family Truffle Hunt, you’ll follow the truffle dogs around the property, hunting nuggets of the prized, aromatic fungus. 

Continue onto Cooma for a reviving Snowy Mountains coffee at Lott Cafe , which also sells house-made cakes and sweets. 

Guests watching a truffle excavation with Macenmist Black Truffles & Wines, Bredbo

Macenmist Black Truffles & Wines , Bredbo - Credit Sonia Sande

Once you’re sufficiently refuelled, set out on the Kosciuszko Alpine Way with your GPS set for Jindabyne. The lakeside alpine town is the gateway to the high country’s major ski fields of Perisher , Thredbo , Selwyn and Charlotte Pass.   

The first stop in town is to pick up supplies at The Market , a cafe and providore selling hyper-local produce, hot coffee and fresh juices, salads, sandwiches and more.  

Just 20 minutes out of Jindabyne is Avonside Alpine Estate , your base for the next two nights. This postcard-perfect working farm nurtures 400 chickens, Highland cattle and Southdown baby doll sheep, which big and small members of the family can meet, as well as exploring the orchard and veggie gardens. The eco-friendly two- and three-bedroom cabins here are completely off-grid and self-contained, with Scandi-style furnishings and an outdoor firepit for marshmallow roasting. 

Beautiful in concept and architecturally designed cabins at  Avonside Alpine Estate, Avonside

Avonside Alpine Estate , Avonside - Credit: Avonside Alpine Estate

Channel the European Alps at Bacco Italian Restaurant , a long-time Jindabyne favourite in a wood-panelled dining room reminiscent of a chalet. The kitchen prepares the kind of food you crave after a long day in the fresh alpine air – think spaghetti tutto mare with Moreton Bay bug, king prawns and squid; pizzas; or seared snapper. There's also a kid’s menu for little ones 12 years and younger. 

Italian dishes at Bacco Italian Restaurant, Jindabyne

Bacco Italian Restaurant, Jindabyne - Credit: Bacco Italian Restaurant

DAY TWO: Pull on your beanie & lace up your ski boots

Day two key facts: .

Birchwood Cafe is located at

  • 3 Gippsland Street, Jindabyne, NSW 2627
  • A 20-minute (21km) drive from Avonside Alpine Estate

Jindabyne’s Birchwood Cafe takes its coffee seriously. Sip a Single O blend with a slice of carrot cake, or order a hot chocolate, baked Dutch pancakes and a breakfast bowl ahead of a big day on the slopes. Post-breakfast, set off for a half-day tour of snowshoeing through backcountry with K7 Adventures , where guides offer a taste of the Kosciuszko alpine area, and views of Mount Kosciuszko, along the Ramshead Ramble route. 

Snowshoeing in the Australian Highcountry with K7 Adventures in Kosciuszko National Park, Snowy Mountains

 K7 Adventures in Kosciuszko National Park, Snowy Mountains - Credit: K7 Adventures 

Come afternoon, take your pick of the region’s snow resorts for an afternoon of skiing and boarding. Thredbo’s 50-plus runs include the longest in the country, plus there are terrain parks and Australia’s only mountain gondola, Merritts Gondola , a scenic ride for both skiers and non-skiers. At the top of the ride you’ll find Merritts Mountain House , perfect for a hearty après ski burger and glass of wine. 

Young girl enjoying a day of skiing at Thredbo, Snowy Mountains

Thredbo, Snowy Mountains

Meanwhile, Perisher and its surrounding snowfields comprise the largest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere, with runs for all experience levels across 1,245 hectares. This expanse also includes terrain parks, half-pipes, cross-country trails, and tobogganing and tubing in a dedicated area.   

And finally, there’s Charlotte Pass, only accessible by over-snow transport from Perisher. Because the resort has exclusive access, you may find that when you arrive it's a little quieter than the others.  

Family enjoying a day of skiing at Charlotte Pass Ski Resort, Charlotte Pass

Charlotte Pass Ski Resort , Charlotte Pass

Post snow-activity, pull off your boots in time to warm up at Wildbrumby Distillery.  A sour cherry or butterscotch schnapps will be the only tonic you need after a fun-filled day in the high country; the kids will love a bowl of the apple streudel. After dessert, let them loose in the sculpture garden before you drive on to Jindabyne Brewing for a cob loaf, grilled skewers and draught beer. 

Staff explain the making our schnapps, gin and vodka in the production facility at Wildbrumby Distillery, Crackenback

Wildbrumby Distillery , Crackenback - Credit: Wildbrumby Distillery

In a valley between Jindabyne and Thredbo, Crackenback Farm also boasts a cosy guesthouse, but you don’t have to be checked in to enjoy a paddock-to-plate meal in the restaurant. Book a table by the open fire, and order generous plates of French farmhouse-style fare – the kids will love the date pudding for dessert. 

DAY THREE: Nurture body, soul & stomach

Day three key facts:.

Jai Yoga is located at

  • Thredbo Alpine Hotel at 8 Friday Dr, Thredbo NSW 2625
  • A 50-minute (57km) drive from Avonside Alpine Estate 

Let the kids sleep in with either obliging parent, and stretch snow-weary limbs in a hatha yoga class at Jai Yoga, before grabbing coffees, hot chocolates and cinnamon doughnuts to take away from Friday Flat Donut Hut . 

Friends enjoying sunrise yoga class outdoors with Jai Yoga in Thredbo

A Jai Yoga retreat in Thredbo - Credit: Jai Yoga

Relaxed and toasty post-hot chocolate, head back to Avonside to check out, then drive north to Yarrangobilly Caves,  a series of astonishing caves with stalactites and stalagmites formed from limestone that’s millions of years old. Take the 3km Yarrangobilly River trail loop to reach a natural Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool that’s 27°C year-round – perfect for a quick dip, even when surrounded by snow, before continuing your journey back to Sydney .  

Couple touring the Yarrangobilly Caves in Kosciuszko National Park

Yarrangobilly Caves , Kosciuszko National Park

Getting there

The Snowy Mountains region is a scenic five-and-a-half-hour drive south of Sydney. Your epic road trip will take you through the mist-draped villages of the Southern Highlands and skirting Lake George before arriving in Cooma, the largest town in the Snowy Mountains. This is the start of the legendary Kosciuszko Alpine Way, a 170km route carving through the range toward Khancoban , with Australia’s loftiest peak (Mount Kosciuszko) as your backdrop. 

Plan your trip

Couple exploring the alpine backcountry in Kosciuszko National Park, Snowy Mountains

Snowy Mountains

Summer in Charlotte Pass and Lookout, Snowy Mountains

Ski resorts

Skiers taking a selfie at Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains

Tips for beginners

Blue skies and apres ski activities at the Charlotte Pass Snow Resort, Kosciuszko National Park

Things to do

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Plan Your Trip

Just like the saying goes, it's not the drive but the journey that takes you there. We live in a big country and the Snowy Mountains is worth the drive!

Most people who travel to the Snowy Mountains are self drive visitors and its always an inspiration when you drive to the Snowies and you see your first glimpse of the mountains in the distance.

In winter, chains are required to be carried at all times for all 2WD’s only. This does not mean you have to fit them each day you drive to the snow. Tourism Snowy Mountains advise that you seek advice on how to fit chains when you hire or purchase them. Most service stations and equipment hire shops hire snow chains.

Kosciuszko National Park use fees apply year round.

Download our  Snowy Mountains Region Visitors Guide for more information.

Click below to find out the best way to get to the Snowy Mountains or if you are touring, then check out the touring routes along with a touring map.

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australia , Road Trip · May 28, 2020

Sydney To Melbourne Road Trip – A Unique Inland Drive Itinerary

Discover the beautiful south coast of new south wales and the unique nature of the snowy mountains with this 5 day sydney to melbourne road trip itinerary.

Driving from Sydney to Melbourne is an iconic road trip, whether you choose to take the Great Ocean Road or the Inland route via the snowy mountains that I will be talking about in this blog post! Being only a short distance, compared with other Australian road trips , the drive from Sydney to Melbourne gives you the opportunity to slow down and spend a little more time exploring each destination along the way! This trip is perfect for a long weekend or week long break and is best done during the summer time!

This Sydney to Melbourne road trip guide includes

  • The road trip itinerary
  • Road trip tips
  • Where to stay along the way
  • The best places to visit between Sydney and Melbourne

North Durras beach places to stop sydney to melbourne road trip

Our 5 Day Sydney to Melbourne Road Trip Itinerary

Sydney to durras, durras to lakes entrance, lakes entrance to bright, bright to melbourne, tips for australian road trips:, great apps to use:.

  • Camper Mate – Shows all the camping spots and what type of vehicle you can take there, the cost and the facilities
  • NSW Parks – A great app to discover the national parks of NSW
  • All Trails – A hiking app with descriptions or walks and places to visit

Best things to pack on an Australian camping road trip

  • A tent – We bought ours really cheaply from K-Mart and it was perfect
  • A portable charger – Most free campsites don’t have power!
  • Outdoor chairs and/or a picnic mat
  • A torch and a light to hang from the tent
  • Toilet paper, baby wipes, sanitiser etc.
  • 2 Towels (if you have space) – one for the beach and one for a shower
  • Blow up beds and duvets instead of mats and sleeping bags if you are diving and have space in the car!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Where to Stay on the Sydney to Melbourne drive

We decided that on the drive from Sydney to Melbourne, we wanted to make our road trip as close to nature as we could. This meant stopping at all the natural wonders, swimming in lakes and waterfalls, and camping. This meant that we could drive into the bush and stay in the National Parks in the Snow Mountains and along the beach in Durras! Below are the campsites we stayed at!

Campsites between Sydney and Melbourne:

Durras lake north holiday park, durras.

$33 a night for an unpowered camp site This was quite an expensive campsite but it was the only one open at the time of year we were travelling (late March). It was located just 100m from Durras North Beach, a beautiful plane of golden sand. The amenities were all really nice (although you did have to pay extra for the shower) and there was a BBQ and picnic area!

Goongerah Camping Ground, Lakes Entrance

Free campsite This was a free campsite that we found through the CamperMate App. It was on an off road track, which we drove in a 2WD and it was ok, but i would not necessarily recommend it! The road was about 10 minutes long, down a big hill. At the bottom was the most incredible little campsite next to the river! You could swim here in the river and it is a great place for kids!

The campground has a toilet and each site has its own fire pit!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The best places to visit on your Sydney and Melbourne road trip

This drive takes around 4 hours without including stops! There are so many places you can stop on this part of the drive, and I would recommend spending a night along the way maybe in Jervis Bay if you have time! There are some great campsites in the bush and secret beaches to go and see!

Seacliff Bridge

You have probably seen so many pictures of this bridge! It is on Lawrence Hargrave Drive just south of Clifton. When you arrive there is a 10 minute hike up to this amazing lookout! This is a great spot to put the drone up too!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Kiama is a super beautiful seaside town 2 hours south of Sydney. It is known to be a place most people go for weekends away to escape from the city so can be quite busy on weekend! If you stop here you have to stop at the Kiama Blow Hole . It is a big blowhole on the cliff that you can walk down to and have a look at!

An hour further south of Kiama is Jervis Bay. This is a big bushland area with national parks, seaside towns and beautiful beaches! I would recommend staying one or two nights here, either camping in the national park at somewhere like Green Patch , glamping at The Woods Farm , or staying in a hotel in Huskison .

Places to visit in Jervis Bay:

  • To Eat: Kanpai Japanese
  • Honeymoon Bay
  • Hyams Beach
  • Murrays Beach
  • Scottish Rocks
  • Steamers Beach

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Durras is known for having a beautiful long beach that captures the sunset perfectly! There is little in the town itself so I would recommend bring your own food here to cook at the campsite or eat as a picnic on the Durras North beach!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Mallacoota beach

This is probably one of the most beautiful and photogenic beaches I have been to! When you arrive in the car park the part of the beach you see doesn’t look so great but if you walk down to the right, past all the rocks and around the corner, you reach this amazing little rock pool area with crystal clear blue water and big rock formations! We spent hours here swimming around, snorkelling with fish and exploring the rock pools!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Joop’s Jetty

Joop’s Jetty is a crater that was man made as the dismantle site of a gold digging dredge. It is said to be 40m deep at its deepest part! It was such a beautiful swimming spot. There is a jetty to jump off, a floating barge to swim to, and if you swim across to the other side there is a rope swing that you can jump off! It is a beautiful place to stop and swim, or even just have a picnic!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Sinclair’s Waterhole

Sinclair’s waterhole is a part of the river that passes over rocks and forms this amazing pool. The top of the swimming hole is many rocks forming small waterfalls you can sit in, almost like a natural spa! It is not so busy here and a great place to spend the afternoon swimming!

Chinamen’s Waterhole

This is more of a big lake with a beach entry. Its a really beautiful place to swim too but there is less fun aspects to it that the others that are more waterfalls!

Mount Buffalo

Mount Buffalo National Park covers the whole bushland mountain area next to Bright. It has so many waterfalls, hikes and trails you can follow, as well as ski fields in the winter! The Horn at Mount Buffalo is a great walking track, around 45 minutes, to the highest point in the mountain ranges, where you can see a view of the whole landscape! Its amazing!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Ovens River Swimming Pool

This is the main swimming area in Bright, located in the centre of the town by a little park. This area gets incredibly busy, but there is still a lot of space around to find a place to set up and feel like you are by yourself in the water! There are a lot of families around here so it’s a great place to bring kids for a swim!

Lady Bath Falls

These are located in Mount Buffalo National Park. There is a beautiful small waterfall, surrounded by flat rocks and shallow rock pools, so you can sit and enjoy the water flowing down the river! This is probably my favourite of the waterfalls we saw, especially as it was so quiet and there was hardly anyone there! From here, there is a track to 2 other waterfalls, but these are both just view points and neither of them can be swum in!

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Rollasons Falls Track

This is a 3km bush track that ends in the most beautiful waterfall! It is very easy walking, although it is all down hill (and then up hill on your way back). The waterfall itself has so many layers and different pools to swim in! The main waterfall has a small pool half way down, and then a larger pool at the bottom (as you can see in the photos below). The water then continues to flow down smaller waterfalls, through rocks pools, to another waterfall further down. It is again, like a natural spa!

From Bright to Melbourne it is about a 3.5 hours drive. You could split this up and make stops along the way as the whole area to the south is made up of different national parks! We were on a tight schedule and had to drive back straight from Bright unfortunately!

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

Best Winter Road Trips in Europe: Snowy Landscapes and Historic Towns

By: Author Vagrants of the World Travel Writer

Posted on Last updated: October 18, 2023

Home >> Europe >> Best Winter Road Trips in Europe: Snowy Landscapes and Historic Towns

Europe gives us some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse landscapes and a winter road trip is the perfect way to experience them. We’ll guide you through an itinerary for what we’ve found to be the best winter road trips in Europe, giving you unique and adventurous ways to explore Europe during the winter months.

Winter scene at Hallstatt near Salzburg, in Austria, Europe. Church steeple with snow-capped mountains in the backdrop

From snow-capped mountains to the Northern Lights to charming villages, Europe has something to offer every type of traveler and a winter road trip is the perfect way to experience them all.

Table of Contents

Why Choose Europe for Winter Road Trips?

Europe is a winter wonderland with a wide range of destinations that offer unique experiences for beginner travelers to the most experienced.

Whether you want to ski in the Alps, explore Christmas markets in Germany , or soak in thermal baths in Iceland (yes, you can do that!), Europe has it all, and we’ll take you through some of our favorites.

It’s also a perfect time of year to experience local culture and heritage and sample delicious winter cuisine. If you follow us, you know the food experiences are some of our favorites!

Aros Castle, Dounarwyse Castle, in winter. A 13th-century castle near Salen on the Isle of Mull, Scotland

Best Itinerary Alternatives

Some of the top winter road trip destinations in Europe include the Swiss Alps, the Scottish Highlands, the Black Forest in Germany , and the Northern Lights in Norway. Each of these destinations offers stunning natural beauty as well as unique cultural experiences.

Planning your winter road trip can be overwhelming, but we’ve put together some of our best itineraries for you, and with a bit of research and preparation, you can create an unforgettable adventure.

If you’re a fun and experienced traveler who loves a natural winter wonderland or visiting Europe for the first time, Europe should be at the top of your list for winter road trips!

Winter is the best time to explore Europe by road. The crowds are thinner, the air is crisp, and the scenery is breathtaking. Plus, you can take advantage of low car rental prices and hotel rates. A little bit of savings is always a plus!

View of Salzburg with Festung Hohensalzburg in the wintertime

Real Winter Wonderland

If you’re from a warmer climate, experiencing a real winter wonderland can be a magical experience. Europe’s winter landscapes are postcard-perfect, with snow-covered mountains, frozen lakes, and frosty forests, and then add on the Northern Lights in countries like Norway and Finland, it makes the perfect destination.

If you’re looking for more unique things to do on your visit, check out our article, Unique Things to do in Europe in the Winter for a full rundown.

Top Winter Road Trip Destinations

If you’re looking for the best winter road trips in Europe, we’ve got them for you. Here are some of the top winter road trip destinations that are perfect for your next adventure.

Northern Lights Tour

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

If you want an incredible winter experience, head to the Arctic Circle for a Northern Lights tour . You’ll have the chance to witness the aurora borealis, one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world. There are plenty of tour companies that offer Northern Lights tours, so you can easily find one that suits your needs and budget.

Our favorite Northern Lights tour has been the Northern Horizon tour in Tromso, Norway . If this is a bucket list item, this tour has it all and is well worth it. This is a small group tour that includes transportation, warm hot chocolate, and cookies. You also get to cook over a bonfire!

Canary Islands Escape

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

If you’re looking for a warm-weather escape , the Canary Islands are the perfect place for a winter road trip. With beautiful beaches and plenty of sunshine, you’ll feel like you’re on a tropical island. There are also plenty of great places to explore on the islands, so you won’t be bored.

We recommend renting a car in Tenerife to get you started. The Canary Islands offers sand dunes, mountains, pine woods, beaches, and flowers for diverse beauty and experiences. You’ll be able to explore on your own time and discover some off-the-beaten-path locations. The main highway between Las Palmas and Maspalomas is easy to drive. Here are a few less-known locations we recommend adding to your route:

  • Barranco de las Vacas
  • Bollullo Beach
  • Piscinas Naturales Aguas Verdes (the natural pools are incredible)

If you love traveling Europe and enjoy the sun, we have put together a list of the 9 most Glorious European Winter Sun Destinations . You can read about them here .

Sierra Nevada Adventure

If you’re up for a challenge, head to the Sierra Nevada mountains for a cross-country skiing adventure. Sierra Nevada is Spanish for “snowy mountains” , so you know you’re in the right place for a winter destination!

The mountain road is perfect for a winter road trip, and the winter temperatures make it ideal for skiing. You’ll also have the chance to explore the beautiful natural wonders of the Sierra Nevada.

Ring Road, Iceland

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The Ring Road in Iceland is one of the best European road trips you can take in the winter. This 800-mile road trip takes you around the entire country, where you’ll witness some of the most incredible natural beauty in the world. From waterfalls to glaciers, the Ring Road has it all.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled is a perfect place for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The natural beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains is breathtaking, and the medieval town of Bled is full of history and charm. It’s an incredible place to explore and take in the natural beauty of Slovenia.

If you add Lake Bled to your itinerary, consider taking a guided tour to make the most of your stay. From trekking through caves to touring Bled Castle , there is a lot to see and do in this charming town.

San Gimignano, Italy

San Gimignano is a medieval town in Tuscany, Italy, that’s full of history and charm. The town is known for its medieval architecture and rich history, and it’s the perfect place to explore on a winter road trip. With easy access to other great European cities, San Gimignano is a great stop on your next road trip.

A road in the hills of Tuscany (Italy) with the first snow of winter

While in San Gimignano, an absolute must is a pasta-making class . These take place in a local home where you’ll learn their recipes and it even includes wine. These sell out far in advance, so book early . The refund policy is generous. You have until 72 hours before the class to cancel if you change your trip, so it’s wise to claim your spot early.

If you’d like more time in Florence, follow our Fall Fun in Florence guide. Most all the activities and locations will be just as wonderful in the winter months!

Whether you’re looking for the best places to explore or the best road trips to take, these winter road trip destinations are perfect for your next adventure.

Exploring Local Culture and Heritage

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

When embarking on a winter road trip in Europe, one of the best ways to experience the local culture and rich history of the region is by visiting the various tourist destinations. From the festive Christmas markets to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Europe has a lot to offer in terms of cultural and historical experiences. Here are some of the top places to visit:

European Christmas Markets

One of the highlights of a winter road trip in Europe is visiting the many Christmas markets. These markets are a great way to experience the festive season and get a taste of the local culture. You can browse the stalls for unique gifts and souvenirs, sample local cuisine, and enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations. Some of the best Christmas markets in Europe include the ones in Vienna , Prague , and Berlin .

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Europe is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, recognized for their cultural and historical significance. These sites offer a glimpse into the region’s rich history and are a must-visit for anyone taking the trek to Europe no matter what time of year.

Interior at The Royal Palace at Caserta, Italy. Statues along the decorative walls.

Some of Europe’s top UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy , the Historic Centre of Bruges in Belgium , and the Medieval Town of San Gimignano in Italy.

Historic Cities and Towns

Europe is also home to many historic cities and towns, which offer a unique glimpse into the region’s rich history and culture. These cities and towns are filled with stunning architecture, museums, and other cultural attractions. Some of Europe’s top historic cities and towns include Prague in the Czech Republic, Krakow in Poland, and Salzburg in Austria.

Exploring the local culture and heritage is an essential part of any winter road trip in Europe. From the festive Christmas markets to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and historic cities and towns, Europe has a lot to offer in terms of cultural and historical experiences. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Planning Your Winter Road Trip

When planning your winter road trip in Europe, there are a few things to remember to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some of our best tips to help you plan:

Timing Your Trip

The best time to take a winter road trip in Europe is from December to February. This is the peak season for winter holidays and the festive season, which means there are plenty of winter activities and events to enjoy. New Year’s Eve is also a popular time to visit Europe, especially for fireworks displays and celebrations.

New Year fireworks over the Baltic Sea on the beach in Gdynia. Poland, Europe. Boat on the beach

When planning your trip, keep in mind that the weather can vary greatly depending on where you are in Europe. The north coast and mountainous regions tend to have colder temperatures and more snow, while southern Europe may have milder winter temperatures and warm weather.

Safety Measures

When traveling in winter conditions, safety should be a top priority. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind:

  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions before setting out.
  • Drive slowly and cautiously on snowy or icy roads.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and avoid sudden movements.
  • If renting a vehicle, try to get one with 4-wheel drive and check the tires before you take off.
  • Always have a charged phone and emergency supplies in case of a breakdown or accident.

You shouldn’t let the extra safety measures deter you from a winter trip, following these tips, you can have a fun and safe winter road trip in Europe!

Packing Essentials

When packing for your winter road trip, it’s important to pack warm clothing and gear. This includes layers, waterproof jackets and pants, hats, gloves, and boots. You may also want to bring winter sports gear if you plan on skiing or snowboarding.

In addition to warm clothing, it’s important to pack essentials such as a first aid kit, snacks, water, and a map or GPS device.

Travel Tips

To make the most of your winter road trip in Europe, consider the following travel tips:

  • Plan your route in advance and make sure to check road conditions and closures.
  • Take advantage of cable cars and mountain roads for stunning views.
  • Avoid peak season to experience fewer crowds and easier access to attractions.
  • Research winter sports activities and events in advance to ensure availability.
  • Be prepared for shorter daylight hours and plan your driving accordingly.

Czech Republic - Prague. Charles Bridge on a winter morning with street lights and a snow-covered bridge

From the bustling Christmas markets in Germany to the stunning natural beauty of Norway, there’s no shortage of incredible destinations to explore for your best winter road trip in Europe!

Now that you know where to go, it’s time to start planning. If you want to experience the magic of Christmas markets, plan your trip for December. You can read Best Places to Visit in Europe in December for even more ideas. If you’re more interested in winter sports, aim for January or February.

Before you set off, make sure you’re prepared. Check the weather forecast and road conditions, and ensure your vehicle has winter tires and other essential equipment. And don’t forget to pack warm clothing, snacks, and plenty of entertainment for the journey.

Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-time explorer, there’s never been a better time to embark on a winter adventure in Europe. Get ready to experience the beauty and excitement of Europe in the winter!

Frequently Asked Questions

wooden houses on the banks of the Norwegian fjord, beautiful mountain landscape in winter

What are some of the best winter road trip destinations in Europe?

Europe is home to some of the most stunning winter destinations in the world. Some of Europe’s best winter road trip destinations include the Swiss Alps, the Norwegian Fjords , the Scottish Highlands, the Austrian Alps, and the French Alps. These destinations offer breathtaking natural scenery, winter sports, and charming towns to explore.

What are some must-see sights on a winter road trip in Europe?

Winter road trips in Europe offer a wide range of must-see sights. Some of the most popular sights include the Northern Lights in Norway, the Christmas markets in Germany, the castles in Scotland, the ski resorts in the Alps, and the thermal baths in Iceland. These sights offer a unique and unforgettable winter experience.

How can I plan a budget-friendly winter road trip in Europe?

Planning a budget-friendly winter road trip in Europe requires some research and preparation. Some tips for planning a budget-friendly winter road trip in Europe include traveling during the shoulder season, staying in hostels or budget accommodations, cooking meals when possible, and using public transportation whenever possible. You can also save money by booking activities and attractions in advance.

What are some unique winter experiences to have on a road trip in Europe?

Winter road trips in Europe offer a variety of unique experiences. Some of the most popular experiences include skiing and snowboarding in the Alps, dog sledding in Lapland , ice skating in Amsterdam, and visiting the ice hotels in Sweden . You can also try traditional winter activities like snowshoeing, ice fishing, and sleigh rides.

What are some of the best scenic routes for a winter road trip in Europe?

Europe is home to some of the most scenic routes in the world, especially during the winter months. Some of the best scenic European winter road routes include the Trollstigen Road in Norway , the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria , the Black Forest High Road in Germany , and the Great Glen Way in Scotland. These routes offer stunning views of snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and charming villages.


Where to Go on a Winter Road Trip in Europe: 13 Winter-approved Itinerary Ideas

Winter might not be everyone’s top choice for a driving holiday in Europe – but driving in the off-season is a great strategy for beating the crowds and taking advantage of low car rental prices.

An abundance of festive events, winter sports and other special experiences on offer makes winter the perfect time to explore parts of Europe by road.

Whether you’re searching for a chilled escape in the winter sunshine or a full ice-and-snow immersion, this list of the best winter road trip routes in Europe has something for you. Discover Christmas markets, fairytale villages and castles, frozen waterfalls, truffle-hunting, winter hiking and skiing, and more!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Quick tips for planning a winter road trip in Europe

Make sure your car is winter-ready. Winter tires or snow tires are mandatory in some European countries (including Romania, Germany and Norway), and it’s a good idea to have tires with a deep tread regardless. If you’re travelling with your own car, make sure you know how to properly fit your tires in advance. If you’re renting a car , most agents include a winter set in the price.

Account for shorter days when planning your itinerary. Daylight hours are obviously more limited in winter, and you’ll want to avoid driving at night whenever possible. This means you’ll need to do a bit more pre-planning to make sure you get your timing right. You should also add 20-30% more time onto each travel leg to account for driving at slower speeds.

Avoid driving in snow and ice. Some major roads and highways are gritted overnight and by morning, they can be icy and slippery. Wherever possible, try to start your drive in the mid-morning or early afternoon after the roads have had a chance to warm up a bit.

Always check weather conditions before you set out. It’s no fun driving through a snowstorm or battling icy rain – in fact, it can be dangerous, especially if you don’t have a lot of winter driving experience. Research the best local channels for checking the weather and stay abreast of changes to avoid getting caught out.

Know when to leave the car behind. Remember, you don’t always have to drive. If there’s a place you want to visit but don’t feel comfortable driving yourself (such as a mountain region), you can always leave your car somewhere safe and take the train instead .

Hiring a car in winter in Europe

One of the best things about hiring a car in winter is lower prices. You’ll also find that many destinations have a greater availability of vehicles in winter.

For destinations in the Balkans including Montenegro , Bulgaria and Greece plus Spain, Portugal and Iceland, I recommend using Local Rent to find a car. This platform offers budget-friendly cars from local agents with lots of perks.

→ Check rates for your destination on Local Rent

For other destinations around Europe, I recommend using Discover Cars to search and compare rates from international car hire companies.

→ Compare prices for your destination on Discover Cars

13 epic winter road trips in Europe

Transylvania winter road trip for ethereal castles & winter sports.

Transylvania in winter, with a view of Bran Castle in the Carpathian mountains.

When it comes to dreamy winter destinations in Europe, it doesn’t get much better than Transylvania. Make no mistake, Romania is cold in winter – but if you can brave the chilly conditions, you’ll be treated to vistas of the snowy Carpathian Mountains, romantic cities , ethereally beautiful hilltop castles and fortified churches, winter hiking opportunities, and even skiing.

December is an ideal month to drive in Romania. The famously windy Transfagarasan Highway is closed from November due to snow, but you’ll find all major highways are accessible. Remember to ensure your car is winter-ready and always check conditions before you set out. For ease, it’s best to stick to the centre of the country and avoid the high mountains. Allow yourself 7-10 days to explore.

Before hitting the road, give yourself a couple of nights in the capital to experience Bucharest in winter . Enjoy the quiet streets, indulge in life-affirming Romanian food, and warm up with a day at Therme, Europe’s largest spa.

Make a loop around Transylvania, first visiting Brasov and Sinaia Castle. If winter sports are your thing, there are 14 km of ski and snowboard runs at Poiana Brasov in the hills above the city. Continue to the fortified towns of Sibiu, Alba Iulia and Sighisoara , each with its own beautiful town square that is lit up with Christmas decorations and markets throughout December.

Be sure to include a few of Romania’s iconic medieval fortresses on your itinerary too, including the must-see Bran Castle.

Driving the Iceland Ring Road in Winter for Frozen Waterfalls & the Northern Lights

Driving Iceland's Ring Road in winter, with snow-capped mountains and the Northern Lights.

One of the best winter road trips in Europe can be found in Iceland on the Ring Road from Reykjavik to Hofn. Although you can drive around the entire island on the Ring Road, the northern part of this drive can be unsafe in the winter. For this reason, it is recommended that you stick to the southern half.

You will likely start your trip from the Reykjavik area. There are many neat things to see and do in the capital including Hallgrímskirkja, The Sun Voyager, and Harpa Concert Hall. In winter, you must your accommodation in Reykjavik wisely, being sure to stay somewhere central.

After leaving the city and heading south on Route 1, the next major stop you will come to is Vik, Iceland. If time allows, plan to spend 1-2 days in this area.

A few of the best things to do near Vik, Iceland include Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Dyrhólaey, the DC3 plane wreck, and Yoda cave. This is also an excellent location to view the Northern Lights.

Continuing towards Hofn, you will find several lovely stops including Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, and Vatnajökull National Park. There are also countless incredible waterfalls along this route. If the weather allows, consider stopping for a few hikes along the way. The views are hard to beat!

Driving in Iceland is relatively stress-free compared to many other countries. The traffic outside of the major cities is very light, and you will often have long stretches of the road to yourself – especially in winter.

Always be aware of the weather. Keep an eye on any storms brewing in the area, and be aware that during high winds, it can be unsafe to drive at all. Have a backup plan in mind in case the weather impacts your travels.

By Janae from Adventures With TuckNae

Winter Road Trip from Bergen for Colourful Houses & Norwegian Fjords

Houses on the water in Bergen, Norway, the perfect place to start a winter Europe road trip.

A fantastic winter road trip for those used to driving in snow is the fjords of Western Norway. The fjords are heavily visited in the summer months, but few embark on the journey between November and March. This is a great time to hit the roads and see the scenery for yourself!

There are a few factors to consider when visiting Western Norway in winter. The first is that winter tires are mandatory when driving. If you are bringing your own car, they must be on as soon as you cross into Norway. If you’re renting a car, they will already have them ready to go. Secondly, daylight hours are far shorter in winter than in summer, so you should be prepared for nighttime driving or staying overnight on the road.

An ideal starting point for your winter adventure is Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city. The city is milder than other Norwegian cities in the winter, and if you’re there in December, you will have a chance to check out the world’s largest gingerbread village at Pepperkakebyen! Be sure to also eat some pinnekjøtt, fiskesuppe, and raspeballer when visiting Bergen during the colder months.

From Bergen, you have plenty of options for road trips, but the most beautiful one will take you to Flåm and the Aurlandsfjord. Some of the best stops along the way are Voss (Norway’s adventure sports’ capital), Stalheim (for the famous hotel as well as one of the curviest roads in Europe called Stalheimskleiva), Gudvangen (home of Viking Valley), and finally Flåm. If you venture a little further, you can check out the famous Stegastein viewpoint.

This road trip would only take 2 hours and 45 minutes during the summer months, but will likely take around 4 hours or more in the winter. There are also plenty of waterfalls and attractions along the way that you’ll likely want to stop at. Flåm has a few accommodation options, and the Fretheim Hotel is a historic Norwegian hotel with affordable prices during the winter.

The great thing about using Bergen as a base for a road trip is that you can find at least four different (and extremely diverse!) routes to drive.

By Megan from Megan Starr

Alsace Winter Road Trip for Europe’s Best Christmas Markets & Fairytale French Villages

Colourful half timber houses in Alsace, France in winter.

This road trip takes you through the historical region of Alsace in eastern France. While wine country is stunning at any time of the year, it is perfect for winter since Alsace does Christmas like no other region in France.

Featuring some of the most picturesque, fairytale-like villages and exquisite Christmas markets, this itinerary is perfect for every Christmas lover and anyone interested in culture and history.

The Alsace region is not too big, so this itinerary can be a long weekend road trip.

Start your journey with one day in Strasbourg , the self-proclaimed capital of Christmas. Grab some mulled wine to keep you warm and start exploring the city! Admire the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral, stroll the cobblestone streets of La Petite France, and browse the Christmas Market on Kleber Square.

On your second day, you will drive along the oldest wine road in France, the Alsace Wine Route. Your first stop will be Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, the best preserved medieval castle in Alsace.

Alsace villages along the route are as fairytale-like as it gets – they inspired Disney’s Beauty and the Beast , after all. Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé feel untouched and sparkle in the winter light.

Next up is Colmar, where Cobblestone streets and half-timbered, colourful houses look magical when decorated for Christmas.

Finally, if you want to spend a day in nature, make a detour to Lac Blanc. The lake is stunning, and you can see it from the road. This is a fantastic place for hiking or winter sports such as skiing and sledging, if you happen to catch a snowy day!

By Natali from She’s Abroad Again

Winter Road Trip on Portugal’s Silver Coast for Palaces & Cities

The Arch in winter in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Portugal Silver Coast is one of the best winter road trips in Europe. This 400 km scenic route runs from Lisbon to Porto and is dotted with charming towns and villages. While the entire trip is only a 4-hour drive, take at least a few days to enjoy it at a leisurely pace.

Start your trip by checking into one of Lisbon’s best boutique hotels then explore the city, seeing famous sites such as Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Tram 28 up to Alfama, the LX factory shops and restaurants and festive Christmas markets like Wonderland Lisboa and Campo Pequeno.

As you start your road trip, spend a half day in the castle filled hilltop town of Sintra visiting Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors. Then drive 30 minutes to the charming white washed village of Ericeira, where you can wander the cobblestone streets, enjoy a delicious meal and admire the stunning coastline.

Nearby, the historic walled town of Obidos is transformed into the cutest Christmas village complete with a ferris wheel, concerts, ice skating, and more. A true highlight of the silver coast are the massive winter waves Nazaré, made famous by the 100-Foot Wave Documentary.

Finally make your way to the stunning city of Porto, Portugal . Do your holiday shopping, sample Port wine, take a cruise on the Douro River and soak in the magic of Portugal .

By Jenifer from The Evolista

Southern Spain Winter Road Trip for Sunshine & White Villages

Winter at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

If you’re looking for a place to escape the chill this winter, Southern Spain’s mild temperatures and blue-sky days make it an ideal road trip destination. It might be too brisk for the beaches, but there is no shortage of other things to do in Spain in the colder months, especially if you have the freedom to explore with your own car .

A convenient plan is to make a loop from Madrid, starting with a day in historic Toledo before heading to coastal Andalusia. See the late-blooming orange trees and bask in the winter sunshine in Valencia before making your way down the coast to historic Cartagena, an often overlooked port town with incredible Roman ruins. There are dozens of sweet towns and fishing villages where you can stop along the way.

The culture-packed cities of Cordoba, Granada (for the Alhambra) and finally Seville are all worthwhile winter destinations. For something adventurous, take an optional detour into the Las Alpujarras for mountain scenery and to visit the White Villages.

While you could easily spend a month or more in Southern Spain, a week is a fair amount of time for driving in winter.

Winter Road Trip on the Peloponnese Peninsula for Archaeological Sites Sans Summer Crowds

Leafy trees at Olympia, an archaeological site in Greece.

If you’re looking for a road trip to forget that it’s winter in Europe, look no further than Greece’s Peloponnese Peninsula . The Peloponnese forms the southern tip of mainland Greece. Its location on the Mediterranean leads to mild, pleasant, and often sunny winters. With average high temperatures ranging from about 15-18 degrees Celsius (59-65 F) along the coast, a winter dip in the sea along the Peloponnese coast is not unusual.

The Peloponnese is known for having beautiful beaches and stunning mountains, but the main draw here – especially in winter – is the archaeological sites. The peninsula is home to some of the most famous historical sites on the planet, including Olympia, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Messene, Mystras, Sparta, Acrocorinth, and let’s include Delphi too since it’s easy to hit on a road trip even though it’s on the other side of the Gulf of Corinth. In the winter these amazing sites are practically empty due to the lack of other tourists and they’re also half-price to enter (until the end of March).

On top of these archaeological sites, there are endless beautiful coastal villages to explore, such as Limeni and the ridiculously charming medieval city of Monemvasia.

The downside of road tripping around the Peloponnese in the winter is that many restaurants will be closed and of course the daylight hours are limited. But should you make the road trip around the Peloponnese in the off-season, you will be rewarded with endless beauty nearly all to yourself.

By Chris from Around the World With Me

Tip: Find more Greece road trip ideas here .

Crete Winter Road Trip for Ancient Villages, Quiet Fishing Harbours & Hiking Trails

Winter in Heraklion, Crete.

Winter is the perfect time to head to the Greek islands, hire a car, and set off on a Crete road trip of between 1-2 weeks. The temperature sits between 19C/66F degrees in November to 14C/57F degrees in March, and the 5 million tourists who arrive by plane each summer are nowhere to be seen!

Crete is a large island, and a road trip makes sense as there are several major towns to see but the other main sites are scattered around the countryside. These include Minoan ruins, tombs and cemeteries and excellent hiking trails alongside beaches, through ancient villages, and along the bottom of gorges.

The second most visited site in Greece is Knossos Palace where the legendary Minotaur was trapped below the Palace in Daedalus’ labyrinth. It’s a large outdoor site that is uncrowded. In winter you can spend time ambling around without the sun beating down on you.

The main towns of Chania, Heraklion, and Rethymno are also worth a few days. Their old harbours have waterfront cafes and tavernas that stay open during the winter months and there are phenomenal museums to visit such as the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The Venetian harbour and old town of Chania is a must to explore and hiking the Samaria Gorge is an unforgettable experience.

By Monique from Trip Anthropologist

Isle of Skye Winter Road Trip for Highland History & Dark Sky Discoveries

The famous Fairy Pools in the Scottish Highlands in winter.

Famous for its rugged coastline, unparalleled vistas, abundance of wildlife and intriguing Highland history, the Isle of Skye is an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. From chasing waterfalls to distillery tours , there is an abundance of things to do on the Isle of Skye .

In winter, snow lingers in the higher mountains, making the landscapes beautiful and moody. It is much less crowded than in the peak season. The island is home to nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites in Britain, making it one of the best places in Scotland for stargazing in winter. You can even spot the Northern Lights here.

Start your road trip from Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands and allow at least 3-4 days to explore the main sights of Skye.

One of the must-visit attractions in Skye is the picturesque Fairy Pools, a web of small waterfalls renowned for their clear turquoise blue waters against the backdrop of the majestic Cuillin Mountains.

Take a look inside the 800-year-old Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, the ancestral house of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod. Visit the colourful houses of Portree, the largest town on the island. Portree has many restaurants, cafes and hotels and serves as a great base to explore Skye.

By Moumita & Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Want to extend your Scotland road trip? Check out this 14 day North Coast 500 itinerary for more ideas.

Winter Road Trip Along the Causeway Coast for Moody Landscapes & Wild Beaches

Ireland's Giant's Causeway rock formation in winter.

Northern Ireland is a relatively small country with lots of close-knit tourist attractions, which makes it ideal for a road trip. The main attraction, however, is the Causeway Coastal Route, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Antrim coast dotted with quaint coastal villages, cliffside castles, sandy beaches, and plenty of untamed coastal beauty.

Some of the more famous attractions on the Causeway Coast include the iconic basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge, and the Bushmills Distillery. But there are many more lesser-known stops including the Dunluce Castle, Ballintoy Harbour, and the Dark Hedges.

Summer months are by far the busiest time on the coastal route. Locals know the best time to explore is during winter when the crowded coaches are nowhere to be seen, and the weather and coastal landscapes are wild and rugged. Winter is the perfect time to admire scenery that inspired the Game of Thrones franchise, with various filming locations across the Causeway Coast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

The best bits of this road trip can be covered in a weekend, although 4-5 days are recommended with more time for other attractions on the coast, including Rathlin Island.

Also consider a second, newer driving trail in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Coastal Route, which starts in Bangor-by-the-Sea in County Down.

By Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor

Switzerland Winter Road Trip for Glassy Lakes & the Snow-capped Matterhorn Mountain

Snow covered Zermatt Valley with the Matterhorn mountain in the background.

For a stunning Swiss road trip through snow-capped mountains and ice cold lakes, consider driving between the beautiful cities of Basel and Lugano in Switzerland. Taking the quieter roads and avoiding the main highway is best to see the landscape and local villages. Be sure to have safe winter tires and pack plenty of warm clothes for all the pretty pit stops you will make!

Starting in the city of Basel, commence your drive towards the Regional Nature Park Thal, then to the UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch and Lake Lungern. This section of road is absolutely stunning, with snow-topped mountain ranges and gorgeous winding roads. Take your time to enjoy and stop at every viewpoint.

For the next part of the route, head south towards Murmeltierpark Grimselpass and Pizzo Gallina. This section allows you to pass through the canton of Bern, via Valais to the final Ticino canton. For photographers and nature lovers, Valais canton is the place to be in winter, so if you have time, stay a few nights in the area for more local explorations.

For the last section, you have to join the A2 highway, simply since it’s the only way to finish the journey down to Lugano. Lugano in winter does not always have snow, but it’s still magical and very festive with a local Christmas market. Find a grotto restaurant and end your road trip with some delicious local Swiss food and wines.

By Zoe from Together In Switzerland

Snowy Drive on Germany’s Romantic Road for Bavarian Winter Beauty

Christmas decorations in the German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a must visit on a winter Germany road trip.

The Romantic Road in Germany is a 285-mile (459-kilometre) route in Bavaria, South Germany. This road trip starts in the north in Würzburg and ends in the south near the Austrian border in Füssen.

Known for scenic landscapes and fairytale towns, a snowy drive in these parts is all the more special. Some of the most iconic and authentic Christmas markets happen to be in these regions of Germany , and the towns along the Romantic Road host the most unforgettable festivities . Most are held every day from 10am until late in December.

Start your winter drive on the Romantic Road in the baroque wine city of Würzburg before continuing to the cute and vivid Christmas town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Other highlights along the route include the medieval towns of Feuchtwangen, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, and Augsburg. The last stop in Füssen completes the journey with a visit to the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle.

The Romantic Road is perfect for those looking for snow-covered landscapes, medieval towns and Christmas cheer. It can take anywhere between 3 and 10 days to drive, depending on the chosen stops.

By Paul from Paulmarina

Malta Road Trip for Winter Sunshine & Christmas Cheer

Rocky coast with the skyline of Valletta, Malta in the background.

If you are one that prefers the sun to snow, the best winter road trip is Malta . With great weather, amazing views and super easy roads to navigate, this European gem is a fantastic option. 

No matter if you are visiting Malta for one day or one month, you will have plenty of amazing places to see by road. For those wanting to see the best of Malta, it’s recommended to visit for 5-7 days. This is a great route for driving in Winter as you will have brighter days and no winter conditions hindering your trip.

To make the most of your Winter road trip in Malta, fly into Malta international airport and start your journey from there. This will save you money on airport transfers and allow you to start seeing the amazing Maltese views straightaway. 

For those travellers who want to see amazing views, Malta is full of them. So have your camera at the ready when you visit. The best views to see by car are Għadira Bay, Mnajdra and the salt pans. 

Malta is a very religious country so you will find lots of wonderful things to do during the build up to Christmas. To get yourself in the festive spirit, stop by Valletta for a candle lit service. 

By Lowri from Many Other Roads

More Europe inspiration

  • Travelling Europe by train : 20 best itinerary ideas
  • Where to go on a Bulgaria road trip
  • Greece road trip itineraries for every traveller
  • Driving in the Balkans : Itineraries for every season

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snowy mountains road trip itinerary

New Zealand South Island Winter Road Trip: A complete guide

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Scratching your head over where to go in winter?

Aspen? Been there, done that.

Lake Tahoe? Nah, not now.

Well… how about this?

A New Zealand South Island winter road trip. Does that sound exciting to you?

New Zealand or Aotearoa in Maori has been one of the best yet underrated places for winter travel destinations.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Fun fact: Aotearoa means land of the long white cloud. You can find more information about the name over here.

Lake Hawea

Its South Island packs two things that will bring delight to the most serial and casual travelers: breathtaking sceneries and memorable activities.

The sights of the South Island’s spectacular snowy mountains will definitely blow you away as well as providing opportunities for capturing envious photos of New Zealand’s stunning landscape.

Before we move on to the exciting stuff, here’s a list of topics that we’ll cover extensively today:

1) What is the South Island?

2) What is there to do on the island?

3) When is the best time to visit the island?

4) What are the different kinds of travel packages and how much do they cost?

5) Places to visit on your next trip

6) FAQ’s about New Zealand

What is the South Island?

New Zealand is primarily made out of two major islands: the North Island and the South Island.

The South Island is larger than the North Island in terms of land mass but it has way fewer inhabitants in comparison.

Think of it this way: the North Island is a more urban or cosmopolitan area of New Zealand while the South Island is more of an adventure destination.

If you would like to know about the differences between the two land masses, the official New Zealand website has an excellent comparison which highlights their distinctive characteristics.

Both of these islands have a lot to offer in terms of interests and activities, but for our article today, we’ll be focusing exclusively on the South Island.

What is there to do on the island?

Previously, we’ve mentioned that the South Island packs more in terms of exciting adventures and thrilling activities.

To make things easier, here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself.

  • Do you get giddy at the sights of dolphins, seals, and other marine life??
  • Are you a fan of observing flocks of exotic and native birds?
  • Are you someone who actively seeks action-packed adventures and jaw-dropping sights?
  • Do you love going on treks and long walks along beautiful natural sceneries?
  • Maybe you just want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of work and daily life?

If you think, “Yup, that’s me!” on any one of the checklists above, congratulations!

New Zealand is the perfect destination for you.

The South Island is home to one of the most expansive wildlife habitats in the world.

There are species of birds that cannot be found anywhere else other than the South Island. Kiwis aside (sorry buddy, you’ve got too much of the spotlight!) , you can also find the majestic kea’s and takahe’s ; a species of flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand.

Penguin Place , a conservation reserve that is a 3 hours drive away from Queenstown is home to the yellow-eyed penguins – one of the rarest penguin species in the world.

To make things even more exciting, the birds are just a part of the all-star wildlife ensemble on the South Island.

Kaikoura , also known as the marine capital of New Zealand is a coastal town on the island which is famous for its sperm whale population.

In the same town, you could visit Seal Swim Kaikoura , a local company that offers tourists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim along with the island’s seals.

That’s right! You could spend some time with these water buddies although you should be careful about your distance – they can get aggressive if they feel threatened.

Of course, a New Zealand tour guide would never be truly complete without a mention of one the most famous wildlife animals on the island: dolphins.

You can find these social creatures in Kaikoura or Paihia in the North Island. Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura is one of the most reputable companies in allowing tourists to have a life-changing experience of swimming with the dolphins.

These tours usually operate 2-3 times daily, so make sure that you get your itineraries planned out properly to avoid missing out. Once again, you should always be careful while swimming with the dolphins and never, ever try to threaten or agitate the otherwise friendly sea creatures.

Moving away from the wildlife aspect of the travel destination, there are tons of interesting activities to be done on the island.

If you are a fan of hiking or walking trails, rejoice! New Zealand’s very own Department of Conservation has developed and maintained a set of trails to please even the most hardcore trail enthusiasts.

The Kepler track and Milford track are just two examples out of the nine Great Walks. These tracks are not the usual trails that can be completed in less than a day. To complete these tracks, you’ll have to spend about 3-4 days in the wildlife

Your efforts do not come without a reward, though. Along the way, you’ll be treated to some of the most incredible sights of your life. A vast array of magnificent mountains along with natural caves and dazzling waterfalls will leave you wanting for more.

The experience is so great that 3-4 days will actually feel too little, rather than too much time.

Aside from the walking trails, skiing is another major attraction of the South Island, especially during the winter season.

Mt. Dobson ski area is one of the best ski destinations in the world due to it being relatively uncrowded and very wide in terms of raw area. This hidden local skiing spot is also very accessible; you don’t have to worry about being a beginner or novice.

You can enjoy the facility even if you don’t know a single thing about skiing!

If you are still worried, don’t fret. There are plenty of options on the South Island to have a good time in the winter season.

You could head over to the Cardrona High-Performance Centre located in Queenstown. This facility is the primary base for local and international athletes who are preparing for winter athletics.

Wanaka March 2017

Private Road Trip through Wanaka – March 2017

The facility is perfect for beginners as there are tons of machines and trainers who will guide you from A to Z. Not far away from this area is Lake Wanaka , one of the major hotspots in the island.

Lake Wanaka is a travel resort and also hosts some of the best adventure tourism facilities in the world. Jetboating facilities, skiing, and even off-road tours are available nearby!

Looking back at these activities, you could be one of the select few who is just not interested in thrilling adventures. Maybe, all you need is some peace and tranquillity.

Unsurprisingly, the picturesque views and places of the South Island can give you just that. Lake Tekapo, which is a 3-hours drive away from Christchurch is a stargazer’s dream at night.

Officially credited by UNESCO as a dark-sky preserve (an area that is free of artificial light pollution), Lake Tekapo offers the perfect spot for individuals who want the perfect balance of peace and beautiful sceneries.

That covers a small portion of what to do on the South Island. We’ll cover more in the later sections of this article.

When is the best time to visit the island?

Hence, the best time to visit the island if you are looking for a winter road-trip is in from June to August .

Winter in New Zealand usually begins in June and ends in August, so it’d make sense to plan your trips around this time period.

July is the busiest month for skiing or snowboarding so it’s best to avoid that month if you are not a fan of crowds. Fortunately, if skiing is not big on your list then this is not an issue as everything else tends to run smoothly as usual.

You also have to know that the island’s school holidays begin in July. Generally, this will cause the prices of rentals and accommodations to increase as a byproduct of increased demand.

If budget is an issue, we’d suggest that you plan your travel dates before or after the holiday period to avoid forking out more than what you can afford.

Every year, a winter festival is held in Queenstown. If you’ve never been to one, make sure to attend it as the festival is one of a kind, to be frank. You’d definitely miss out on a lot if you don’t attend, so try to plan your trip around the festival’s date if possible.

What are the different kinds of travel packages and how much do they cost?

The island’s travel packages usually revolve around 3 main options:

  • Guided tours

Luxury tours

Self-drive tours.

There are other travel packages out there, but we’ll cover these 3 in our article for now.

Private guided tours

Guided tours are the most widely available form of tour package for the island. It provides several distinct advantages to travellers:

  • Going on tour with an experienced tour guide means that you get to experience the very best of the South Island thanks to the guide’s expertise and knowledge of the island
  • Tour guides also act as a safety net in your travels. You do not have to worry about being in compromising situations such as getting lost or violating local traditions.
  • Guided tours also make the most out of your trip’s duration. You don’t have to be concerned about scheduling your daily itinerary – guided tours will do that for you in the most optimal way.

Private guided tours are the right choice for you if:

  • You have troubles putting together a good travel schedule or would like to focus more on travelling instead of spending your time on scheduling.
  • You are afraid of getting lost or getting in sticky situations during travelling due to being unfamiliar with the destination.
  • You are travelling in large groups (6+ people) and need an authoritative individual to make decisions.
  • You want to experience the very best of the South Island based on the period of your travel schedule

Luxury tours have been quite popular over the past decade or so. The rise of this tour package can be attributed to an increased demand for exquisite travelling options in popular tourist spots – a trend that is still growing as of today.

The benefits of luxury tours include:

  • Being able to experience luxurious 5-star accommodations and dining amenities such as the Te Waonui Forest Retreat or the Fiordland Lodge.
  • The ability to access exclusive and incredibly beautiful spots on the South Island such as being escorted to the top of Franz Josef Glacier in a helicopter which is usually not included in regular tour packages
  • The ability to bypass certain limitations of regular tour packages; avoiding long lines, have VIP access to tourist hotspots and having private drivers to escort you around the island just to name a few perks.

Luxury tours are the right choice for you if:

  • You want to live and travel like royalty. Exquisite fine dining and 5-star hotels are things that you look for when traveling.
  • You want maximum comfort. Luxury tours are designed in such a way that all you need to is sit back and enjoy the wonderful view around you.
  • You want to try something different. Luxury tours give you a completely unique experience in comparison to other tour packages. If you are tired of regular traveling, luxury tours might be the perfect alternative.

Below are several photos of our luxury tours which were taken by clients of ours in the past.

You can check out our 8-day South Island luxury tour package here or head on to our luxury tours page for more information.

The name of the tour itself will drive independent and enthusiastic tourists crazy. Unlike other tours where you are constricted to a certain schedule, self-drive tours allow travelers to be completely in control of their itinerary.

These are the advantages of self-drive tours:

  • Tourists have complete freedom in their travel schedule. This option is attractive to some people as having a fixed itinerary can be quite taxing and stressful – particularly if you are short on time
  • They can be very, very fun and exciting. Unlike regular tours, self-drive travelers don’t really know what they’re doing or where they’re heading. This sense of mystery and the unknown can lead to thrilling moments in the journey.
  • They are great for bonding and strengthening relationships. More often than not, travelers who opt for self-drive tours will land themselves in trouble. Getting out of these situations usually require some teamwork and co-operation, thus leading to rewarding moments that will really tighten the bond between travelers.

Self-drive tours are the perfect choice for you if:

  • You are an independent person and the idea of fixed itineraries turn you off. Self-drive tour providers usually give you a recommended tour schedule that tells you where to go and what to do. Other than that, there’s nothing holding you back other than national (or local) laws and policies.
  • You treasure relationships. As we’ve mentioned above, self-drive tours are a powerful way to strengthen bonds between friends, family and even strangers. There’ll always be some element of teamwork needed in self-drive packages.
  • You look for exciting and thrilling encounters in your travels. As we’ve mentioned above, you are quite likely to get yourself in sticky situations (which does not involve life or death scenarios, fortunately) in self-drive tours. Getting out of these problems are very rewarding experience in itself and will leave you and your posse with lasting memories of your trip.

Places to visit on your next trip


One of the places that you’ll definitely visit on your trip is Christchurch, the largest city of the South Island.

After a series of earthquakes on the settlement, Christchurch has bounced back incredibly to become one of the most vibrant and liveable cities in New Zealand.

What to do in Christchurch

You may have second thoughts about Christchurch after seeing the rather quiet atmosphere on the way there, but don’t let the initial journey fool you.

There are tons of exciting things to be done in this city!

To kick things off, you can fork out a sizeable amount of money and participate in Adventure South’s guided bicycle tours. In this activity, you will be led from the dazzling Southern Alps to the vast brims of the Pacific ocean – a stunning sight that you definitely do not want to miss.

Taking part in Christchurch’s Botanic Garden tours is also an essential entry in your itinerary. Welcome Aboard Christchurch offers travelers the opportunity to stroll around one of the world’s most historic and treasured botanic gardens.

If you are looking for a scenic view, head on over to the top Ports Hill. The hill overlooks Banks Peninsula and provides tourists an over of the island and its array of extinct volcanoes.

Moving around Christchurch is no different than in other cities; you have the usual suspects in taxis, car rentals, buses and what not. There is one transportation option in the settlement that is very outstanding though – the Christchurch Tramway.

This colourful tram system is one of Christchurch’s wonderful heritage attractions and leads tram-goers to stops such as the Avon River and the Canterbury museum.

The train will also stop at Punting on the Avon, a sightseeing ride where you sit on a small, flat-bottom boat while being led by guides dressed in Edwardian clothing. Cheeky.

There’s plenty of other things to list down about Christchurch but we have to cover other places too, unfortunately. You can head on to New Zealand’s official website to have a look at what the city has to offer and find out more details.

This city is a sightseer’s dream. Set upon the mighty Southern Alps, travelers have unparallelled access to dreamy views and stunning landscapes upon setting foot in Queenstown.

Queenstown Lake Wakatipu - Nov 2016

View of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu – Nov 2016

What to do in Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu which is the third largest lake in New Zealand should be one of the first entries of your checklist in the city.

Exciting watersports activities are the primary attractions of the lake. However, the best thing to do in Lake Wakatipu is to take a cruise on the steamship, TSS Earnslaw.

Also known as the “Lady of the Lake”, the coal-powered passenger vessels is truly the last of its kind. The cruise will bring you back to the olden days where the ship was used to transport goods into remote settlements. Surely, you can’t miss out on that!

Beautiful sceneries aside, Queenstown is also known as the capital of adventure in New Zealand. From white-water rafting to thrilling skiing courses, the city has it all.

However, Queenstown is famed for its extreme and borderline heart-stopping bungy jump attractions.

There are several bungy jumps scattered all over Queenstown but they are all unique in their own way. The famed Kawarau Bungy Centre is the world’s first bungy jump attraction and widely lauded as the best.

If you are faint-hearted, it’s best to avoid the bungy jumps. If not, there is no reason for you to skip out on this as bungy jumping is essentially the thing to do in Queenstown!

Crown Range Pass - Nov 2016

Crown Range Pass – Nov 2016

To make things even better, tourists have the option of taking helicopter rides to the Remarkables, a mountain range and ski field that is contested by none.

The alpine mountain offers terrain and facilities to skiers and snowboarders regardless of skill levels. You can enjoy the true alpine skiing experience even if you haven’t touched a ski pole or snowboard in your life.

You can check out Matt and Phoebe’s Queenstown roundup on their travel blog and Nomadic Matt’s Queenstown travel tips on his blog .

Milford Sound

The spectacular fjord (a narrow passage of the sea between high cliffs) is regarded as the highlight of the trip for most South Island tour goers.

With its unmatched mountain views and vivid scenery, it’s easy to see why.

What to do in Milford Sound

On the way to Milford Sound, you will most likely pass through or stop by Te Anau, the closest town to Milford Sound.

Te Anau is known as the ‘gateway to the fjords’ which sounds super cool. This town is famous for its glowworm cave, the Te Ana-au caves. This in itself is already a glorious experience for tourists and locals alike.

There are plenty of things to do in Milford Sound. This place is a Mecca for kayaking enthusiasts thanks to its unparalleled views and dramatic landscapes.

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

For the more adventurous, helicopter flights are available to allow tourists access to otherwise hard to reach areas. If you choose to get on a helicopter ride, you will probably be escorted to the glacier peaks of Mount Tutoko where you will have plenty of photo shooting opportunities.

Milford Sound is also home to one of the Great Walks that we’ve mentioned earlier; Milford track is New Zealand’s most famous walking trail and has been maintained and trekked by hikers for over 150 years.

On this trail, you will encounter Sutherland Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in New Zealand. The stunning Pompolana Ice Field is also a sight that you will not miss on the track.

Wanaka is a beautiful town located in the Otago region of the South Island. The town is one of the most popular ski and resort towns in New Zealand due to its pristine view and wide areas of snowy landscape.

What to do in Wanaka

For starters, travellers can head on to Mount Aspiring National Park , a park that includes some of the best walking trails in the Otago region .

Unlike the Great Walks, trails in the national park usually take around 3-4 hours to complete. However, the views and sceneries of these hiking trails are just as good if not better.

Rob Roy Glacier Track is the most popular track in the national park with magnificent snowy fields and glaciers surrounding you along the way. One thing that is very good about the Wanaka trails is that there are trails specifically designed for push chairs and wheelchair-enabled individuals. This touching gesture is what separates Wanaka’s famous walks from other trails.

Wanaka is also a haven for biking enthusiasts. The local authorities have built and managed a dedicated network of tracks for mountain bikers and cyclists to test their skills.

The annual Contact Epic, for instance, is a 125km long mountain bike race that truly tests the endurance and athleticism of riders – definitely a challenge to relish for the most competitive of individuals.

Casual riders should not worry though as there are trails that are designed for leisurely rides and strolls through the magnificent scenery of the Wanaka Mountains.

You can find out more about Lake Wanaka by going to their official website .

For more information where to go on the South Island, check out NZ Travel Insider’s sample itinerary over here .

FAQ’s about New Zealand

  • What is the currency for New Zealand?

The official currency for the island is in New Zealand Dollars (NZD). 1 NZD is equivalent to approximately 0.70 US dollars (USD).

  • What time zone is New Zealand located in?

New Zealand’s timezone is GMT +12

  • Do I need a visa to travel to New Zealand?

You do not need a visa to visit New Zealand if you are from one of the visa-free countries listed over here in the island’s official immigration website .

If your country is not on the visa-free list, you will need to apply for a visitor visa to enter. Head over to the immigration page to find out more .

  • Is New Zealand safe?

New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world with a very low crime rate as well as having a top-notch healthcare system.

However, tourists are still advised to take care of their personal safety regardless of how safe the country is.

Travel companies and agencies are also audited and routinely checked by the government. They are required to comply with the national law so you should not worry about companies being negligent in their operations.

  • How do I move around New Zealand?

Just like how you would do it in any major city in the world. Public and private transport systems are readily available in the city.

Uber is also available on the island.

  • Can I drive in New Zealand as a tourist?

Yes, you can. You are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand for 12 months as long as you have a full driver’s license from your home country.

You can find out if you are eligible to drive in the island by clicking on this link .

That wraps us the basic FAQ’s for the island. You can find out more on New Zealand’s official website over here .

We appreciate you staying until the end of this (very lengthy!) post. You can have a peek at our blog to read up on more articles.

Over here at the Road Trip NZ, we provide a variety of tour packages on the South Island.

If you fancy yourself a self-drive tour, check out our 14-day South Island self-drive road trip package where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the island with total freedom.

We also provide an 8-day luxury tour for tourists who seek for maximum comfort and majestic experiences in their travels. We will be providing you 5-star accommodations as well as sights and activities that are on par.

Last but not least, our very popular private guided tours are also available to tourists who want to encounter the very best of the South Island. Our 16 day guided tour package will leave you in awe at the end of the trip!

New Zealand’s South Island is definitely one of the places to visit at least once in your lifetime.

We wish you the best in your upcoming trips and we hope that this article has been of a great help to you!

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23 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the pacific ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the united states..

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A highway leading toward mountains

Glacier National Park is one of many scenic places you can visit on an American road trip.

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

In a country as large as the United States, there’s no shortage of destinations and detours to explore by car . Whether your idea of the perfect American road trip entails an epic, cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through a few of its most iconic national parks , your options are as large and varied as the country itself.

Even if you don’t have the time to drive cross-country, there are plenty of road trip routes (ranging from three days to a week or longer): classic California itineraries , New England routes that shine especially well in the fall, scenic East Coast adventures, and a variety of Midwest journeys for folks farther from the coasts.

No matter your mode of transportation—be it van, RV, motorcycle, or four-door sedan—these are 21 of the best road trips in the nation to consider.

Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Plan your next Route 66 trip around thirst-quenching stops.

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

There are many ways to do a cross-country road trip in the USA, but these two itineraries will take you through some truly iconic American places.

1. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile drive along the entirety of Route 66. There are endless ways to take this legendary trip (including an EV version —but to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime: whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. In between tastings, make time for detours to natural attractions, like the Grand Canyon, and quirky roadside curiosities, like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

Plan your trip

The full itinerary: Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

People biking on a busy street

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, so you need to park before taking the ferry to this spot.

Photo from Shutterstock

2. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Covering both the U.S. and Canada, a cross-country trip along U.S. 2 is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like Acadia National Park in Maine, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. The route also passes through Canada, taking road-trippers through Ontario into Quebec—this route may focus on nature, but you won’t want to miss a stop in Montreal or Ottawa.

You’ll also get to explore Montana and Glacier National Park ( reservations may be required ) before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, Seattle. Don’t miss spending time in the Olympic Peninsula (home to Olympic National Park) for a peek at one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves in Santa Cruz, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, an afternoon a the boardwalk in Santa Monica, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco.

  • The full itinerary: The Best Stops for a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
  • The AFAR Guide to San Francisco

Wooden pier with shops on top juts out into the ocean

The seaside town of Monterey was the setting for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row .

Photo by Denise Lett/Shutterstock

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay make these trips in one or two days.

The full itinerary: The California Road Trip All Book Lovers Should Take

Wide shot of a red canyon with a river running through it

Arizona may take its nickname from the Grand Canyon, but the state has far more natural wonders than just that one.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: An Iconic Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.

  • The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip
  • Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon
  • Where to eat in Phoenix: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Restaurants
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Arizona ; The Best Airbnbs in Sedona

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah's Arches National Park

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah’s Arches National Park

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

6. Zion to Grand Canyon: A National Parks Road Trip in the Southwest

If you’re looking to visit as many national parks as possible in one road trip, this southwestern itinerary is for you. This journey through Utah and Arizona lets you hike Angel’s Landing in Zion, feel tiny under Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, explore Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon, and, of course, raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon remain on the rim, but take at least four days to venture within the canyon and take advantage of the trails and river rafting.

  • The full itinerary: The Ideal Road Trip Through U.S. National Parks
  • Utah’s 8 Best National Parks and Monuments
  • 10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

Couple sitting in front of a curving road

Stop and admire the winding roads of the San Juan Skyway.

Photo by Anh Luu/Shutterstock

7. San Juan Scenic Skyway Road Trip: An Adventure Through Southwestern Colorado

This Colorado trip takes you along the 232-mile loop of the San Juan Scenic Skyway, where you will see plenty of alpine forests, mining towns, and craggy peaks. And for anyone looking to enjoy refreshments after a long day of driving, this route features many opportunities to stop at some of the best breweries in Colorado , such as Ska Brewing Co. in Durango.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Southwestern Colorado Road Trip
  • Five Classic Colorado Road Trips To Take This Year

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

8. Denver to Montrose: A 420-Mile Road Trip Through Colorado

Want to explore even more of the Centennial State? Head out on this weeklong road trip where you can fish for salmon in Colorado’s largest reservoir, visit numerous small towns, like Paonia and Crawford, with thriving art scenes along the Colorado Creative Corridor , and explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the nation.

  • The full itinerary: Art Stars, High-Altitude Wines, and a Remote National Park: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Colorado
  • The AFAR Guide to Denver

Woman walking by a mural of a river and bridge

Portland may be Oregon’s largest city, but with a population of some 652,000 (or 2.5 million in the larger metropolitan area), it isn’t intimidatingly large.

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland

9. Portland to Astoria: An Oregon Coast Road Trip for Outdoor Lovers

If you love the outdoors, then this six-day road trip along the coast of Oregon is for you. After driving to Coos Bay from Portland, travelers will meander along Oregon’s dramatic, rocky coastline, discovering some quintessentially Pacific Northwest vistas along the way: evergreen forests, seaside dunes, and marine ecosystems. Between stops, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs hiking, kayaking, or strolling around the region’s small towns—like the historic old town in Florence.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon road trip without a stop (or three) at a craft brewery, such as Fort George Brewery in Astoria, or cozy coffee shop, like Bread & Roses in Yachats.

  • The full itinerary: An Outdoor Lover’s Road Trip on the Oregon Coast
  • The AFAR Guide to Portland

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Starting in New York’s Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women’s suffrage movement. Highlights include stops at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House ; Union Square in New York City, which was the site of the first suffrage march; and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

  • The full itinerary: Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Washington, D.C.

A long shot of a mountain-backed city, framed by flowers and trees

Asheville is one must-stop on a North Carolina road trip.

Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

11. Charlottesville to Asheville: A Scenic Road Trip Through Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Beginning in the soft hilly meadows of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park down into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then into the Great Smoky Mountains, this five-day road trip is best done at a slower pace, which is perfect for admiring the dramatic outlooks and green plateaus. This eclectic itinerary features stops at an art museum, a dairy farm, and plenty of hiking trails.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • Where to stay: 12 Dreamy Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins You Can Rent on Airbnb and Vrbo
  • 8 U.S. National Park Road Trips to Take in Your Lifetime

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

12. Albuquerque to Las Cruces: Discover New Mexico on This Three-Day Road Trip

This route steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with places that teach you about Pueblo history. You’ll stop at Indian Pueblo Kitchen (formerly known as Pueblo Harvest), a restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that features Indigenous cuisine ; pick up peppers at Three Brothers in Hatch; and slide down the dunes in White Sands National Park.

  • The full itinerary: This New Mexico Road Trip Is the Perfect Introduction to the Land of Enchantment

Green tree near brown house during daytime

Historic Fort Martin Scott is one of the places travelers can visit to learn about Fredericksburg’s history.

Photo by Mark König/Unsplash

13. A Five-Day Scenic Road Trip Through Texas Hill Country

This Texas road trip starts and ends in San Antonio with stops in small towns like Bandera, Boerne, and consider a stop in Fredericksburg, which is one of AFAR’s best places to go in 2024 ). Over five days, you’ll find opportunities to stroll in a Japanese tea garden in San Antonio, relax along the Sabinal and Frio Rivers by inner tube, and eat as many tacos as you want. Seriously: You could eat tacos for every meal on this road trip and not get tired of them.

  • The full itinerary: Tree Houses, Tubing, and Tacos: The Ultimate Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

14. A Weeklong Road Trip Through Alaska’s Most Majestic Sights

This weeklong drive in Alaska starts and ends in Anchorage. You travel along four scenic byways; explore Wrangell–St. Elias wilderness, the largest U.S. national park; catch sight of Denali, the tallest peak in North America; and enjoy the surprisingly stellar food scene of McCarthy, a one-road town with only a couple dozen residents.

  • The full itinerary: Glaciers, Mountain Peaks, and Organic Farms: The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
  • Which Alaska National Parks Should You Visit?

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

Courtesy of Idaho Tourism

15. Boise to Sun Valley: Explore Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Even a short road trip can be packed with adventure, good food, and scenery, which is exactly what this trip from Boise to Sun Valley along Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway offers. Although the drive only takes six hours, we recommend taking a few days to explore all the stops and detours along the way. One can’t-miss spot is the Kirkham Hot Springs , where you can stand under a waterfall that will splash you with 135-degree mineral water year-round.

  • The full itinerary: The Little-Known Idaho Road Trip You Need to Drive
  • Things to do: The Best Outdoorsy Things to Do in Idaho

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Photo by Shutterstock/QZ

16. Duluth to Grand Portage State Park: A Scenic Minnesota Sampler

Although there are many appealing road trips throughout the Midwest, this 143-mile, three-hour circuit, which starts and ends in Duluth, Minnesota, is worth keeping in mind. Meandering north on MN-61 with this itinerary, you will enjoy prime views of Lake Superior and towns like Grand Marais, as well as Grand Portage State Park, home to waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunities to learn about the Ojibwe community who occupy the land today. Once back in Duluth, enjoy a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company before checking into the waterfront Canal Park Lodge nearby.

  • The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire.

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

Yes, you can take a road trip in New England at any time of the year , but this region shows off its best colors in the fall, when locals and tourists alike head out into the country to view the changing colors of the trees. Join other admirers of fall foliage on this popular, 34.5-mile road trip along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, colloquially known as the “Kanc,” for picturesque ponds, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

  • Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

Red boat beside a wooden dock in a cove

Ogunquit is home to the small, postcard-perfect harbor of Perkins Cove.

Photo courtesy of QualityHD / Shutterstock

18. Maine’s “Lobster Trail”: Travel Route 1 Along the Coast

Traveling Route 1, affectionately known as “the lobster trail,” along Maine’s jagged coastline is an exercise in indulgence. Sample lobster dishes in all forms—buttered, steamed, on a roll, or even in a decadent mac-and-cheese.

The trip starts in the quaint small town of Ogunquit , with its rare (for the area) 3.5 miles of white-sand beach. Make your first lobster of the journey count, steamed with a side of drawn butter at Barnacle Billy’s in picturesque Perkins Cove harbor. Stop at Big Daddy’s for a cone on your way to the shipbuilding center—and summer home of George H. W. Bush—Kennebunkport. Stay at the recently redesigned 150-year-old classic White Barn Inn , and consider a sailing trip for an afternoon. With lobsters cooked in ocean water, the legendary lobster roll at the Clam Shack is a must.

  • 8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

Throughout North Carolina’s Piedmont region, innovative restaurants, shops, and restaurants like Leah & Louise in Charlotte, above, are creating a buzz.

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

19. Raleigh to Charlotte: A 4-Day Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

North Carolina’s Piedmont region extends from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes farmland and rolling wooded hills, especially on the 1-40 stretch near Hillsborough. Starting in Raleigh, drive the short distances to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte to see how these cities are innovating through art, food, and a celebration of the past. Take your time—four days should do—to experience downtown arts districts, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and civil rights museums that speak truths. Plan your trip

  • A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Scenic South Walton is part of the Emerald Coast of Florida.

20. Scenic Highway 30A: A Sunday Drive Through South Walton, Florida

Florida is full of places to cruise with the top down, but it’s hard to beat a Sunday (or any day) drive along Scenic Highway 30A through northwest Florida, home to a postcard-perfect stretch of seaside towns known as South Walton.

The roughly 28-mile route through South Walton County kisses the coast for nearly all its length, taking you through gorgeous residential Gulf-front communities like Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Blue Mountain Beach . Roll down the windows and let the emerald-hued views in.

Pull over to explore, too—maybe to admire the New Urbanism architecture in Alys Beach or to swim in the clear waters at Grayton Beach State Park . (The beach here has been lauded among the best in the world.)

  • The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Two stand-up paddleboarders on the water at sunset

Stand-up paddleboarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset.


21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is often overlooked for more well-known routes up north, but it is well worth going out of your way to experience.

As the name suggests, this route is very scenic, so plan to spend at least a few days exploring it and numerous stops along the way. Some highlights include driving across the impressive Overseas Highway, stopping to admire art in the town of Islamorada, and enjoying the historic sites, food, and (of course) beaches in the city of Key West.

  • The full itinerary: How to Road Trip in the Lesser-Known Florida Keys

A brick building with an oversized guitar hanging off the side and a sign that says "Sun Studio"

Sun Studio in Memphis was the site of the famous Million Dollar recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock

22. Memphis to Bristol, Tennessee: A Music-Driven Adventure

If you have about a week to spare and a deep appreciation for music, take a road trip from one side of Tennessee to the other, starting in Memphis and ending in Bristol. The eastbound trip spans genres, including rock ( Graceland ), blues ( Beale Street) and, of course, country (did you really go to Tennessee if you didn’t go to Dollywood ?). Nashville serves as the halfway point on your journey—so consider penciling in an extra 48 hours to fully explore the state capital’s greatest hits.

  • The full itinerary: 5 Great American Road Trips For Music Fans

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

Photo by Alexsf.gr/Shutterstock

23. Arecibo to Condado, Puerto Rico: A Lesser-Known Side of a Well-Loved Island

In the minds of many, trips to Puerto Rico bring images of stunning beaches , delicious foods , and maybe a bioluminescent bay or two . But there’s plenty of history to be found here, too, as Puerto Rico was home to an Indigenous population known as the Taino, a heritage many Puerto Ricans embrace. That history can be explored via a road trip. Starting in the northern town of Arecibo, travel south to Ponce, then back north to Condado—along the way you’ll encounter petroglyphs, Indigenous sites, and breathtaking natural spots.

  • The full itinerary: A Puerto Rico Road Trip That Puts Indigenous Culture First

Additional road trip planning resources Picking the route for your road trip is only one part of your planning. From what snacks to pack to which podcasts to listen to, these additional resources will help you prepare for your next adventure:

  • Best road trip snacks
  • Road trip planning apps
  • Podcasts and audiobooks to download
  • What to pack for a road trip

This article originally appeared online in August 2020. It was most recently updated on April 4, 2024, to include current information. Additional reporting by Jessie Beck, Erika Owen, Ray Rogers, Terry Ward, and Sheryl Nance-Nash.

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The Sydney To Melbourne Inland Road Trip

Scenic detours off the hume highway.

David Whitley

David Whitley

  • In this guide
  • Sydney to Melbourne inland road trip
  • Adelaide to Perth road trip
  • Northern Territory road trip
  • The Great Ocean road trip
  • Coral Coast road trip
  • Suggested route

Most Australians fly between Sydney and Melbourne or take the Princes Highway along the coast. The alternative is a direct route inland down the Hume Highway, which is a 10 to 12-hour slog behind the wheel. However, by building in scenic detours and making the drive part of your trip, this Sydney to Melbourne route offers up much of what makes Australia great.

Sydney To Melbourne inland road trip

Approx. distance: 1,282km (796 miles) (one way)

Duration: At least two to three days

Suggested route: Sydney—Bowral, Southern Highlands—Canberra—Snowy Mountains—Beechworth—Echuca—Ballarat—Melbourne

Aus kangaroos

Spot kangaroos in the Southern Highlands

Sydney to Melbourne inland road trip itinerary

This route would take around 16 hours of driving time, which can be broken up into as many days as you wish. The following are some suggested stages; you may choose to linger overnight in some or all of these stops, depending on how much time you have.

Stage one: Sydney to Bowral, Southern Highlands (118km, one to two hours)

Stage two: Bowral to Canberra (177km, two hours)

Stage three: Canberra to the Snowy Mountains (208km, two to three hours)

Stage four: Snowy Mountains to Beechworth (249km, three to four hours)

Stage five: Beechworth to Echuca (204km, two to three hours)

Stage six: Echuca to Ballarat (212km, three hours)

Stage seven: Ballarat to Melbourne (115km, one to two hours)

Highlights on the Sydney to Melbourne inland drive itinerary

Wildlife spotting in the southern highlands.

The first deviation, around 90 minutes or so out of Sydney, should be to the Southern Highlands, where a wine and food trail can be put together alongside scenic back road forest drives. The town of Bowral, which greedily hoards gardens, heritage buildings and cafés, is a pilgrimage site for cricket fans. The International Cricket Hall of Fame is next to the famously picturesque ground where legendary batsman Don Bradman first wielded the willow.

Cricket aside, the Southern Highlands are also reliably good for spotting Australian wildlife. For that classic wild Australian kangaroo sighting, look for areas of open grassland with bushes and trees at the edge — golf courses are absolutely perfect, but campsites work too.

Wombats — adorably comical furry tank-like marsupials — are harder to spot, but can be found snuffling around at dusk, often around the same golf courses.

Aus Australian national war memorial in Canberra

Australian national war memorial, Canberra

Seeing Canberra’s cultural museums

An hour and a half from the Southern Highlands lies Australia’s capital, Canberra, which was built to a distinctive plan of many roundabouts and boulevards around an artificial lake. It can feel strangely empty at times, although the Braddon area is developing a hip reputation for dining and drinking — think artisan coffee, microbreweries and busy restaurants.

Canberra’s strength is its cultural collection, though. Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial are all thoroughly absorbing. Get to the latter just before closing time, when a lone piper or bugler plays the Last Post in a simple, moving ceremony that gets hairs standing up on the back of the neck.

Should action trump museum-trawling, then hiring a bike to cycle around Lake Burley Griffin — detouring to see the architecturally outlandish embassies in the Yarralumla district — makes for an invigorating day out. Alternatively, get a different perspective of the city by taking a hot air balloon trip over it.

Canberra’s less-heralded strength is the countryside on its doorstep. The green, canopy-covered Namadgi National Park is home to several excellent bushwalking trails — and it’s the sort of place where you can easily find kangaroos bouncing along the road ahead of you.

Aus Mount Kosciuszko

Mt. Kosciuszko, Snowy Mountains

Heritage towns and hiking in the Snowy Mountains

Despite the reputation for being hot and sunny all the time, Australia does get snow, with several ski resorts found in and around the Snowy Mountains. Peak season is July to September, although snow can be present for around a month either side, and snow chains are often required on cars during this period.

Do the trip outside these months and accommodation prices in ski resorts such as Thredbo can be bargains, while walks along alpine streams and meadows are considerably more pleasant. The big conquest of Australia’s continental summit — the 13km walk to the top of 2,228m-tall Mt Kosciuszko — is surprisingly easy-going. Much of it is along metal walkways designed to limit erosion, and it’s very much a walk rather than a climb.

The Alpine Way, which snakes through the mountains with several top drawer lookouts along the way, is a fabulous drive and leads to the New South Wales — Victoria border. Here, glimmering highland lakes and lumbering dairy cattle await, along with a series of heritage towns.

Of these, Beechworth feels the most lovingly preserved, with a 19th-century streetscape now filled with bakeries and cafes. This is also the epicentre of the Ned Kelly legend — walking tours from the Visitor Information Centre take in the prison cells, newspaper offices and pubs that feature in the story of Australia’s most notorious outlaw.

Aus Paddle Boat Billy Tea on the Murray River

Paddle boat on Murray River

Cruising Murray River and Australia’s gold rush

There’s more timewarp Australia to enjoy at Echuca, where paddle steamers depart from the long, wooden wharf for cruises along the Murray River. The Murray, Australia’s longest river, is the lifeblood the provides irrigation for much of the country’s best agricultural land. There’s a very good reason why rural Victoria has more than its fair share of quality restaurants and wineries — it’s a region that believes in living well off local produce.

The river cruises slowly trundle past groves of silvery gum trees, as a bonanza of bird life flits between the branches. It’s a scene Aussies would recognise as quintessentially Australian.

On the way towards Melbourne, the route enters the goldfields where, in the 19th century, huge fortunes were made. The city of Bendigo was where the biggest seams of gold were found, and the Central Deborah Gold Mine explores the gigantic hauls before taking visitors underground for a tour of the mining tunnels.

Ballarat, further west, wasn’t quite as lucrative, but it played a bigger part in Australia’s story. The Eureka Stockade, where miners dug in against police in a bid to win political representation, is seen as a turning point in the nation’s history. The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka does a good job of telling the story — and that of Australia’s transition from colonial backwater to first-world democracy. But the more entertaining interpretation comes at Sovereign Hill, where the evening show combines light, sound, indigenous beliefs and live-action across a sprawling recreated colonial mining settlement.

Sovereign Hill is an extraordinary place during the day, too. It combines reenactments and mine train rides with activities such as gold-panning and candle-making. Traditional crafts, most notably wheelwrighting, are practised here too — and as genuine businesses rather than just-for-tourists shows.

On the way into Melbourne, park up the car and take time to explore one of the grungy neighbourhoods that give the city its strong sense of urban cool. Footscray is up-and-coming, but Fitzroy, just north-east of the city centre provides the best introduction to what Melbourne’s about.

Handsome old pubs become live music venues at the weekend, vegan restaurants and artists’ markets congregate around Rose Street, street art murals adorn the side lanes and the eating options take on a global flavour, with dozens of cuisines represented within a single block. After a road trip that focuses on Australia’s nature, landscapes and heritage, this is the man-made, 21st-century flipside.

Aus graffiti artwork at Hosier Lane Melbourne

Street art decorating Hosier Lane, Melbourne

The Best Adelaide To Perth Road Trip

About the author.

The Sydney To Melbourne Inland Road Trip

David Whitley spent five years in Australia editing backpacker magazines and has visited twice a year since coming back to the UK. He works for major magazines and newspapers both at home and in Oz.

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Sydney South Coast Road Trip — 7 Day Itinerary From Sydney to Eden

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

A one-week road trip itinerary covering the top 10 bucket list experiences in New South Wales .

If I had a formula for the perfect road trip it’d be something like this: Good company*(bucket list experiences + epic coastal views). And while an escape from Singapore is needed, it wasn’t hard to pick the perfect destination for this — New South Wales.

We’ll let the video do the talking:

Full NSW South Coast Itinerary:

Day 1: Sydney — Kiama

Highlights:  Hike in the Royal National Park — Drive pass the Sea cliff Bridge — Skydive on Wollongong Beach/Learn to fly a bi-plane * — Metre-long pizzas Drive Time:  3h

Bucket List Things to do in NSW South Coast

* Pro-tip: Pick up your rental car only when you’re ready to leave Sydney as parking in the city can be limited and expensive.

Just under an hour’s drive from Sydney is the Royal National Park — there are a few famous view points to check out including the Figure Eight Pool, Wedding Cake Rock, and Eagle Rock. But what intrigued us was Curracurrong Falls , one of the few waterfalls that empty out into the ocean.

*The Figure Eight Pool is located on a low rock platform that can be quite dangerous to visit during mid or high tides; best to check the National Park website before planning a trip there.

Royal National Park - Sydney South Coast Road trip

It’s a fairly easy three to four hour round trip trek starting from Wattamolla car park. Follow the signs for Eagle Rock and you’ll be hiking along the coastline. Fair warning, you might take more time as there are many gorgeous stops to make along the way.

curracurrong falls - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

*Pro-tip: The best vantage point is from Eagle Rock — during Whale Migration season (May-Nov) whales are often spotted from here.

Sea Cliff Bridge - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Back in the car, drive south towards the Sea Cliff Bridge ; it’s probably the most scenic 456m of road you’ll see on this trip. Continue towards Wollongong beach for Skydiving !

Skydiving on wollongong beach - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

The Wollongong coast is one of the most gorgeous spots for skydiving.

Before leaving Wollongong, make a stop by North Beach Pavilion for their famous metre-long pizzas where you can order up to 3 different flavours.

Bi plane - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

If you prefer a more hands-on adventure, drive 20 minutes south of Wollongong and book yourself a biplane experience! The learn to loop  package lets you take over the controls and possibly even perform an upside-down loop.

Bi-plane - Bucket List Things to do in NSW South Coast

Of course you can also opt for the G-up experience where you sit back and enjoy aerobatic stunts performed by a professional.

Accommodation:  The Sebel Kiama Harbourside

Activity costs: National Park Entrance Fee – AU$12/vehicle Skydivng – AU$250–329 (Seasonal Price) Biplane – AU$275–379

If both of these experiences are on your bucket list, book one on the way back to Sydney as you’ll be passing through here once more.

Day 2: Kiama — Narooma

Highlights:  Kiama Blowhole — Dolphins & Surfing in Jervis Bay — Wild Kangaroos on Pebbly beach — Seaplane from Moruya Drive Time: 4h 45m

Kiama Blowhole - Sydney South Coast Road Trip-1-2

If you’re staying at The Sebel Kiama, the famous Kiama blowhole is just a 4-minute drive away, near the Kiama lighthouse.

At sporadic intervals, you can catch it sprouting jets of up to 20m. Otherwise, continue 10 minutes south to check out  Little Blowhole  — it’s smaller as the name suggests, but more consistent.

Dolphin Watch Cruise - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

An hour’s drive away will lead you to   Jervis Bay,  famous for its white-sand beaches and regular sightings of dolphins.

Surfing at Jervis Bay - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Many people come to hop on the Dolphin Watch Cruises  but we ended up going for a quick lesson on surfing ! The curved shore beaches make this one of the best places for beginners to catch a wave.

Hyam Beach - Sydney South Coast Road Trip-2-2

If you’re looking to chill, definitely make a stop at Hyams beach — known for having the whitest sand in the world.

Wild Kangaroos on Pebbly Beach - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

We received a tip-off that wild Kangaroos are often spotted at Pebbly beach and indeed there were many! You’ll find them happily munching on grass and will occasionally be quite happy to entertain a photo or two.

Moruya seaplane - Sydney South Coast Roadtrip

But don’t get carried away with the Kangaroos as the next activity is best done before the sun sets.

Montague Island - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

Catch a seaplane from the Moruya river for a glimpse of the seals on Montague island before snorkelling with them the next day!

You can choose to stay at Batemans Bay but since we were going to visit the famous Australia Rock at sunrise the next day, we drove another hour south to Amooran Oceanside Apartments.

Sorriso , an Italian restaurant nearby served up one of our favourite meals on the trip! Definitely go for the Risotto if you’re there.

Recommended accommodation:   Amooran Oceanside Apartments

Activity costs: Dolphin Cruise – AU$35 Surfing – AU$50/pax (2 hours group lesson) Pebbly Beach – AU$8/vehicle (Murramarang National Park One Day Pass) Seaplane ride – AU$99-289 (depending on package)

Day 3: Narooma — Thredbo (Kosciuszko)

Highlights:  Sunrise at Australia Rock — Snorkel with Seals at Montague Island — Thredbo Drive Time: 3h 30m

Australia Rock - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Road trips often results in a lack of sleep when there are sunrise spots as epic as the one at  Australia Rock.  

*Pro-tip: Check-in at Amooran Apartments so it’s only a five-minute drive to Australia Rock.

Seals on Montague Island - Sydney South Coast Road Trip-11

We booked a snorkelling trip with Island Charter Narooma that leaves from the wharf next to Australia Rock so we left right away for snorkelling at Montague Island .

The puppies of the sea

You can also book scuba diving trips with the same company but we heard the seals usually hang around on the surface so snorkelling was more than sufficient to get some playtime with the gang.

After Narooma, we took a detour away from the coast to head towards the Snowy Mountains — Thredbo. It’s a pretty long drive down but the scenery changes quite drastically from the coastal roads.

When you reach Thredbo, remember to purchase the Kosciuszko vehicle pass to be displayed in the front of your dashboard when you park the car.

Check-in, enjoy the cool mountain breeze and rest early to prepare for hiking the next day!

Accommodation:  Thredbo Alpine Hotel * *There are packages that will include the cost of the Kosciuszko Chair lift pass which you will need the next day

Activity costs: Snorkelling with Seals – AU$85 (All snorkel gear provided) Kosciuszko Vehicle Day Pass – AU$17

Day 4: Thredbo (Kosciuszko) — Eden — Tathra

Highlights:  Chairlift up Kosciuszko — Hike to Australia’s highest point — Ocean to Plate experience — Killer Whale Museum Drive Time: 3h 45m

Mount Kosciuszko chairlift - Sydney south coast road trip

There are two ways up Mount Kosciuszko : 1) Start from Thredbo; the path below the chairlift is pretty steep so it’ll take around 1.5-2hours to get to the top of the chairlift. 2) Ride the chairlift — this takes 15 minutes 😉

Mount Kosciuszko - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

*Pro-tip: If you’re staying the night in any of the apartments in Thredbo, you can get the Kosciuszko chair lift pass for a special rate included in the accommodation fee.

Hiking Mount Kosciuszko - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

There are multiple chairlifts so make sure you hop on the right one! The Kosciuszko express is the closest you can get to the Kosciuzko summit but there’s still about 6.5km of walking to get to the summit. The walk may be long but it’s generally quite manageable since there are clear steel paths on most of the way up. The vast and open landscape was a nice change from the usual thick overgrown rainforest treks we’re used to in South East Asia.

Weather in March was a perfect 10-15°C. If you’re here in winter, the path might be a little icy and slippery.

The summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

If you’re hoping to catch the chairlift down, be sure to return to the chairlifts before they close for their last ride at 4:30pm.

Kosciuszko Chairlift - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Other popular summer activities in Thredbo include taking the bobsled, mountain biking (beginner to advanced slopes available), horseback riding and of course, rock climbing. We could have easily spent two nights here packed full of activities but short on time and more of the coast to explore, we left for Eden (the southmost end of NSW).

Snorkeling Ocean to plate - Sydney South coast Road trip

Eden is a small coastal fishing town also really popular for whale watching cruises during May – November. But since it wasn’t in season, we took on something else a little more hands-on.

Ocean to Plate Experience - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

Being a fishing town you can expect the area to be teeming with marine life. The guys at ACWA (Australia’s Coastal Wilderness Adventures)  offer snorkelling tours around the coast but not only do you get to explore, you will be taught how to hunt for your own catch ! Abalone, mussels, sea urchins and if you’re lucky, even a crayfish if you’re extra lucky and skilful!

Ocean to plate experience - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

When you’re done with the hunt, they’ll even prepare the catch for you marinated with a delicious homemade recipe.

Other things to check out in Eden include a visit to the 80 year old Killer whale museum  as well as a bush walk in the  Ben Boyd National Park which we didn’t have time for this round.

Drive back up to Tathra Beach House for the night — a cosy apartment style accommodation. Hop by  Woodfire restaurant  just in front of the beach house for dinner. They make really good pizzas and churros!

Accommodation:  Tathra Beach House

Activity costs: Kosciuszko Ski Lift – AU$$35 (1 Day Unlimited rides) Ocean to Plate – AU$195 Killer Whale Museum – AU$10 (Closes at 3:45pm)

Day 5: Tathra — Tilba

Highlights: Bermagui Blue Pool — Glamping on a farm — Central Tilba Drive Time:  1h 30m

Bermagui blue pool - sydney south coast road trip

When you wake up, you might find yourself with pretty sore calves so make your first stop up to the famous coastal  Blue Pool  in Bermagui!

Bermagui blue pool - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

It was a really bright and sunny day but the salt water pool was freezing! Perfect cure for those sore muscles!

candy shop - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Drive up north to central Tilba, where you’ll feel like you just stepped back in time. Some interesting stops are Sweet Spot — an old school candy shop that sells more than 100 different types of candies, the ABC cheese factory  and a couple of cafes housed in a historic shop house.

After all those long drives, hiking, snorkelling, diving in the air… all we really wanted to do at this point was chill and we found the perfect place for that: Tilba Lake Camp.

Tilba Lake Camp - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Located on an 11 acre farm in Tilba, the couple Tim & Rebecca set up these 3 adorable Lotus Belle tents on their farm.

Glamping in Tilba - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Each tent has a cosy queen sized bed, a large esky/cooler and basically all the amenities you need within the area. Be sure to book early since there’s only 3 available at the moment! You also get access to a barbecue pit so drop by a Woolsworth to grab ingredients for dinner.

They also have a dog and 2 horses which all act like they’re in the best place in the world — they’re probably not far from the truth.

Accommodation:  Tilba Lake Camp (minimum 2 night stay)

Day 6: Tilba and around

Highlights: Sunrise at Horse head/Camel Rock — Picnic at Mystery bay — Gulaga National Park Drive Time: 2h 45m

If you’re up for a bit of adventure, the famous Horse Head rock is a 15 minute drive away from Tilba Lake Camp and also a gorgeous place to catch the sun rise.

Star gazing at horse head rock - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

We went in the night hoping to catch some stars which turned out great, except the path towards Horse Head can be quite tricky so having some light will help! Drive towards Camel Rock beach, park the car and walk towards the left side of the beach until you see rocks.

Horse head rock at night - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

From here, you’ll need to follow the coast climbing over rocks until you see a pebble beach where you can spot the horse head arching into the sea.

*Pro-tip:  Booties will be your best friend here. There will be parts where you’ll need to time your dash across when the waves recede so be prepared to get a little wet.

After sunrise, pack some brunch in a picnic basket (provided in the tents) and drive down to Mystery Bay  for a quiet afternoon by the beach.

If you feel like more hiking, there’s also an 800m extinct volcano — Mount Gulaga that will take 4 hours both ways.

Day 7: Back to the North

Highlights: Bodalla Cheese Factory — Jamberoo Pub — Hand feed Kangaroos and other baby animals at Symbio Wildlife Park — Figure Eight Pool (if the tide is right) Drive Time: 4h 30m

Eventually, it’ll be time to check out of the cosy Tilba Lake Camp and you’ll be torn to go, we assure you.

Breakfast in Tilba Lake Camp - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

One of the best experiences here was probably getting breakfast in bed. There’s 2 options: Waffles with bacon or Yogurt with fresh berries and granola; I can confidently vouch that both are amazing and can cheer up even the grouchiest morning people.

Tilba Lake Camp Hammock - Sydney south coast road trip

Hang out at the hammock, take one last swim in their salt water pool and it’s soon time to hit the roads once more.

This day is your chance to retrace any activities you didn’t get to do on the way down south due to bad weather or booking arrangements (trust us, it happens).

Luckily from this point, most attractions don’t require much of a detour and if you have a few drivers in the car (hopefully), you can split the journey back to Sydney City or the outskirts under 4.5 hours.

Bodalla cheese factory - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

Make a stop at the Bodalla Cheese Factory  for some cheese tasting; we got to try some really interesting ones here.

Alpacca at bodalla cheese factory - Sydney South Coast Road Trip

They also have a couple of resident animals like the alpacca, a sheep and a cow that you can ask to feed.

Jamberoo Pub - Sydney South Coast Road Trip-6

The Jamberoo pub is another popular stop for many local road trippers where you can find old school arcade machines, a room full of football memorabilia and a nice range of beers.

We decided to book a night in an Airbnb in Helensburgh before driving back into the city. The place is own by a friendly, old couple who were more than excited to give us recommendations on things to do around the area.

Feeding Kangaroos at Symbio Wildlife park - Bucket List Things to do in NSW

What’s more, the house was just 4 minutes away from the Symbio Wildlife park.  If you do plan on going however, try to get there early as the animals start getting a bit of food comma by noon from being constantly fed by visitors.

The Royal National Park is also on the way back to Sydney city so it’s a great opportunity to cover the areas you might not have gotten the time or weather to do so earlier in the trip.

Possible Accommodation:  Airbnb in Helensburgh , Summer Cabin in Wollongong

If you’ve never tried Airbnb before, get $50 off your first experience!

Activity costs: Symbio Wildlife Park – AU$32.50

Alternative routes

For those who aren’t so keen on back-tracking up the scenic South Coast, there are a couple of options. For these, we will suggest you travel slower and cover all the in-between sights that we did on our return journey!

(1) Fly back to Sydney from Merimbula

Rex flies daily from Merimbula to Sydney. You can drop your car off at Merimbula (which is between Eden and Tathra) and save time by flying back! However, depending on the number of people you are travelling with, this might be a lot more expensive.

(2) Drive back via the Highlands through Canberra

Drive all the way down to Tathra first before heading to Thredbo and Mt. Kosciusko. After climbing Kosciusko, drive northwards towards Canberra instead. From Canberra, you can either drive back to Sydney or fly back home!

Best flights from Singapore to Sydney

When it comes to flights, we all want the best deals. And while Australia might not be the most budget friendly destination, you’ll want to spend as little getting there while making sure your 8 hours is spent in comfort. That’s why Scoot’s 787 is the perfect deal. Seats generally wider and longer than any other budget airlines, and are comparable to full-service carriers.

For us, Scoot’s new 10kg carry on luggage was a blessing. Despite trying to pack minimally, we end up carrying quite a bit of camera gear for our trip; that we’d rather not check-in and hope for the best on arrival.

If that isn’t enough, there’s even an Extra Cabin Bag option where you can bring an extra 7kg on top of the existing 10kg allowance — that’s sure to help shave time off waiting at the baggage belt so we can begin our adventures right away!

Hope you found this Sydney South Coast itinerary useful! Follow us on our adventures @TheTravelIntern on Instagram or Facebook !


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Hi Cherie! Read your post and we found very interesting. Me and my bf are planning for a roadtrip in NSW this Sept and your itinerary are very helpful. Just want to know what camera are you using in this trip? We are looking for a good and convenient one. Thanks!

Hendric uses the Sony A6300. It’s a great mirrorless camera for amateurs like us who don’t like to carry a lot of bulk (especially while travelling)! You can check out his review of the camera here: Camera for the Professional Amateur – Sony α6300 Review 🙂

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The optimal nsw road trip we mapped out an itinerary of the state’s best stops.

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Ally Burnie

Ally is happiest in her hiking boots out in nature and exploring all that Mother Earth has to offer. Whenever she gets the chance, you’ll find her travelling, going on long road-trips, camping, swimming in the ocean and having some mad Jeep adventures.

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It’s time to hit the open road kids! We’ve mapped out the ultimate NSW road trip itinerary. It’s MEGA, but is it doable? Heck yeah, but only for the most passionate and adventurous outdoor explorers. Is that you? Let’s find out…

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

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You know the best thing about a road trip? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. All you need is a car, your mates (optional tbh), a map of sorts, and a wild and adventurous spirit.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart about your road trip too. Because here’s the thing – NSW has so many froth-worthy spots to visit and sadly, we’re all adults with jobs who can’t afford to spend months-on-end careening around the state without a care in the world.

Read more: How To Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip

We’ve mapped out a complete itinerary of the state’s best stops so when you do have the time, these are the must-visit locations.

From natural thermal pools in Kosciuszko National Park to the beginning of the Outback at the Walls of China in Mungo National Park, to a night of stargazing in Jervis Bay, there are so many amazing adventures to be had right in NSW.

We’ve also included some excellent tours worth looking at while you’re on the road. A bit of local knowledge or expert gear might be what’s needed to craft an unforgettable trip.

And look, we’re realists. We know it’s not exactly a feasible road trip… unless? If you absolutely can’t get enough of the great outdoors, this is a call to arms – we dare you to try tick off all these spots.

Oh, and before you head off on your adventure, please remember to check the National Parks website for closures and other important alerts. 

Read more: Remember to leave no trace !

Stop 1: The Royal National Park

Location: Royal National Park, Sydney Highlight: The Coast Track

Let’s kick off the adventure close to home, eh? Embark on an unforgettable multi-day journey along the stunning Coast track that stretches from Bundeena to Otford in Sydney’s Royal National Park.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Endless clifftop views on the Coast Track | @allyburnie_

This challenging 26km hike offers incredible coastal vistas and beautiful swimming spots along the way.

While it can be done in a day, we’d recommend breaking it up over 2 days. You could also cover either the Northern section (18km) or the Southern section (8km) of the walk if you only have one day.

Stop 2: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Location: Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Highlight: Fliteboarding

Travelling a little further north, your next stop is the beautiful Ku-ring-gai National Park. Plenty of trails to be tackled – but did you know you can go fliteboarding?

With Fliteschool Manly , you can master the art of flying an electric hydrofoil surfboard through the park’s breathtaking waterways. No wind or waves necessary! If that’s not your jam there are plenty of lush hikes too.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

As if you wouldn’t give this a crack? | Photo: Destination NSW

Stop 3: Bouddi National Park

Location: Central Coast Highlight: Bouddi coastal walk

Next, head to the sunny Cenny Coast, one of my personal fave spots in NSW and home to one of the best hikes in the state.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Soaring views all the way to Palm Beach in Bouddi | @allyburnie_

The 8km Bouddi coastal walk stretches from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach and is an incredibly scenic trail famous for its picturesque beaches, sweeping views, serene rainforests, and plenty of places for a picnic or swim.

Hot tip: Want to see the coast from the water? Coast XP run coastal sightseeing tours and whale watching (June – November) from their custom built boat.

Stop 4: Worimi Conservation Lands

Location: Stockton, Nelson Bay Highlight: 4WD beach driving

Get ready to hit the sandy shores of Worimi Conservation Lands for some seriously wild beach and dune driving action. With over 19km of Stockon beachfront and a whopping 350 hectares of dune driving, this is the ultimate playground for off-road enthusiasts.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Don’t own a 4WD? Take a quadbike for a spin! | Photo: Destination NSW

Or, if you don’t have a 4WD, why not take a quad bike or other tours through Sand Dune Adventures on land adjoining the park?

Want to start 4WDing? Read this beginner’s guide

Stop 5: Port Stephens

Location: Port Stephens Highlight: Mt Tomaree Head Summit Walk

Possibly one of the most iconic and popular places to snap a pic commemorating your journey north is from the top of the Mt Tomaree Head Summit Walk . It’s a short but steep walk that’ll take you about two hours, but the expansive views from the top are certainly bloody worth it. Pro tip: get up there for sunrise.

Stop 6: South West Rocks

Location: South West Rocks Highlight: Smokey Cape Walking Track

South West Rocks is a must-visit on any NSW road trip and a great place to soak up heaps of chill coastal vibes before adventuring inland.

The Smoky Cape walking track in particular is a must-do and is part of the longer Little Bay to Smoky Cape walk located in the northern precinct of Hat Head National Park. The trail can be done in under two hours and will take you along ridges and down gullies behind North Smoky Beach, weaving through dense rainforests of cabbage tree palms and lush ferns.

Hit up Trial Bay Gaol Campground for a beachside zone to stay the night.

Stop 7: Dorrigo National Park

Location: 1 hour from Coffs Harbour Highlight: Skywalk Lookout

There’s plenty going on in Dorrigo National Park, but an essential visit is the Skywalk Lookout . Perched 21m above the rainforest on the edge of the escarpment, the lookout offers striking views of the Bellinger Valley all the way to the coast, showcasing deep valleys and gorges covered in lush rainforest.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Misty mountain views from the Skywalk Lookout | Photo: Destination NSW

Keep an eye out for Regent bowerbirds, Topknot pigeons, and Grey goshawks as you saunter through the rainforest.

Read more: Don’t miss the tranquil cascade of Crystal Shower Falls!

Stop 8: Mt Kaputar National Park

Location: Near Narrabri Highlight: Sawn Rocks

If you’re in your Ross Geller era and love cool-looking rock formations, prepare to be awed by the epic Sawn Rocks , located north of Mt Kaputar National Park. This towering wall of pentagonal basalt pipes reaches a height of 40 metres and is the impressive result of a basalt lava flow from the Nandewar Volcano over 21 million years ago.

Sawn Rocks is one of Australia’s best examples of a rock formation called ‘organ-piping’ – because they look like a wall of giant organ pipes – go figure! To reach the rocks it’s an easy 1.5km return hike.

There’s so much more to explore at Mt Kaputar, camp out at Dawsons Spring Campground for a cool night high above the plains.

Stop 9: Pilliga National Park

Location: Near Narrabri Highlight: Pilliga Forest

Pronounced ‘pilly-gah,’ the Pilliga Forest is an unmissable destination for anyone seeking rugged beauty on a grand scale. With over half a million hectares to explore, you can drive or hike along the 2,000km of public access trails to discover the vastness of this iconic Australian landscape.

Pitch your tent at the free Sculptures in the Scrub campground in Timmallallie National Park, and take a guided Discovery tour of Sandstone Caves to learn about the Gamilaroi people’s deep connection to this ancient landscape.

Stop 10: Gundabooka National Park

Location: Bourke Highlight: Little Mountain Walking Track

Get ready to immerse yourself in the inspiring beauty of the Australian outback with the Little Mountain walking track in Gundabooka National Park. This red-soil track runs from Dry Tank campground to Little Mountain lookout, offering breathtaking views of the Gunderbooka Range rising up from the plains.

The lookout at the end of the track offers scenic views of the range’s entire northern escarpment and is especially beautiful at sunset. We recommend visiting in spring and autumn when the wildflower displays are spectacular.

Stop 11: White Cliffs Area

Location: White Cliffs Highlight: Paroo-Darling National Park

Venture to the enchanting White Cliffs region, a remote and breathtaking corner of NSW. This awe-inspiring area is renowned for its opal fields, subterranean dwellings, colonial history, and spectacular desert vistas. You can even stay in an underground motel ! Make your way to nearby towns like Wilcannia, Tilpa, and Louth, each with its unique charm and character.

Be sure to explore the magnificent Paroo-Darling National Park , home to an abundance of birdlife and significant Aboriginal sites. Witness the natural beauty of the Paroo Overflow, the only unregulated river in the Murray-Darling Basin, and bask in the expansive landscapes.

Stop 12: Mungo National Park

Location: Mungo and Wentworth Highlight: Walls of China

About 1000km to the west of Sydney you’ll find the other-worldly Mungo National Park . While Outback NSW is often forgotten in a NSW road trip itinerary, we’re here to tell you it should be on the top of your list – especially Mungo National Park and the Walls of China .

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

The moonrise over the Walls of China helps you remember you’re still on Earth | Photo: Destination NSW

Best view at sunrise or sunset, these dramatic formations shaped by wind and erosion are not to be missed. Take the time to explore the ancient lakebeds where historic relics of early Aboriginal culture have been found and marvel at the true wonder of the NSW Outback.

Stop 13: Snowy Mountains

Location: Kosciuszko National Park Highlights: Charlotte Pass Walk, Thredbo Valley Track & Yarrangobilly Caves

The Snowy Mountains region is a unique wonderland that never fails to amaze and inspire with its stunning contrasts. With towering peaks and serene valleys, grand hikes and delicious thermal pools, this place is truly one of a kind.

If you’re up for a challenge, I’d recommend the 18.6km Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk , or you can try the easier 9km Guthega to Charlotte Pass walk which is the first section of the new multi-day Snowies Alpine Walk.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Seamans Hut near Mt Kosciuszko |  @allyburnie_

If you prefer to adventure on wheels check out the Thredbo Valley Track . Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the track offers a variety of cycling experiences to suit your level.

You can choose from guided tours, the easier first section from Thredbo to Lake Crackenback Resort, or go all out on the full 35-kilometre adventure.

With a day of adventuring complete, you have to visit the picture-perfect Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool .

Nestled within the lush valley surrounded by tall eucalyptus trees and close to the Yarrangobilly River, this 20m thermal pool is sourced from a natural spring approximately 1km beneath the surface and remains a balmy 27°C all year round.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Yarrangobilly Pools stay warm year round | @allyburnie_

Stop 14: Merimbula

Location: Sapphire Coast Highlight: Kayaking adventures

Merimbula is a magical coastal town located on the Sapphire Coast, which boasts breathtaking ocean beaches and quiet coastal lakes.

There are plenty of exciting adventures to be had here, especially surfing,  kayaking or SUP-ing on Merimbula Main Beach – five kilometres of pristine blue ocean.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Long waves at Merimbula Bay | Photo: Destination NSW

Have your own kayaking adventure or be guided by the awesome team at Navigate Expeditions who offer immersive, and regenerative travel experiences for the environmentally conscious traveller.

Hot tip: Halfway between Merimbula and Jervis Bay is the new Murramarang South Coast Walk , a gorgeous three day coastal hike with camping or cabins to stay in!

Stop 15: Jervis Bay

Location: South Coast Highlights: Stargazing, Booderee National Park , Honeymoon Bay, Woebegone Freedive

From beach-side camp spots like Green Patch in Booderee National Park to the awe-inspiring Gosangs Tunnel in Honeymoon Bay, to one of the best scuba diving spots in the South Coast, there’s no limit to the adventures you can have in the Jervis Bay region.

We especially love Woebegone Freedive , a unique and adventurous underwater experience. Embark on a truly phenomenal beach and boat snorkelling expedition of Jervis Bay, catching epic seal colonies, migratory humpback whales, sea caves, and beautiful white sandy beaches.

Then, experience a new POV as you turn your head to the sky with Jervis Bay Stargazing – a new 90-minute tour led by an astrophysicist. This out-of-this-world tour offers a unique opportunity to explore the night sky using a state-of-the-art telescope and astronomy binoculars.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

If you’ve never stargazed with a telescope you’re missing out! | Photo: Destination NSW

Don’t Miss Adventures in Kangaroo Valley: Valley Outdoors in Kangaroo Valley run canoeing, hiking, camping, and abseiling experiences. Or if you’re feeling peckish the Canoe and Canapes tour by Wild Food Adventures might be more your speed.

Stop 16: Wollongong

Location: Bald Hill Lookout and Shellharbour Highlight: Hang gliding

Possibly NSW’s most popular lookout spot, Bald Hill Lookout is a must-visit on any NSW road trip itinerary. Not just a great spot to snap a pic, it’s also a hang-gliding hotspot – want to give it a go ?

From Bald Hill, you can catch a glimpse of the Sea Cliff Bridge, an iconic attraction that extends along the Grand Pacific Drive (another must-do on any NSW road trip).

Or you can get out on the water with Stand Up Paddle Boarding Shellharbour . Think sunrise paddling, after dark paddling (!) or even SUP yoga or surfing – if it’s on a SUP these guys offer it.

Stop 17: Blue Mountains

Location: Blue Mountains Highlight: Mountain Biking & Lake Lyell

You can’t leave out the Blue Mountains on a NSW road trip – but unlike most itineraries, we’re not gonna tell you to visit the Three Sisters.

We reckon your time in the Blue Mountains is better spent on a mountain biking adventure . With a range of tours spanning the length and breadth of the national park, there’s an adventure for everyone.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Mountain biking is a stellar way to see the Blue Mountains | Photo: Destination NSW

After your day of adventuring, book a spot at Lake Lyell Recreation Park . This huge campground is perfect for water skiing , fishing, kayaking, and boating, and best of all it’s dog-friendly, there’s no better spot if you love camping by the water.

snowy mountains road trip itinerary

Morning camp views at Lake Lyell | @allyburnie_

Reckon You Could Tackle this Road Trip?

Are you the ultimate road-tripper? Think you could complete this mega road trip and tick off every place and adventure? Go on, we dare ya. Let us know in the comments if you reckon you could! Also, let us know your must-visit spots on a NSW road trip – we’d love to hear about your fave places and add them to the map.


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