Winter is coming. As temperatures dip and the evenings draw in, you could be forgiven for curling up in front of the fire under a cosy blanket with your hands clasped around a hot mug. However, wintertime brings some wonderful things to the world, dishing up landscapes that are unimaginable during the warmer months of the year. So get your car loaded up with everything you need, or set your sights further afield with six of the best winter road trips across the globe.
Romantic Road, Germany
Starting with a road that you can reach within a day’s travel from the UK, the Romantische Straße runs for 220 miles through southern Germany. You’ll wind through the foothills of the Alps past old villages that dazzle under the snowfall of winter, and it’s the perfect time of year for spotting the Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle surrounded by trees doused in snow. As well as the romantic scenery, you can also stop off at the traditional Christmas markets dotted along the route.
Ring Road, Iceland
Iceland’s Route 1 is a very special road indeed. It runs right around the island, past some of the country’s best tourist attractions, including the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. The island’s natural beauty is even more breathtaking under a blanket of snow, and you’ll enjoy endless views stretching all around you as you cover the 828-mile Ring Road. And what could be more fitting than catching a glimpse of wild reindeer when you’re full of the festive spirit?
North Cape, Norway
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, this could be the winter road trip for you. Heading to a jaw-dropping cape on the island of Mageroya in northern Norway, this route has everything from dramatic coastal views to lengthy tunnels which take you a couple of hundred metres below sea level. There can be closures over winter, but you can wait for a snowplough to lead the way for you and other vehicles, heading on to the North Cape with its 307-metre cliff that plummets down into the sea. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot the Northern Lights there too.
Mammoth Lakes, California
Strap on your chains or check the tread on your snow tyres and prepare to go big - mammoth. Hit the road inland from San Francisco and in around five hours you’ll arrive at a place where everything’s supersized. The mountains, valleys, and shimmering mountain lakes that surround the town of Mammoth Lakes are resplendent over winter, while the Deep Creek Hot Springs are even more enticing when there’s a chill in the air. What’s more, the iconic Yosemite National Park is nearby, which is a true winter wonderland when the mercury dips.
Icefields Parkway, Canada
If mountains are your thing, then head north of the border into Canada. The Icefields Parkway carves its way through two of the country’s most famous national parks, Banff and Jasper. Driving the 140 miles or so along the road during winter, you’ll be greeted with other-worldly scenery as you take in sights such as Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake and Tangle Falls, not to mention the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies including Mount Forbes and Mount Robson. The black and grizzly bears may be hibernating, but don’t forget to keep an out for wildlife like bighorn sheep, mountain goats and woodland caribou.
Southern Scenic Route, New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the most incredible places in the world to go road tripping, and the South Island’s Southern Scenic Route is proof of that. The seasons are of course reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, but the snow that clings to the rugged mountain tops most earnestly over June, July and August brings an added dimension to this 400-mile route. You’ll scythe your way through landscapes that throw up everything from fjords to beaches, quaint towns, waterfalls, interesting wildlife and plenty of imposing mountains, while you can divert to Milford Sound if you wish for an extra treat.