5 roads to romance

5 roads to romance

If honeymoon heaven is four wheels and a great soundtrack, drive off into the sunset together on one of these romantic road trips

South Africa - The Garden Route 

Port Elizabeth to Cape Town

Why go? A far cry from the horticultural honeymoon you might expect from the name, the 'Garden Route' is named for its lush vegetation. Drive through rolling vineyards, pine plantations and fragrant bush, past mountains, lagoons, rocky coves and gloriously deserted beaches.

Hit the road: Drive the Garden Route in either direction between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on the Western Cape. Heading west from Port Elizabeth, cross the Bloukrans Bridge on the way to Plettenberg Bay. Intrepid honeymooners can take a leap of faith off the highest (and simultaneously 3rd highest when you bounce) bridge bungee in the world.

Before you reach the beaches of Plett, escape the world in Nature's Valley. Surrounded by the Tsitsikamma National Park, you can hike, explore the forest canopy and go tubing. Take a walk with orphaned elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park between there and Knysna.

Mossel Bay, where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias set foot ashore in 1488, is a good place to pause. The 'Post Office Tree' (where sailors would leave letters in a shoe under a pine tree to be collected by ships headed past) is the town's main attraction.

Close to Cape Town, Hermanus and Stellenbosch are both romantic spots worth visiting. For nature lovers, Hermanus has astonishing cliff-edge whale watching as migrating southern right whales mate and give birth in the coves close to land. Stellenbosch, in the heart of the Winelands, gives active couples the chance to swap four wheels for bike tours of the vineyards.

Rev up the romance… with a platter of oysters. The well known aphrodisiac is a speciality of the lagoon at Knysna.

Germany - Bavaria's 'Romantic Road'

Würzburg to Fussen

Why go? Drive through the fairytale countryside of Franconia and Bavaria along Germany's 'Romantic Road'. The 225 mile journey is a perfect two to three day meander through the heart and soul of Germany.

Hit the road: Start off in Würzburg, famous for excellent wines, gourmet restaurants and one of Europe's most renowned Baroque castles, The Residence Palace. Head steadily south through the fortified town Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Augsburg (where a Mozart Festival is held every September) and Pfaffenwinkel, famous for beautiful landscapes, churches and villages. The pilgrimage church Wieskirche in Steingaden is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Finish your journey in romantic Fussen on the Austrian border. It's the perfect base to visit Neuschwanstein Castle (the palace of mad King Ludwig famously featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and the less visited, Hohenschwangau Castle.

Rev up the romance in any German car of your choice - from a BMW convertible to a classic Volkswagen Beetle.

United States - California's Highway 1

Los Angeles to San Francisco

Why go? Driving the 'All-American Road' up California's Pacific Coast is regularly ranked as one of the world's best drives. For the area's greatest views, head north from glamorous Los Angeles to bohemian San Francisco.

Hit the road: California's Highway 1 runs from Capistrano Beach in Orange County to Leggett in northern Mendocino. The two most romantic sections are between Santa Monica and Oxnard, and the well-known section between Morro Bay (just north of San Luis Obispo) and Monterey, which passes through Big Sur and arty Carmel. You can also cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco.

Take the Old Coast Road through remote redwood forests and canyons en route to Bixby Bridge, for some alone time. You can also look for moonstones and California jade at Moonstone Beach near Cambria. Or, park up for a while and explore the state parks along the way. McWay Falls rushes 100ft (30m) into a picturesque cove in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park near Nepenthe.

Rev up the romance… by driving into the sunset in a classic Cadillac. Be warned you'll have to drag your eyes from the scenery to watch out for narrow lanes, hairpin bends, steep drops into the ocean, and the level of your petrol gauge.

Netherlands - Bollenstreek Route

Haarlem to Naaldwijk

Why go? Stop and smell the roses (or rather, tulips) while you exchange horse-power for flower power in the Netherlands. There is no landscape more plentiful in pollen than the Netherlands' Bollenstreek Route, also known as the flower route.

Hit the road: Since the first tulip was planted in 1593, the Dutch horticulture industry has bloomed, spreading strips of colour across the low-lying plains. Start in Haarlem and follow the thick ribbons of colour along Bollenstreek, passing through Lisse and Leiden, before finishing in Naaldwijk. The route is around 25 miles long and can also be completed on a bicycle.

A sea of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils blanket the region in April and May. Not only is there beauty-beyond-belief along the drive, but romantic road trippers can experience fresh flower scents, flower auction houses and the public gardens showcasing them, as well as art and horticulture history museums. Don't miss Lisse's stunning 70 acre woodland park.

Rev up the romance… by splashing out on some diamonds in nearby Amsterdam. The city has been associated with the diamond trade for more than 400 years.

Australia - The Great Ocean Road 

Torquay to Warrnambool

Why go? This scenic drive takes you along 160 miles (243km) of Australia's rugged south-eastern coastline past deserted beaches, small villages, and breathtaking scenery. There's also plenty of wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, parrots, and penguins.

Hit the road: The Great Ocean Road of Australia begins in the Victoria city of Torquay and ends in Warrnambool. From Torquay, head to the surfer's paradise Bells Beach then continue on along the coast past both beautiful beaches and rainforest scenery to Lorne on the Erskine River.

Stop at Apollo Bay to cuddle koalas in Otway National Park and stretch your legs hiking to the striking rainforest waterfalls. The photogenic limestone stacks known as The Twelve Apostles are just along the coast from here. Pause for a paddle and a picture before continuing on to Port Campbell National Park. There's a self-guided Discovery Walk along the cliff top to a view over Two Mile Bay before you head to Warrnambool.

Rev up the romance… at Australia's oldest, surviving lighthouse at Cape Otway Light station. Crack open a couple of 'tinnies' watching the sun set where Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean come together before trying some freshly-caught seafood.

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