When you're stuck at home dreaming of your next big trip but don't know when you'll be able to go, the "street view" in Google Maps is here to help. You may be used to using the service to see exactly where a house or business is, but it can be an excellent tool for taking a virtual road trip in far-off lands. Google's camera-equipped cars have photographed some exciting and breathtaking roads in their quest to map out the planet.
Even though these scenic routes are best experienced in-person from your own vehicle, taking a virtual road trip is one effective way to scratch your travel itch and get inspired for your next vacation. Take a solitary drive through Alaska, a romantic trip through French vineyards with your partner, or a thrilling zipline journey over the Amazon River with your kids, all from the comfort of your own home.
Route des Châteaux, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Located in southwest France, Bordeaux is home to some of the greatest winemakers in the world, from Château Margaux to Château Haut-Brion. Given their status (and the wines' prices), these vineyards and chateaux are immaculately kept, making a drive through this French wine country a fascinating look at just how many different, fantastic wines are grown in such proximity to one another. Starting on Route des Châteaux, you can "drive" south and see Château Latour, Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Château Léoville-Las Cases, and more, while passing through charming French villages and endless acres of gorgeously green vineyards.
Avenue de la Porte Neuve, Monaco
From Bordeaux, continue east across France until you reach the glitzy microstate of Monaco, the second-smallest country in the world after Vatican City. There are very few roads in Monaco, so you can easily get a comprehensive tour of the entire country.
The best place to begin is Avenue de la Porte Neuve, with a view of the cruise ships waiting in Port Hercules and the white-washed buildings against the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The street twists and turns, at times becoming quaint and secluded while at other times opening up to an expansive view of the water. As you go along, you'll see the famed Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the Prince's Palace of Monaco, and end up in the sparking Monte Carlo district.
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana
The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road features some of the steepest roads and most dramatic climbs of any route in the country, so you'll have a much eacier time enjoying these stunning views from the comfort of your own home. Located within Glacier National Park in Montana, Going-to-the-Sun Road looks out onto vast sections of the park. The road itself is both a National Historic Landmark and a civil engineering phenomenon, passing through glacial lakes, rugged mountains, crashing waterfalls, and endless expanses of alpine forests. You may not get the full experience of camping in the wilderness, but this iconic American route is a must-see, even vicariously.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Explore the coastline of Victoria in Southern Australia along this 150-mile stretch of scenic road, which was built by returning soldiers between 1919 and 1932. Dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, it also serves as the world's largest war memorial. The Great Ocean Road traverses everything from rainforests to beaches to steep cliffs, as well as many limestone and sandstone rock formations, including the famed Twelve Apostles. It's widely considered to be one of the most beautiful driving routes in the world and the virtual version is only going to inspire you to book a plane ticket to Australia and drive the road yourself.
Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania
Crossing the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains, the long and winding Transfăgărășan Highway is one of Romania’s top tourist destinations thanks to its beautiful scenery with its various hairpin turns. The idyllic stretch even passes by Bran Castle, famous for being the home of the legendary Dracula himself, and offers views of Vidraru Lake. The valley gets gradually steeper before climbing sharply up to its highest point: the 2,900-foot-long Capra Tunnel, with an altitude of 6,699 feet. The ever-changing scenery of the highway makes for a tremendous digital road trip.
Seward Highway, Alaska
Extending from Seward to Anchorage, the 125-mile long Seward Highway runs through scenic parts of Alaska, such as the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm, and the Kenai Mountains. The highway runs partially alongside Kenai Lake before traveling through lush Alaskan pine forests and into the Kenai Mountains before following the Turnagain Arm to Anchorage.
If you want to see even more of the Last Frontier state, don't stop at Anchorage. Continue due north on your Google road trip and you'll head straight into Denali National Park, famous for the eponymous mountain which is the highest point in the U.S. Make sure to use the 360-degree view for a full panoramic image while you're "driving," and you might catch some wildlife off in the distance, including sheep, moose, caribou, and even bears.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
If you’d love to live out your own fantasy series, a drive around the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a must. The island was said to be home to mythical creatures like giants and fairies, while ruins of castles still stand near areas where many battles took place. You’ll see different types of terrain, from jagged volcanic formations made by landslides at Trotternish Ridge to the Red and Black Cuillin Mountains in the south. The island is mostly wilderness with a few small towns sprinkled along the way, so this outdoorsy route is just what you need to escape the tedium of being cooped up inside.
Tantalus Drive, Hawaii
Located in Honolulu, Tantalus Drive backs up to the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve and Puu Ualakaa State Park. Here you will get to see a wide variety of Hawaii’s trees, including ironwood, guava, and pine, and those of the flowering variety, including jacaranda, African tulips, and shower trees. Along the drive, you get several lookout points including a sweeping view of the Punchbowl Crater, which was a once-active volcano nearly 100,000 years ago.
If you're stuck inside and would love nothing more than to be enjoying the lush and verdant backdrops of Oahu, this is the road trip for you. And one of the perks of doing this trip from your home computer instead of driving it is that you can safely and responsibly enjoy a sweet tropical cocktail while you do it.
Old Port of Montreal, Canada
The historic Old Port of Montreal was used from the early 17th century until 1976 and runs along the Saint Lawrence River. Driving down Rue de Commune, you'll pass by the Chapel of Notre Dame, built in 1771, and the Bonsecours Market, which as been in operation since 1847. Traveling up the cobblestone side streets, you'll come around to Notre Dame Street, home to city hall as well as the courthouse. Be sure to "walk" each of the small streets that wind around the Old Port to explore old-school pubs and establishments, many of which have been there since the port first opened.
Amazon Rainforest via Zipline
Though not technically a drive, Google’s street view offers up a stunning glimpse of the Amazon Rainforest via zip line, right outside of the city of Manaus in Brazil. The project was made possible with assistance from the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, using a 360-degree camera traveling as fast as 62 miles an hour to capture all the action. You won't get the same adrenaline rush as if you were really flying through the rainforest, but this virtual zip line may be the next best thing. The same project also lets you navigate a boat down the Mariepauá River or walk through a village of an Indigenous tribe.