Why the road trip holiday is better than ever in midlife

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Dramatic? You bet. You’ll be treated to some of Norway’s punchiest scenery on this storm-lashed coast, which faces the worst tempers of the Atlantic. We’re talking waterfall-streaked mountains raging above piercing blue fjords, and endless broad horizons making for impressive light shows. Look out for wildlife like sea eagles and whales, dose up on history at Kvernes Stave Church on the island of Averøy, and see sea and sky melt into uniform blue at the glass viewing platform in Askevagen.

Don’t miss: Linger in ludicrously pretty, timber-built villages like Bud and Håholmen, where you can huddle up in a coastal cottage with big ocean views and hook onto fjord cruises and fishing trips. Stay at pretty little hotel Hustadvika Guesthouse for the full experience (doubles from £145 per night, 00 47 71 26 47 00; classicnorway.com).

3.Sardinia’s East Coast

Distance: 358km (222 miles); Cagliari to Santa Teresa di Gallura

When imagining Italian perfection, thoughts naturally turn to the hill towns of Tuscany, the glamour of the Amalfi Coast and sultry Sicily. But Sardinia bundles some of Italy’s best bits into one neat package, as this road trip along the island’s astonishing east coast reveals. 

Down south, the island’s capital, Cagliari, makes a charismatic starting point, with its seafront promenade and medieval citadel dotted with Pisan palazzi. The drive flick-flacks east along the coastal road to a string of secluded bays with quartz sand as white as snow, the marine park of Capo Carbonara and the gorgeous beaches of the Costa Rei, where the water is so insanely turquoise it looks Photoshopped. So far, so unsung, and it just gets better as you head north along the hairpin-riddled SS125. Here cliffs nose-dive to the dazzling blue Med on the cove-indented Golfo di Orosei, while inland the limestone mountains of the Supramonte break like waves, hiding forests thick with holm oaks, gorges, olive groves, vineyards, Bronze Age nuragic sites, and some delightful agriturismi. 

North of Olbia, the ritzy resorts, yacht-filled harbours and dreamy beaches of the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) beckon. But if it’s peace you crave, you might find you prefer the wilder, granite boulder-strewn coast of Santa Teresa di Gallura, peeking across the wind-whipped Strait of Bonifacio to Corsica.

Don’t miss: The Golfo di Orosei, a vast crescent of cliffs, caves and white-pebble coves lapped by exquisitely aquamarine waters. Cala Gonone makes a handy base for boat and kayak trips to bays like Cala Luna, Cala Sisine and Cala Goloritzè. Spend a night at Hotel Maria Rosaria before exploring further (doubles from £56, 00 39 0784 98657; hotelmariarosaria.it).

4. Utah Loop, USA

Distance: 1,024km (636 miles); Zion to Bryce Canyon

The Grand Canyon just over the state border in Arizona gets all the fuss, but Utah is every bit as dramatic but far less explored. Revealing a wilder side to the west, this road trip is a scenic thriller, with red-rock mesas thrusting above mighty rivers, knife-edge ridges, skinny slot canyons and rock formations around since dinosaurs roamed the earth. You’ll be covering a lot of ground, so allow two weeks minimum – longer if you want to hike in the national parks. Summers get roastingly hot, so visit in spring or fall for cooler temperatures on the trails.

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