Hey motorheads, we know that the recent COVID-lockdown has felt like an eternity. You must be waiting to get on your wheels and would have already planned your next road trip. But, for those who are yet to zero in on which route to take, or those who would like to not repeat the same trip every time, here is our hand-picked list of the top 10 road trips to take in India with your close ones.

1. Delhi to Ladakh 

Delhi to Ladakh is one road trip on every list, and righteously, for this is one of the most rewarding and adventurous ones. From the concrete jungle and hazy megacity, you would ride through endless farmlands, beyond which, once you enter the mountains, the scenery changes with almost every turn and hairpin bend. There are two routes for this popular road trip from Delhi; we suggest you go via one and return via the other, for the best experience.

Delhi to Ladakh

#1 of Best Road Trip

  • Route 1: Delhi–Srinagar–Kargil–Leh via Sonamarg and Zoji La (1,234 km)
  • Route 2: Delhi–Manali–Keylong–Leh via Rohtang Pass and Gata Loops (1,006 km)
  • Highlights: Hairpin bends, high-altitude mountain passes, Buddhist monasteries, clear views of the Milky Way, tent/camp stay
  • Best Time to Go: May to August

Note: If you are planning this trip in the immediate future, we would recommend against visiting the Pangong Tso area, due to the current Indo–China border dispute.

2. East Coast

From the mountains, we move on to the coast, on the famous East Coast Road (ECR). This incredible road trip in South India will literally take you along the Bay of Bengal coast, so you will perpetually be in the company of beautiful ocean views, including the azure waters, sandy beaches broken by rocks, and swaying palm trees. If you get tired of driving, just look for a quiet beach, park your bike or SUV and take a little break on the sand or with a little sprinkle of the cool seawater.

East Coast

#2 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Chennai–Mahabalipuram–Pondicherry (151 km)
  • Highlights: Sea views, ocean games, Group of Rock-Cut Monuments of Mahabalipuram, French Quarters of Pondicherry
  • Best Time to Go: October to February

Check out our definitive guide on the best things to do in Pondicherry 

3. West Coast 

If you can never choose between mountains and the sea, we have you covered, with our recommendation for a memorable road trip along the West Coast. Running from Mumbai all the way till Kanyakumari, National Highway 66 will take you along the Arabian Sea coast as well as through the lush Western Ghats. There are numerous places you can take a detour to, such as Alibaug, Lonavala–Khandala, Mahabaleshwar and Lavasa. The best part is that this highway also inherently takes you on the iconic Mumbai to Goa road trip!

West Coast

#3 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Mumbai–Goa–Kochi–Kanyakumari via Karwar, Gokarna, Mangaluru, Kozhikode, Mararikulam, Kumarakom, Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram (1,640 km)
  • Highlights: Western Ghats, sea views, Malabari food, beach sports, houseboat stay at Vembanad Lake, Fort Kochi, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, spice plantations
  • Best Time to Go: July to February

4. Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle tour is a must for anyone interested in an overdose of rich history and culture, all this while never being too far away from comfort. Covering three of the most culturally and historically rich cities in the country — Delhi, Jaipur and Agra — the excursion would not lead to even one dull moment, with so much to offer, from forts and delicious food to vibrant markets and folk performances. One of the best parts about this trip is the easy availability of budget hotels in all three cities that ensure that the vacation doesn’t take a toll on you, financially.

Golden Triangle

#4 of Best Road Trip

  • Route for Delhi to Jaipur: Delhi–Neemrana–Alwar–Jaipur (280 km)
  • Route for Delhi to Agra: Yamuna Expressway (233 km)
  • Route for Jaipur to Agra: Jaipur–Bharatpur–Agra via Fatehpur Sikri (240 km)
  • Highlights: Rajput and Mughal monuments, scrumptious dhaba meals, comfortable accommodation, cultural performances, optional detours to Mathura–Vrindavan, Bhangarh and Keoladeo National Park
  • Best Time to Go: October to February

5. Bengaluru to Coorg 

If Kerala has Munnar and Tamil Nadu has Ooty and Kodaikanal, then Karnataka has Coorg or Kodagu, its own summer getaway amidst the Western Ghats. If you ever feel the need to give the maddening life of the city a break, this road trip in Karnataka is the one to take, for it offers a perfect escape from the urban to the serene hilly country. As soon as you enter the Western Ghats, you would feel a drop in the temperature and less suffocation in the air. Lush jungles, with the sounds of endemic wildlife, would be your constant friend on the journey.

Bengaluru to Coorg

#5 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Bengaluru–Ramanagara­–Mysore–Madikeri (250 km)
  • Highlights: Sholay Village, Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali’s legacy, coffee plantations, ancient Kodava culture, treehouse stays      
  • Best Time to Go: October to May

Also Read about Skydiving in India

6. Ahmedabad to Kutch 

The Rann of Kutch is one of the most geographically unique and culturally incredible places in India. A road trip here would not be of adventure, but of solitude and visual amazement. Though the biggest highlight of the Rann of Kutch is its vast, white, salt flats, the region would also treat you to the regional wildlife, including the rare Indian wolf, if you are lucky. For the ultimate experience, choose a full moon night to explore the area on your vehicle, because the view of the salt marsh illuminated by moonlight is one you do not want to miss.

Ahmedabad to Kutch

#6 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Ahmedabad–Bhuj–Kutch (400 km)
  • Highlights: Salt marshes, regional wildlife, starry skies, optional tour of Dholavira
  • Best Time to Go: October to February (during Rann Utsav)

7. Jaipur to Ranthambore 

You can make a road trip to Jaipur better by adding a ride to Ranthambore National Park. If you have time, you could to this as part of the Golden Triangle tour, or plan a separate one, for a less hectic experience. This is one road trip you can easily do as part of a weekend getaway from Jaipur, as the ride takes merely 3.5 hours. Ranthambore is one of the best places to see the Bengal tiger in its natural habitat, which, over time, has come to include the years-old Ranthambore Fort as well.

Jaipur to Ranthambore

#7 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Jaipur–Dausa–Lalsot­–Ranthambore (190 km)
  • Highlights: Wildlife viewing, tent/camp stays, birding, Jeep safari, visit to Ranthambore Fort
  • Best Time to Go: October to May
  • Park Timings: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm (varies with season)
  • Entry Fee: ₹500 onwards

8. East Khasi Hills

From the sea and wildlife, we are back to the hills, this time those of Meghalaya. The East Khasi Hills district of the state is home to one of the prettiest and lushest sceneries in the country, one, which you would love seeing as you ride on the winding roads. The hills are dotted by gushing waterfalls and streams, the water of which would definitely refresh you. Moreover, the locals tell amazing folktales, which speak of an age-old amicable relation between humans and nature.

East khasi hills

#8 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Guwahati–Shillong–Cherrapunji (148 km)
  • Highlights: Lively buzz of Shillong, Mawsynram, Mawphlang, living root bridges, ethnic culture, folktales
  • Best Time to Go: October to June

9. Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley

Araku Valley is a name that not many people have heard, so you can expect to enjoy respite from the roaring tourist crowds here. A jewel of the Eastern Ghats, this little valley is home to lush farmlands surrounded by thickly forested hills, in many ways akin to the scenery one would see in Bhutan! Once in the valley, you could just head out on the village roads, to see the beauty of the place, talking to tribals on the way.

Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley

#9 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Visakhapatnam–Borra–Araku Valley (115 km)
  • Highlights: Nature views, coffee plantations, waterfalls, tribal food, hiking opportunities, Borra Caves
  • Best Time to Go: October to June

10. Madurai to Rameshwaram 

This is arguably one of the most unusual road trips to take in India, as this one involves driving across the sea! Yes, this road trip takes you across the India Ocean, on the famous Pamban Bridge. On this 2-km long bridge, you will see nothing but the unending ocean, with regular swells, beneath you. Once in Rameshwaram, remember to visit the abandoned town of Dhanushkodi, which was destroyed in the cyclone of 1964. Looking at the ruins, you would be filed with awe at the might of nature, but will also love the sea views.

Madurai to Rameshwaram

#10 of Best Road Trip

  • Route: Madurai–Ramanathapuram–Rameshwaram
  • Highlights: Meenakshi Amman Temple, Pamban Bridge, Ramanathaswamy Temple, Dhanushkodi
  • Best Time to Go: October to February

11. Manali to Leh

Manali to leh

#11 of Best Road Trip

At an elevation of nearly 13,000 feet, passing through the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas and tackling adventurous roads and turns – who hasn’t dreamt of this? Manali to Leh is one of the best road trips in India and indeed once in a lifetime experience for many. Don’t forget to carry essentials like vehicle documents, insurance, medicines, dry energy-dense snacks and good winter clothes as you get ready for this exciting journey. Although a difficult route for many, this road trip is also one of the most fulfilling ones.

  • Route: Solang Valley-Lahaul-Spiti-Zanskar Valley via Leh-Manali Highway (480 km)
  • Highlights: Snow-capped mountains, deep valleys, high-altitude mountain passes
  • Best Time to Go: June to September

12. Mumbai to Goa

Mumbai to Goa

#12 of Best Road Trip

The next time you plan to visit Goa, go for a road trip from Mumbai. It will make for an exciting experience indeed. If you take the NH-66 route, you are in for a whole lot of adventure and interesting places like the beaches and waterfalls at Chiplun, Karnala Fort and Karnala Bird Sanctuary at Panvel, and the tranquil Bhira Dam at Kolad. Many sharp turns and altitudinal differences will add to the challenge of this trip. For a safer and smoother journey though, you can pick the route via NH-4, which is easier to navigate as well. This route is also a delight for history buffs, as you will come across Shaniwarwada Fort, Panhala Fort and Belgaum’s forts and palaces as well.

  • Route 1: Mumbai-Pune-Satara-Kolhapur-Belgaum-Goa via Mumbai Pune Expressway and NH-4 (600 km)
  • Route 2: Mumbai-Panvel-Kolad-Sawantwadi-Goa via NH-66 (577 km)
  • Highlights: Lush forests, hilly roads, forts, palaces, beaches, waterfalls
  • Best Time to Go: October to March

13. Guwahati to Tawang

#13 of Best Road Trip

Looking to undertake an amazing road trip in North East India? Covered with challenging roads and rough terrains, a road trip from Guwahati to Tawang will satisfy you for sure. One of the best road trips in India, this 510 km journey allows you to make multiple stops and admire beautiful monasteries, serene lakes, lively waterfalls and winding roads on the way. Ideally, an SUV in good condition and one that has decent ground clearance will make your trip an easy one. Also, don’t miss to tickle your taste buds at the local eateries you will come across.

  • Route: Guwahati-Tezpur-Bomdila-Dirang-Tawang (510 km) 
  • Highlights: Valleys, mountains, rugged terrains, adventurous roads
  • Best Time to Go: March to June

14. Shimla to Manali

Manali

#14 of Best Road Trip

Two of the most favourite places in Himachal Pradesh, Shimla and Manali are a part of every traveller’s bucket list. While you can easily cover both places in two days, you can reserve one day for an amazing road trip from Shimla to Manali. On this route, you will come across magnificent sights of mountains and valleys. Don’t forget to check out the towns and villages you pass by and taste some local delicacies like thukpa, babru, chha gosht or mash daal, before reaching Manali. If you are up for a bit of detour, do explore the gorgeously planned city of Chandigarh. 

  • Route: Shimla – Mandi – Manali (250 km) 
  • Highlights: Hilly roads, narrow turns, roadside restaurants and eateries, temples, waterfalls
  • Best Time to Go: October to June

15. Bangalore to Ooty

bangalore to Ooty

#15 of Best Road Trip

One of the most serene and memorable road trips in India, this journey offers you everything. From lush green forests and mountains to historic monuments and vast tea plantations, you surely must not miss this. Stop by some picturesque waterfalls and rivers for a short picnic and photography session and enjoy this one-day road trip with your friends or go solo. You can also choose to spend a day in Mysore and explore the stunning palace here as well as the sprawling zoo, before heading to Ooty.

  • Route: Bangalore-Channapatna-Mandya-Mysore-Masinagudi via NH275 and NH766 (280 km) 
  • Highlights: Rose gardens, tea plantations and factories, lakes, waterfalls, wide roads
  • Best Time to Go: October to June

16. Delhi to Jaipur

Delhi TO jaipur

#16 of Best Road Trip

Ready to drive through the rugged mountains of Aravalli and visit the Pink City? Then this is one of the best road trips in India you can take. On the way, stop by the popular Old Rao Dhaba in Gurgaon and Surya Dhaba in Alwar and dig into some delicious parathas loaded with butter. Add more fun to your trip by going with your friends, family or loved ones and explore the palaces and forts on the way. Neemrana Fort-Palace is especially a breath-taking property packed with luxurious facilities and offering sweeping views. You can spend a night here before continuing with your trip.

  • Route: Delhi-Gurgaon-Neemrana-Shahpura-Dand-Amer-Jaipur via NH8 (270 km) 
  • Highlights: Local eateries, wide roads, busy traffic, forts
  • Best Time to Go: October to March

17. Delhi to Mussoorie

Mussoorie

#17 of Best Road Trip

If you are in the mood to visit a hill station from Delhi, Mussoorie is an amazing choice. Away from the bustle of Delhi, this road trip will fuel your love for nature and let you admire the challenging roads of Uttarakhand. You will come across beautiful waterfalls, where you can click memorable photos and take rest. This road trip to Mussoorie is exciting not only because of the landscapes and mountains, but also because of the beautiful villages you spot on the way. You can expect a unique experience in villages like Pantwari, Aunter and Devalsari that are close to Dehradun.

  • Route: Delhi-Deoband-Dehradun-Mussoorie via Saharanpur Road (300 km) 
  • Highlights: Restaurants, Ganeshdham, Deoband, hilly roads, Uttarakhand villages
  • Best Time to Go: February to May

18. Delhi to Corbett

Jim Corbett

#18 of Best Road Trip

Delhi to Jim Corbett (located near Ramnagar) is one of the awesome road trips in India that you can cover within a day. It only takes about 5-6 hours and you can go for the evening safari if you reach Jim Corbett by afternoon. On your journey, you will love the experience of moving away from the cacophony of loud traffic and the sight of tall buildings towards the calm surroundings of Nainital in Uttarakhand. You will pass through many forests, mountains as well small waterfalls and streams, so don’t forget to soak in every moment. If you have the time, do explore Nainital and its picturesque lakes. 

  • Route: Delhi-Noida-Hapur -Muradabad Bypass-Kashipur-Ramnagar (via Kashipur) (300 km) 
  • Highlights: Mountains, waterfalls, lakes, narrow roads, sharp turns
  • Best Time to Go: October to May

There you go…here was our list of the best road trips in India by car or bike, which you must take at least once in your life. In the current scenario, a road trip is anyway better than taking a train or flight (social distancing and taking all necessary anti-COVID precautions being the norm). So, pack your bags, fuel that wheeled beast of yours and head out, albeit with all protective measures! And, if you know of any other incredible road trips to go post the lockdown ends, tell us about them in comments!