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The World’s 7 Best Road Trips

It’s hard to beat the slower pace, the backroads options, the pleasant surprises you find when you get off the beaten track in a country—even if you’re on your way to a well-known locale.

It might be that once-a-month market in France that pops up in the same field where it’s been held every summer for hundreds of years...or that little café in a tiny village in Italy where you’re the only tourist and where the pile of sardines you’re served for pennies on the dollar is a meal you’ll still be talking about 22 years later...

Borders may be closed at the moment, but now is a great time to plot your course—to find places you can explore where crowds will be thinner—but the experiences that much richer. Whether you choose to drive on your own or take advantage of the good rail and bus connections that exist in many countries, you’ll find the journey can be as rewarding as the destination itself.

Because of Ireland’s long and varied history, rich culture, great food, dramatic landscapes, and the widespread use of the English language, it’s perfectly possible to spend seven days in a single area around any of Ireland’s hundreds of interesting cities and towns.

But getting a feel for the depth and breadth of Ireland is entirely possible in a reasonably short time thanks in large part to Ireland’s excellent train and bus systems, which crisscross the country.

How to Spend 7 Days in Ireland guides visitors from Dublin to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, Adare in County Limerick, and the Dingle Peninsula.

Panama is the southernmost country in Central America and is bordered by Costa Rica and Colombia. The country boasts cool mountain havens and country hamlets with miles and miles of beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean, and of course, a modern capital famous for its sparkling skyline.

Panama is tiny, so distances are short—it’s easy to get around. The beautifully maintained Pan-American Highway runs the breadth of the country, making travel easy.

A 7 day Panama itinerary starts in Panama City and goes right across to Chiriqui Province.

Long an under-the-radar destination, today Portugal’s low costs, historic towns, warm weather, and varied landscapes are attracting Americans in increasing numbers.

Rich in culture, Portugal offers many adventures—cruise a river past the terraced landscape of one of Portugal’s finest wine-growing regions…view a Gothic church with 650 pounds of gold plating…step back in time at Portugal’s best-preserved Roman ruins.

Or stretch out on the sands of the Portuguese Riviera and, atop a mountain in a national forest, embrace Romanticism in a flamboyant palace…sip award-winning wines, dine on fresh fish and aged beef, and marvel at the variety of breads and pastries available in aromatic padarias and pastelarias.

How to Spend 7 Days in Portugal guides travelers from Porto to Sintra and Lisbon and then down to Faro in one week.

The South American country of Peru may be best known as the home of the mountaintop Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. But it has so much more to offer, from colonial towns and undiscovered beaches to modern metropolises and quiet farming regions.

A ten-day Peru itinerary gives time to become acquainted with the three southern locations that are most popular with ex-pats; Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa. Of course, Machu Picchu is also included in this itinerary—almost everybody who visits Peru wants to see this iconic site.

The Southern France itinerary points to five places that offer good weather, friendly locals, and good-value living worthy of exploring.

Over the years, Steven Johnson and his wife, Joni, had traveled throughout France, usually staying a couple of weeks each time, in search of their just-right retirement spot.  

“Weather was an issue,” says Steven. “We had lived in an area in the U.S. that had four distinct seasons, but the winters were cold, so we wanted a more moderate climate. The community was important as well, not just an ex-pat community but an energetic group that welcomed ex-pats.

Access to great food was a requirement and the availability of a university, a plus.

The search, headed for Languedoc Roussillon, and the Gulf of Lion, where we investigated Carcassonne, Narbonne, Nice, Eze, and Aix en Provence.

Their recommended Southern France itinerary can be found here: France Itinerary: A Journey Through Southern France

Italy has a staggering amount to offer travelers…and residents. Romantic cities, timeless hill towns, snowy mountains, idyllic islands, vineyard-covered countryside, and a rivetingly beautiful coastline.

Expats in Italy say they love not only the art, culture, impressive architecture, world-renowned food, and easy access to the rest of Europe, but also the slower pace of life and the culture that prioritizes family and friends over work and to-do lists.

This is the very definition of sweet life. It’s about surrounding yourself with people you love, taking the time to enjoy even the simplest things—a delicate zucchini blossom, a well-made cup of coffee, the feeling of sand between your toes—and prioritizing the important things in life.

International Living’s Southern Italy itinerary includes eight stops from San Marino right back up to Florence.

Ecuador, the Land of Eternal Spring, is an increasingly popular destination. It uses the U.S. dollar as its currency and offers a low cost of living as well as a variety of communities welcoming for ex-pats.

With mountains, beaches, and everything in between it is a land of an amazingly diverse range of comfortable climates and relaxed lifestyle opportunities. Perhaps overlooked in all of this is the fact that Ecuador is also a fantastic tourist destination.

Explores the cities of Quito and Cuenca in the Andes, and the beach resort of Salinas on the Pacific coast.

Quito, the capital, offers a vibrant city life; Cuenca, a university town, provides a slow pace and lots to do. And Salinas offers warm weather and great beaches.

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