Like a lot of things in life, it depends.
Both options you lay out will work for test automation. However, what is your overall goal?
Are you testing a feature that is on one page? If so, you can load that page directly and test that feature. This is what you listed as option 1.
Are you testing a feature integration point, like a page redirect? Are you ...
Based on your post and comments, I think it would be fine for you to just use the direct URL to the page you are testing. I do similar things in certain tests in my own automation solution.
Having said that, I think you should also create a test that DOES go from page 1 to page 2 and on to page 3. Simply to cover the case you stated of the user experience.
Below is the answer i got, which is matching exactly what i wanted:
List<WebElement> allText = driver.findElements(By.xpath("//*[@id='pnlLeftMenu']/table/tbody/tr/td/table/tbody/tr/td/table/tbody/tr"));
int total = allText.size();
// Find all rows with a class with TBLROW as sub-string
List<WebElement> rowsWithName = driver.findElements(By.cssSelector("tr[class*=\"TBLROW\"]"));
List<String> names = rowsWithName.stream().map(row -> // For each row
row.findElements(By.className("TDOCLIST")) // Find all TDOCLIST cells