Roll down the windows, turn up the volume and buckle-up for 10 of the best road trips Europe has to offer. Vamos!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016, and updated with the most up-to-date information.
1. Lake District – North England
A National Park, Cumbria’s acclaimed Lake District encompasses some of England’s very best scenery. Quaint settlements, still, blue lakes and fertile farmland dot the pristine countryside, where over 23 million day-visitors flock annually.
Bring a picnic, cycle or stroll and swoon over the picturesque towns of Keswick, Windermere and Ambleside.
2. Amalfi Coast – Italy
Italy’s rugged coastline of medieval cliff-side fishing villages, lemon groves and agriturismos have made Campania’s famed Amalfi Coast one of the world’s most beloved road trips. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its breathtaking Mediterranean landscapes, the drive is as challenging as it is rewarding, with two-lane winding mountain roads and plenty of blind turns.
Start in Salerno, meandering through Ravello, Amalfi, Positano, Minori & Maiori, and the island of Capri, before finishing up in Sorrento.
Getting there: 1hr from Naples or 3.5hrs from Rome
3. Autobahn – Germany
Every year, car buffs and lovers of speed make the pilgrimage to put the pedal-to-the-metal on some of the world’s fastest motorways. Germany’s Autobahn is the national controlled-access highway system spanning almost 13,000kms, making it one of the world’s longest, too.
Over half of the network is speed-limit-free, where only a suggested limit of 130kms/hr is posted. Rent the latest BMW and watch your mirrors for the luxury car parade, as the Autobahn reminds everyone that sometimes, you don’t even need a destination.
Getting there: throughout Germany – fly to any city!
4. Dalmatian Coast – Croatia
As the pine forests of the Dinaric Alps make way to olive groves, hidden coves and countless pretty inlets of shimmering Adriatic blue, it suddenly hits you that this may be Europe’s most enchanting stretch of coastline. Over a thousand islands and islets dot the horizon, some even ready to ferry your car over.
Throughout, fantastic rental accommodations fitting every budget abound, as well as some of Europe’s most idyllic beaches. National Parks, gorgeous lakes and charming ancient towns are all well represented here, without the summer crowds most of coastal Europe gets. The walled-city of Dubrovnik is a must!
Getting there: Fly to Zagreb, Dubrovnik or Split and you’re there!
5. Provence – Southern France
Sweeping lavender fields, timeless hilltop villages and some of the world’s most cherished wineries are all synonymous with France’s most explored and enjoyed regions. Sip your way from Montpellier through Arles, Avignon and Salon-de-Provence, stopping wherever your heart desires.
Taste Marseille’s bouillabaisse and visit its souk-style markets for other local delicacies. Marvel at Camargue’s wild horses and pink flamingos or follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh and Cezanne, fawning over the Cyprus-lined landscapes that made them famous. Bon appetit et Salut!
Getting there: 3hrs drive from Nice or 7.5hrs from Paris
6. Basque Circuit – Northern Spain
The gastro-eccentric Basque country of Northern Spain is pure foodie heaven, easily challenging both France and Italy’s best eats. As good as the region tastes, there’s art, surfing, a film festival and one of the world’s best city beaches too.
Begin in Bilbao and take-in the cutting edge design of the Guggenheim Museum. Head west along the Bay of Biscayne for some great surf breaks (around Santander), or back east to San Sebastian and its magnificent crescent-shaped beach, annual International Film Festival and to-die-for pintxos (tapas).
Getting there: fly into Bilbao or San Sebastian and you’re there! Madrid is a 5hr drive.
7. Romantic Road – Germany
Originally travelled by the Romans 2,000 years ago, this historic trade route through Bavaria in south-central Germany is a story-book step-back-in-time. Red-roofed villages disturb the otherwise lush green scenery, with Baroque churches, typical wineries, fairy-tale castles and medieval cobblestone streets.
The magical 355km trip can be happily broken up with frequent stops to sample hearty German fare, incredible local beer and of course, those mesmerizing countryside vistas.
Getting there: fly into Frankfurt or Munich – the route runs between them.
8. Atlantic Road – Norway
This jaw-dropping adventure showcases Norway’s majestic mountain ranges, flawless forests, 10,000-year-old fjords and towering waterfalls that barrel into crystal clear lakes. The air is otherworldly fresh up here and the short summer season simply can’t be beaten.
Grab a car in Bergen and head north. En route to Trondheim, you’ll drive through the world’s longest road tunnel, past fast flowing white-water rivers and ancient glaciers. Norwegian law permits camping in any public space so drive and stop wherever you see fit. Just set up your tent and enjoy!
Getting there: fly into Bergen or Oslo – Bergen is a 7hr drive from Oslo
9. North Coast 500 – Scotland
The North Coast 500 may sound like a stock-car race but you’ll want to slow down and savour this newly built passage through the Highlands. Snake your way between mammoth hills of weather-beaten grasses, past sand dunes and empty beaches, deep freshwater lochs and some of the most picturesque Scottish wilderness, forming a loop around the entire northern tip of the country.
If you’re into spooky ruins of ancient villages, stately castles and grazing Shetland ponies, then this is the trip for you.
Getting there: fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh – Inverness is 3.5hrs from either
10. Causeway Coastal Route – Ireland
True Irish charm unfolds around you as you leave the bustle of Belfast on this ultra-scenic 315km drive. Discover striking sandstone towers, cliffs of swarming seabirds, magnificent castles and multi-green glens (valleys), and always, warm Irish hospitality with every inviting stop.
Sample the fruits of the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery in Bushmills, and be humbled by the dramatic Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and iconic symbol of the region.
Getting there: fly into Belfast and head north-west to Londonderry
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