A Guide to the Best Road Trips in Europe
Posted on 30/06/2016
We don’t think there’s much competition when it comes to road tripping. Europe as a continent offers so much choice and every single destination has its own unique charm. When it comes to a driving holiday, you really can’t beat a European backdrop.
Combined with the cultural cities, the sophisticated gastronomy of the countryside, the continent’s rich and interesting history, the amazing architecture, and let us not forget….those jaw-dropping coastlines, there’s nowhere we’d rather be behind the wheel.
If you’re looking for a road trip break in Europe by car, campervan or motorhome, check out some of these amazing driving routes. Here’s our complete guide to the best road trips in Europe!
1. Amalfi Coast, Italy
It’s probably one of the most talked about coastlines in Europe and it’s one of the most beautiful areas in Italy. The Amalfi Coast drive is mentioned time and time again in magazine articles, travel guides and books, and takes you along the southern flanks of the Sorrento Peninsula for jaw-dropping coastal panoramas and some of the best Italian seafood dishes. Go from Salerno to Positano and be prepared for a windy drive with narrow cliff side roads. The tight lanes can be challenging for campervans but it’s totally worth it.
2. Autobahn, Germany
To this day, this stretch of motorway remains as one of the most famous road trip destinations in the world and for most petrol heads, it’s a bucket list must. The German Autobahn system stretches over 8,000 miles and creates a convenient connection between cities. Like 60% of Germany’s highways, the Autobahn has no speed limit, giving speed demons a chance to really put their foot down whilst travelling through some of Germany’s most beautiful countryside.
3. Route 500, Germany
Whilst the Autobahn is all about speed, Route 500 in Germany is the perfect drive for anyone who wants mind-blowing views, making it much more suitable for travelling families in motorhome and recreational vehicles who want to take their time. Cutting through the Black Forest in Germany’s southwest, bordering France, this incredible drive will take you on a smooth road through the mountains and you’ll love the panoramic sights.
4. Bucharest to Vienna
This road trip is ideal for anyone who wants to get away from typical Western Europe. Start at Bucharest and head north through the Carpathian Mountains to Transylvania and then head to the Timisoara in Romania before continuing onto Budapest. Make a pit stop for a few days to explore the wonders of both Buda and Pest (both sides are as must) before embarking on your journey to Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, and drive the final stretch of 1 hour to stunning Vienna.
5. Bergen to Trondheim
If you want unlimited time to discover the Norwegian fjords without schedule and tour restrictions, you simply have to do it by car. Kick off your trip in Bergen and drive along the magical roads along fjords, mountain landscapes and waterfalls before finishing your trip in the beautiful city of Trondheim. Pack camping equipment and you can sleep free along the way!
6. Grande Corniche, France
This is one of the three famous cliff road drives of the Riviera. It’s one of the most glamorous destinations in the Med and if you’ve got a penchant for perfect peaches, amazing food, sophisticated wine, millionaire yachts and fancy villas, the Grande Corniche drive has to be done in style. It’s where Hitchcock filmed Grace Kelly driving her roadster in To Catch a Thief and it runs all the way from Nice to Menton in Italy. Whilst there are also two other Corniche routes, this is considered to be the most beautiful.
7. Ring of Kerry
This route should not be overlooked by the more glamorous coastlines in the Med. The Irish countryside is ones of the most stunning in Europe and the Ring of Kerry will give first time visitors the ultimate taster of Ireland and its landscapes. This is a 200km loop route, offering everything from mountain trails and deep lakes to rugged beaches and the elegant rivers of the Emerald Isle, with so many amazing pit stops you won’t want to miss.
8. Troll Route, Norway
Did you know that some Norwegians still believe in trolls? This mythical creature is not so mythical to some communities in Norway and the Trollstigen mountain pass is a prime place for troll spotting! It’s actually famous for being one of the most scenic drives in Europe so you can soothe your eyes with the incredible backdrop of mountains and waterfalls – but beware of the trolls at night if you’re one of those who believe.
9. South Coast Drive, Iceland
For something utterly out of this world, there’s no other place like Iceland’s South coast. Along this long stretch of road, you won’t encounter much traffic so for most of your drive, you might feel utterly secluded with unobstructed views. You can take the route from Reykjavik, stop in the quaint village of Vik for a pit stop before finishing at Jökulsárlón to explore the incredible glacier lagoon. There are a number of waterfalls along the way too so you’ll have plenty of chances to stop for photo opportunities.
10. Pag to Venice
Pag to Venice is the perfect Croatia / Italy taster, all with the beauty of the bright blue Adriatic. As you head from the rocky island of Pag to Rijeka City in Croatia’s North, you have the option of an overnight stay or you can take a little diversion further North to check out Ljubljana, where you will be able to spend an afternoon chilling out at nearby Lake Bled, before heading back towards the coast for the final stretch to beautiful Venice.
11. Paris to Berlin
This incredible road trip offers an interesting contrast of champagne and glamour to beer and art, with fairy-tale castles, medieval villages and Roman ruins in between. What more could you want? Leaving Paris, cruise through the hills and through Luxembourg, past Germany’s oldest city Trier, through the village of Bacharacht, Nuremberg, a little detour to Dresden before finishing your drive in the funky and hipster city of Berlin.
12. Alpenstrasse, Germany
The Alpenstrasse or “The Alpine Road” will lead you onto the perfect high-altitude Bavarian adventure and is considered one of the most beautiful and safe roads to explore at such heights. Drive through meadows, quaint villages and past crystal clear lakes, all with the mountains and steep cliff sides as your backdrop. Head east through the Breitachklamm gorge, stop to see Neuschwanstein Castle, visit the ice caves of Werfen and finish in Salzburg.
13. The Golden Circle, Iceland
This is actually one of the most popular tour routes for visitors to Reykjavik and there are a number of trusted operators leading tours on a daily basis. Generally the tour organisers in Iceland are very good but if you don’t fancy sharing your day with strangers, there’s nothing better than hiring a car and doing it yourself. The Golden Circle will take you from Reykjavik to Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss Waterfalls and also to the famous Great Geysir.
14. Athenian Riviera, Greece
Don’t just settle for the French Riviera! The Athenian Riviera may not have the same levels of glamour but it doesn’t disappoint in charm or natural beauty, and it will work out much cheaper than staying over along Cote D’Azur. Start in Athens and pass through Sounion in the Attic peninsula and continue north to Mycenae. You can head on to Náfplio, Mystra, Byzantium and Olympia before looping back to Athens.
15. London to Edinburgh (and the Highlands)
If you want a 5-10 taste of Great Britain, this stretch takes you from one major destination in the South all the way to another major destination in the North, with some amazing sights in between. From London, head through Oxford before making a pit stop in the Cotswolds, press on to the Lake District before Edinburgh with a detour to explore the Scottish Highlands.
16. Sicily and Calabria
If there was ever a route designed for the foodie, then this is it. Set off from the capital of Palermo and wave goodbye to stunning Sicily for the sea views of the Tyrrhenian coast. Be sure to enjoy the beaches of Cefalù before heading to Enna and then onto Siracusa. After a night or two of dining out on fine seafood, make your way to Catania, past Mount Etna, and then Messina where the famous and unique dish of Pasta 'Ncasciata awaits.
17. Basque Circuit (Spain and France)
This is the sort of route which demands at least a week of driving. It would be sacrilege not to stop, soak in the views and enjoy the delicious food of each destination along the Basque road – so be sure to give yourself ample time to explore. Kick off in Bilbao, drive along the Atlantic to San Sebastian (amazing for water sports and tapas) then venture south to Pamplona and the Roncesvalles Pass and continue along the Bay of Biscay to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. If you’ve got time, stop and enjoy the beaches of Biarritz before finishing in Bordeaux for some customary wine-tasting.
18. Braga and Faro to Merzouga
This road trip route from Portugal to Morocco has a little bit of everything; it’s got sandy shorelines for beach bums, vineyards for winos, and it’s got the exotic finishing location of the dessert. Start in Braga and go through Porto, the valleys of Penafiel and Amarante, Figueira da Foz, Peniche, Ericeira, Lisbon, Sagres, Arrifana, Carrapateira and then to the Algarve. From Faro, take the ferry to Morocco and park your car in the desert village of Merzouga.
19. La Route des Grandes Alpes, France
We couldn’t create a list of Euro road trips without a mention for La Route des Grandes Alpes. This famous road was created just for tourists and it’s an impressive collection of 4 stunning national parks plus 16 mountain passes. If you want to experience the French mountains by car, La Route des Grandes Alpes is a must. Just be sure to stop and explore Geneva Lake along the way.
20. Klausen Pass, Switzerland
The Klausen Pass is a gorgeous Alpine drive that winds through the fabled Swiss mountains and it’s probably most famous for the Klausenrunnen wild car race which takes place every 4 years. It takes over an hour without any stops from Altdorf to Glarus but you can loop back round through the scenic village of Spiringen or you could continue south to extend your road trip to Lake Lugano for the ultimate lakeside holiday.
21. Col de la Bonnette / Alps Maritimes
The Col de la Bonnette is one of the most famous roads in the Alps and if you’re a bucket list driver, this is the one you need to tick off. At a whopping 2807M at its most elevated point, it’s the highest road in the whole of Europe. But don’t worry if you have vertigo; despite its claim to fame for being so high up, the actual ascent is pretty easy and there’s nothing challenging about the drive itself. Just amazing scenery and mind-blowing sunsets that you won’t forget!
22. Route de Gentelly / Alpes-Maritimes
If Col de la Bonnette doesn’t offer the challenging turns that you need, Route de Gentelly might be able to give you the right kick of adrenaline. Start off in the town of Vence and set off into the mountains to the 19.3 km pass, where you’ll find some tight turns and testy corners – perfect for experienced drivers but not so great if you’re not the most confident behind the wheel. There are many wonderful vantage points for photography opportunities and you will finish your route in the delightful commune of Gréolières.
We hope you have found our list of European road trip routes useful and inspiring. One of our favourite ways to explore Europe’s scenic roads is by campervan or motorhome. Not only does it add to the thrill of your drive, but it will give you so much freedom and save you costs along the way. Find out more and get an instant quote online with Spaceship Rentals.
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