Driving Holidays Europe: The Best Road trips in 2021

Europe is known for its beautiful buildings, gorgeous town squares and the amazing food.

However, it also has dramatic coastlines and stunning scenery. So when the weather gets warmer and the flowers are starting to spring why not grab snacks, pack the car, turn up the tunes and hit the road for some driving holidays Europe?

From Eastern Europe, to Western Europe and across the channel to the United Kingdom you will not be short of inspiration for some amazing road trips.

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Here are the best driving holidays Europe

Slovenia

Simona, Slovenians Travel

A view over a church on an island in the middle of lake surrounded by mountains

Slovenia is the perfect country for a road trip as it is pretty small and located in the heart of Europe, surrounded by some very popular and touristy countries.

The perfect duration would be one week and you can easily rent a car in the capital Ljubljana (if you don’t come with your own), where you can fly from almost all European countries.

Let’s start your road trip at the most famous attraction in the country Lake Bled, from here proceed to Kranjska Gora and enjoy the mountain air, in winter you can ski and in summer go hiking and swimming in Lake Jasna.

Then take the scenic route up to Vršič pass, where you’ll get some breathtaking alpine views, descending into probably the most beautiful valley in the country – Soča valley. It is so mystical and special that they filmed Narnia here.

Take a dip in the emerald green river Soča or go kayaking, rafting or canyoning, before jumping into your car and driving to the seaside. Piran, Portorož, Izola and Koper are the main towns in this region, the most atmospheric is for sure, Piran.  

Patches of snow on the side of a hill surrounded by purple flowers

Driving again inland, don’t miss Postojna cave, then arriving back to the capital Ljubljana. This is the most common route people take.

But everyone forgets about the hidden gems in the east – the picturesque Velika planina, Celje with the medieval castle.

Olimje and its stunning award winning thermal spa, Maribor with the oldest vine in the world and the hilly region around with some of the best wines in the country.

Lendava with Vinarium tower from where you’ll see 4 countries and the new futuristic Expano in Murska Sobota, where you can try local dishes, visit an interactive museum and get to know local products.

A very special place to stay and indulge in local life, yet with a bit of luxury is Farmhouse Firbas in Cogetinci – here you can disconnect and enjoy pure nature.

Slovenia is a great destination to visit and with a car your trip will be smooth and unforgettable for sure.

The Cotswolds, England

Joanna, The World in My Pocket

Sandstone buildings on the banks of a river

One of the best ways to experience the English countryside is through a road trip to the Cotswolds. Being only two hours away from London, the Cotswolds is an area of outstanding beauty attracting many tourists during the peak season, in summer. You can rent a car at any London airport if you wish to do this road trip but are afraid of the London traffic.

The Cotswolds is best explored by car, as the public transport is not very reliable. The area is quite large, and your itinerary will depend on how many days you want to allocate to this road trip. If you have only a weekend, it is best to concentrate on either the south or the north of the Cotswolds. 

There are many things that make Cotswolds a special area, from the rolling hills that offer fantastic views over the countryside to the honey-coloured limestone houses with thatched roofs, made famous by so many Hollywood movies (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Harry Potter, The Holiday, Doctor Who or Braveheart, to name just a few).

Some of the best villages in the Cotswolds, such as Bourton-on-the-Water or Castle Combe, can get really busy, especially during the weekend, so it’s best to build your stops keeping this in mind.

Try to get to the most popular villages as early as possible, or late in the afternoon. As the villages have limited capacity, parking can also be an issue during peak times. Most of the villages have small parking lots with a stay limit of either 1.5 or 2 hours.

To make the experience complete, you must stay at one of the local B&Bs in the villages, where breakfast is made with locally sourced ingredients, and where the hosts are more than happy to give local tips on hidden gems.

Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Sheree, Winging the World

A road sign saying welcome to Trotternish in front of a mountainous background

The Isle of Skye in Scotland is one of the world’s best destinations. With otherworldly landscapes, jaw-dropping mountains and unique wildlife, there is perhaps no better place for a road trip. 

The most popular way to see the northern (and arguably most beautiful) part of the island, is via a road trip around the Trotternish Loop.

Taking around 2 hours to complete without stopping, this circular route follows a loop road around the Trotternish peninsula, showcasing some of Skye’s best scenery.

Along the journey, you can see the famous Old Man of Storr, Duntulm Castle and The Quiraing to name a few. Make sure you carve out a little time to do the full hike of The Quiraing, it should take around four hours.

If you plan to stop at all the main sights along the way and do the side hikes, this road trip could take anywhere between a day or even two to complete. 

In Scotland, they drive on the left so remember this when taking on the road trip. Much of this route is along single-track roads and there are passing spaces to allow for smooth flow of traffic. Using these will feel a little unusual at first but you will quickly get used to it. 

As this road trip starts and ends in the island’s capital of Portree, this is the best place to base yourself. There are numerous accommodation options in the town, as well as various restaurants and shops nearby.

The Cuillin Hills Hotel is rated particularly highly and sits overlooking the harbour, offering great views. The best way to get to the Isle of Skye is to drive. From the mainland, you can either cross the bridge which connects Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin or jump on the ferry from Mallaig on the mainland. 

NC500, Scotland

Cazzy, Dream Big, Travel Far

A road winding through rock cliffs looking over rocky islands in a body of water

Scotland is a country full of epic beauty and landscapes, and the best way to experience those is with the NC500 road trip. Known as Scotland’s answer to the famous Route 66, this road trip is 500 miles long and will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland.

You’ll experience amazing beaches, beautiful waterfalls, epic hikes, friendly locals and so much more. You can even visit the highest point in mainland UK, John O’Groats with its colourful houses and awesome whale and shark watching opportunities.

The NC500 starts and ends in the city of Inverness (also known as the capital of the Scottish highlands!). You can either take the trip clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on your mood and you can typically do the full road trip in 5 days.

A van driving down a road lined with heath and a view of the ocean in the background

You can do it in less, but you would be missing out on lots of great sights, and if you really want to ensure you experience everything on your NC500 itinerary, then you could even stretch to a week! 

There are so many amazing hotels and unique Airbnbs on the NC500, but if you want to experience something unique, then take advantage of the beautiful wild camping spots located all around the route. Hiring a campervan is a great way to do this, or you could pitch up a tent. 

The NC500 is possible to road trip all year round, but summer is definitely the busier season. If you want a chance of fewer crowds and decent weather, then September/ October is a time to road trip the NC500 in Scotland. 

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Enzo, Inguaribile Viaggiatore

A road protected by a stone wall through a mountain overlooking an ocean

The Kerry Ring is a 200km loop that sums up the typical Irish landscape: verdant countryside, white sand bays and sweeping ocean views.

Although it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, the Kerry Ring, on the Iveragh Peninsula, maintains a very special charm.

This loop of about 200 kilometers (from the end of the Dingle Peninsula leads up to Kenmare following the coastal road and returns to Killorglin via Killarney), is a perfect example of typical Irish landscape: a gentle green countryside that slowly descends towards the sea and dotted with cottages, beautiful white sand coves, boundless views of the sea and islands and corners from which you can enjoy wonderful views of the coastal landscape.

There are no major tourist destinations to visit, if not a series of small trips, but what makes this tour special is the deep sense of freedom and contact with nature that this winding path transmits: every curve is a show, every stretch presents another beautiful glimpse. In addition, in recent years the road and signage have been improved by including panoramic points where it is easy to stop and photograph the panorama.

On the inside, however, the landscape changes: the sea gives way to many enchanting blue lakes, surrounded by a hilly landscape with lush vegetation that in spring and summer lights up with colors with the flowering of trees and purple heather. The uphill streets that lead to Lady’s view will give you magnificent views of lush nature to take you to Killarney, the heart of the Iveragh Peninsula and an enchanting place to indulge in outdoor activities within Killarney National Park.

If you have time to dedicate a couple of hours to it, you can take a stretch of the Kerry Way along corners where you will only hear the whistle of the wind.

If you love history then you can reach Staigue Fort, near the village of Castlecove, a prehistoric ring fort with stone walls 5 meters high and with a moat surrounding it.

The best part of the ring is certainly the one that goes from Kenmare and Cahersiveen.

Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Bev & Shams, Bev & Shams Adventures

A flowing river in from a hill with an old cairn to the side

We just fell in love with Co. Wicklow on our short road trip of Ireland. The garden of Ireland is located only a short distance from Dublin, making it an ideal road trip to explore the capital city, while getting out into the picturesque countryside, exploring a beautiful monastic city, country estate and the biggest waterfall in Ireland. There’s plenty of fresh air in Co. Wicklow with a number of hiking routes available, and the beautiful sandy beaches on the east coast. 

Due to Co. Wicklow’s rural location, a vehicle is a must! You can hire a vehicle from many of the large hire companies around the country. There are ferry services from the UK, allowing connections between the UK and Ireland. 

If you intend to include a day trip to Dublin, we would recommend using the park and ride services on the outskirts of Dublin, as parking can be limited and expensive.  

Once you are out of the city, and driving the extensive motorways towards Co. Wicklow, you’ll want to stop at the Great Sugarloaf for a great hiking experience. The terrain can be a little challenging, but any ability could reach the 501 Metres summit. The views of Dublin and the surrounding countryside is worth it. Get there early, to guarantee parking in the small, free, off road car park. 

Powerscourt Estate, has 19 hectares of land to explore, with great views of The Great Sugarloaf in the distance. The Triton Lake, Japanese Garden and Tower Valley are worth admiring, but can you find the owners pet cemetery? Powerscourt Waterfall, is the highest waterfall in the country, it isn’t directly connected to the estate, and you’ll have to drive a short distance down country roads to get there. 

A wall reading Bray Seafront in coloured letters

There is so much to see and do in Glendalough and was our highlight of the visit. Parking is free during weekdays, and everything you will want to see is within walking distance. The Monastic site was founded by St Kevin, as a Christian monastery back in the 6th century. Much of the buildings in the area are in tacked and perfectly placed in this tranquil location. Hikers will love to follow many of the walking routes up and around Glendalough Upper and Lower Lakes.  

Before the end of your Co. Wicklow Road trip, you’ll want to relax back on an attractive beach of Greystones or Bray.  

When planning somewhere to stay, you’ll need to stay quite central to all of these top places to visit in Co. Wicklow. Park View Hotel in Newtown Mount Kennedy, would be the ideal place. It’s in a good location, easy to get to by car, with a free and safe car park. The staff are very friendly, and the food was outstanding. The breakfast included a small selection of cereal, fruit and a cooked full Irish breakfast, that will keep you going.  

We loved Co. Wicklow, and can’t wait to get back out on the open road for another road trip in Ireland. 

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Allan, Bangorni

Large cliffs rising out of the ocean with the sunsetting in the background

The Wild Atlantic Way spans from top to bottom of Ireland’s western Atlantic coastline and takes in some of the country’s most popular destinations, tourist attractions and beauty spots.

But the real excitement for this road trip is the unmatched rugged coastlines and wild and far-flunglandscapes that made this journey famous worldwide.

From top to bottom, the Wild Atlantic Way begins in County Donegal where Malin Head marks the most northerly point of the island of Ireland.

It then ends in County Cork at the most southwesterly point at Mizenhead. With plenty to explore in between. Some of the more famous attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way include the massive sea cliffs of Slieve League, the Cliffs of Moher, Achill Island, The Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry.

There are also some larger destinations to stop for a night or two including the charming Irish towns/cities of Galway, Limerick, and Killarney.

For those planning this road trip, Dublin, which is central and on the east coast of Ireland, is not the most convenient starting point. Instead many start the Wild Atlantic Way from Belfast which is just an hour or two out from the starting point in the north of Ireland.

Most people would also give between a week or two to navigate the entire coastline, but it can be completed in less.

At the end of the journey a popular luxury stay, a trophy at the end of the road trip, is at the Cliff House Hotel next door in County Waterford.  

Ireland’s Ancient East

Cath, Travel Around Ireland

An ancient castle ruin

If you are looking for a road trip in Europe to remember, than head for Ireland’s Ancient East. The eastern half of Ireland is one of the oldest established parts of the country and along with a beautiful coastline, Ireland’s Ancient East has a wealth of historical sites to visit to discover and learn about the history of the Emerald Isle.

Starting from Dublin you will head south to Ireland’s first city, Waterford. Established by the Vikings before Dublin was, Waterford has a rich history that spans from the Vikings, through medieval times and into modern day Ireland. Visit Reginald’s Tower, the nearby medieval museum (both located in the Viking triangle of the city) and also visit Waterford Castle, a 16th century castle located on a private island just 5km from the city centre.

After Waterford, head 65km east to the town of Cahir where you can visit Cahir Castle, one of Ireland’s largest castles. Dating from the 12th century, Cahir Castle sits beside the River Suir and has many nooks and crannies to explore. There is also an interactive model of the castle on display. Less than 4km from the castle you can visit the Swiss Cottage, an early 19th century ornamental cottage.

From Cahir head 17km north to the town of Cashel where you can visit the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland’s most popular tourist sites. The Rock of Cashel is a 12th century Abbey which sits on the site of the original seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Its prominent position on the hill means it can be seen for miles around. The Rock of Cashel is one of the best things to visit in Ireland and is a must on this road trip.

62km north east from Cashel is where you can explore the medieval city of Kilkenny. The main attraction in the town is the 12th century Kilkenny Castle, built by the Normans in 1195. There are other notable places to visit in the town including cathedrals, the Town Hall and an abbey. The town is also known for its craft and design workshops and if you are looking to buy Irish souvenirs, this is one of the best places for them.

These are just a few of the towns and cities you can visit in Ireland’s Ancient East if you choose to do a road trip here. The best way to journey this route is by car from Dublin. You can add other sites to your itinerary such as Clonmacnoise in Offaly, the Brú na Bóinne Valley in Meath or Glendalough in Wicklow, but in order to fully enjoy the places mentioned, you should allow at least one day in each town.

Northern Norway

Shannon, Dessert Highway

Small houses at the base of a mountain on the side of a brilliant green lake

The Lofoten islands usually get all the attention in northern Norway, but this road trip, starting and ending in Tromsø, is a less crowded and equally beautiful alternative.

After spending a day or so in Tromsø, pick up your rental car at the airport and head west to Sommarøy, a small picturesque island with white sand beaches.

From here you will take the ferry to Senja, which is worth at least two full days, and then another ferry to Andenes on the Vesterålen archipelago.

After exploring the Vesterålen islands, it’s a long drive back to Tromsø, where you can reward yourself with a meal at one of the city’s cosy restaurants. 

The breathtaking landscape is what makes this part of Norway so special, and it’s a perfect destination for hiking.

There are some incredible hikes a short drive from Tromsø’s city centre, and on Sommarøy, but the most spectacular (and most challenging) hikes are on the unspoilt island of Senja. It’s important to note that hiking in northern Norway is not for the fainthearted, so make sure you bring good walking shoes and ask for advice at your accommodation or local tourist information offices. 

Kayaks sitting on the sand on edge of a blue ocean

If you want to take a break from hiking, there are plenty of other things to do in northern Norway. You can take to the turquoise waters on a Hobie sailing kayak in Sommarøy, soak in a hot tub on the west coast of Andøya, or take a whale-watching trip in Andenes.

Before you set off on the road trip, make sure you spend some time relaxing in Tromsø’s welcoming pubs and cafes. The views from Storsteinen (accessible by cable car) are also not to be missed, and Tromsø’s Arctic-Alpine botanical garden is a charming hidden gem. 

Norway is not a cheap destination, and accommodation costs can add up.

There are some reasonably priced hotels in Tromsø, such as Smarthotel and Comfort Hotel Xpress, and Skjellbogen Hyttegrend offers budget accommodation on the Vesterålen islands.

If you’re looking for something more luxurious, Hamn i Senja is a wonderful place to stay, with space to cook meals and unrivalled views.    

I recommend embarking on this road trip between May and July when you can explore at any time of day thanks to the midnight sun. It may sound strange to spend a summer holiday above the Arctic Circle, but what northern Norway lacks in heat, it makes up for in jaw-dropping scenery! 

The Netherlands

Nichola, Family Hotel Expert

A photo with flowers in the foreground and boats on a canal lined with colourful buildings.

The Netherlands is perfect for a European road trip – it’s easy to get around and the country is small enough but diverse enough to create a great itinerary.

Start in Amsterdam, the capital city which is made for wandering. Criss-cross canals and enjoy the beautiful architecture here. There’s plenty to do from visiting the thought provoking Anne Frank House to the fantastic NEMO science museum and there are great museums and galleries too, don’t miss the Rijksmusem.

There are some fantastic family hotels in Amsterdam for example the Albus, right in the centre is somewhere really nice to stay at a great price too.

Stay a minimum of two days in Amsterdam but really you should stay as long as you can, there’s so much to do here you will want to stay longer.

Next head off to Utrecht, a beautiful city also full of canals and great architecture and some wonderful sights. Find out about self playing musical instruments through time (much better than it sounds) at the Speelklok Museum and immerse yourself in all things Miffy.

Just outside of Utrecht is the breathtaking Kinderdijk, 19 historic windmills which are still turning and creaking in the countryside and definitely worth a stop to see.

Then head to Rotterdam – extensively bombed in he Second World War it now has some quirky, great architecture and a real foodie revolution. The maritime museum here is particularly worth a visit.

Finally head on to The Hague which is beautiful and with some great galleries (Mauritshuis and Escher in Het Paleis are real standouts) it’s another lovely Dutch stop off.

If you have time carry on through to Amsterdam for more time in one of the best capital cities in the world.

Montenegro

Alina, World of Lina

The port in Montenegro

The small country Montenegro in southern Europe has everything: Beautiful beaches, small fishing villages, impressive mountain ranges and stunning nature. Thus a road trip through this amazing country should be on everyone’s European bucket list!

One of the best ways to get there is by taking a flight to the capital city Podgorica, from there you can easily rent a car. However, if you live in one of the neighboring countries you can get there with your own car.

Once in Montenegro, you’ll quickly recognize how diverse this country is.

The southern part is known for its serene beaches and gorgeous villages. For example, there’s Lake Skadar – the largest lake in Southern Europe which borders Albania.

Driving up the coast and you find yourself in the well-known town of Kotor. With its scenic bay and medieval character, it’s one of the most touristy places.

Less than a 15 min-drive to the north lies another lovely village called Perast.

Even though it’s close to Kotor, it’s less visited and thus more relaxed and peaceful. There’s not much to do except taking a stroll along the beach promenade or have a cup of coffee in one of the few cafes.

Even for outdoor and adventure lovers, Montenegro has a lot to offer. The two national parks Durmitor and Lovcen have everything an adventurer’s heart may desire! The country is also home to the longest Tara River Canyon, the longest canyon in Europe and the perfect place to try rafting.

People who want to party will love the city of Budva -Montenegro’s most modern and lively city.

When it comes to accommodation, you’ll find a nice place to stay at every stop of your road trip. Some of the best ones are the Boutique Hotel Astoria in Kotor, the Hotel Budva in Budva or the Hotel SOA in Zabljak.

EN2, Portugal

Cath, Moving to Portugal

An old Greek ruin in the middle of a town square

One of the best road trips in Europe to take is one that travels the length of Portugal along the EN2, dubbed Portugal’s Route 66. Spanning 739 kilometers (459 miles), the Estrada Nacional 2 runs from Chaves in the north to Faro in the south of the country.

While many visitors to Portugal flock to the cities of Lisbon and Porto and the Algarve region, there are hidden gems and a wonderful landscape to be discovered in the centre of the country while driving along the EN2. This adventurous road in Portugal is certainly not a busy road and is one that can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace.

Technically you could drive the length of this road in one day but to truly enjoy it and the many stops you’ll want to make along the way, a week is the minimum amount of time you should allow. To reach the EN2 you will need to fly to Porto or Faro and start your journey at Chaves or Faro, respectively.

The road in parts is very windy and meanders through hills and mountains, spa towns, past lakes, alongside plains of agricultural fields and of course, it passes through some amazing cities and villages. The landscape is constantly changing from the often dry and brown landscape of the Algarve in the south to the much greener and lush woods and forests of the north.

Places to visit along the way include the Douro Valley Wine Region of the north where many of Portugal’s best wines come from, Viseu with its unmissable Grão Vasco museum and Sé Catedral, and Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its Roman Temple, 16th century aqueduct and the Cathedral which is one of the most important Gothic monuments in Portugal.

If you are travelling north to south, you can end your journey in the capital of the Algarve, Faro where the sun should be shining and the waves of the Atlantic crashing on the beach will be a welcome break after a few days driving.

The EN2 is a road trip to remember and even if you don’t travel the full length of it, a few hundred kilometers will fill your memory box with pictures of picturesque villages, historical monuments and an ever-changing landscape.

Lisbon to Porto, Portugal

Or, My Path in the World

A view roof tops in a small town with a stone wall and path running down the side

If you’re looking for a scenic drive in Portugal that will take you through some of the most beautiful places in the country, go on a road trip from Lisbon to Porto. Both cities are easily reachable by flight, so you can also start in Porto and drive to Lisbon, and the route can take 5-7 days to complete (not including a few days in Lisbon and Porto).

One of the highlights of this European road trip is the famous city of Sintra. It’s home to some of the most stunning palaces and castles in Portugal, including the colorful Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Next, head to Obidos, an enchanting medieval village. From its castle to its cobbled streets and alleys, this place will win you over in a heartbeat.

Another visit-worthy stop is Tomar. The town itself is utterly charming, but Tomar’s crowning glory is the Convent of Christ. It is a UNESCO-listed convent and castle complex dating back to the 12th-century that used to belong to the Templars, and later on, the Knights of the Order of Christ. In Tomar, stay at the cozy and budget-friendly Residencial Uniao.

Right before arriving in Porto, stop at Vila Nova de Gaia, the best city for port wine tasting. You can book a tour in each cellar or take a guided walking tour that will take you to several wineries.

There are plenty of other places to visit on this road trip, so you can even extend it to up to two weeks.

Costa Vicentina, Portugal

Dean and Laynni, Routinely Nomadic

Rocky islands in the ocean close to rocky cliffs

The southwestern coast of Portugal is a wonderland of massive beaches, dramatic cliffs, wind-swept sand dunes and world-class surf spots. Still mostly visited by just Portuguese tourists and knowledgeable surfers, word is slowly but surely getting out about this amazing natural treasure that is part of the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.

It extends from Odeceixe (on the border between the Algarve and the Alentejo) all the way down to Burgau, just west of the popular Algarve resort city of Lagos. With spectacular scenery, good value accommodation and quiet, well-maintained roads, the Costa Vicentina is a perfect choice for your next great European road trip.

What sets the Costa Vicentina apart from most of the other beautiful coastal regions in Europe is its mild, consistent climate. While hot summer days are made more comfortable by the pleasant breezes off the Atlantic Ocean, the real draw is the mild winter weather.

Even in January and February the temperature rarely drops below 7-8 degrees Celsius at night and days typically reach a comfortable 16-17 Celsius. Perfect for hiking, biking, surfing or just wandering through the region’s many outstanding coastal villages.

From the amazing horseshoe beach of Praia de Odeceixe to the contrasting Old Town / New Town of historic Aljezur to one of Europe’s most famous lighthouses at Cabo São Vicente, the Costa Vicentina has plenty to offer any avid road tripper.

A sand bar in the ocean below some green hills

There are dozens of beaches of all types, fantastic surfing and unbeatable cliff scenery. One of the other highlights is the Rota Vicentina, an extensive network of hiking trails that run all the way from Santiago do Cacem in central Portugal down to Lagos in the south Algarve.

While the entire route generally takes around 3 weeks to hike, it is easy to pick and choose individual day hikes while making your way along the coast by vehicle.

With one of the most unique beaches in Europe, Odeceixe is a must-stop on any Costa Vicentina visit. Casa Dorita is a lovely hotel with ocean views right on Praia de Odeceixe, or Sol Mar is a terrific choice with an impressive terrace and nice valley views if you prefer to stay in the main town.

Barcelona to Carcassonne, Spain

Jamie, Fly By the Seat of Our Pants

The sunsetting over a city

Barcelona is a popular tourist destination in Europe.  But don’t stop with the city! You’ll find beauty, history and culture by getting out and road tripping around the area.  

Your first stop is at the monastery in the mountains called Montserrat. Many people arrange tours here from Barcelona, but driving in your own car is easier to access and visit on your own schedule.

Going closer to  closing when you will have the place to yourself is perfect.  Don’t miss hiking back into the huge boulders overlooking the monastery. 

Spend the night in the Parador de Cardona.  This is an ancient castle converted on the inside into a modern hotel.  You will love wandering the narrow hallways, castle property and watching the sunset from the outdoor eating turret. This parador is magical. 

Andorra is a country that not many people can check off their bucket list, but on this road trip it is essential.  There is basically one entry point to Andorra.  After entering the country check point, you will climb higher through steep mountain terrain. 

The cities are gorgeous and modern, in sharp contrast to the old towns in Spain.  You’ll love the mountain resorts, hiking, shopping and views in Andorra.  

A bridge leading to an old castle

If you are lucky and the pass is open, you can drive through Andorra and on to Carcassonne.  If it is winter and spring, chances are this pass is closed and you will have to drive back down the mountain before continuing on, so plan a few extra hours. 

Carcassonne, France is a medieval village with an intense double wall fortress.  Walking along the wall gives you fantastic views on the ancient inside town and the outer modern city.  You will love the shops, church and chalet of the old city of Carcassonne.  

On your way back to Barcelona, spend time stopping at different cities through the Costa Brava region.  You could drive out to the Cap de Creus to enjoy the charming blue-doored, white homes of Cadaques.  The beach here is amazing.  

Begur has an incredible look out of the coast. The entire drive you will be treated to coastal towns and beautiful views.  

Spend time in Girona.  Walk along the massive wall of the city, ending at a beautiful cathedral.  Plan to be in Girona for the flower festival.  The flower arrangements throughout the city are incredible.  

This brings you back to Barcelona, a full road trip loop that will take 4-7 days. Find more details on this itinerary here.

Southern Spain, Spain

Stéphanie, BEY OF TRAVEL

A bridge of water surrounding an old town square

A southern Spain road trip is without a doubt one of the best roadtrips you can do in Europe.

Discover a wonderful mix of Moorish, Gypsy and Christian tradition on a road trip of a lifetime, with passionate Flamenco dancers along the way. 

We start our Andalusian road trip in Sevilla, the hottest city in Europe. Winters are mild, summers are hot, and spring with its blooming orange trees is the most beautiful time of the year. 

To fully enjoy Seville, plan three days for your visit. You need plenty of time to see the top attractions in Seville, like the Plaza de España, Real Alcázar de Sevilla, the Metropol Parasol and so much more… 

Hotel Fernando III is the perfect place to stay in this charming city.

The second stop is Córdoba. The city is only a 1.5 hour drive from Seville. It’s a surprising town where you can explore everywhere on foot, and the delicious local food makes it an ideal day trip. The Mezquita of Cordoba is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must visit during your road trip!

The town of Ronda is the next stop on your European road trip itinerary. Thanks to the unique location and stunning panoramic views, Ronda and its renowned Puento Nuevo charms all its visitors. 

You will be heading to The Costa Del Sol next! There is no place like Malaga to enjoy the best fresh seafood while watching the sunset on the beach.

An absolute must when on a southern spain road trip is to go on an adventurous walk on the El Caminito del Rey. Go well prepared, and book your tickets online for the Caminito del Rey tour beforehand!

It’s time to chill out! A southern Spain road trip is breathtaking, but let’s not forget that the temperatures here can rise to around 40 degrees celsius in the summer. A sea breeze is more than welcome – and you can get a breath of fresh air on one of the most beautiful Spanish beaches, Playa De Maro, in the coastal town of Nerja. 

 Greece

Chrysoula, Greece Travel Ideas

A large rock protruding out of a mountain with a small mountain hut

Exploring Greece by car is fun as it gives you great flexibility! With a car, you can stop and take an interesting walk or can enjoy relaxing on a deserted beach. A popular 5-day Greece itinerary includes the city of Athens, Delphi, and Meteora.

There is so much to see in Athens that you will definitely need comfortable shoes, a sun hat, and a bottle of water! Plan an early start to get to the Acropolis before the crowds and enjoy all the monuments.

Then visit the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, admire the views from Areopagus (Mars) Hill before heading to Plaka for a well-earned lunch and rest.

Next is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, before Syntagma Square to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Enjoy a stroll in the National Gardens before dinner.

The following day start with coffee in Monastiraki Square before browsing in the flea market. Afterward, visit the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, and Hadrian’s Library. 

Take a stroll in Adrianou Street to find somewhere for lunch and to pick up some souvenirs.  Visit the amazing Archaeological Museum, before promising yourself dinner at a rooftop restaurant.

The perfect hotel to base yourself during your stay in Athens is the Niki Athens hotel located near Syntagma Square.

The next day start early to beat the traffic! It is180 km easy driving to get to Delphi and takes 2.5 hours. The pretty village of Arachova is a good place to stop and book a room for the night. I highly recommend that you stay at Xenonas Iresioni.

As you approach Delphi, you will easily spot the archaeological site. Climb up to the Temple of Apollo surrounded by mountains and then spend time in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.

An old greek ruin

The journey to Meteora is 240 km and takes around 3 hours. Take the E75 to Lamia, then on to the Domokos Mountains. Watch out for signs for the village of Kastraki which has good hotels. Petrino Giest house is a great option.  There are six monasteries to explore in Meteora, so pace yourself!

Roussanou is a working convent perched on a rock, about 3.5 km from Kastraki. The next stop is Holy Trinity Monastery which featured in the Bond movie ‘For Your Eyes Only’.

You will reach St Stephen’s Monastery early in the evening and the views of the sunset are amazing. The monastery was badly damaged in the Second World War and remained empty until 1960 when it was restored and became a convent.

 After staying in Kastraki overnight, the first monastery to visit is St Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery, famous for its frescoes and its single monk. Greater Meteora is the oldest and largest monastery and has beautiful icons in its church. Close by is the sixth monastery – Vaarlam – which has great views. Your visit to Meteora is now over and you can either return to Athens or enjoy another night in Kastraki.

Florence to Naples, Italy

Lisa, Planning Away

Yellow and white umbrellas in front of a stone wall with houses on top of the wall

The best way to take on Italy is by taking a road trip.  We wanted to see as much of the country as possible. The train is a great resource but I highly recommend driving instead! 

It is recommended to hire a car in Florence and drive through Tuscany and down to the Amalfi coast. Even if you do not speak Italian, driving in Italy is easy and painless. Having a car allowed us to go to parts of Italy that most tourists do not get to see. 

Siena was our first stop. A shopping trip in this town is a must! As we have already been to Rome we decided to skip it this time round but if you have not been to Rome it is a must see and you will probably want at least three days to explore.

We drove south to a beautiful place called Gaeta which has 7 beaches. It was incredible. It is a tourist town but not for international tourists.  Gaeta is a local treasure with resorts and beautiful cliff sides and beaches.

 Our road trip led us to Naples, where the best pizza in the world is located. Once we arrived in Naples we decided to return our rental car and head to the Amalfi Coast. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are very narrow and curvy.  I recommend taking a bus, as driving is dangerous for those who are not used to this area.  

Taking a road trip in Italy is an amazing adventure to experience! 

Tuscany, Italy

Martina & Jürgen, PlacesofJuma

A windy road through vast paddocks dotted with trees

One area that is really well suited for a road trip is the beautiful Tuscany. While traveling on the road, you can discover historic towns and lovely stone villages, experience first-class art and enjoy authentic world-famous Tuscan cuisine. The countless country roads that crisscross the regions seem almost made for a road trip! Just a little traffic but still a good touristic infra structure makes your journey perfect.

There are so many wonderful places to see and amazing things to do in Tuscany. In any case. you should not miss the Tuscan capital Florence with its famous PonteVecchio – the so-called Old Bridge – one of the most impressive photo motives in Tuscany. But also the smaller cities like Lucca and Pisa are worth seeing. Another highlight on the way are the countless grandiose picturesque Tuscan landscapes. Beautiful is for example the Val d’Orcia in the south or the famous wine region Chianti.

In Tuscany there are countless great places to stay. If you are traveling by camper, you will always find great campsites, in the off-season even free of charge. If you go by car, then we recommend you to book an agritourismo accommodation. Highly recommended is the Agriturismo Mormoraia in San Gimignano with beautiful pool and located in relaxed countryside.

Sicily, Italy

Annabel, Smudged Postcard

A view over a mountain town over looking the ocean

Sicily is a brilliant destination for a European road trip – the island is packed with interesting sights and distances between them are not great. Many of Sicily’s most interesting attractions are tricky to reach by public transport so hiring a car is ideal. There are international airports at both Palermo and Catania, so visitors can fly into one city and drive across the island to fly out of the other.

Highlights of Sicily include the capital Palermo with its street food scene and impressive Norman and Baroque architecture; the Ancient Greek ruins at Agrigento and the beautiful cliff top town of Taormina. Off the beaten track, visitors to Sicily will also enjoy discovering the fascinating towns of the Val di Noto, the incredible Roman mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale and the incredible coastal nature reserves. Ensure you find time to visit the Scala dei Turchi rock formations on the south coast.

Allow at least 10 days to explore Sicily by car. For somewhere special to stay try Monaci delle Terre Nere near Mount Etna where you can enjoy luxurious accommodation and learn about Mount Etna and the excellent wines produced on the surrounding hillsides.

Sicily is best visited in spring or autumn as it can be incredibly hot in the main summer months. If you’re visiting Sicily with kids, try to take in a puppet show in either Palermo or Syracuse.

Genoa to Cinque Terre, Italy

Erki, Genem Travels

Colourful houses on the side of a rocky mountain over looking the ocean

Genoa and Cinque Terre are located in the northwest part of Italy, in the Liguria region. That area is known for beautiful coastal views, beaches, and full of picturesque coastal towns. This 80 km (50 miles) long road trip has so many places to see and things to do on the way. Additionally, to drive roads, it’s also very well connected with the regional Italian railway system.

Genoa also has an airport, but for better international connection, then 145 km (90 miles) away Milan has better options for flights.

Starting from Genoa, it’s the sixth-largest city in Italy. It has many variations of things to see. Most remarkable is it’s old-tow. A total maze with narrow streets gets you the feeling that you have travelled back to the medieval ages.

Also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are plenty of attractions around the centre of Genoa port. It is also home to Europe’s biggest aquarium, the Aquarium of Genoa. 

A road trip that lies on the narrow coastal strip is also a part of the Italian Riviera. It’s a region full of beautiful beaches, small coastal towns with colorful buildings, and scenic coastal views.

Starting from Genoa to Cinque Terre, the roadway winds along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. On the way are little towns like Boccadasse, Nervi, Sori, Recco, and Camogli. The last coastal town is the most popular among mentioned and it’s worth for a longer stop. A road continues to another beautiful coastal town Rapallo.

From there goes a one-way road to Portofino. A famous and a bit expensive place is known for its harbour and is visited by many famous people. From there it is also possible to go on a small hike with spectacular views to the abbey of San Fruttuoso. A remote historic church with a beach is only reachable by ferry or on foot. After a quick trip to Portofino, the journey continues through Chiavari, Sestri Levante, and Levanto to its final destination.

After a scenic road trip, it’s time for one of Italy’s most beautiful places – Cinque Terre. It’s a region of five fisher villages with vivid coastal buildings surrounded by steep fields of lemon, grapes, and olives.

A historic area with local culture and cuisine has five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Between them are plenty of hiking options with magnificent views all the way.

A tip when being there with a car: it’s better to leave it in one of the villages and move around Cinque Terre by trains.

It’s a place to spend a couple of days and there will be several housing options to spend nights. But I would recommend staying at 5 Terre Backpackers near Monterosso al Mare

French Basque country, France

Leyla, Off Beat France

Old French cottages in a courtyard

France is heaven for road trips, with much of the country criss-crossed by picturesque routes leading you to hidden hilltop villages or distant valleys you would otherwise miss.

The country has an excellent public transportation network, but it doesn’t get into the farthest reaches, and this is especially true in the Basque country.

This region is distinct from others in France, as it is culturally Basque, as is the portion of Spain which is just over the border. The Basque culture is shrouded in mystery: no one knows exactly where the Basques came from, and their language is not like any other. 

The Basques have maintained their traditions. Drive into any Basque village and you’ll see a pyramidal wall, or fronton, against which villagers play Basque pelota, or jai alai.

The ideal starting point would be Bayonne, the capital of chocolate, or Biarritz, known for its stately homes and surfing beaches. The stretch of coast south towards Spain from Biarritz is short but there is plenty to see, such as the fishing village of St-Jean-de-Luz or Hendaye, near the Spanish border.

While the coast is easiest to reach, you’d be remiss if you didn’t push into the interior to some of the most beautiful villages in France – Sare, Ainhoa or St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the jumping off point for the Camino.

Eating in the Basque country is almost an art form. Basque chefs are famous the world over and you can spend meal after meal going from great to sublime.

Along the coast, proximity to Spain means the influence of France’s southern neighbour is strong – you can feast on pintxos, the local variation of Spanish tapas.

In the interior, the landscape provides for some renowned specialties, like the local ham you’ll find in the Valley of the Aldudes.

Given a choice of places to stay, in Biarritz I would opt La Maison du Lierre, which is charming and central. In the interior, I love Sare and the delightful family-owned Hotel Arraya.

You can drive around the Basque country for a week and not run out of things to see, but even if you only have a day or two, you’ll be able to enjoy the Basque high points. 

Alsace Wine Route, France

Elisa, France Bucket List

A house in the middle of a vineyard

The Alsace Wine Route is one of the best road trips in France. It covers part of the region of Alsace, and it goes from Strasbourg to Colmar or vice versa (80 km).

The Alsace Wine Route visits vibrant cities, picturesque villages, and of course, vineyards and wine producers. The Alsace Wine Route is also an excellent opportunity to taste the regional cuisine with delicious dishes like cordon bleu, tarte flambée, or choucroute, washed down with the best Alsace wines.

The Alsace is a historic region in Eastern France, near the border with Germany. Today the Alsace is part of the French region of Grand Est, and the capital is Strasbourg.

For this road trip, you are going to need at least four days to see the must-stops of the Alsace Wine Route, but of course, you can extend your road trip easily to one week. Consider one day for visiting Strasbourg, one day for visiting Colmar,  one day for visiting the village of Riquewhir and its surrounding vineyards, with some tastings, and a fourth day to visit more villages or to do a hike.

If you don’t have a car for this road trip through the Alsace Wine Route, you can take a train from Paris to Strasbourg and rent a car from Strasbourg. In Strasbourg, book at Hotel Cathédrale, with spectacular views over the cathedral.

Turkey

James, teamajatravels.com

A view over an old city looking over the ocean

Turkey is a big country so it is difficult to plan a road trip that runs a full loop unless you have a lot of time to spare. So you are best to pick a section of the country that you would like to see and fly to and from your starting point and finishing points. 

Some examples of worthwhile road trips that would fill an itinerary of 5-10 days depending on your desired speed of travel:

  • Istanbul to Izmir via Gallipoli & Canakkale – some WW1 history, Troy and the Aegean Coast. The Greek Islands are accessible from here by ferry. 
  • Antalya to Izmir via Fethiye – great for beaches, coast line, and Mount Tahtali.
  • Antalya to Izmir via Ephesus & Pumakkale – this gets into mountain territory on the fringe of the desert.
  • Istanbul to Capadoccia via Ankara – lots of desert, mountains, and ancient ruins. 
A white cliff behind two lakes surrounded by green trees

Each of these road trips show a different side of Turkey. Join them all together and you almost have a full loop of the country. 

Planning your route in advance (something I rarely do) is very important in Turkey as the distance between cities and sites can be significant. So there will be trade offs.

On the plays side, hotel accommodation is cheap and in most places it is easy to book at the last minute. So plan your route, but you can be flexible with your stops and just book as you go. 

Outside of Istanbul one of the most popular activities is the hot air ballooning at Cappadocia. The problem with this activity is that it relies on favourable weather conditions and if you do not allow yourself a buffer of a few days then you may miss out. If this is high on your to do list then make sure you schedule it early in your itinerary and be flexible with what comes afterwards. You may be a few days behind if you are unlucky with the weather. 

A fake police car on the side of a the road

Final tip is to look out for the fake police cars on the side of the roads. These are like a metal signboard in the shape of a cop car with flashing lights on top. At first it is hard to tell they are fake until you get right up close. And at night time all you see are the flashing lights until you are right next to them. They are a very effective deterrent for speeding drivers and every so often you will see a real police car also. So don’t get complacent.

Switzerland

Cosette, KarsTravels

Snowy Log cabins in front of a large snow capped mountain

Switzerland is a beautiful country famous for its nature, with its numerous mountains, lakes and valleys. But Switzerland has more to offer than just nature. Chocolate, cheese, watches, the Red Cross, beautiful villages and outdoor sports opportunities. All this makes Switzerland a perfect country for road trips, ranging from 4 Days in Switzerland to longer.

A road trip through Switzerland is beautiful all year long, but the best season is Summer. Since the chances of good weather are highest and most passes and roads will be open. In winter time you will be visiting a winter wonderland. Just do remember that passes, roads and attractions can be closed due to weather or the season. You have to bring snow chains with you in winter time. When driving on the roads in Switzerland you need a vignette/sticker on your car.

Switzerland is easily reachable by car, train and plane.

Start your road trip at the Parc Naziunal Svizzer. The only national park in Switzerland. It has beautiful nature and 21 hikes on offer. After that visit Sankt Moritz and enjoy all the outdoor activities on offer. From Sankt Moritz go to Chur, the oldest city of Switzerland. It has museums and beautiful old buildings.

Roads winding through hills and mountains

Further on drive the 3 passes tour, which covers 3 passes and is 120 kilometers long. Enjoy beautiful mountain lakes, snow capped mountains and glaciers.

After this visit the beautiful towns of Brienz, Interlaken and Thun on the banks of the Brienzersee and Thunersee. End your road trip with a visit to the Emmentaler Schaukäserei, to see the process of cheese making and taste the delicious Emmentaler cheese.

Your road trip can easily be combined with a stay at the fabulous Hotel Gerig om Wassen, on the 3 passes tour.

Swedish, Lapland

Ellis, Backpack Adventures

A straight road lined with green trees

Swedish Lapland is the most northern region of Sweden. It’s the most sparsely populated area in Sweden, but covers 25% of the country’s surface. Those that live in Lapland include the indigenous Sami people that once roamed the forests and tundras above the Arctic circle as nomadic reindeer herders. 

A Swedish Lapland road trip means travelling in one of the most remote areas of Europe. The landscapes are spectacular. From endless pine tree forests to bare tundra, mountains, raging rivers and beautiful lakes. Swedish Lapland offers plenty of things to do for the outdoor enthusiast. 

What you can do really depends on the season. Swedish Lapland is a year round destination, but being so far up north means the weather changes quickly.

In summer you can enjoy the midnight sun and this is the perfect time for hiking in the mountains.

By the time that autumn starts there will be too much snow in the mountains, but one can still hike through the forests where you can also gather berries and mushrooms. 

Winter is maybe the most magical time in Swedish Lapland. Everything will be covered in a huge blanket of snow and despite the short days there is lots of fun to be had. Dog sledding or snowmobiling are very popular and if you are lucky you might see the northern lights.

A husky with its tounge hanging out

Even in winter the roads are kept in a good condition and driving is totally safe. 

A Swedish Lapland road trip is mostly about nature. The distances between the major cities like Lulea, Kiruna and Jokkmokk are large and in between there is only forest or tundra.

The cities are not that interesting, but offer good facilities and are a great place to learn more about the indigenous Sami culture.  

Lulea is an upcoming foodie destination where one can try traditional Sami food made with local ingredients such as reindeer stew, elk meat and arctic char.

Jokkmokk is the cultural capital of Swedish Lapland with an excellent museum about the Sami people and in Kiruna it is possible to visit a reindeer farm. Chances are you might have spotted a reindeer already on the road.

The quickest way to reach Swedish Lapland is to fly there, but a more sustainable way is taking the night train from Stockholm to either Lulea or Kiruna. Both are a great place to start a Swedish Lapland road trip.  

Iceland

Danny, Danny Explores

A van driving on a windy road with water on one side and a black rocky cliff on the other side

Iceland is one of the most mesmerising countries in all of Europe. From its countless waterfalls to the stunning snow-covered hills and mountains you’ll never be short of something to see! There are plenty of flights from mainland Europe the UK and USA to Iceland and you can pick up your car from the airport.

You can take a road trip in all the seasons, but it’s advised that you take extra care when driving during the winter months. The beauty of an Icelandic road trips is there is only one main road around the whole of the Nordic island (It’s hard to get lost)! You can plan your route around the whole of Iceland or take a shorter route if you’d wish. It’s better to take a shorter trip if you’re only staying a few days to make sure you get the most out of your experience! 

There’s plenty for you to see if you decide to explore the south of Iceland (recommended for shorter stays).  Make sure that you factor in a few of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls such as Seljalandfoss and Skogasfoss. There’s also the quite spooky Sólheimasandur plane wreck site if you’re into hiking and exploring strange locations.

A plan wreckage on a black stone beach

A popular place to stay around the south of Iceland is the beautiful small town of Vik. There are a few places you can stay in the town but a beautiful alternative just 10 mins out of the town is Mid Hvoll Cottages. The amazing wooden cabins / cottages are amazing value for the location they are in. You’ll also get to experience what it’s like to be in the Icelandic mountains on your own!

Have you taken a driving holiday Europe? Which is your favourite European country to take a road trip? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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