With Europe being such an expansive continent, filled with many magical countries, it makes for a wonderful place to plan a road trip. Not only can you travel from one country to another easily by car, some rentals will even offer one-way rentals, so you can drop off the car in a different country from where you started, making it easier for you to plan your adventure further. Interested in a European road trip? Here are just some of the best routes as well as some practical tips:
The Dordogne River Valley, France
Known as the valley of castles – which is apt since Dordogne is home to an astonishing 1000 castles – the Dordogne River Valley is a route that will take you through stunning French countryside, that is full of vineyards that produce some of the greatest wines in France. This route is best enjoyed over a week, so you can stop and explore some of the villages and attractions along the way, you can even rent a castle for a night and live like royalty!
Along the way, be sure to stop at the historic village of Tulle, which has romantic cobbled streets and is home to a number of arts festivals during the year. Wine lovers will adore Bergerac, where you can spend the evening indulging in local wines and French cuisine. Plus, Bergerac also has great facilities for kayaking.
Your road trip ends in Bordeaux, which is definitely worth spending a few days in, as the nightlife and restaurants are particularly good here.
The Romantic Road, Germany
Known as the Romantic Road for a reason, this German route is dotted with palaces, castles and winding roads surrounded by lush greenery. Starting in Würzburg and finishing in Füssen, the Romantic Road is 220 miles long, so you should take several days to enjoy the route stopping to stay in villages such as Tauberbischofsheim and Dinkelsbühl.
Along the way, be sure to stop at Würzburg’s Residenz, which is a stunning palace that will take your breath away. There are also a number of local wines produced in the area so, if you’re choosing to stay overnight, be sure to sample some of these, and even take a few bottles in your boot!
Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a racing driver, or fantasised about a high-speed car chase from movies like James Bond, then the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria is a must-visit. Not only does this road climb to an astonishing 2,500m surrounded by a range of 37 mountains, but this road is filled with challenging hairpin bends that will put your driving skills to the test.
Although the 30-mile drive can be completed in as little as an hour, it would be a travesty to speed through this road without stopping to take in some of the spectacular views that – apart from the mountains – include glaciers, meadows and lakes. The Alpine Nature Show museum is a particularly good stop as you’ll be able to learn all about the diverse ecosystem that exists in the Alps.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
Ireland’s Ring of Kerry is famous for a reason, as it takes in many of the most spectacular of Ireland’s landscapes in just one drive, including the Iveragh peninsula, Macgillicuddy’s Reeks mountain range and Killarney National Park. The 110-mile route can be travelled at any time of year, with summer being the busiest. Keep in mind that although the route is quieter in winter, these are narrow winding roads, and any adverse weather may make the drive too difficult.
The route can be travelled in one day, but it’s far better enjoyed over two days so you break your journey visiting places like the fishing harbours at Ballinskellig, the historic Cahersiveen and the beaches at Glenbeigh.
Route One, Iceland
If you want to experience the most spectacular landscape in Europe, then Iceland’s Route One is a must. Give yourself at least a week to complete this 800-mile adventure, that will take in volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls and even lava fields, you’ll want the extra time to experience everything.
Best driven using a 4x4 vehicle – as many of the roads are still gravel – the route has plenty of detours that can be taken in order to see some of Iceland’s greatest attractions. This includes a detour at the north-east ash fields to see the Dettifoss waterfall, whale-watch at Husavik and to enjoy the hot springs at Myvatn. The more you want to see, the more time you’ll need, so if you do plan a road trip in Iceland, be sure to plan yourself an itinerary before you leave.
Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
A road that Jeremy Clarkson himself described as the “world’s best driving road”, Transfagarasan Highway in Austria was created by communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted a speedy way to escape if a Soviet invasion ever occurred. Starting in Curtea de Arges and finishing in Cartisoara, this 71-mile drive will take you around 3 or more hours to complete as you drive through the spectacular hairpin bends, bridges, viaducts and tunnels.
The road is usually closed between October and June due to snow, so its best visited in summer or early autumn. On your trip, be sure to stop at Balea, where this is a large glacial lake. The cities of Brasov and Sibiu are also well worth stopping to explore in.
● Before you decide on a road trip in any county, it’s imperative that you look up any driving laws for that country. A lot of things can differ between countries: road signs, speed limits, and even which side of the road you drive on!
● Know what documentation you need. Some countries will require an International Driving Permit before you can legally drive. You should also be aware of the toll charges and you may even need a highway vignette.
● Always be prepared for a breakdown or accident. This means having an emergency kit in your car that includes food, drink, blankets and language book for the country you’re in. The emergency number in Europe is 112.
● Use a trip planner to plan your route – especially when travelling over multiple countries. Also make sure you have a paper map, as your satnav might break down and many of these routes might have limited phone signal.