The beauty of taking a road trip is that you’re in complete control of your holiday. You can take any route you wish, spontaneously divert from the plan or even decide to rough it out for a few nights and sleep in your car (if you’re on a budget!). Europe is an extremely popular continent to road trip around, and for good reason. It’s relatively small geographical size means you could hypothetically cover all of the major cities/attractions it has to offer in just two weeks (bear in mind that this would be non-stop driving). Although, if you’re calling the shots, you may just want to stay clear of the tourist sites and venture off the beaten path. Away from the bigger cities, you will find hundreds of hidden gems like scenic mountain routes, winding sun-soaked coastal roads and narrow cobbled streets of sleepy villages.
Due to the endlessly customizable nature of road trips it’s a good idea to have some ‘must-see’ places in mind so you can figure out where you want to start and end. If you’re planning to visit another continent it’s worthwhile doing some research on renting/buying a car for your journey. Most of Europe is right-hand drive (except for U.K., Malta and Cyprus) so be aware of that you may be driving on the other side of the road.
In this post we’ve given you a brief overview of 5 of our top European road trips routes, but obviously you could chop and change these as you desire.
High-speed German Mountains
Germany is well known for its Autobahn (the highway with no speed limit) with 13,000 km of concrete road juxtaposed against the stunning Bavarian Alps. To fully absorb the high-altitude meadows and crystal clear lakes that the region has to offer, we recommend starting you drive in Lindau, which borders Obersee Lake, and start heading east towards the fairy tale Neuschwanstein Castle – that apparently inspired Walt Disney. If you feel like getting in some skiing, check out Garmisch Partenkirchen on route, or if you want big city lights head straight to Munich.
Eastern European Exploration
Eastern Europe is a definitely on our top list of destinations to visit for its mix of natural beauty, ancient architecture and iconic cities. We recommend starting in Bucharest and heading northwest to finish up in Bratislava. This route should take you past the incredible Carpathian Mountains, Bran Castle (commonly known as the home of Dracula) and the bustling city on the river Danube, Budapest.
Basking in Iberian Sun
Portugal lies on the westernmost fringes of Europe and is blessed with amazing weather most of the year. For travellers wishing to take in sun, beach and coastal views simultaneously, Braga, on Portugal’s northern tip, is a fantastic place to start your journey. You can then follow the coast and pass through Porto to take a compulsory sip of some authentic port wine (check out Garrafeira do Campo shop if you want to try or buy), head on to the capital Lisbon for your dose of city buzz and finish off in dreamy Faro for some relaxation on the beach.
The French Riviera
Along the Cote d’Azur you’ll find some of the most breath-taking views across the Mediterranean. The Three Corniches (Les Corniches) are world famous roads that run along the coast and take you from dizzying mountains to idyllic coast. The Grande Corniche road begins in Nice and was carved out of the mountain by the Romans. This winding road starts at 500m above sea level and gives impressive views out into the sea as you wind through pine-trees and rustic villas – you should definitely take a pit-stop at La Turbie to take in the views. The Moyenne Corniche takes you slightly closer to the sea and is also busier than the Grand Corniche road, so be prepared for traffic in the summer months; the must see place is Eze, a stunning medieval hill town that has plenty of picture perfect spots. Finally the coastal road, Basse Corniche will take you past the seaside resorts and imposing 19th Century Villas of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze-Bord-de-Mer and of course the glamorous Monaco.
The Ultimate European Road Trip
This is the mother of all road trips and was designed by PHD student to take in 45 stops over a minimum of a 3-month period. The trip covers all of the major cities in Europe including Paris, Berlin, London and Rome and spans over 16,000 miles. The starting point is Krakow with the route winding roughly anti-clockwise around the continent to end up on the tip of the Mediterranean in Malta. If you have a significant amount of time (and resources) available we would highly recommend this road trip, as you will quite literally cover all the best bits that Europe has to offer at once. We also suggest you go along with at least one other person with whom you can share the load – as there is a lot of driving involved! Check out this post on the top 10 cities to visit in Europe, which will give you a taster of the very best European destinations and help you plan this mammoth trip!
You will most definitely want to have your mobile with you in case you break down in the middle of the French Alps but be very careful to check with your network provider before you depart as roaming charges are notoriously hefty! With smart phones allowing you to make calls and send messages over the internet we would highly recommend you take a portable wifi device with you, instead of risking a nasty surprise bill when you return home from your Euro trip. Our pocket-sized wifi device gives you access to unlimited internet and is perfect for multi-stop trips, as you’ll never have to worry about changing SIM cards or finding a wifi hotspot (which are non-existent when you’re on the road). The device costs just $9.95 and can be used by 5 people (or up to 5 devices) simultaneously, meaning if you’re planning a family road trip along the French Riviera, you can keep everyone happy – and (hopefully) avoid being asked the dreaded “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.