Nothing beats a good road trip – picking up a hire car and heading off along a planned route with friends or your partner and finding unexpected gems along the way. Europe has some absolutely classic road trip destinations so you do not have to travel to the ends of the earth to find that king of the road spirit.
Read on to see the routes that we think are the best the continent has to offer and adapt them to suit your timeframe and tastes.Happy driving!
Basque Circuit – Spain and France
This 300-mile round trip takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in northern Spain, France and the mountain landscape of the Pyrenees. Starting off in Bilbao, famed for its magnificent Guggenheim Museum, you will eventually end up in Biarritz after an adventure along the way.
You could choose to do the journey in the course of a day, but it is much more fun to stop off along the way and elongate the trip, turning it into a proper driving holiday. Be sure to try the tiny tapas-style morsels called pintxos that San Sebastian is famous for – they are a taste sensation.
When you reach Biarritz’s elegant Riviera and fine promenade you are at your destination, where you can leave your hire car if you are short of time and have made prior arrangements. Otherwise drive back to Bilbao through a different route that takes you more inland.
Wandering around the historic centre of Pamplona you can imagine the scenes each July when the San Fermin Festival sees bulls running through its streets. After taking in the views from a mountain pass crossing the Pyrenees spend some time exploring Vitoria-Gasteiz with its impressive plaza and stunning cathedral.
Amalfi Coast – Italy
The road along the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Salerno hugs the edge of the Mediterranean at around 500 metres above sea level, offering picture postcard views. The sandy beaches and charming villas offer the scene most people think of when dreaming of Italy.
This 35-mile drive could be done in a relatively short time, but where is the fun in that? Make this trip your own by spending time visiting beaches that catch your eye or pretty little villages. In Positano you can wander among the olive groves and lemon trees as the sun starts to descend below the horizon.
From Sant’ Agata Sui Due Golfi you are presented with classic views of the Bay of Naples and the Bay of Salerno. There is also the chance to dine on Michelin star food as several of the restaurants have achieved this prestigious honour.
Alpine Road – Germany
This 300-mile fascinating route is not for the faint hearted in terms of navigation as there are so many twists and turns it is easy to get lost. But as long as you have the time for such escapades then that is all part of the fun.
Hugging to the side of the Bavarian Alps, you will pass through some quaint small towns and villages, making it very tempting to stop and have a look around.
Add to this the alpine meadows, snowcapped mountains and fairytale castles punctuating the landscape and it is very easy to be seduced. The cows in the fields have huge clunking bells around their necks and the ornate wooden chalets are decorated with overflowing window boxes bursting with colourful flowers.