Despite being nicknamed ‘the old continent’, Europe just never ceases to amaze.
Never-ending verdant hills with snowy mountains peaking in between. Glacier lakes and fairy-tale castles atop rugged cliffs. Rose-coloured villages perched on hills along an emerald coast and vineyards as far as your eyes can see. As “old” as Europe is deemed to be, there remains so many places, and ways, to explore.
Traditional tourism just doesn't cut it anymore, as oftentimes the itinerary is oddly restrictive and strict. Nowadays people prefer to travel and enjoy the trip of their own accord. They like to go, to stop, to gape, to stare as they please. Hence, many come on European road trips. Perfect for casual travellers, full control over schedule, and uncanny experience, etc are some of the reasons that once tried people just can't seem to go any other way.
Travel in Europe by Car: 11 Best Europe Road Trips
Pack some wanderlust, start that engine, and get ready for the best ride of your life. Here are some of the best and most breath-taking best road trips in Europe.
TROLLSTIGEN NATIONAL TOURIST ROUTE, NORWAY
Any best European road trip lists will have to include the sight of the famous fjords in Norway. And the best way to see and get up close to these elongated seas with majestic steep cliffs is to do a road trip along the scenic Trollstigen National Tourist Route.
Image from Visit Norway
Trollstigen is almost hanging above the deepest fjords that defies the landscape of the region. Due to its gnarly location, visitors can only access it during the summer when the route isn’t bombarded in heavy snow and suffocating mist. For better or for worse, this inaccessibility brings about an enigmatic shroud to the route, mesmerizing those that managed to experience it themselves, while simultaneously enchanting those who haven’t.
The experience is more than mere sightseeing, however. The place encompasses restaurants, galleries to flood barriers, water cascades, etc. Everything was designed with respect to nature to ensure the most authentic nature experience for the visitors.
Between Valldalen and Andalsnes in Norway, a drive along this road also known as the Troll Route will spoil you with lush valleys, snow-covered mountains, waterfalls such as the Seven Sisters, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Geirangerfjord, which is the world’s most renowned fjord.
Consider a quick visit and hike to Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, an alpine area where you can see wild animals such as reindeers, golden eagle, and mountain fox and a diverse species of mountain flora.
TRANSFAGARASAN HIGHWAY, ROMANIA
Also known as Romania’s National Road 7C, Transfagarasan Highway has been named the world’s best road trip by Top Gear. Running about 90 kms, this drive will take you through the Fagaras mountains, the Carpathian range, and the Transylvanian Alps. Twisty curves and sharp hairpin turns afford you to only run at 25 miles per hour. But that also means you can fully bask in the glorious views of glacier lakes, dense pine forests, and majestic mountain ranges.
Image from Romania Tourism
The best time in the year to visit Transfagarasan is during daytime in the summer, when the whole valley is bathed in balmy sunlight. Do avoid the hectic crowd on weekends, as expected from literally one of the best European road trips. The road is closed in the winter, unfortunately.
Your Romanian holiday will also take you across viaducts, through tunnels, and along the Arges River gorge. Towards the end of your epic road trip is the village of Capataneni where a sign leads you to Poenari Castle, property of Vlad the Impaler who is known to inspire the character of Dracula. His fortress is 1480 steps up but the view at the top is beyond spectacular.
ALPINE ROAD, GERMANY
280 miles of breathtaking curves, twisting roads, and hairpins with views of snow-covered peaks, mountain lakes, romantic valleys, and Alpine meadows from left to right. Add in some majestic palaces and fairy-tale castles. If this doesn’t make you jump in a car and take this journey down the Alpine Road in Germany, then we don’t know what will. Also known as Alpenstrasse, this road at the edge of the Bavarian Alps extending between Lindau and Berchtesgaden is characterized by extensive roads and generous speed limits.
Image from Deutschland
As if the views Alpine Road affords you are not comforting and breathtaking enough, make a relaxing stop at Oberstaufen, a town full of almost a hundred spas and home to Germany’s only Schroth spa. Just eastward, you will find the Breitachklamm gorge, where colossal mountains are split in half by the Breitach river. Proceed to the town of Fussen, where the artisans make some of the finest violins. Then, stop over at Neuschwanstein, a castle atop a rugged hill built by King Ludwig, dubbed as the “Fairytale King.” This is the same castle from which Walt Disney drew inspiration to design Cinderella's castle.
The journey doesn’t end there. If you follow through, you’ll eventually end up in the capital of Munich. However, don’t speed as you’d miss spectacular scenery along the way. The Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s slope, the medieval town of Bad Tölz, the Chiemgau Alps are all worth an entire trip on their own.
A road trip that will take you around scenic Spanish towns and to neighbouring France, Basque simply cannot be missed when in Europe. From rocky coastlines to gorgeous mountains, vineyards to fishing villages, and museums and Michelin-star restaurants in between, this road trip is a feast to the eyes and to the mouth.
Image from The Land of The Basque
It’s the famed gastronomy of the country that attracts countless tourists from all walks of life. On average, Basque has the second highest Michelin star-restaurants per capita. Considering how small the place is, there's practically a Michelin at every corner. So that’s there for the jet-set. The average Joe would be treated just as nicely with numerous food stalls and cosy family-run street bars.
from a human rights festival each April to the famous film festival in September that attracts Hollywood stars to a Jazz festival in the warm summer month of July.
Drive from Madrid or Barcelona and head down south to Bilbao where you can see the Guggenheim Museum and the majestic Basilica of Begoña. Turn east for a pass at Pamplona, a dreamy town which is also the capital of the Kingdom of Navarre. Pass through the Pyrenees Mountains into France and be ready for those jaw-dropping sceneries leading you to Biarritz, a French surf town dotted with elegant promenades and luxurious hotels.
AMALFI COAST, ITALY
No “best road trips in Europe'' will ever be complete without this Italian dream gracing the list. Winding through a coastline stretch blessed with gorgeous pastel-coloured villages perfectly terraced into hills, exuberant gardens, and scenic panoramas overlooking cerulean seas, one can only gasp in amazement with the beauty of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. No wonder this Mediterranean jewel made it to the UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, steep mountains dig deeper into the seas, with towns of colourful Mediterranean abodes clinging on to the cliffs, with vibrant lush forest in sight.
Image from Vogue
Its natural features are perfectly complemented by man-made structures providing unparalleled beauty and charm. If turquoise water and fabled piazzas just bores you, Italy has some of the fanciest restaurants and hotels in Europe, where you can sit back and enjoy a romantic yet bustling city life.
Your journey through Amalfi Coast starts in Salerno, a busy port town and home to the oldest medical school in modern civilization, the Schola Medica Salernitana. Wind down through scenic roads to Ravelo, continue towards Amalfi, and head down to the coastal village of Positano. Wine breaks over majestic sea views during the trip are highly encouraged, by the way.
Ever wondered why the only song ever written about Ibiza is a smashing dance track? Cause that’s what Ibiza’s all about. The island’s fabled party-spirited lifestyle has been drawing visitors. But in the off season when parties and festivals are preparing, Ibiza is a serene scene unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Image from Daily Mail
The island is relatively small (571 square kilometres, a third of London’s), so it’s absolutely perfect for a short-day best road trip in Europe. As soon as you disembark from the plane, you can rent a car, and from there every place on this island is practically within elbow space.
Spend a day to relax on renowned beaches like Salinas or Es Cavallet to enjoy the peaceful scenery. Head over to beaches Cala Comte and Cala Bassa to partake in water sports while the islet of Es Verda is peeping you from afar.
If you like cultural experience, consider sauntering through Dalt Villa, a UNESCO site, to enjoy its unique flower-filled streets, or visit Hippy Market in Punta Arabí to discover the amazing arts and crafts.
If you prefer unspoilt nature, you could amble down Caló d’es Moro or Sunset Strip to witness the brimming tangerine sunlight slowly seeping into the crystal-clear ocean. The 1000-year-old stalactites in Can Marçá caves are popular, and so is the Santa Eularia des Riu.
And then of course, it wouldn’t be Ibiza without parties. Pacha, Privilege and Ushuaïa are infamous for their endless parties. Maybe, take a pill even?
Madeira is an archipelago of not one but a combination of three islands and another archipelago. Madeira is definitely the biggest attraction of the four.
Image from Insider
Madeira is almost perfect for road trips and for adventurers travelling by car in Europe. It’s just a bit larger than London, so it’s large enough to keep the visitors expecting and fascinated throughout their trips. The main town Funchal offers basic tourism services like accommodation, food, and rental services. So, book a villa you fancy, then rent a car to drive to Câmara de Lobos, Cabo Girao, Calheta, Porto Moniz. It is here where you can enjoy the volcanic pools. Then follow through with the road and climb up to the tops of the island, Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. You should also check out the peaceful Madeira Forest.
If you have finished your Madeira exploration, remember there are more islands around the archipelago to explore. All you need is to hop on a boat and get going.
There’s just a sense of tranquillity as one is cruising through the countryside’s roads. Tuscany, a central region of Italy offers just that. With a balmy climate and hills upon hills of verdant grasslands, gold sunflower fields, and quaint rural towns, Tuscany is the perfect summer Europe road trip destination.
Image from Unsplash
Start out from Florence, the biggest city in the Tuscany region with an international airport. Rent a car there and proceed to the peaceful little town of Vinci where the Leonardo da Vinci Museum is located. From there, on your way to Tuscany, consider spending a night in the town of Lucca, a town reminiscent of the old Italian centuries ago. Try the pizzas from the 100-year-old Pizzeria da Felice. Proceed to Pisa, home to the famous leaning tower of Pisa. Then continue on your way to Montepulciano, home to Vino Nobile, the vineyard widely revered as the best of the region’s many. Then proceed to Siena, the town of splendid medieval buildings, and end your journey at the enchanting town San Gimignano and witness its skyline full of tall old towers.
The Epirus is famed for its sinuous mountain cliffs, which might be hard to conquer, but only through which can you get to some of the most fabulous villages and most marvellous sceneries.
Image from Around Greece
Start out in Athens, the capital of the country, where you will embark on the Ionia Odos highway to sprint to Ioannina with the refreshing wind gushing against your face. From there visit the village of Monodendri and the neighbouring Monastery of Agia Paraskevi to enjoy breath-taking views. Then proceed to Oxia for a quick stop at a peaceful town. From there go onwards, perhaps tarry at Zagorohoria, a community of more than 60 small villages. After that, as you head towards Papigo, remember to go over the Aristi bridge that crosses over the Voidomatis river. Then stop at the village of Kolymbithres to enjoy the serenity that you’ve come all the way to enjoy.
A country thought to have stayed in the old world, Montenegro of the Balkan region is perfect for those who have a fixation with the past. With grand mountains, old Venetian towns and some excellent coastlines, this country is a perfect road trip destination for those who travel in Europe by car.
Image from Unsplash
Start at Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. Rent a car and head towards Lake Skadar, the biggest lake in the entire Balkan region to witness its incredible and diverse wildlife. Then proceed to Sveti Stefan, to Budva, and then visit Lovcen National Park, which encompasses a mix of nature, history, culture, and more. Then, consider a detour back to Podgorica as there is the Ostrog Monastery nearby, one of the most enigmatic complexes in the entire country.
Montenegro isn’t the largest country, so don’t be afraid to explore the country however you see fit.
The country famed for its supercar brands, it wouldn’t be surprising that there are plenty of roads built for cars, hence why German is a great destination for road trip lovers. And should you come to Germany for such reason, visit Autobahn, the region with upwards of 13,000kms of highway.
Image from Unsplash
Start out in Germany’s capital Munich. Rent your favourite BMW and drive through the German Alpine Route to get to Bavaria where you’ll get to see the Neuschwanstein Castle. There, continue onwards to reach Lake Constance, the 3rd largest freshwater lake in all Europe. After that, press your paddle and sprint to Stuttgart, home to the Porsche and Mercedes Museums. Here you can enjoy the history of the car industry, as well as feasting your eyes on some of the fanciest designs. After that head to the spa-town Baden-Baden, then carry on to Swabia, the rural town with tranquil landscape. Then consider stopping by Hohenzollern Castle, the ancestral seat of the Prussian Royal House and the Hohenzollern - the most influential aristocratic dynasties in German history.
DALMATIAN COAST, CROATIA
Driving on brand new highway, throwing your views to the turquoise water only to then run into old towns and discover fascinating hidden coves? Sounds like a memorable trip that only a Europe road trip to the Dalmatian Coast can offer.
Image from Unsplash
Start out in Dubrovnik, the famous tourist hotspot of Croatia. There’s an ancient Wall (almost like a miniature Great Wall of China) in the city that’s worth visiting. As you start, head to Split, home to the Diocletian’s Palace. Constructed by the emperor Diocletian, the Palace is a magnificent sight of old Roman architecture of the early AC years. After that head up the lush Marjan Hill, and don’t miss the Kasjuni beach of the Adriatic nearby. Then, take a ferry to explore the island of Hvar, a popular tourist attraction with a lot of activities and a perfect relaxation destination.
Lastly, on your way back, consider the serene towns of Pula, Poreč or Rijeka. Or maybe consider the fishing village Rovinj. All are calming coastal cities, but each has their own charm.