Europe is, without a doubt, a brilliant place for a road trip. The roads are in good condition, the scenery is stunning, the cultures are warm, the beer is great, the food is better and you have endless options of where to go and places to stay. So what are you waiting for? Here are the 5 best European road trips and ultimate Europe trip planner.
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Guest Post By Mike Jensen
The Best European Road Trips
Is there really a better way to see a place than on a road trip? We don’t think so. Pulling into each intriguing bar or restaurant, cruising through amazing scenery, finding places that are off the beaten track are just some of the reasons why road trips are so much fun, and we haven’t even spoken about the driving yet. So buckle yourself in for some of the best road trips around Europe in the best destinations in Europe.
Road Trip 1: Scotland, North Coast 500
Scotland is full of winding roads that take you over mountains, past lakes, around coastal cliffs, and through deep valleys. If you’re new to Scotland or looking for a genuine experience of the Scottish Highlands and the culture that goes with it, then the North Coast 500 route is the one for you.
North Coast 500 Route
The drive is 500 miles long and begins in Inverness. The route takes you up and around the coast of northern Scotland in a circle, ending in Inverness again. It will take about 4 days to complete at a minimum but we would recommend doing it over a week. The drive itself is winding and you’ll often find yourself on single-tracked roads on the edge of the coast staring out to sea.
The Best Time to Travel to Scotland
The best time of year to do this scenic drive in Scotland is in autumn where you’ll get to see the amazing colors across the highlands as the leaves change and misty mornings that hang on the lakes and valleys.
Beach near Durness – Photo supplied by Kathi from Watch Me See
The Best Stops on the North Coast 500, Scotland
This route isn’t about the drive, however, it’s all about the stops, which is why we recommend doing it over a week. Make sure to pack some walking boots, warm clothes, waterproofs, and a hip flask to top up with whiskey as you go. There are loads of places to stop off at to wander into the Scottish countryside, walk along empty white-sand beaches as well as discovering some Scottish history as you go. Castle ruins, emerald lochs, bracken covered hillsides, glistening oceans, and some excellent distilleries are found on the route, handy for topping up your hip flask for those chilly evenings.
Some must-see stops are found at Ullapool where a gentle stroll will take you into gorgeous views of the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides. And sneaky A-road near wick will have you driving to 5000-year-old burial chambers known as the Grey Cairns of Camster. There are amazing beaches all along the route and weather permitting you can go kayaking and surfing or just try to spot dolphins from the shore if the water looks a bit too chilly. Some castles not to miss are Dunrobin and the ruins of Ardvreck Castle in Sutherland.
This is an awesome road trip that has a sense of cultural discovery and adventure that’ll make you want to return to Scotland year after year.
Dunrobin Castle – Photo supplied by Yvette from Wayfaring Kiwi
Book a Campervan or Car for Scotland HERE
Road Trip 2: Iceland, Route One
If you have never been to Iceland then you have most likely heard the stories of landscapes that are so changeable they are comparable to the moon and manicured golf courses. It has all the extremes from volcano’s, ash deserts, lava fields, hot springs, and geysers, to crystal blue waterfalls. The best way to immerse yourself in all these wonders is by driving down the famous Route One road which circumnavigates the country.
Route One, Route
The route is 800 miles long and starts in Reykjavik, handy as it’s where you’ll fly to and pick up a hire car from. You will need a 4×4 (if you are planning to take the F roads) for the trip and it’s best to let the company know your plans so they can recommend the right vehicle. Some of the roads have tough terrain and are very remote, you’ll need a car that can handle them. The route should take around a week to ten days to complete and again the stops are just as important as the driving.
The Best Time to Travel to Iceland
You can do the drive all year round although it’s recommended to do it in summer in either July and August for the longer evenings and better weather. If you’re wanting to see the northern lights, between September and March is the time for that.
The Best Stops on the Route One, Iceland
The route will take you through lava fields, snow-capped mountains, meadows, fjords, villages and glacial rivers. One of the highlights is driving through the northeast ash-fields which are oddly bleak and beautiful. You’ll drive past the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, the blue lagoon and it’s geothermal spa while staying in remote log cabins. You can take detours to see the hugely dramatic waterfall of Dettifoss, the hot springs near Myvatn and do some whale watching at Husavik. If you’re into golf or fly-fishing, you could easily play or fish your whole way around too.
The route does cut out the Westfjords which would be a shame to miss. Definitely plan a day or two’s detour to explore this area.
Book a Campervan or Car for Iceland HERE
Interested in other ROAD TRIPS around the world? CHECK OUT:
– The Best 5 EUROPEAN Road Trips
– ICELAND Road Trip from Akureyri to Reykjavik
– ICELAND in a Campervan – Luxury on a Budget
– 5 Day Road Trip Tour of NORWAY incl. the Fjords
– SPAIN: Road Trip – 5 Days in Asturias
– UK Road Trip Tips
– AUSTRALIA – Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip with Great Ocean Road Itinerary
– Comparing the Best Motorhome & Campervan Hire – NEW ZEALAND
– Kiwi Campers & Happy Campers NEW ZEALAND
– Review of a Maui Campervan – NEW ZEALAND
– Why You Should Motorhome CHILE – A Unique Way to see Chile
Road Trip 3: Ireland, The Ring of Kerry
If you’re looking for a short road trip or a quick weekend break then driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland is a perfect choice.
The Ring of Kerry Route
The route itself is only 110 miles long and can be done in a day at a push, but it’s well worth taking a few days to complete so you can stop off and enjoy what the area has to offer. The roads will take you around Ireland’s Iveragh peninsula. It begins and ends in the stunning scenery of Killarney National Park which is full of lakes, every shade of green and has the Macgillicuddy’s Reeks mountain range lurking in the background.
Kerry Cliffs – Photo supplied by Gemma & Campbell from highlands to hammocks
The Best Time to Travel to Ireland
It’s best to drive the route in summer but the roads can be busy due to tourists. Out of season, it will be much quieter except you are running the risk of having some very wet weather.
The Best Stops The Ring of Kerry, Ireland
You’ll drive through the historic town of Cahersiveen and the seaside town of Glenbeigh which is famous for its beautiful beach. You can watch as the huge swells of the Atlantic come home to rest and pound on the Irish shores. Both of these towns are a great place to spend the night to break up the journey.
As you continue, you’ll reach the end of the Peninsula to find the picturesque fishing villages of Ballinskelligs and Portmagee. If you have the time to spare, you can leave the car and hop on a boat to discover and explore the Skellig islands and Valentia Island from here. While you come back around it’s worth popping into the old ringfort in Staigue and for lunch in Kenmare which has some great places to eat out. Then you’ll stop at Moll’s Gap to look over the stunning valley and emerald mountains before heading back to Killarney.
Make your way back via Sneem, with its ancient ringfort at Staigue, then on to Kenmare with its fine restaurants. Take in the spectacular views from Moll’s Gap, before returning to Killarney.
If you’re into golf then spending a night in Waterville is highly recommended.
The Ring of Kerry – Photo supplied by Ivan from Mind the Travel
Book a Campervan or Car for Ireland HERE
Road Trip 4: France, The Great Alpine Road
One of the most scenic drives in Europe is of course down the great alpine in France.
The Great Alpine Road Route
The route is 675 kilometers long and starts in a little town called Thonon-les-Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva. From here you’ll take a meandering road through the Alps and keep going until you find the glistening shores of the Mediterranean at Monaco. What more could ask for than starting in the mountains and ending on warm sandy beaches?
The Best Time to Travel to France
The road is only open from June to October and it’s recommended to drive the route in either June, September or October to avoid the holiday traffic of July and August. The later you leave in the better as in October you could be welcomed by the beautiful autumn colors and snow-capped mountains.
The Best Stops on The Great Alpine Road, France
The driver will take you through valleys, past lakes and rivers, 16 mountain passes and four national parks. It’s worth taking it slow and exploring all the things this amazing environment and culture has to offer. The food and wine will be top-notch, you’re in France after all and upon arrival at the Mediterranean, you’ll be spoiled with delicious seafood.
Book a Campervan or Car for France HERE
Road Trip 5: Italy, The Amalfi Coast
A cruise down the Amalfi coast is probably one of the most romantic and cultural drives you can do in Europe, if not the world.
View of Positano – Photo supplied by Suzanne from The Travel Bunny
The Amalfi Coast Route
The route is 446 miles long and has stops in 6 different towns. It’s best done over a course of 7-10 days and the drives are relatively short between each town, the longest being two and a half hours. The route starts in Rome and traces the southern shores of the Salerno Gulf along the Tyrrhenian Sea of southern Italy. It’s full of panoramic ocean views, historical sites, delicious cuisine and of course Italian culture. You’ll stay in Ostia Antica, Naples, Sorrento, Positano, and Tivoli before heading back to Rome. These are some of the most beautiful, iconic towns and cities in Italy that are filled with museums, history, art, and amazing atmospheres.
The Best Time to Travel to Italy
You can do this amazing route at any time of year thanks to the lovely weather of the region, so if you’re looking for a warm winter adventure, this is a great choice.
The Best Stops on The Amalfi Coast, Italy
While on the road trip you must stop to see Pompei, Mount Vesuvius, hop to the famous island of Capri, stay in a villa on the cliffs of Positano, and walk around the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Tivoli. There’s a load more to be discovered too and you could easily make this road trip last three weeks if you wanted to.