Five ultimate European road trips


Road Trip

Going on a European road trip in either your own or hire car allows you to see the continent at its best—from bustling cities and lush countryside to sparkling lakes and ancient castles.

For more Europe travel tips, especially about Berlin, check out my hipster travel series: Hipster Travel Around the World.

Alpine Road – Germany

One particularly great place for a continental motoring experience is Germany. By traveling along the country’s Alpine Road, you will be in close proximity to the Bavarian Alps meaning you’ll be well placed to see some beautiful mountain scenery.

Starting from Lindau on Lake Constance and ending at Berchtesgaden on Lake Konigssee close to the Austrian border, this winding route encompasses some fantastic landmarks including the 19th century gothic Neuschwanstein Castle and Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.

As you drive you’ll also be able to see Linderhof Palace and Ettal Abbey – a stunning Benedictine monastery.

But in order to get a real appreciation of the surrounding Alpine scenery, pull over and hop out of the car for a walk.

You’ll find a range of marked footpaths and hiking trails suitable for walkers of all levels of experience and ability. However, if you want a more leisurely ascent you will be able to use the numerous chair lifts and cable cars to reach the summit and take in the stunning vistas below.

Lasting for some 300 miles, you should be able to easily complete the Alpine Road in the space of a week.

Basque Circuit, Spain – France

To combine two of Europe’s most popular countries for holidaymakers in the course of a single trip you may want to go on the Basque Circuit. Starting off in Bilbao, northern Spain you will eventually arrive at the coastal French town of Biarritz.

This trip can be completed in the course of a single day but to do so would mean you would miss out on a lot of the captivating sights that can be taken in along the way. Before departing Bilbao, make sure you stop by its fascinating Guggenheim museum – which is home to an array of contemporary art – and the Euskalduna concert hall.

Once you’ve finished taking in the sights hop in your car and head to Vitoria-Gasteiz. The second largest city in the Basque region, you’ll find some amazing historic architecture here, while if you visit between August 4th and 9th you will be in time for the Andre Maria Zuriaren Jaiak festival, which is an annual celebration of the city’s patron saint that incorporates free open-air concerts and other special activities.

You’ll be surrounded by some fantastic mountain scenery on the AP-15 road as you make your way to Pamplona. This city is known the world over for its San Fermin Festival, a yearly celebration that takes place each July and incorporates the Running of the Bulls event, where one of the animals is let loose on the streets and people attempt to run alongside and touch it as it makes its way to the bullring.

Experiencing some twisting roads as you travel, make your way into France through the Roncesvalles pass and once you’re on the A63 take exit four to Biarritz.

Once at the seaside town, you can have fun exploring the numerous museums and art galleries – such as the Asiatica Museum – or have a flutter at one of the casinos before making the trip back to Spain.

Amalfi coast – Italy

For the quintessential European road trip, why not head to Italy’s Amalfi coast? Driving along the western stretch of the country, you will travel from Sorrento to Salerno while taking in fantastic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

The coast is famous for its winding, technical roads that hug the shoreline and while the distance between the towns is just 35 miles, the wealth of attractions you’ll see on your way means you’ll want to spend a lot of time exploring.

One place you should certainly stop by is Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi where you can take in amazing views of the Bay of Naples and the Bay of Salerno and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants.

Meanwhile, visiting the hilltop village of Positano means that you can walk through wonderful lemon and olive groves before heading to the beach.

Upon arriving in Salerno, you will be able to take in some beautiful baroque architecture and the stunning tenth century Salerno Cathedral. The best time of year to take this trip is in June, where the weather will be warm but the roads will not be quite as busy as in August.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Austria

If you fancy driving through some alpine scenery there may be few better places to do this than Austria. By going on a road trip through the Salzburg province you’ll have the chance to go on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, a route that encompasses some breathtaking sights.

At about 30 miles long, this trip can easily be completed in about an hour, although you may want to take your time to really appreciate everything around you. Indeed, you’ll be in the middle of the Hohe Tauern National Park so there will be lots of fantastic natural landscapes, not least of all Grossglockner – the highest mountain in the country that stands 3,798 meters high.

And while it may be not the longest road you ever travel it will certainly be a challenging one, as it incorporates 36 bends and has a maximum altitude of 2,504 meters above sea level. Make sure you stop off at the Alpine Nature Show Museum and the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe visitors’ center where you will be able to learn more about the history of the region.

A toll must be paid in order to access the Grossglockner, while it is only open between May and November as the snow and ice during the winter makes it difficult to travel along safely.

Calais – France

For somewhere a little closer to home, why not go on a round-trip of Pas de Calais, in northern France? From your starting point in Calais – which you can easily reach from the UK by ferry or through the Eurotunnel – take the D940 via Boulogne along the Cote d’Opale to Le Touquet, a town resplendent with elegant 1920s boutiques and magnificent restaurants.

You can then take the D349 to Hesdin driving along the river Canche before reaching Saint Omer, a town that is famous the world over for producing beer of the same name.

During your trip, you’ll be able to stop off for a guided tour of Agincourt – the location of a famous battle that took place between the English and French armies in 1415 – as well as get the chance to relax on sandy beaches before eventually getting on the N43 back to Calais. Here you can see its fantastic renaissance-style town hall and Tour de Guet monument before heading back home.

Guest post by the city breaks team.

For more Europe travel tips, especially about Berlin, check out my hipster travel series: Hipster Travel Around the World.

Blogs published by Adam Groffman • Please note some posts do make me some money, but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Great Ideas and places. The Amalfi coast certainly belongs, it is amazing. Got to say, driving is the best way to see Europe.

    • Never actually drove in Europe…but I’d like to!

  2. Great post. This place really cool and I have heard many positive regarding this place.  Hope I will visit this cool place after my London Tours.

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