Who isn’t dreaming of jumping into the driver's seat and hitting the open road right now? Road trips offer the pinnacle of perfect freedom for those looking to explore. Pack your snacks and maps, turn up the music, and get ready to see a treasure chest of natural wonders, jaw-dropping vistas, centuries of history, and swathes of culture as you hit the finest circuits that Europe has to offer. From Scotland’s wild coast to France’s pretty Provence region and Portugal’s wine country, here are the road trips to add to your European bucket list…
The NC500 is one of the most beautiful drives in the world, taking you all around the edge of Scotland’s wild and wonderful coastline. Starting and finishing in Inverness, the way is peppered with dramatic castles, hair-raising bends, incredible mountain vistas, hairy highland cows, and white sand beaches that seem to be torn from the pages of a Caribbean travel magazine. You can stay in friendly B&B’s, pitch a tent and wild it, or even rent a campervan and stay on one of the many oceanfront pitches. In homage to its name, the road is 500 miles long, often single track and is best explored in the sweet summer months or autumn when the lochs become a mystical vision of bright leaves and mist.
The Basque Country
Those who want to soak up the laid-back je ne sais quoi of the rugged Basque region will be smitten by the drive from lively artistic Bilbao to wine-soaked Bordeaux. Starting in Bilbao you can get your fill of incredible architecture, mesmerizing morsels of pintxos (the local style of tapas) and hit up the Guggenheim. Heading north, you will pass through the charming backstreets of San Sebastian, the ritzy boho vibes of Biarritz, and the surfing soul of Hossegor. Finally, you will find yourself in Bordeaux where tangled vineyards and beautiful café lined boulevards welcome you for a much-needed end of the road tipple.
From Bergen to the beautiful tip of Trondheim, traveling alongside Norway’s fjords and thundering falls welcomes you to incredible scenes of raw nature. Bergen is a great place to kickstart your journey with its cool city vibes. Hit the road that follows the southwest coast and pass the mega Tvindefossen waterfall before taking the ferry that crosses the Sognefjord. Follow the route that leads through the gorgeous Geiringer and take the rollercoaster style twists and turns of The Troll Path before arriving in the serene still waters of Trondheim, wherein the right season you can catch the northern lights splintering the sky.
If you don’t mind tight and twisty turning roads, then the amazing Amalfi Coast will blow you out the water. A seemingly short road trip at just 70km, but this road takes you soaring on clifftops above charming pastel-painted towns, from Sorrento through to Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, and Salerno. The sea is sure to be the perfect shade of blue and the air fresh with salt and the tang of citrus fruits. You can stop off for seafood lunches, sip zesty glasses of wine, and buy butter-soft leather sandals along the way. If you want to steer clear of long trains of traffic and the melody of honking horns, drive outside of peak tourist season or be sure to head out as early as possible in the day.
Portugal’s Coastal Paths
Pick up a campervan and hit the coastal road that runs right the way down from the north of Portugal with its monster Nazare waves to the tropical blue hues and endless sunshine of the Algarve. Take detours slightly inland to hit the wine region where cascading vineyards rise and fall and free tasting sessions leave you fuzzy-headed by noon. Swing by lively Lisbon or the pretty city of Porto for late-night Fado music and vibrant social scenes. Head back to the coast for barefoot surf sessions, darling fishing villages where everything is whitewashed and accompanied by a cacophony of seagulls and kick back on the Mediterranean style sands of Faro.
Georgia's Epic Mountains
Georgia is a small country that sits between Europe and Asia, offering a beautiful mix of culture, food, and views. Surrounded by two small seas, the land smashed together at one point in history, forming the Caucasus Mountains. Though a bit out of the way from Central Europe, a road trip through Georgia would surely be one of the most memorable events of a lifetime.
Which European road trips are making your hit list? Share with us in the comments.
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