7 Great European Road Trips
7 Great European Road Trips

7 Great European Road Trips


There’s no holiday like a road trip. Cranking out the miles can elicit feelings of existential goodness like nothing else – and you might even see some sights along the way. From family friendly tours of France to an epic journey round Iceland, here are seven of Europe’s best…
Highland Base, Iceland
Highland Base, Iceland


Route One, Iceland

Length: 800 Miles
Time: 1 Week/10 Days

There’s nothing like the landscapes in Iceland – they’re almost other-worldly, which is exactly why shows like Game of Thrones were filmed there. Cutting a swath through explosive geysers, hot springs, volcanos, waterfalls and lava fields is Route One. It even allows for detours to the Dettifoss waterfall and the small town of Myvatn to spot whales and other wildlife. Even if you did nothing but drive, the view through the windscreen is rewarding enough – the Westfjords region is particularly impressive, while the small town of Egilsstadir on the banks of the Lagarfljot river is one of the most scenic areas to stop for lunch.


North Coast 500, Scotland

Length: 500 Miles
Time: 4 Days

You don’t have to go abroad to hit scenic roads. Northern Scotland’s wild landscape is home to castle ruins, glimmering lochs, whisky distilleries and some of the country’s best golf courses. The North Coast 500 route swings through them all as it traverses the Highlands and cuts through the Black Forest. There are also ancient burial chambers, hidden caves and historic villages along the route. Start in Inverness (there are daily direct flights from London) before striking out for the west coast. Expect to pass dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches and mountains, and make time to break at Ullapool and Durness, where you can go fishing, try local seafood and walk quiet beaches.

Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda, Italy



Northern Lakes, Italy

Length: Around 200 miles
Time: 4-5 days

In the north of Italy, set against the backdrop of the majestic Alps, are some of Europe’s most famous lakes, each with its own appeal. The beauty of a road trip in this region is that you don’t have to stay overnight at the most obvious locations. Instead, stop at Lake Como for a day, then avoid some of the country’s most expensive hotels by heading to the nearby towns of Bellagio and Varenna, where cobbled streets lead to hidden cafés and panoramic viewpoints. Continue to Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake, where waters are framed by rolling hills and medieval castles. Sirmione, known for its thermal baths and ancient ruins, gets busy in summer but you might still enjoy a boat ride to some nearby villages on the lake. Finish your trip at Lake Maggiore, with its art deco towns and grand villas. Hit the Borromean Islands, wander the botanical gardens of Villa Taranto, then unwind in your choice of its peaceful lakeside resorts.

Castelbrac, Brittany, France
Castelbrac, Brittany, France


Paris to Normandy & Brittany, France

Length: 280 miles
Time: 5-6 Hours

This route takes you from Paris, down to Normandy and onto some of Brittany’s most beautiful seaside towns. Combining city life with beach time and scenic French countryside, it's a great route for a memorable family trip – though you’ll probably want to avoid late July to mid-August when the city hosts this year’s Olympic Games. Once you’ve seen Paris’s sites and eaten your fill at its bistros, head to Rouen, capital of the Normandy. Reflecting its Roman and medieval history, you’ll find plenty of gothic churches and cathedrals to explore, as well as a large national park. Once you hit Brittany, you can spend downtime relaxing in oceanside spots such as Saint-Malo and the pretty seaside commune of La Baule, home to one of the longest beaches in Europe.

Transfăgărășan, România
Transfăgărășan, România



Transfagarasan, Romania

Length: About 56 miles
Time: 2-3 hours

Romania might not be your first choice for a summer holiday, but it’s home to hundreds of medieval castles, sprawling valleys, interesting towns and gothic architecture at every turn. The famous Transfagarasan Highway winds its way through the Carpathian Mountains, an area long associated with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Begin the trip in historic Sibiu, with its cobbled streets and medieval buildings, before ascending into the mountains, where the roads wind along views of lush valleys, rugged peaks, and cascading waterfalls. It’ll take a confident driver to navigate the winding and steep roads of the Transfagarasan, but the journey is worth it to see regional icons like Balea Lake and Vidraru Dam.


Barcelona to Valencia, Spain

Length: 218 miles
Time: 4 Hours

This drive is bookended by two popular cities, both of which warrant a few days of exploration. Rather than putting your foot down, take your time and stay overnight en route. Close to Barcelona, Sitges has one of the best beaches in Europe – Playa de Sant Sebastian – not to mention some atmospheric back streets. There’s a buzzy atmosphere during July and August, with plenty of beach parties, as well as galleries and museums dotted around the historic centre. Carve out some time for Tarragona, too, with its ancient ruins, gothic castle and ancient cobblestone alleys. Finally, arrive in Valencia, where you can walk through the leafy Turia Gardens, sample authentic paella in the plazas, and relax on the beach. 


Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Length: 110 Miles
Time: 1-2 Days

The Ring of Kerry route is another famous one – like Iceland, there’s a reason why GoT producers chose to film there. The journey features the likes of Killarney National Park, with its lush green pastures and sparkling lakes. Stop off at Glenbeigh for a walk along its picturesque beach, as well as Portmagee, a fishing town dotted with colourful houses which offers trips to the remote Skellig Islands. Finally, continue the journey to Portmagee, a small fishing town with some wonderfully quiet pubs.

Ring Of Kerry, Ireland
Ring Of Kerry, Ireland

Jean Carlo Emer/Unsplash

Castelbrac, Brittany
Castelbrac, Brittany

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