Europe is a mix of scenery, from snow-capped mountains and stunning countryside to sandy beaches and wild coastlines. Take your time and explore this vast continent by rental car. Here’s a selection of the best car routes in Europe to satisfy your wanderlust.
Drive the Italian Lakes:
Discover the hidden gems of northern Italy and take a road trip around the enchanting Italian lakes. Driving is the way to see the lakes at their best and you can stop whenever you wish for a refreshing dip or a tasty Italian ice cream. First, head for Lake Garda, and spend a few days exploring Sirmione and Peschiera del Garda, making sure you stop off at the enchanting Lake Tenno – with its pure water and surrounding white stones and greenery, this is known as the ‘blue lake’.
Continue to Lake Como, hire a boat from Varenna and experience the dramatic scenery that sits as a backdrop to the lake from the water. The final stop is Lake Maggiore, where you’ll find the Borromean Islands and the colourful village of Cannobio.
Travel through Northern Spain:
If you’ve never visited northern Spain you’ll be amazed at how different it is from the sunny beaches of the south. While the north has plenty of beaches, the coastline is more rugged and the scenery greener, almost like Scotland or Ireland. Start your journey in the Basque Country, sampling the local pintxos and spending a day on the beach before driving to the bustling city of Bilbao. Next on the journey is the lively city of Santander, with its history, beaches and delicious Spanish food.
Take the time on your adventure to visit the smaller inland villages too, where you’ll experience the traditional Spanish lifestyle. Here you can try out tapas, and local wine and even practise your Spanish language skills with the locals!
Tour Austria and Germany:
Begin in the historic city of Vienna, home of Beethoven and Mozart, before travelling to Salzburg. After exploring the city, take a breathtaking drive through the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße), the highest surfaced mountain road in Austria. This can only be navigated from March to October and promises unforgettable panoramic alpine views.
From here continue along the edge of the Alps towards Innsbruck and stop off for a couple of days skiing before travelling over the border to Munich in Bavaria, Germany. Here you can visit fairytale castles and historic buildings such as the famous St. Peter’s church with the iconic Rathaus Glockenspiel.
Follow the route from Paris to Nice:
This scenic drive takes you through some of the prettiest parts of France. Before you set off visit the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum and take a boat trip along the Seine. Once you’ve escaped the city, take the road to the wine region of Burgundy, stopping at your leisure along the way to explore some of the quaint villages. Next, head for the cultural city of Lyon, with its stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture, before setting off for Provence.
Home to vast lavender fields and miles of open countryside, it’s worth spending a few days in Provence. Then set off for the port of Marseille, where you can while away the hours watching the luxurious yachts, before heading for your final destination, Nice. Enjoy your time in the capital of the French Riviera and explore the old town, the crystal clear waters of the beaches and the many restaurants serving delicious French cuisine.
Explore the Wild Atlantic Way:
This is one of the most dramatic drives in Ireland and should be on your bucket list of travel destinations. Begin in the contemporary city of Cork and take time enjoying the narrow streets and quaint bars before setting off to Kerry. The incredible ocean views and rocky coastline are the perfect backdrops for plenty of road trip selfies. While you’re here, take the time to drive the Ring of Kerry with its crystal-clear lakes and verdant green hills.
The next stop is Limerick, where you can explore historic Irish castles and medieval Irish streets. Then take the road to County Clare, passing by the fascinating Cliffs of Moher – where the waves crash onto these spectacular vertical drop cliffs. A special place to experience Irish culture is Galway, with its traditional Irish bars. After this head on to the beach at Mayo for some fresh sea air before reaching the final destination, Donegal. (Love Star Wars? ‘The Last Jedi’ was filmed in Donegal!)
Whether you’ve got a few days or a month, hiring a car is certainly the best way to see Europe. Road trips are great for families and couples and the beauty is you can travel in your own time and create an itinerary to suit you.