The Best Road Trips in Western Europe and Scandinavia
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Here’s my second edition of the best road trips in Europe! If you haven’t already, check out the best road trips in the UK and Ireland and read on for the best road trips in Western Europe and Scandanavia! Here we will go through the best road trips in France, Italy, Norway and everywhere in between!
I love road tripping. After a year travelling around Australia by car, I realised that road trip life is something that I wish to incorporate into all of my future travels. Australia is a fantastic country for road tripping, but after consulting with some of my fellow travel bloggers I realised that there are so many fabulous road trip destinations in the world. So, with the help of other bloggers, I’m covering them all!
So without further ado, let’s check out the best road trips in Western Europe and Scandinavia.
The Best Road Trips in France
The Champagne Region
The Champagne region is a very beautiful area to explore on a day trip from Paris by car. This is the countryside, far from the hustle and bustle of Paris, with rolling hills and stone villages with their characteristic bell towers. The Champagne Region is also one of the best wine regions in France, dotted with small and big vineyards owned by world famous Champagne brands but also by small wine growers. The best season to visit the Champagne Region is during the autumn: the summer crowds are gone, the temperatures are nicer and those hills and trees with fall colors are just gorgeous.
Autumn is also the best time to fill up the stocks of wine, that’s why a car with a big trunk and eventually a wine suitcase for those living abroad are a good idea. Most of the people book guided tours of the most famous wine cellars like Moët Chandon. Locals, instead, prefer to travel around and stop by the independent winemakers. Usually, these independent brands have a small shop with a reduced but very good selection of wines and champagne and there is always the option to taste them, for free or for a small fee), sometimes with something to eat. Prices in these local shops are cheaper than in the supermarkets or specialized wine shops in the cities, especially if you buy big quantities.
People visiting the Champagne Region on a road trip from Paris should know that the traffic in Paris is terrible and leaving the city by car can be eternal. To avoid traffic jams and the stress of “the big city”, we recommend taking a train to Reims or Meaux and renting the car from these cities. Also, rental prices in these places will be probably less expensive than in Paris.
By Elisa from World in Paris
The Provence region is one of the most beautiful areas of France. And undoubtedly the best way to explore it is by car. However, with so much to see and do in a relativity small area (excluding the Cote D’Azur), it can be hard to decide where to go when visiting for a week or more. One option is to drive a loop circuit – starting and ending in the same place. Avignon makes a good starting point due to its accessibility by train, but if you’re arriving by plane, Marseille could work just as well. From either starting point, you can take in the varying landscapes and incredible scenery on offer throughout the region.
A rough road trip itinerary could look like this, but it’s easy to adjust and adapt as per your interests and desires. Starting in Avignon, you’ll want to spend some time in the city getting acquainted with its amazing history, and its love of fine cuisine. But be sure to also pop down to the Pont du Gard to see the highest Roman aqueduct in the world, it’s well worth the side trip! Then head east towards L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse, both built around the river Sorgue, this town & village need to be seen to be believed. The Luberon valley has long been a place of interest and intrigue, so spend time getting to know its hilltop villages and enjoying the bucolic scenery.
Continue East to the Valensole Plateau where, if you’re visiting in early summer, you’ll be treated to the sight of endless lavender fields. The nearby Verdon Gorge, along with its surrounding villages is worth a trip in any season. Then continue to Aix-en-Provence – an art lover’s dream, and Cassis where you can walk the famous Calanques. Finish up your loop by popping into the Camargue for flamingos and wild horses, and then visit Les Baux de Provence and Carrières de Lumières next door, for a sensory experience like no other!
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The Best Road Trips in Spain
The Basque Country
The North of Spain, also known as Green Spain for it is the part of the country where it rains the most and as such has the greenest vegetation, is a perfect place for a road trip. The best starting point would be Bilbao, one of the coolest places to visit in the Basque Country.
From Bilbao, it is possible to reach many other incredible places. Among the best ones in the Basque Country there’s the lovely city of San Sebastian, a fantastic foodie destination with anything for any taste, and any budget, not to mention a great place to surf. Other recommended stops would be the tiny La Guardia, a walled town where to spend an afternoon walking around the narrow alleys, and the surroundings, visiting one or more of the fabulous vineyards of La Rioja. The sanctuary of Gatzelugatxe is a great stop for Game of Thrones fans.
Continuing driving, Cantabria is the next region on the map. This less visited part of Spain is home to some gems such as Gaudi’s masterpiece “El Capricho”, an incredible villa in Comillas; and of beautiful small cities such as Santillana del Mar. While there, the Altamira Caves (or rather, its perfect reproduction as the original ones are closed to the public as highly protected) are a must. Here it is possible to admire cave paintings that are dating back to more than 16000 years ago.
The region of Asturias, west of Cantabria, is famous for its beautiful coastal villages and small cities. Llanes, Oviedo, Cudillero and Luarca are all must-sees, especially to breathe in the incredible atmosphere. The beaches in Asturias are fantastic, too. Llanes has many, so park the car for a while and walk along the pathway to reach them all. While there, trying the local cider is a must too!
The last stop on a road trip across the North of Spain will be the stunning Galicia, with its many stunning beaches such as Playa de las Catedrales, and the lovely Santiago de Compostela, last and most important stop during the Camino de Santiago.
By Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
If you are looking for an unforgettable road trip route in Europe, then you can’t go past exploring an island paradise. Gran Canaria is one of the Canary Islands in Spain with mild temperatures year-round, making it a wonderful vacation destination even outside the high season.
To make the most of your time, rent a car from the Las Palmas international airport so you are ready to go on arrival. For the first night, you could stay in the famous beach area of Maspalomas, which is only a twenty-minute drive south from the airport. Take a day to recover from your flight and enjoy the beach of Playa del Ingles and iconic sand dunes.
The next day, continue west, stopping at Puerto Rico on the way to the colorful fishing village of Puerto de Mogan for your second night. Get ready for some mountains on the third day with Roque Nublo and Pico de las Nieves which are a must-see when visiting Gran Canaria. If you get too hot from hiking, stop in Tejeda for a dip in the local swimming pool. Finish your night in Agaete and plan to spend the fourth day frolicking in the natural saltwater pools.
From Agaete, you can drive east to the capital of Las Palmas in thirty minutes, stopping along the way to take photos of the coast line. Las Palmas is a relaxed seaside city to be enjoyed with wine, Spanish cuisine, and laying on the beach. If you like surfing, you could also take a lesson here on your fifth day. A visit to the historic town of Vegueta is a must and if you happen to be there on Thursday night – try the Tapas night! Before heading back to the airport, don’t miss the indigenous caves of “Cuatro Puertas” in Tejeda. These were carved into the mountain to provide the native tribe with protection from the elements.
Of course, if you have more time plan to spend a few weeks or even months in Gran Canaria. Many people base themselves in Las Palmas and take their time to explore the island more slowly. In any case – it is sure to be an unforgettable trip!
By Chantell from Adoration for Adventure
A compact country – yet full of rich history, mouth-watering food and captivating traditions – Spain is ideal for exploring by car. There are a number of road trip options in Spain, but one that can’t be missed is a road trip through Andalucía in southern Spain.
While you can explore this region in just a few days, a week is better. This means you have the time to really experience some of Spain’s most ancient and vibrant cities and sights. Start your trip in Granada. One of Spain’s most recognised attractions, the Alhambra is a palace and fortress built in AD 889. Spend a day wandering the grounds and exploring the patios,
statues and fountains. The city of Granada has much to keep you busy, including wandering the narrow, cobblestoned alleyways of the Albaicín neighbourhood and delicious food. Spend a night bar-hopping – Granada is one of the last Andalucían cities where tapas are provided free with a drink.
Next, drive to Ronda, home to a more than 200-year-old bridge ironically named Puente Nuevo (New Bridge). As you make your way to Seville, stop in some of the pueblos blancos (white towns) to explore the whitewashed buildings and cobblestoned streets. Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra are both small enough to explore in a day.
Seville’s beauty and laidback vibe will make it hard to leave. The city’s Real Alcázar attracts thousands of people a day and will be recognisable to many Game of Thrones fans. Spend an afternoon in Plaza de España and nearby Parque María Luisa. The centuries-old Casa de Pilatos is bedecked with thousands of tiles.
Finally, the candy-striped arches and ornate mihrab of Córdoba’s Mezquita will make your jaw drop. This mosque-cathedral was built in AD 785. Taste some of the local delicacies here: Córdoba is the home of delicacies like salmorejo, a cold, tomato-based, gazpacho-like soup.
You can fly in and out of Málaga or Madrid for this unforgettable trip, or do a loop starting and ending in Seville. Visit during April, May, September or October for pleasant weather and fewer crowds.
By Rebecca from Rebecca and the World
Barcelona to Valencia
The distance between Barcelona and Valencia is about 350 kilometres, easily doable on a day. However, there are many great stops along this route making a 2 or 3-day Spanish East Coast road trip a great option. Start in Barcelona and head south. During this road trip, the beautiful blue Mediterranean sea will become a familiar sight.
The first stop on this road trip is Tarragona, a historical city with several Roman remains. The 2nd-century arena faces the Mediterranean sea, making it a great photo opportunity. The medieval part of Tarragona is worth a visit as well. The next stop is Morella, which is located land inwards. Getting there involves a nice route through the mountains. Morella is an ancient walled city located on a hill-top. The view of the city from the N-232 is stunning.
The next stop on this road trip is again located at the Mediterranean sea: Peniscola. The old part of this city has been used as a filming location for Game of Thrones. A must-visit for Game of Thrones fans! Peniscola is also a great place for relaxing on the beach or taking surf lessons.
The last stop before Valencia is Sagunto, like Tarragona, a city with a Roman past. In the summer, they hold concerts in the Roman Theatre, which are highly recommended! The castle, towering above the city, is worth a visit as well because of its stunning views.
This road trip ends in Valencia, where you could easily stay 2-3 days more.
By Sanne from Veni Vidi
Madrid to Salamanca
Spain is a magical place to visit and Madrid is the perfect launching point for any road trip. We took an 8-week road trip through Spain, a highlight being from Madrid to Salamanca.
Madrid is the central hub of Spain and anyone can easily take a road trip in any direction to discover amazing scenery, sights and history. This 136-mile road trip took us west of the city, with a stop to experience the Walls of Ávila and then on to Salamanca.
To start, who can go wrong with exploring Madrid? This is such an exciting city full of energy, culture, history, amazing food and plenty to do for everyone. Some must do’s are the Prado museum, a food tour, and a GoCar tour; a gps guided storytelling car, so much fun!
After leaving Madrid head west about 90 minutes to discover the medieval UNESCO listed city of Ávila. It’s difficult not to drop you jaw when you see the perfectly preserved walls from centuries ago, still surrounding the city. There are a variety of styles showing an everchanging past here. From Medieval to Roman and Moorish to Jewish and Catholic, with Cathedrals, Basilicas, synagogues and more. It is worth exploring the town and staying until dusk to see the walls at night, which are largest fully illuminated monument in the world.
Next head to Salamanca and feel transported back in time, explore a 12th century cathedral and see the views from the medieval towers next door. There is also one of the oldest universities in Spain here, founded in 1218. Walking through the cobbled streets you can’t miss spotting a stunning old building covered with hundreds of large shells, this is the Casa de las Conchas. Today it houses the Salamanca public library and an information office. Every corner you turn is full of history, culture and textures.
Of course, it’s great to walk around this amazing city, but it is also nice to sit back and absorb the culture. A favorite activity is just relaxing in Plaza Mayor and people watching right in the center of town. There is no shortage of amazing restaurants, cafes or shops to choose from.
If you need to return to Madrid and have a little extra time, your road trip could be extended by stopping off to spend some time in Valladolid and Segovia on your way back. This route would make a complete loop and provide you with a nice variety of cities to add to your experiences.
By Heidi and Alan from Wagoners Abroad
The Best Road Trips in Portugal
The South West Alentejo and the Vicentina coast, places included in the Southern Portuguese region of Alentejo, are just perfect to embark on an adventurous Alentejo road trip, alone or with someone else. Whether you like surfing, walks through exceptional landscapes by the sea, good cuisine – which already gives a better response to current needs, having a lot of restaurants where you can find vegan and vegetarian food among others – hotels and charming guesthouses, dealing with locals, summer festivals, travel photography, and many other things; read carefully because the Alentejo is about to join your list of places to visit in a near future.
To start with, we’d like to propose you a route from North to South, visiting towns and coastal places such as Comporta, Cais Palafitico da Carrasqueira, Troia, Sines, Porto Covo, Vilanova de Milfontes, Cabo Sardao, Porto das Barcas and Monte do Zambujeiro.
Five days are enough to enjoy the beauty of the Alentejo and soak up its culture and traditions. And the best of all is that this area, being away from the main tourist circuits of the country – such as Lisbon, the Algarve, Oporto and the islands of Madeira and the Azores; It is still not too expensive and can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
By Inma from A World to Travel
Portugal is the perfect country for a road trip because the highway driving is easy. The main areas to cover are Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve. Small towns make for charming stops along the way. Please allow at least even days for your Portugal road trip, there are so many lovely places to visit.
Since it can be cost prohibitive to do a one-way car rental, start and end the trip in Lisbon. Lisbon, itself is worth spending at least a day or two. Take the tram and explore the Alfama neighborhood. Venture out to Belem to try the famous Nata pastry and see Jeronimos Monastery. While in Lisbon, it’s easy to do a day trip to Sintra to see what used to be the summer getaway for the royal family.
Driving from Lisbon to Porto, you can stop in Obidos, Nazare, and/or Coimbra. Obidos is an adorable medieval city – be sure to do the city wall walk. Nazare is a beach town known for its huge waves. Coimbra has a university and the famous baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina.
In Porto, explore the old town and then go to Gaia for some port tasting. If time allows, do a day trip to the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region. Then, head south to the Algarve. On the way, stop in the town of Fatima, which became a pilgrimage site after several apparitions 100 years ago. In the Algarve, visit some of the beautiful beaches and take a boat trip to see the caves. Finally, head back to Lisbon.
By Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
The Best Road Trips in Italy
Rome to Florence
A road trip is the perfect way to experience Italy. After spending several days at least in Rome learning to cook pasta, admiring the art, soaking up the ruins and visiting the Vatican, head to Ciampino Airport to pick up a rental car (don’t even THINK about driving in Rome!).
First stop is Villa D’Este in nearby Tivoli where you can spend several hours wandering through the tiers of gardens and beautiful fountains. A hidden gem visited by very few tourists, is Rocca Calascio. Drive to the top of the mountain then hike a short distance around the top of the hill for an unexpected and stunning view of a tiny one-room Romanesque monastery and the well-preserved ruins of a castle.
Have a picnic and enjoy the incredible views of the L’Aquila hills. Head back down the hill and drive to Spoleto. It’s worth spending several hours (or days) exploring this picturesque medieval hill town with a dramatic aqueduct on the edge of town. Continue on through the bucolic rolling hills of Montefalco. Be sure to stop off at one of the many wineries for a wine tasting. Next up – Assisi.
Park at the top of town and wander down, ending at the famous Franciscan monastery, il Sacro Convento. Continue on to Perugia. This is one of the best towns in all of Italy for the passeggiata (the Italian tradition of an evening stroll), and the views over the surrounding countryside are breathtaking.
Don’t miss Sienna and its famous shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. The black and white cathedral is stunning – go the top for great views over Sienna and down to the marble floor of the cathedral far below. This trip leaves the very best till last and you will need to leave several days for the statues, the art, the architecture, the views, and the gelato in Florence.
By James from Travel Collecting
Tuscany. A mecca for wine-lovers, haven for art admirers, and a foode’s paradise. But visiting Tuscany, a region that encompasses nearly 8900 square miles in north-central Italy, properly, requires a car. Which makes it the perfect place for a roadtrip.
Your Tuscany itinerary should start in Florence, Tuscany’s capital city and home of the Italian Renaissance. You can see Michelangelo’s famous David, climb to the top of the iconic Duomo, and watch as sunset illuminates the many-colored Ponte Vecchio.
From Florence, head to the countryside, where Medieval villages and vineyards abound. North and east of Florence is the gorgeous town of Barga, nestled among peaks in the Apuane Alps. Not far is Pisa, which has far more to explore than just the leaning tower!
Just south of Florence is San Gimignano, famous for its skyline with its fourteen towers. Then there’s beautiful, bustling city of Siena. The star here is the cathedral, which is possibly the most ornate in all of Italy (and that’s saying something!)
Keep driving south until you reach Tuscany’s famed Val d’Orcia region. This area, with its vibrantly green hillsides and picturesque villas surrounded by cypress trees, has been the inspiration for movies and many famous works of art. Make time to visit the town of Montalcino (birthplace of Brunello wine) and enjoy a wine tasting at one of the local vineyards (like Solaria). Montepulciano, located high on a hill overlooking the area, is a town that should not be missed either.
Tuscany is filled with so much to explore, and because there’s no public transportation, a road trip is the best way to experience this lovely piece of Italy!
By Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue
The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast self-drive has got to be up there with the best (and maybe most dangerous!) road trips in Europe. Beginning in the beautiful city of Sorrento, road trippers can venture south east and head to Sant’ Agata sui Due Golfi which has some fantastic hikes and a Benedictine monastery, Positano, a pastel-decorated town in the mountains, the hamlet of Nocelle and enjoy the murals of Forore.
Amalfi was once one of Italy’s most powerful cities, but nowadays just sits quietly and gives the whole coastline its name. There’s a cathedral that is well worth the visit and lots of great restaurants. Further down the coast is Ravello, which has an 11th Century cathedral and many gorgeous villas. It has been loved by notable historical characters including DH Lawrence and Wagner!
On the eastern end of the road, Cetara gives visitors a taste of Amalfi before tourism, Vietri Sul Mare which is famed for its array of ceramics and Salerno which has impressive Roman ruins.
Of course, all of these towns overlook the beautiful Meditteranean Sea. The Amalfi Coast has it all – nature, culture, history, food… which gives it a firm stop on this list of the best road trips in Europe.
An Italian island with its own very firm heritage, Sicily is a fantastic place to road trip to see a different side of Europe. With hundreds of Roman ruins (as well as influences from different cultures across the Meditteranean and North Africa), the island is a truly fascinating place to visit.
Not to mention the active volcano (Mount Etna) and other gorgeous landscapes. Plus the food – there are plenty of vegetarian options and the world famous Sicilian lemons are absolutely beautiful.
An example road trip route includes taking the ferry from mainland Italy to Sicily and then visiting the multicultural city of Taormina, the medieval island of Ortygia, the ruins at Agrigento (which is located on the sun-drenched south coast), the cathedral and Monreale and of course, Sicily’s capital, Palermo; which has among the highest concentration of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world.
Sicily can be visited alone, or can be combined with a Southern Italy road trip to see the best of this area of the country.
The Best Road Trips in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Germany’s Romantic Road stretches for 410 kilometres from Wurzburg to Fussen and is the country’s most popular road trip route. Traversing varying landscapes from agricultural land to river valleys and the Bavarian Alps, the route connects medieval towns, fairytale castles and historic churches.
Whilst all 28 of the towns and villages that make up the Romantic Road route have their own charm, there are a few that deserve special mention.
Wurzburg, the northern-most city on the Romantic Road, is a university city on the River Main. Surrounded by vineyards, it is also home to a number of impressive buildings including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Prince Bishop’s Residence and Festung Marienberg. Just over 100 kilometres south of Wurzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an absolute gem. This medieval walled town is packed with charming half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets. Must-visit sights include the Plonlein and the Rathaus (Town Hall). If you are visiting from late November to late December, you’ll be enchanted by the Christmas market which takes place in the main square.
At Steingaden, at the intersection of the Romantic Road and the German Alpine Road, you’ll find the Rococo church Wieskirche. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed church looks fairly plain from the outside but it’s lavish interior will blow you away.
The southern end of the Romantic Road is in the heart of the Bavarian Alps and there are two towns definitely worth stopping at. Schwangau is known as the village of the King’s Castles as here you’ll find King Ludgwig’s famous Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau. There’s also a Roman Villa and the Royal Crystal Thermal Baths, handy for relaxing your muscles after a day’s driving.
The final stop on the Romantic Road route is Fussen, a gorgeous medieval town which boasts a castle and a former monastery. Strolling the pretty streets lined with colourful buildings is the perfect way to end your road trip.
The route could be covered in a day but I recommend allowing at least two or three full days so you have time to stop and explore some of the towns and villages along the way.
By Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
Without a doubt, Switzerland is one of the best places in Europe to road trip. The mountains, the lakes, the towns and villages – there are thousands of reasons to road trip Switzerland because you will see the best places of Switzerland.
It doesn’t matter how often you road trip the tiny country – you will not get bored as there are the most amazing mountain passes and streets to enjoy great views and train your driving skills. An easy and fantastic drive is from Zurich in the northern part of Switzerland to central Switzerland, Interlaken.
Depending on your route you will cross the Brüning Pass (and if your GPS tells you something different change the settings because you don’t want to miss that). This mountain pass is quite easy to drive and not as challenging as some other mountain passes but it still offers amazing views.
Whenever you pass the town of Lungern and drive up the mountain keep an eye and a parking spot where you can enjoy a dreamy view of Lungern and Lake Lungern. But that is not the only reason to choose this route – if you continue driving you will pass Lake Brienz which is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland (or even in the world). Once you reach Interlaken you are probably overwhelmed by so much beauty. However, don’t stop driving and when you have settled in your hotel make sure to be ready to continue your drive along Lake Thun – which is another scenic route and will just take your breath away.
Be sure to Stick to speed limits (fines are high in Switzerland) and take a break whenever possible to enjoy the unique views.
By Arzo from Arzo Travels
Although most people don’t think of Austria as a natural road trip destination, Austria offers unparalleled beauty, stunning mountains, and alpine lakes with accessible distances that mean that you can do a lot during your trip to Austria.
An example route is Vienna to Salzburg to Hallstatt stopping at other beautiful destinations along the way. Although Austria’s major cities are the best-known destinations, Hallstatt is a stunning UNESCO recognized town that is likely to be on your bucket list. It is extremely easy to visit from Salzburg with a car. Even if you’re looking to get away from the crowds, there are numerous beautiful historic cities along the way, such as Linz and Enns. Of course, you also have a fantastic wine region that produces delicious white wines in scenic towns that will amaze you.
For nature lovers, Austria is paradise. With perfectly blue alpine lakes, tall mountains, and well-maintained trails, Austria is a hiker’s dream. Even if you don’t drive to Tyrol (the premier region for hiking in Austria), the Salzkammergut lake district is full of scenic hikes. For those looking for something more adventurous, you can do a lot of rock climbing as well as via ferrata along the mountains on extremely well-maintained courses.
The Best Road Trips in the Nordic Countries
South Iceland is home to some breathtaking nature, which makes it one of the best road trip destinations in Europe. There are countless incredible sights to see in South Iceland, and a road trip is the best way to take them all in.
The ideal place to start is the famous Golden Circle. This route takes in a number of the most impressive attractions in Iceland. One of the most popular stops on this route is Gulfoss – the largest volume falls in Europe. Another amazing spot to visit is the Geysir geothermal area – where it’s possible to see water erupt up to 30 metres high from Stokkur geyser every few minutes.
Although there is a lot more to see on the golden circle, South Iceland has plenty of other stops for a great road trip. The southern coast leads past more of Iceland’s famous waterfalls, firstly Seljalandsfoss and then Skogafoss. Both are essential stops for a road trip along the coast, with Seljalandsfoss being particularly unique as it’s possible to climb behind the waterfall itself for a different perspective.
The next stop is Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which is a truly impressive sight. It’s possible to hike on the glacier with a guide, although the view alone is worth stopping for. Continuing on, the road leads to the small village of Vik. The attraction here isReynisfjara beach – a black sand beach with crashing waves and towering basalt rock columns rising skywards.
One final stop that shouldn’t be missed on a road trip of South Iceland is Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. This magnificent canyon was formed over 9,000 years ago and provides incredible viewpoints of some of the most dramatic landscape of the region.
With incredible diversity in terms of attractions, it’s hard to find a better road trip destination in Europe.
By Sam and Natalia from Something of Freedom
Fjords of Norway
“Jaw-dropping,” “awe inspiring, and “mindblowing” are the first adjectives likely to come to mind when you take a road trip through the Fjords of Norway. Making your way north along the country’s western coast, you’ll encounter an endless array of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and brilliant blue-green water seemingly everywhere you turn. Even as the scenery (and climate) changes with the elevation, the superlatives never stop.
Begin your road trip in Bergen, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen, which was built in 1070. In the 14th to mid-16th century it was a prominent hotspot in the Hanseatic League‘s trading empire, and the 62 historic, colorful houses that remain are a popular tourist attraction today. is it the Bryggen Museum for a more immersive history lesson.
From there, head north to Gulen, on roads lined by traditional Norwegian farmhouses and fjords, whose reflections seem to glow with light at sunset. There you can don dry suits and go scuba diving to see gorgeous marine creatures in waters so frigid, your face will go numb. Drive to Solvorn along the emerald green Sognefjord, the largest of the 1,190 fjords of Norway and the second longest fjord in the world, which is met by Norway’s largest glacier and its highest mountains.
Adventure-lovers will enjoy a visit to Jostedal Glacier National Park. Here you can kayak across a lake to Nigardsbreen Glacier, which is an arm of Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in Europe. Local tour operators will help you strap on our crampons, grab your ice axe, and guide you in hiking/climbing several hundred meters up to the top of the glacier for stunning scenic view from the top.
Other incredible stops along the way include Urnes Stave Church (one of the oldest in all of Norway), the Sognefjellet National Tourist Route to Stryn (the highest mountain pass in northern Europe), and the glacial ice and snow-capped peaks of the Jotunheimen Mountains. Once you reach Ålesund (a city known for its Art Nouveau architecture), stop at the open-air Sunnmøre Museum for an amazing look at relics from Viking history.
By Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
The Lofoten Islands – Norway
The Lofoten Islands, beyond the Arctic Circle in Norway, are perfect for a road trip. These beautiful islands are a delight, where mountains meet the sea in a spectacular fashion and red fisherman’s cottages with their drying racks for fish, dot the landscape. This rare wilderness outpost offers a majestic landscape that has to be seen to be believed.
We love road tripping as you have the freedom to explore at your own pace, stopping wherever and whenever you want. This is perfect in the Lofoten Islands as there are so many stunning views – majestic mountains, deep fjords, long surf swept beaches and squawking seabird colonies.
The highlights of our week long trip through the Lofoten Islands were the tiny villages of A, Reine and Hamnoy, the spectacular white sandy beaches of Uttakleiv and Kvalvika, the red rorbuer or traditional fisherman’s cottages in which we stayed, and some memorable hiking.
During early summer you can experience the midnight sun and the Northern Lights can be seen here during the wintertime.
Lonely Planet says “the beauty of this place is simply staggering”.There are two main options for getting to the Lofoten Islands. Fly to one of two major airports on the islands in Leknes or Solvaer, or take a ferry from Bodo on mainland Norway to either Moskenes or Solvaer on the islands. There is one main road on the Lofoten Islands (E10) running north to south.
By Nicky from Go Live Young
Midtjylland – Denmark
Midtjylland is translated as Central of Denmark. Many tourists and travellers explore Copenhagen, however, they often miss the beauty of Midtjylland. Denmark is a very flat country making it very easy and perfect place to do a road trip. While Midtjylland is not that big which takes you about six hours to cover its every corner.
Aarhus is the most popular place in this area, it is a city next to the sea. It has its own Old Town which is full of history, an open-air botanical garden, a Tivoli to explore, and building with very interesting shapes and designs. A big public library is right on the seaside which gives a beautiful view. If you get tired of driving, you can hop on a bike and explore the city, hitting up bars, cute little cafes, and try danish delicacies and cakes.
Not far from Aarhus is a town called Silkerborg, which is about 45-minute drive. It is famous for its lakes with beautiful and quite scenery. In the summer, you can get on a kayak boat and row around the lake which is actually pretty big. Himmelbjerget or the Heaven Mountain is also just a drive away, it is the highest point in Denmark which is as silly as it sounds standing 147 m. You can get to the top of a tower to get a good view of Midtjylland.
Road tripping here is pretty good, the road is well-paved, the speed limit is up to 130 kmph. While there are plenty of gas stations and convenience store to stop by and grab a snack. You can also just pack a picnic basket, as you travel on the roads, you will constantly see picnic signs and how to get there.
By Mary from A Mary Road
The Faroe Islands
I have taken so many road trips throughout my life and in various countries, but there is still something so grand and remarkable about a road trip through the Faroe Islands. The Faroes are a group of eighteen islands in the North Atlantic that contain landscapes so mesmerizing that you won’t feel like you’re on the same planet. I have been fortunate enough to have gone on a road trip through the Faroe Islands more than once and the views and scenery are still so spectacular and it is a trip I could do every year and not tire of it.
Renting a car is pretty easy in the Faroes but you can always drive yours over from mainland Europe via the ferry that leaves from Denmark to the Islands. While driving there is not for the faint-hearted, it truly is an adventure. There are many one lane tunnels, steep cliffs, and wooly and curious creatures roaming the roads. On the other hand, road tripping through the Faroe Islands offers you a chance to stop whenever you want to take in the sights, smell the clean air, and photograph the dramatic scenery.
Many travellers take the same route through the Faroe Islands hitting up Vagar, Streymoy, Eysturoy, and Kalsoy. However, every island has something magnificent to offer travellers. My friend and I recently headed to the southernmost island of Suduroy and were blown away by the scenery and landscapes that I highly encourage everyone to take the ferry (with their car, of course) to Suduroy. The northern islands are also not quite as touristy as some of the main ones allowing for a fun and adventurous road trip. If you’re looking for the most incredible road trip in the world, look no further than the Faroe Islands. It will change your life.
By Megan from Megan Starr
Where’s your favourite Europe road trip? Let me know in the comments!
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