Nothing beats the joy of hitting the open road – especially when it involves the most epic scenery Europe has to offer flashing by your windshield. With mountains, lakes, and a few surprises along the way, why not finish your summer in style by driving one of these incredible European road trips?
1. North Coast 500, Scotland
Driving the North Coast 500, Scotland’s answer to Route 66, is the best way to discover the raw and remote beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The evocative loop around the northernmost chunk of Great Britain takes in some of the country’s most spectacular countryside. Historic castles, deserted beaches and a fair few distilleries will vye for your attention as you drive through regions like the Black Isle, Caithness, and Wester Ross.Search car hire from Inverness Airport
Start (and end) point: InvernessSearch hotels in Inverness
Distance: 500 miles (yep, just like The Proclaimers song)
Look out for: the Berriedale Braes, a challenging set of hairpin bends near Caithness where the A9 road drops from 150m to 20m.Search flights to Inverness
2. The Arctic Fjords, Norway
The drive from Bergen to Trondheim cuts straight through fjord country. During the trip your constant companions will be rocky mountains, roaring waterfalls and ice-blue fjords. Drivers who like a technical challenge will really enjoy putting their skills to the test with the toe-curling Trollstigen road – 11 hairpin bends surrounded by jagged peaks – as well as the Atlanterhavsveien (the Atlantic Road). The latter is a series of steep, curved bridges hopping from one small island in the Atlantic to another: a bit like a self-drive rollercoaster.Search car hire in Bergen
Starting point: Bergen
End point: TrondheimSearch hotels in Trondheim
Distance: 480 miles
Look out for: The world’s longest road tunnel, Lærdal Tunnel, cuts through the mountains between Lærdal and Aurland. At a claustrophobia-inducing 15.23 miles long, it’s not for the faint-hearted.Search flights to Bergen
3. Deutsche Alpenstraße, Bavaria
Bavaria is Germany at its most traditional. As you wind gently through the rolling foothills of the Alps you’ll spot plenty of lederhosen-clad locals, gingerbread-style houses and castles that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney movie. Speaking of which, the route connects to the Romantic Road in the town of Füssen – so you can easily take a detour to Neuschwanstein Castle. The route offers lots of opportunities to stretch your legs, with sparkling swimming lakes and forested hiking trails galore.Compare car hire in Friedrichshafen
Start point: Lindau on Lake Constance: near Friedrichshafen Airport.
End point: Schönau am Königssee, on the Austrian borderSearch hotels in Schönau am Königssee
Distance: 280 miles
Look out for: the occasional convoy of supercars – the wide roads and generous speed limits make it a haven for amateur racers.Book flights to Friedrichshafen
4. Transylvania, Romania
Thanks to Bram Stoker, Transylvania has a well-earned place in the annals of pop culture. But there’s much more to this Romanian region than Dracula – although you will spot plenty of vampire-themed souvenirs. Stop in Sighisoara and visit the room where Vlad the Impaler was born, browse the fresh produce market in Sibiu, and visit the underground theme park at the Turda Salt Mine. Skip Bran Castle in Brasov and climb (or cable car) to the top of Mount Tampa instead for truly breathtaking views.
Starting point: ClujCompare car hire in Cluj-Napoca
End point: BucharestSearch hotels in Bucharest
Distance: 400 miles
Look out for: the Transfăgărășan mountain pass with its hairpin bends, steep descents, and winding S-curves was featured on Top Gear and is well worth adding to your itinerary.Search flights to Cluj-Napoca
5. Route One, Iceland
Late summer is the perfect time to drive Iceland’s iconic ring road, as there’s not much ice on the tarmac and it stays light until late – giving you more time to take in the mesmerising scenery. As the road goes round the entire country, this drive gives you the chance to try everything Iceland has to offer – such as bathing in hot springs, spotting whales off the coast, or hiking on a glacier. If that’s not enough, each day brings ever-changing scenery where snow-capped peaks give way to desolate black lava flows.Search car hire in Reykjavik
Start (and end) point: ReykjavikSearch hotels in Reykjavik
Distance: 828 miles
Look out for: The 190 mile-round Golden Circle: a short route that can be done in one day and includes attractions like the Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur geysir.Book flights to Reykjavik
6. The Basque Coast, France & Spain
While anyone will be impressed with the lush coastal scenery of northern Spain and southwest France, we reckon foodies and surfers will be especially pleased with this route’s many distractions. Starting in one of France’s most prestigious wine regions, this road trip cruises past the surf capitals of Bayonne and Biarritz before crossing the border into Spain. After a quick pit-stop in San Sebastian – which has the highest concentration of Michelin Star restaurants in the world – the trip ends in the buzzing town of Bilbao.Search car hire in Bordeaux
Start point: Bordeaux
End point: BilbaoSearch hotels in Bilbao
Distance: 207 milesSearch flights to Bordeaux
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