Don’t relegate yourself to a crowded tour bus or a complicated train schedule. One of the best ways to see Europe is by car, and renting your own vehicle will allow you the freedom to see your dream destinations on your own terms. Try any one of these fantastic road trips for the European vacation of a lifetime.
One of the most quintessential road trips on the continent, Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast is riddled with roads just begging for you to take to them in a classic convertible. Fly into gritty Naples and start by exploring the southern city’s museums and enjoying a traditional Neapolitan pizza a la Eat Pray Love. The ancient ruins of Pompeii are a popular day trip, but the main attraction lies to the south. The colorful villages of Sorrento, Amalfi, and Positano are incomparably charming and each worthy of a stop on your journey. Whether you’re sipping a locally made limoncello or commissioning a custom pair of leather sandals, the region’s long history of artisanal crafts will shine through. Just resist the urge to pick up an authentic cameo. Tourist demands for this traditional Neapolitan product have placed an unsustainable strain on nearby coral reefs and present a danger to the local environment.
Germany is full of stunning drives, as you’d rightfully expect from a country with such a strong automobile industry. The Autobahn often calls out to car aficionados, but once you’ve satisfied your need for speed, consider taking to the slower, but more scenic Romance Road. The southern provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemburg speak to nearly every fairy tale image you conjured of Germany as a child. The stunning spires of Neuschwanstein Castle, a highlight of the route’s end, even inspired Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Before you reach that most popular attraction, you’ll wind through the quaint, medieval walled villages Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuhl, and Nordlingen. The historic city of Wurzburg, surrounded by vineyards, is a popular starting point for this journey through the Germany of yore, but many autumnal visitors incorporate a stop at Oktoberfest in Munich into their trip.
Much like Germany, Spain is a country brimming with excellent potential for a self-guided road trip. Catalonia, Andalusia, and the areas surrounding Madrid have all captivated many a driver, but few experiences are as uniquely rewarding as travelling on your own through Basque Country. This northern region of Spain may as well be its own country (and many of its residents would agree). Begin in glitzy San Sebastian. The coastal town’s red roofed beach resorts feature award-winning services amid a sunny landscape you’ll never believe isn’t Mediterranean. San Sebastian is also home to the quintessential Spanish dining experience, tapas, or pintxos, as they’re known in the local dialect. Modest and medieval Vitoria-Gasteiz should also find its way onto your itinerary, as should Haro, the gateway to the renowned Rioja wine region. Finish your drive in Bilbao, site of the unmistakable Guggenheim Museum.
Variety is the spice of life, and with four countries (England, Scotland, North Ireland, and Wales) under its flag, the United Kingdom offers variety like no other. A well-developed road system will offer you countless options for a driving tour, but if it’s your first time in the UK, consider sticking to the A1. This is the longest road in the nation, connecting the English capital London with the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Along the way, you might choose to stop in the beautifully historic city of York, the cathedral city of Peterborough, or in a lesser known country town like Hatfield. Once in Edinburgh, you may choose to extend the journey, and travel further into Scotland. Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, and the Scottish Highlands are each perennially popular destinations.