The Best European Road Trips

A road trip is one of the best ways to see what a country has to offer – and the good news is, Europe has some of the best routes to choose from. Whether you want to follow the curves of the coast or head up into the mountains, these drives promise plenty of adventure.
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Porto to Douro Valley, Portugal

Best For: Families

Length: 222 Miles

Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

Once you’ve explored the labyrinth lanes of Porto, turn your back on the coast and head inland, chasing the Douro River. The scenery is breath-taking, with endless terraced vineyards and rolling hills that have earnt the local area status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are plenty of inviting quintas and stone villages to entice you to break up your journey with several overnight stays – just make it a priority to stop at the vineyards of Quinta do Crasto to sample wine and port among the rolling hills of Pinhao.

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Nice, France to La Spezia, Italy

Best For: Honeymooners

Length: 187 Miles

Time: 3 Hours and 40 Minutes

The coastal drive from Nice to La Spezia allows you to immerse yourself into the elegance of the Mediterranean Riviera. Taking in plenty of pretty towns and villages on the way, including the luxurious resort of Portofino with its clifftop views and oceanside restaurants, it’s as much a journey through a bygone era, as it is through modern France and Italy. At times, the road can be narrow and congested, so use these opportunities to take in the spectacular views. Once in La Spezia, you are perfectly based to explore Cinque Terre, five perilously perched villages dotted along a short stretch of cliffs in Liguria.

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Barcelona to Valencia, Spain

Best For: Culture Vultures

Length: 218 miles

Time: 4 Hours

This stunning drive is bookended by two spectacular cities, both of which warrant a few days of exploration. Rather than putting your foot down, take your time and stay overnight en route. Sitges is a town on the Catalan coast famous for one of the best beaches in Europe – Playa de Sant Sebastian – not to mention its atmospheric back streets. Carve out some time for Tarragona, too, with its ancient ruins, medieval Gothic castle and ancient cobblestone alleys.

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Porto to Douro Valley, Portugal
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Barcelona to Valencia, Spain
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Gorges Du Verdon Circuit, France

Bilbao, Spain to St Jean de Luz, France

Best For: Adrenaline Junkies

Length: 167 Miles

Time: 4 Hours

If you’re a water sports fan, you can’t go wrong with this trip, which takes in some of the best surf locations in Spain. It also has one of the best routes over to Donostia-San Sebastian, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. From there, travel south to Pamplona via the Pyrenees, before moving on a little bit further to the seaside town of St-Jean-de-Luz in southwest France, or just head straight along the coast for a quicker route.

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Gorges Du Verdon Circuit, France

Best For: Watersports & Surfing

Length: 115 Miles

Time: 1 Day

It’s not often you hear people say to experience Provence by car, but this drive is not one to miss. Stop off in one of the little market towns along the way before delving into the Verdon gorges – just make sure the most confident driver is behind the wheel, as this route has death-defying drops of around 2,000ft and several tricky bends. That said, the views of Pont du Galetas lake are totally worth driving to the top of the mountain for – where you can stop off at Sublime Point to take pictures.

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Route One, Iceland

Best for: Nature Lovers

Length: 800 Miles

Time: 1 Week/10 Days

There’s nothing quite like the landscapes in Iceland – they’re almost other-worldly, which is precisely why shows like Game of Thrones choose to film there. In between the explosive geysers, hot springs, volcanos, waterfalls and lava fields is the Route One road, which allows you access to all of the above. Take detours to the Dettifoss waterfall and the small town of Myvatn to whale watch. Even if you did nothing but drive, the view from the window is rewarding enough – the Westfjords region is a particular sight to see, so take time out to explore this.

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German Alpine Road
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Route One, Iceland
JIDUHA
North Coast 500, Scotland

German Alpine Road

Best For: Skiing & Winter Sports

Length: 279 Miles

Time: Approx. 1 Week

Meandering through the Bavarian Alps and along the shores of Lake Constance, this route will have your eyes firmly fixed out of the window. With glittering Alpine lakes, majestic waterfalls, gargantuan mountains, lush valleys and gothic castles (including perhaps the most picturesque one of all, Neuschwanstein Castle), stop off at Bavaria’s best ski resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, for gondola rides galore and winter sports on Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze. You can end your trip in Munich or carry on to Salzburg – just make sure you make time for a pitstop to the giant ice caves in Werfen.

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Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Best For: A Weekend Break

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 choose to film here. 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, and also Portmagee, a fishing town dotted with colourful houses which offers trips to the remote Skellig Islands. On your way back to Killarney (the start and end point), take a look at the stunning, rustic vistas of Moll’s Gap.

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North Coast 500, Scotland

Best For: A Staycation

Length: 500 Miles

Time: 4 Days

If you really want to see Scotland in all its wild glory, then the North Coast 500 is the route for you. This 500-mile circular drive captures all the beauty of the Scottish Highlands – cutting through the eerily beautiful Black Forest, with plenty of stopping points along the way. Explore castle ruins, ancient burial chambers, rustic caves, glimmering lochs and all the whiskey distilleries you could ever want – just remember to bring your rain mac.

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