The Best European Driving Holidays
If you love to drive, there’s no reason why you can’t combine your passion with a holiday. In Europe, we’re lucky enough to have some of the most stunningly scenic drives in the world, so book your car rental and go! Here are the top eight places in Europe to visit for a driving holiday, and what you should know before you set off.
Austria is a beautiful country. It’s the perfect blend of urban and the great outdoors. You can go skiing, hike to amazing alpine views or experience the sophisticated culture of Vienna. The premier driving attraction has to be the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. It passes through the Hohe Tauern National Park with a view of over 37 mountains, lakes, glaciers and beautiful meadows. You won’t want to concentrate on the views too much though, as you have 36 challenging hairpin bends to deal with. The road is closed from November – May and can be closed at short notice if visibility is poor, so check before you travel!
France has plenty to offer in terms of incredible driving holidays. It’s easily one of the most accessible places to visit, too, as you can drive to the ferry in Dover and use your own car in the country if you don’t want to hire one. Although there are plenty of highlights of driving through France, a few deserve a special mention. Drive through Provence to experience charming villages and Europe’s own answer to the Grand Canyon – the Verdon Gorge – which is easily the most dramatic route in France, if not Europe. You’ll want to make frequent stops as the road is incredibly challenging. If you’re travelling to the Alps region and you’re looking for the scenic route, head to La Route des Grandes Alpes – it takes you through four national parks and it was built solely for tourists to enjoy the route to the Alps. Remember to stop at the Geneva Lake during your drive.
Iceland has the most diverse range of landscapes in Europe. You can expect to see volcanoes, hot springs and lava fields on your trip to this beautiful country. There’s no better way to see such dramatic sights than taking the Route One road which covers the entire island. In some places, the route is so remote that the road is made from gravel rather than tarmac. During the drive you’ll experience all Iceland has to offer, and you’ll want to allow some time for detours to hot springs and to go whale watching.
Germany is made up of modern cities and medieval villages, so the best way to explore them is by taking the wheel and driving. If fairy-tales are your thing, you’ll want to drive the Romantische Strasse to see castles, palaces and mysterious walled towns. You’ll pass through the Medieval wine village of Tauberbischofsheim and see a castle with a moat at Weikersheim. If you’re less concerned about Medieval views, you might try the Autobahn. The Autobahn is Germany’s famous highway where there are no speed limits outside of built-up areas, so you can truly put the pedal to the metal.
If you’re looking for a driving holiday a little closer to home, you can’t go wrong with the stunning landscape of Ireland. The Ring of Kerry is the most famous route as it takes in some of the most beautiful aspects of Ireland. You can enjoy the Killarney National Park with its lakes and greenery, before driving on to take in dramatic mountain views. The ring starts and finishes in Killarney, but allow two days to stop and enjoy the views along the way.
Norway is the ideal destination for thrill seekers looking for a challenging drive. If that’s you, there’s only one route that you should take – the Trollstigen in the Rauma region. Along the way, you’ll see waterfalls, mountain views and some of the steepest inclines in Europe, as well as driving through 11 tense, tight bends. Along the way, there are several viewing platforms and the best view can be found at the plateau where there is a visitor centre.
Italy has so much to offer – food, fashion, art and culture – that you would be forgiven if it wasn’t the first place to come to mind for a driving holiday. Driving along the Amalfi Coast in the South allows you to get the best of both worlds. You’ll experience stunning architecture and friendly locals that will give you a sense of old-world Italy as the roads take you from one idyllic destination to another. If mountains and lakes are more your vibe, head to Bellagio to embark on the SS583 where you’ll see Lake Como up close.
One of the highlights of visiting Switzerland is the stunning Swiss mountains, so it makes sense that there would be amazing roads to travel through them on. First up is the Klausen Pass, a long and winding road that takes in incredible scenery. There’s even a car race that takes place on the roads every 4-5 years. If you’d prefer to test your driving skills, head to the Furka Pass. It’s a world-famous road which is notorious for each bend leading to another, and to another. It’s a dangerous road, so avoid in any wet or snowy conditions, and at night.
Flights to Spain are so affordable that it makes an ideal summer holiday destination, but it also makes a great driving holiday if you know where to go. One of the best driving highlights is the Cantabrian coast, which can be easily reached from Santander. You will start at the beach before heading through small towns and onto Bilbao. The road is close to the motorway, but is also close enough to the coast to be incredibly scenic as you pass through tiny traditional villages.
What you need to know before you set off:
Your UK driving licence allows you to drive in Europe, but there are still several factors to consider before you set off.
- Always check your car insurance policy to see if you are covered to drive in Europe.
- Check your breakdown cover and buy additional cover if necessary.
- Check the motoring laws for the country you’re driving in. For instance, in France you now need to carry a hi-vis jacket and a breathalyser with you.
- Check information about toll roads and speed limits.
- Have the country’s emergency services numbers in your phone contacts.
- Book your hire car in advance.
- Check if you need a vignette – a windscreen sticker which allows you to travel on the roads. You can usually pick them up from a rest stop or tourist information centre.
- Download offline maps from Google Maps.
- Allow extra time to cross borders.
If you understand the rules of the roads, you’ll have an amazing time on your adventure drive through Europe!
Leila Jones is a content writer for PSD Vehicle Rental in the UK. Leila enjoys travel, fashion, food and blogging.