Dreaming about an overseas escape, but not too keen on the idea of airports and packed planes right now? Why not plan a flight-free trip instead? With so many gorgeous European road trips to choose from, there are some pretty amazing adventures out there.
With ferry crossings and the super-convenient Eurotunnel le Shuttle, you can pack up the car and be on the continent in no time! All the incredible European road trips in this post can be started from the UK, so you don’t have to go anywhere near a flight.
If you’re not sure where to start with planning a trip like this, speak to an expert like the amazing folks at Original Travel. They recently launched The Voyageurs Collection – a carefully-curated portfolio of itineraries to help you create the perfect tailor-made trip. They have some fabulous road trip ideas to get you inspired. More info at the end of this post.
This is a sponsored post with Original Travel. However, all words and opinions are my own (as always).
Remember that travel to certain destinations may not be advisable at this time, so this is more of an inspirational post for now. Also, Government rules for quarantining after travel are subject to change. Keep an eye on the news and always check the latest advice before travelling.
7 Iconic European Road Trips
1 – From Paris to Berlin…
…and every disco I get in! (Really hoping you know that song and I don’t just sound like a weirdo!)
This European road trip actually starts in Calais after crossing on the Eurotunnel le Shuttle, but I think my title is catchier! From there, it’s a short hop to Paris, where you can spend a couple of days exploring the city of l’amour before embarking on an epic road trip.
Cruise through the hills and vineyards of the Champagne region of France before heading into tiny, landlocked Luxembourg with its many fairy-tale castles. Crossing into Germany, there are several routes you can take to reach the capital. Perhaps through the medieval village of Bacharach in the heart of Reisling wine country, or up through historic cities like Cologne and Hanover.
2 – Northern Spain
One of my favourite European road trips is this route along Spain’s all-too-often overlooked Northern Coast. You can take a direct ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao, in the heart of the fascinating Basque Country region. Or, take le Shuttle and drive down through France first in order to extend your trip.
Follow the coast through rugged Cantabria and the beautiful, secluded beaches of Asturias. Call in at picturesque fishing villages, or detour inland to visit the historic city of Oviedo.
The final stop, Santiago de Compostela, is also the endpoint of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. So be sure to visit the stunning cathedral, which has been welcoming pilgrims for centuries.
3 – Italian Lakes
A couple of years ago I took a bus tour from Dover to Lake Garda and discovered one of the most incredible road trips in Europe. Leaving from Dover, you can take the ferry or le Shuttle across to Calais, then descend down through France and into Switzerland.
Crossing the Alps is a particular highlight, especially if you take the Furka Pass in Switzerland. One of the highest mountain roads in the Alps, the road – which featured in the James Bond film Goldfinger – is full of hairpin bends as it winds up and down the mountainside.
Once you cross the border, try to plan a detour to Italy’s gorgeous Trentino region. Both Venice and Verona are also within driving distance of the Lakes. As well as the more famous Lake Garda, you also have Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, and countless other smaller lakes to explore.
4 – Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
At an epic 2,500km, Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way runs from Derry all the way down the western coastline. The easiest way to start this European road trip from the UK is to take a ferry across to Dublin or Rosslare and head west from there. Ferries run from Fishguard, Holyhead, Birkenhead and Liverpool, so you have plenty of choice!
Get ready for an incredible coastline of windswept headlands and hidden coves. Stop off at Galway for culture and colourful houses, or head into Killarney National Park for hiking and adventure.
5 – Spain to Morocco
Did you know you can drive all the way to Africa from the UK? To get started, you can hop across to Calais, or take a ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham, then drive down through France and into the south of Spain. Alternatively, you can take a ferry to Bilbao and start your road trip in Spain.
Either way, you’ll want to head down through Spain to Gibraltar, stopping off in quaint countryside towns or historic cities like Valladolid and Seville. A short ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar will land you in Tangier on the Moroccan Coast. From there, you could drive along the coast to Casablanca, down into Marrakech. Depending on how much time you have, you could even push across the Atlas Mountains and down to Merzouga on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
6 – Bruges to Amsterdam
Looking for culture, history, and canals? A road trip from the UK to Amsterdam could be perfect! It’s surprisingly easy to drive to Belgium via le Shuttle: Calais to the border is just a 40-minute journey.
Stop off in Bruges and Ghent to get your waffle fix in Belgium, or detour down to Brussels to explore the country’s capital. Cross into the Netherlands to visit the windmills of the famous Kinderdijk and the lively culture of nearby Rotterdam.
Try to plan a stop at the beautiful, lesser-known city of Utrecht before reaching your final destination. Then spend a few nights in Amsterdam to make the most of the canals, culture, and impressive museums of one of the most iconic cities in Europe! Don’t forget to load up on all the best Amsterdam souvenirs at the city’s cute indie shops and markets before heading home.
7 – The Troll Path, Norway
If you’re looking for adventure, the Trollstigen (“Troll Path”) in Norway is the European road trip for you! Reaching it from the UK means driving up through Germany and Denmark via Calais, so it’s a long trip – but worth it!
From Hirtshals in northern Denmark, you can catch a ferry to Kristiansand in southern Norway. From there, journey up through the fjords to the stunning UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord region on Norway’s western coast.
High in the snow-covered mountains, the Troll Path is a vast, zig-zagging road known as one of the most exciting drives in Europe. It has a steep incline, multiple hairpin bends, and in some places the road is only wide enough for a single car. So this road is not for the faint-hearted!
Legend has it that trolls roam the mountains by night, so keep an eye out for them! As well as for the numerous photo opportunities as you cruise along this epic mountain road.
Be sure to stop off in the village of Flåm en route to the Troll Path to explore the incredible Aurlandsfjord region as well. And if you want to extend your trip even further, you could make your way up north to Tromsø to explore the Artic Circle!
Original Travel can Plan your European road trip!
If these trips sound right up your street, but you’re not sure where to start with planning, get an expert to help you. Original Travel is a luxury tour operator that specialises in creating tailor-made holidays across the globe. This isn’t like booking an off-the-shelf package holiday. Instead, they work with you to create your dream itinerary. So you get to plan the perfect holiday – with none of the hard work!
And with the new, carefully-curated portfolio from The Voyageurs Collection, you have more ways than ever to plan your flight-free holiday. More importantly, both Original Travel and The Voyageurs Collection are offering lots of additional services at the moment, to help reassure you about booking during these tricky times.
These include an improved airport experience, as well as travel insurance that covers Coronavirus. So you can book your flight-free trip to Europe with confidence. I’ve got first-hand experience using Original Travel to plan my trip to Rome, so I know just how good the service is. And in these uncertain times, having an expert on hand to help you plan your holiday can only be a good thing!
Where are your favourite European road trips? Share in the comments!