Route 66, the Pacific Coast highway, the Florida keys – America has some great road trips. While nothing can get your motor running quite like the open roads you see in Hollywood’s movies, if you really love driving then Europe’s long and winding roads have a lot to offer.
So with the summer fast-approaching – the nights are already noticeably getting lighter and that’s exciting! – here are the top European road trip experiences to try this summer.
1) Col de la Bonnette – French Alps
At over 9,000 feet above sea level, the Col de la Bonnette in the French Alps is the highest road in Europe. As you can imagine, the views are spectacular.
On the way up the pass, the road surface is smooth, the roads are sweeping and the contrast between the lush greenery at the bottom of the pass and the lunar-like terrain at the top is, in itself, breathtaking.
Things get a little tougher on the way back down as the road narrows and offers up some testing corners – perfect for anyone who’s ever dreamed of driving like they’re in The Italian Job.
2) A82 Loch Lomond to Loch Ness – Scotland
If it’s stunning scenery you’re after, you don’t have to travel as far as the Alps as the 140-mile stretch between Loch Lomond and Loch Ness has it all.
The drive is shrouded by mountains, taking in Ben Nevis and ancient ruins along the way, but when it opens out it reveals some of Scotland’s most stunning lakes and vibrant scenery.
As you’d expect once you get north of Scotland’s major cities, the roads narrow dramatically and this pass provides a heady mix of tapered straights and gut-wrenching bends.
Alternatively, you can take the breathtaking route through the Cairngorms National Park.
3) Burgenstrasse – Germany
Starting at Mannheim in the south-west of Germany, the Burgenstrasse, or Castle Road, is a 625-mile route that ends at Prague in the Czech Republic. On the way you can take in over 70 castles and palaces, from romantic ruins, to fairytale-style castles, museums and castle hotels.
Check out the route planner on the tourist road’s official website.
4) The Atlantic Coast – Portugal
Starting in Porto and ending in Lisbon, this 550-mile route takes you through some of Portugal’s most breathtaking natural scenery, including immense pine forests, natural reserves and stunning coastal views.
If surfing is your thing then simply take any of the dirt tracks that lead from the N109 coastal road towards the ocean and there’s a good chance yours will be the only board in the ocean. Bliss!
If you want to get the most out of this road trip route you’d best set aside at least a week.
5) The Atlantic Road – Norway
Staying with the Atlantic, but much further north, is Norway’s Atlantic Road.
It’s only 8 kilometers long – linking the towns of Kristiansund and Molde – but The Atlantic Road zigzags its way across low bridges that jut out over the sea, notably the Hustadvika which is a truly dramatic stretch of road. Especially when storms hit!
Don’t be too dismayed if you hit it on a calmer day though as there’s a good chance you’ll spot seals and whales in the ocean. If you want to see just how dramatic this short coastal road is, take a look at the video below…
Taken a good road trip in Europe that I’ve missed? Tell us all about it in the comments!