There’s nothing more fun than a road trip in Europe! Where to? Here are five ideas.
As the temperatures start to rise and the days grow longer, one thing is apparent: Summer is almost here! The warm sunny days of summer are the perfect time to hit the road, and Europe’s diverse landscapes provide the perfect backdrop. Here’s a look at five European countries worth road tripping around this summer.
The most classic road trip of all: Bella Italia! Start in Genoa to admire the Mediterranean city’s beautiful harbor and historic old town. Spend at least one day here before heading to the nearby UNESCO-protected Cinque Terre, a rugged portion of the Ligurian coast that’s home to five historic fishing villages. Hike the legendary trails carved into the steep terraced hills and savor Liguria’s excellent food and wine. When in Italy, Rome is obligatory! Yes, tourists flock to the Eternal City in droves, and it’s easy to see why. From popular attractions like the wonders of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel to unusual activities like a nighttime ghost and mystery tour that unveils the city’s darker side. Those looking for a reprieve from the urban hustle and bustle can head to the verdant rolling hills of Tuscany. Sample some Chianti, Montepulciano and other typical wines straight from the source, and explore small villages like San Gimignano.
The westernmost country on the European continent, Portugal is just waiting to be discovered. Anyone looking to make a bigger trip out of their journey can drive through beautiful France, high into the Pyrenees–perhaps even with a side trip to Andorra–and finally through Spain to reach Portugal.
Visit the city of Porto, where a port wine tour is obligatory! Everyone loves Lisbon–and rightfully so as the Portuguese capital should not be missed–, but Porto and the university town of Coimbra are just as beautiful. Located on the Tagus River, Lisbon is an impressive old town with winding lanes and colorful houses that give the city an unmistakable flair. An absolute highlight is Sintra-Vila, a truly fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s about a thirty-minute drive from Lisbon.
Croatia is no longer a secret — thanks in part to Game of Thrones–, but this treasure on the Adriatic is still somewhat understated compared to its seaside Mediterranean counterparts. Highlights include Dubrovnik and its UNESCO-protected Old Town, as well as Split. Game of Thrones fans will recognize King’s Landing and Daenerys’ Throne Room, among other familiar locales from the Seven Kingdoms and beyond in both of these cities. Also of note is Pula, known for its impressive Ancient Roman remains including a remarkably preserved amphitheater.
Croatia’s gorgeous natural wonders include the UNESCO-protected Plitvice Lakes National Park. Hike and explore this forest reserve characterized by 16 terraced lakes conjoined by waterfalls that cascade into a canyon. All in all, Croatia is a spectacular country and one that’s especially suited for camping enthusiasts eager to pitch a tent during their road trip.
If southern Europe is too warm and crowded, then why not look north to Norway? The Scandinavian country is known for its majestic scenery: Mountains, glaciers and, of course, fjords. Lots of fjords. Needless to say, the Norwegian landscapes are a paradise for both professional and amateur photographers as well as for Instagrammers. The Sarkofagen glacial landscape will take your breath away, and of course, a visit to the capital Oslo, city of the Nobel Peace Prize, is also a must. Foliage and water comprise two-thirds of the Oslo, rendering it one of the world’s greenest cities. Trolltunga and Preikestolen, two of Norway’s most iconic natural wonders, are well worth a detour or two.
To head even further north, take a road trip around Iceland. Believe it or not, Iceland is reachable by car from the continent. Weekly ferries depart from Denmark and make stops in the Faroe Islands. However, the crossing takes three to four days so it might be easier to just fly to Reykjavik and rent a car. Iceland’s capital city is gorgeous, but the natural scenery in the countryside is out of this world….Game of Thrones fans will recognize many of the sights! The “Golden Circle” route includes national parks, lakes and lava fields, and Hveragerdi, Vatnajökull National Park and Selfoss are particularly of note.