If you usually start your summer holiday by heading to the airport and getting on a charter flight, why not plan something a bit different next time? Europe has some of the best driving routes in the world, so why not plan a road trip for your next family holiday? Just pay attention to the traffic laws in Europe because speeding tickets in Europe are not the same as speeding tickets in Texas, for example.
There are two basic choices when it comes to driving holidays in Europe – take your own car, or hire one when you get there. This is mainly a matter of personal preference and how long you have to drive from your UK hone to the Channel ports. If you’re taking your own car, you have the advantage of familiarity. Take your car for a service and check before you go, and make sure you have booked it in for a MOT if it’s due to run out shortly. Read up on the driving regulations for the company you are travelling to, and make sure you have things like warning triangles and reflective jackets, which are legal requirements in several European countries.
One of the most popular driving routes in Europe is through the Lakes in Northern Italy. If your ideal holiday is all about mountains, lakes and windy driving routes, then this is the ideal choice. The roads around the most popular resorts are very busy in the summer months, so choosing to travel in Spring or early autumn is probably a better choice. Italian drivers are notoriously impatient and love using the horn, so don’t be upset by other road users flashing their lights or gesturing at you. Take your time, and pull over to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
German Romantic Road
The German route known as the Romantic Road is one of the country’s most popular road trips, from Munich south through the hills and into the foothills of the Alps. The route ends at the little town of Fussen, famous for the elaborate Neuschwanstein Castle. This is a laid-back route which can easily be completed in a couple of days, allowing plenty of time to explore the Alps or the other attractions which southern Germany has to offer.
The mountainous scenery of Northern Spain is one of the continent’s great hidden secrets, and ideal for a driving holiday when you want to combine days on the beach with days driving through the mountains. Either take the long drive down through France to the Spanish border, or catch a ferry to Bilbao and head west along the coast. Don’t miss the elegant beach resort of Santander, or the chance to hike in the Picos de Europa mountain range.
Wild Atlantic Way
A bit closer to home is Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, which starts at the top of the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal and runs 1600 miles along the coast to the south west tip of the country. Many drivers choose to complete the entire route split into 14 stages, but if you don’t have that much time then you can just pick and choose which stages you’d like to complete. There’s a whole website dedicated to planning the route and giving suggestions about what to see or where to stay along the way.
Norway is harder to get to from the UK, but the Troll Path is worth making the effort. It’s one of Europe’s most impressive road passes, used in dozens of car adverts and driving documentaries. Make sure to stop at the top of the pass and take some photos to prove to the people at home that you actually coaxed your car up and down the snaking road.