How many times have you been somewhere and concluded “It was amazing, but it was just too crowded”? It is more than likely that this has happened numerous times, and escaping the crowds can be a real challenge. One of the most liberating ways to see a place is as a part of a road trip. The sense of freedom and independence that comes when you take to the road is hard to match. So why not hit the road and discover some of Europe’s best, and less touristy, road trips…
If you are after beautiful rolling countryside and lush green vegetation then head to Latvia. A circular road trip from the capital, Riga, around the western coast of the country is one of the best Europe has to offer. A trip along the coast, where dense forests meet golden beaches, is something to savour. There is something for everyone here and the mix of large historic cities and small peaceful villages is perfect. What sets Latvia apart is its friendly inhabitants and you are certain of a warm welcome wherever you end up.
If you are looking for an extended driving trip then head to Norway! It is one of the most picturesque countries in the world and you’ll definitely need lots of space on your camera’s memory card. As you drive north from Oslo, huge snowy peaks provide a stunning backdrop to the glass like fjords. There are huge glaciers and some exciting wildlife for you to spot, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled. The roads are in impeccable condition so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
Slovakia is perhaps the most beautiful country in Europe, but it has succeeded in remaining off the mass tourist trail. There are vast green pastures in the lowlands, which are overlooked by high snow-capped peaks. This stunning natural setting is brilliantly complemented by some incredible architecture. The castles that dot the landscape are straight out of a fairy tale and there is an abundance of charming small towns and villages. As if that wasn’t enough, the country’s roads are perfect for an epic road trip that will stimulate every one of your senses.
It has a reputation for being rainy, but there is so much more to Scotland than midges and bad weather. The country boasts some of the best driving roads in Europe and it has the scenery to match. You can skirt round magical deep lochs, or traverse up into the Cairngorms National Park. Make sure you head over to Fort William and climb Ben Nevis, or venture to the Atlantic coast for a whale watching trip. There will always be great photo opportunities, and some brilliant places to stay on the road.
When you head off on a road trip, what is it you’re after? Incredible scenery? Great roads? Or just brilliant historic towns to explore? Well Montenegro has it all, and it’s small enough to properly explore. It has a stunning coastline, with brilliant sapphire waters and relaxed old towns where you can stop for refreshment during your journey. Further inland there are jaw-dropping mountains that plunge into meandering rivers. Forests and deep blue lakes dominate the landscape, and incredible roads weave in and out of the natural features like rivers on their way to the ocean. Sounds perfect? Thought so.
The motto of the Croatian Tourist Board is the ‘Mediterranean as it once was’, which gives you a good indication of what to expect from your time here. It is definitely the right time to discover Croatia as it seems to be teetering on the edge of a mass tourist influx. The country is undeniably beautiful and there is a great blend of authentic culture in the rural areas and glamorous nightlife in the bigger cities. The driving here is special and you can choose between a relaxing trip through the peaceful countryside or soaking up the glitz and glamour of the coast.
How to start planning
After picking your location and route there is still a lot of planning to be done. Primarily, for a road trip you’ll need a car. Unless you are going to road trip to your road trip, you will need to rent a car on arrival. Car hire can be a potential minefield, so make sure you choose a company that includes unlimited mileage and good insurance cover. For example, Economy Car Hire include a free additional driver, so you can share the time at the wheel, and also always include built-in excess cover.
You’ll also need to take your health into consideration when you’re planning a road trip to Europe. As well as insurance make sure you don’t forget your European Health Insurance Card important. Accidents and illness can happen at any time and unlike the UK where healthcare is free, healthcare in Europe can be very expensive and can run you huge bills if you do happen to need medical care abroad. Within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, a European Health Card, or EHIC Card, entitles you to free or reduced medical assistance so make sure you fill out your European Health Card Application before heading off and always carry it with you on your trip!