From America’s Route 66 to Australia’s Great Ocean Road to South Africa’s Garden Route, the world is full of unforgettable road trips, but don’t write off Europe for your next adventure. Whether you want to hire a campervan and get off the beaten track, cruise along the coast in a convertible or tackle one of the world’s most treacherous mountain roads, road-trippers will find plenty of great choices in Europe. To help fuel your wanderlust, here are 10 European road trips to take this summer.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
With its dramatic sea cliffs, sweeping bays and picture-perfect fishing villages clinging to the mountainsides, Italy’s Amalfi Coast serves up an endless panorama of photo-worthy views. Follow the hair-raisingly steep coastal road that winds its way along the Sorrento Peninsula and discover the UNESCO-listed coastline at your own pace. Along the way, take time to stop at Positano, where the houses are painted in a rainbow of colors; take in views from hilltop Ravello; or cruise out to the island of Capri.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
Discover the magic of the Emerald Isle with a memorable drive around the famous Ring of Kerry, a 109-mile (175-kilometer) route that traces the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland. Plan to spend at least a day exploring the scenery en route, with highlights including Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range; the glittering lakes of Killarney National Park; and the undeniably photogenic Gap of Dunloe. That’s not all: You’ll also pass Blue Flag beaches, ancient ruins and traditional Irish market towns, and enjoy breathtaking views of the UNESCO-listed Skellig Islands.
Romantic Road, Germany
Snaking its way through the heart of Bavaria, the aptly named Romantic Road is Germany at its postcard best, dotted with fairy tale castles, medieval villages and mountaintop beer gardens. Starting in the alpine town of Fussen, the 261-mile (420-kilometer) route climbs through the Bavarian Alps, then heads north all the way to Wurzburg. For the full experience, spend up to a week traveling the road, stopping in historic towns like Dinkelsbühl, Bamberg and Augsburg, and checking off top attractions like Neuschwanstein Castle, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the UNESCO-listed Würzburg Residence. Want to travel longer? Munich, Nuremberg and the Black Forest are all great options for a detour.
North Coast 500, Scotland
Summer is the ideal time to venture off the beaten track in the Scottish Highlands, and the most scenic route is the North Coast 500. The dramatic 500-mile (805-kilometer) circuit hugs Scotland’s rugged north coast, from Sutherland in the west all the way to Black Isle in the east, then winds its way inland to Inverness. Stop off along the way to admire landmarks like the Mermaid of the North in Balintore, Ben Loyal mountain and fairy tale castle of Dunrobin; visit the northernmost point of mainland Britain at John O’Groats; and cruise around Loch Ness. Or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery – a patchwork of heather-covered moorlands, shimmering lochs and lush farmlands dotted with herds of Highland cattle.
Route des Grandes Alpes, France
Running all the way from Lake Geneva in Switzerland to the Mediterranean coast of the French Riviera, the Route des Grandes Alpes (Great Alpine Road) is the granddaddy of European road trips. The 425-mile (684-kilometer) route scales some of Europe’s highest and most magnificent mountain passes, passing four national parks, famous ski resorts like Chamonix and Grenoble, and picturesque alpine towns like Annecy. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping mountain views dotted with waterfalls, lakes and steep ravines.
Transfagarasan Mountain Road, Romania
Those seeking the road less traveled will find nirvana in Romania. The 56-mile (90-kilometer) Transfagarasan Highway is rugged, remote and declared by British TV show Top Gear “the best road in the world.” Put your driving skills to the test as you twist and turn through the Transylvanian Alps, tackling hairpin bends, tunnels and narrow bridges. It’s a perfect road trip for the summer months, as snowfall often renders it impassable during the winter.
Norwegian Fjords, Norway
Norway is a natural playground for adventurous drivers, and the unearthly beauty of the Norwegian fjords is made even more dramatic by some impressive feats of engineering. The most scenic stretch of the coast lies between Bergen and Trondheim, passing highlights like Tvindefossen waterfall and the Geirangerfjord (the inspiration for Disney hit Frozen). Along the way, check a few must-dos off your road-tripper’s bucket list – the Lærdalstunnelen, the world’s longest road tunnel (a whopping 15.2 miles, or 24.5 kilometers, long); thrilling Trollstigen (Troll’s Ladder), which zigzags its way up the Valldal valley; and Atlantic Road, a 5.2-mile (8.3-kilometer) road that sweeps over eight islands in a fashion more rollercoaster than highway.
The Ring Road, Iceland
With an endless panorama of mist-capped volcanoes, ancient lava fields and black-sand beaches, the Land of Fire and Ice serves up some spectacular roadside views, and what better road trip destination than a country that only has one road? Iceland’s appropriately named Ring Road runs for 832 miles (1,339 kilometers), looping around the entire island, and it’s full of surprises. Park up along the way to admire the geysers and glaciers of the Golden Circle, take a whale-watching cruise from Akureyri or bathe in the Myvatn hot springs, then escape the tourist trail to explore the villages of the East Fjords or take a hike in the Westfjords.
Basque Circuit, Spain
The most authentic way to explore the sun-soaked beaches, bays and rolling hills of Spain’s Basque Country is from behind the wheel, and the 298-mile (480-kilometer) Basque Circuit weaves its way between regional highlights like Bilbao, Pamplona, the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay. For the full effect, hire a convertible and get a taste of the high life as you lounge on golden sands, enjoy wine tasting in the hills and tuck into tapas in San Sebastian.
Furka Pass, Switzerland
With its tangle of hairpin curves, sheer drops and high-altitude passes, the Furka Pass is notoriously one of the world’s most dangerous roads. It’s also undeniably one of the most spectacular, and if you can stand the dizzying heights and stomach-churning turns, you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable views over the Swiss Alps and Rhone Glacier. The 19-mile (31-kilometer) pass runs between Gletsch and Andermatt, reaches heights of 2,656 feet (2,429 meters) and – in case you need more convincing – served as the site of the famous car chase in James Bond movie Goldfinger.