Europe's cities are cultural and historical treasures, must-see destinations that are perfect for a dynamic holiday. Many who visit the continent usually do so by train, due to its extensive and efficient railway system. However, did you know that there are breathtaking and thrilling destinations in Europe that are best explored by car?
A road trip is a great way to discover idyllic villages, coastal views, and historic architecture. Also, you won't be held hostage by train schedules when you travel by car. If you're looking to explore Europe's most charming locations, we recommend renting or leasing a car. You'll be ready to visit these seven breathtaking European destinations.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Amalfi Coast is one of the most magnificent coastlines in Europe and one that's especially satisfying to explore by car. The narrow, winding coastal roads make for a challenging drive. However, once you set your eyes on the majestic, vertiginous landscapes along the Tyrrhenian Sea shoreline, you won't regret your choice to travel by car.
To access the Amalfi Coast, we suggest starting from Naples. Before you take off, be sure to sample some of the best Neopolitan fare you can get your hands on. Must-try foods include pizza fritta, sfogliatella (a type of savory pastry), struffoli (small deep-fried dough balls drizzled with honey), and of course, Neopolitan pizza.
Once you've satiated your hunger, travel south to the beautiful port city of Salerno. From there, National Geographic suggests heading southwest through Ravello, Duomo di Sant'Andrea, and Valle dei Mulini before reaching the dreamy villages of Praiano and Positano. Along the way, you'll see romantic grottoes, picture-perfect coastal villages, and charming historical buildings that date back thousands of years to the beginning of the region's sea trade era.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
If you've ever dreamed of an enchanting adventure on the Emerald Isle, don't miss the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula. This scenic route overlooking the Atlantic Ocean loops through the pristine natural landscapes of Kerry in southwest Ireland.
Tourists have been coming here since the Victorian era, so it's no surprise that one of its main cities, Killarney, is popular with visitors. The town is also the ideal base for exploring the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park. If you want to avoid sharing the road with tour buses, we recommend skipping Killarney altogether.
Alternatively, you can check the bus schedules and start your trip before or after bus take-off times. If you find yourself stuck in the town for an hour or two, check out Ross Castle (a 15th-century tower house) and Muckross House and Gardens in Killarney National Park, Ireland's oldest national preserves.
Once you've spent some time in Killarney, continue on the Ring of Kerry, and don't miss the gorgeous landscapes flanking the road on both sides: MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range and Skellig Ring, which lies off the loop. Skellig Ring, in particular, is a sight worth seeing. Once you're there, take a boat trip out to Skellig Michael, one of the filming sites for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Today, the breathtaking cliffs of Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Route B500 & Romantic Road, Germany
Hansel and Gretel may have set out on foot to traverse the dense Black Forest, but you don't have to walk if you plan a road trip along Germany's route B500.
This beautifully scenic route is also called the Schwarzwaldhochstraße, which translates into "Black Forest Elevated Road." Using Stuttgart as a base, head toward Baden-Baden near the French border, a city famous for its thermal springs. From there, take in the impressive views as you travel along B500 until you get to Freudenstadt.
It's a short trip there (only about 144 miles or so). So, be sure to combine it with other scenic drives during your German holiday: take your car for a spin on the famous Autobahn or journey along the Romantic Road in nearby Bavaria. There, you'll see some of the most gorgeous sights in the country, such as the Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the breathtaking Taubertal valley and Rothenburg ob der Tauber (a wonderfully preserved medieval town).
The Atlantic Road & Trollstigen, Norway
If you'd like to traverse a surreal landscape that seems to defy the boundaries of engineering, look no further than the Atlantic Road in Norway. This gorgeous road was voted Norway's "Engineering Feat of the Century" in 2005. It spans eight bridges and 8,274 meters (more than five miles) over a series of islands and islets. In 2006, The Guardian ranked it as the world's best road trip.
Want to enjoy a panoramic view of beautiful landscapes flanking both sides of the road? Head inland toward Trollstigen (Troll Road), a route famous for its hairpin turns through the mountains and wild landscapes of Norway.
Twisting and winding through the Carpathian Mountains in Romania is the postcard-perfect route known as the Transfagarasan. This historic road was built by the Soviets in the 1970s and connects the regions historically known as Transylvania and Wallachia.
This route is popular because of its hairpin turns and steep passes, which create a meandering path up and across Romania's mountainous terrain. While traversing it at whatever pace suits you, be sure to stop and enjoy Balea Lake and the breathtaking Balea Waterfall.
Alsace Wine Route, France
There are several scenic road trips one can take in France, including Le Route des Grand Alpes and Les Corniches, which passes through the small nation of Monaco. However, if you're a foodie and wine connoisseur, the Alsace Wine Route is hard to top.
This enriching journey also offers visitors the chance to see dozens of bucolic and charming little French villages. The Guardian recommends the wine villages of Berghaim and Saint-Hippolyte in particular. However, there are also romantic bed-and-breakfasts and picturesque vineyards along the way — just follow the official route and you'll find them. C'est Bon!
Ring Road, Iceland
This 800-mile road trip is a treat for the senses. That's no understatement, considering this unbelievable loop allows one to explore the entirety of Iceland by utilizing one route that starts and ends in the capital of Reykjavik.
We recommend taking at least a week or two to get the most out of this majestic drive full of geological wonders and glorious landscapes. While you can conquer this scenic path the traditional way, you may get more out of the experience if you travel by campervan — they are surprisingly affordable to rent in Iceland, especially if you're brave enough to take on the winter weather just to see the northern lights.