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Don't pronounce it, just drive it

12 of the most breathtakingly beautiful road trips in Europe

Fill up the tank, load up the tunes and get behind the wheel. The best road trips in Europe are waiting

Edited by
John Bills

You can’t beat a good road trip. Fill the car, load up the tunes (or the podcasts) and hit the road, stopping wherever the mood takes and feeling the unbeatable freedom that travel is supposed to provide. Our pick of the best road trips in Europe covers every corner, the only limitation being how long you are willing to spend behind the wheel. The continent's extensive network of roads offers up some of the best road trips on the planet, so get ready for mountains, lakes, rivers and more.

RECOMMENDED: 11 of the most breathtaking beautiful road trips around the world

Best road trips in Europe

Iceland Ring Road

1. Iceland Ring Road

Iceland makes an appearance on any self-respecting list of travel experiences. The Iceland Ring Road encircles the entire nation, covering 1,333 kilometres of road, a distance that can be traversed in 12 or 13 hours, depending on speed. Truth be told, you should take a week or so to do it properly, stopping to take in the majestic scenery that only Iceland can produce. Sigur Rós made a video of the whole thing backed by some typically gorgeous music, so head to a well-known internet video streaming site and start making plans. 

Pula to Dubrovnik, Croatia

2. Pula to Dubrovnik, Croatia

If anyone tells you that Croatia is still a hidden gem, you should stop listening to them. Hrvatska gets mega busy throughout the summer, but spring and autumn remain brilliant times to visit, and what better way to explore the coast than by driving all the way down it? Start at Pula and snake your way down the coast to Dubrovnik, breaking up the 709km with stops in Rijeka, Zadar, Split and wherever else. Heck, you could even nip inland to explore the magical Plitvice Lakes National Park, and extend the last leg by heading into Bosnia and Herzegovina to see Mostar, Kravice waterfall and Blagaj for yourself. 

Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania

3. Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania

You can also call it the DN7C if you’d prefer. The Transfăgărășan is a stunning mountain road that traverses Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, the second-highest in the country but arguably the best known. Every spectacular second of the 150 kilometres offers up stunning views. The speed limit is 40km/h because of the relatively fragile ground, but going slow makes it easier to enjoy the surroundings. Bâlea Lake is pretty much at the top, and it doesn’t get much more beautiful than that. 

Atlantic Road, Norway

4. Atlantic Road, Norway

Not all road trips need to be multi-day marathons. Sometimes, going out for a few hours of gorgeous driving interspersed with views (and a picnic, you gotta have a picnic) is all that is needed. Norway’s Atlantic Road snakes around the west coast of the country, covering just 8.3km but encapsulating the old ‘quality over quantity’ cliche perfectly. The road has been described as the world’s most beautiful car journey, and we aren’t about to disagree.

Tallinn to Tirana

5. Tallinn to Tirana

Somehow, someway, Eastern Europe remains criminally misunderstood. The vague geographic notion doesn’t tell half the story, so why not drive from the north of the east to the south and see for yourself? From Estonia on the Baltic to Albania on the Med lies a conveyor belt of fascinating nations with beauty around every corner. It would take around 34 hours to drive the 2,945km without stopping, but you’d also need to be a cyborg. Head through the Baltic states before heading central into Poland, Czechia and onwards. 

Autobahn, Germany

6. Autobahn, Germany

If you’re interested in an incredible European road trip, the chances are you’re already very aware of the Autobahn. Germany and all things automobiles go together like magnet and steel – hurtling down the Autobahn is one of Europe’s great behind-the-wheel experiences. You can’t actually go as fast as you like on this famous road, so pay attention to the various limits, lest you end up in serious bother. Start in Cologne and head north through Bremen and Hamburg before snaking back down to Berlin, covering more than 500km in the process.

Epirus, Greece

7. Epirus, Greece

Driving around the winding mountain roads of Zagori sounds like a dream, right? These serpentine roads aren’t the easiest, but they are well worth it; think lakes, monasteries, stunning mountain villages and animals that are very much in charge of the place. There are several possible routes, so you might as well just get that driving licence sorted and let your whims do the rest.

Northern Lakes, Italy

8. Northern Lakes, Italy

Okay, now we’re really entering the world of dreams. The magnificent lakes in the north of Italy have been big business for a long old while, but how about an extravagant road trip taking in as many of them as possible? You can start this one pretty much from the moment you land in Milan, picking up a rental and heading to Lake Maggiore and setting up shop before heading east through Lake Como, Lake Garda and all the rest. Take as much time as is humanly possible, you’re going to want to savour these spots. 

Edinburgh to London, United Kingdom

9. Edinburgh to London, United Kingdom

You could tackle the entire length of Great Britain, starting at John o’Groats and driving 1,407km down to Land’s End, but the  very northern tip of Scotland isn’t the most accessible place. Instead, make a grand journey between the capitals of Scotland and England, starting in Edinburgh and heading south through the Lake District, the cities of the north, the meat of the Midlands and more. Just 647km sit between the two, so be sure to make this itinerary a winding one.

Vienna to Belgrade

10. Vienna to Belgrade

Europe has no shortage of great rivers, but the diversity of the Danube makes it the continent’s finest. The second longest in Europe, the Danube runs through four capital cities (Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna), so why not get behind the wheel and hit up all four? Start in the latter and weave your way towards bouncing Belgrade, treating yourself to a night out in one of the continent’s most exciting cities as a treat. Better yet, if you have the time, why not follow the entire length of the river? 

Arosa to Zermatt, Switzerland

11. Arosa to Zermatt, Switzerland

Truth be told, there are no bad ways to explore Switzerland. It is a truly spectacular country, arguably the most picturesque in Europe, and whether you explore via car or by train you are going to have a great time. The freedom of a private vehicle does open up new avenues, though, and the Swiss Alps are a different beast altogether when it comes to the secret nooks and crannies that await. Start in Arosa and finish 382km to the south in Zermatt, but remember that the latter is car-free, so you’ll have to leave the vehicle at a nearby parking facility. 


12. Europe

That’s right, the whole of Europe. Why not? Sure, the route might get pretty convoluted, but the continent is small enough that driving around the entire thing isn’t out of the question – if you’ve got the time and the fuel. There is so much to see here that leaving anything out would be a real shame, so fill up the tank and get to ticking off your bucket-list destinations. There are some seriously beautiful roads too – when it comes to epic adventures, driving around the whole of Europe is just about as bombastic as it gets. 

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