Driving holidays give you the opportunity to truly experience everything that a country has to offer; they give you flexibility in visiting the locations of your choice and allow you to avoid the typical tourist traps. Although many of us picture the USA when we think of embarking on a road trip holiday, Europe has been making a name for itself in recent years.
With a huge variety of destinations to choose from, you might just find yourself spoilt for choice. To give you a helping hand, used car specialists, Motorparks Grange have given us the inside scoop on Europe’s best driving holiday hotspots:
Germany: Route 500
Route 500 is one of the oldest and most famous roads in all of Germany. This sweeping stretch of road combines smooth elevated sections through the forest with thrilling switchback turns all the way through to Baden Baden (famous for its thermal springs if you fancy a spot of relaxation). It should be noted that there are several different trails to choose from in the Black Forest, with some being better than others, so it’s worth doing your research before heading out.
Traveling via the Schwarzwald Hochstrasse is highly reccomended. This stretch of road is consistently wide and easy to drive on – it’s also home to some fantastic views on both sides and an exciting drive through dense forests. It should be noted however, that as one of the country’s most popular roads, this route can be prone to traffic during peak hours of the day – therefore, we recommend that you start your journey early to avoid queues.
Route Napoleon: France
France’s Route Napoleon is well suited for enjoying the performance of your car. Not only is this route is beautifully smooth all the way across, it’s also surrounded by stunning scenery, which makes for a fantastic driving experience. As the name suggests, this road also has a historic aspect, as it follows the same route taken by Napoleon I in 1815 on his march to overthrow Louis XVIII. It is the historical aspect of the road which makes it even more exciting; history lovers will certainly appreciate following in such famous footsteps whilst surrounded by beautiful views on all sides.
Taking on this road at high speeds can make it a little more challenging, however, it is generally a smooth ride all the way. Those looking for more of a technical challenge might prefer to tackle one of the mountain routes on this list, however those who simply want to enjoy a smooth, easy flowing drive will find this route extremely rewarding.
Stelvio Pass: Italy
Our next destination was voted the best driving road in the world back in 2008 on BBC Top Gear. The Stelvio Pass winds down from the third highest mountain pass in the Alps (at 2757M), so you’ll certainly have a dramatic backdrop as you navigate the numerous twists and turns.
As a firm favourite with both bike and car enthusiasts, this road can get rather busy; you want to be on the road nice and early to get the most out of your experience plus ideally outside of the peak months of July and August.We recommend approaching this road from the North-West side, as this lets you enjoy the roads 48 challenging switchback turns and takes you through the heart of the Stelvio National Park itself. This route will also take you through several impressive patches of picturesque alpine forest – so remember to pack your camera!
Austria: Grossglockner High Alpine Road
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria sits between vibrant meadows, ice-covered peaks and rolling green pastures. Then, of course, there is the majestic Grossglockner mountain; At 12,460 feet, the Grossglockner is not only the highest mountain in Austria, it also counts among the highest peaks in the Alps. It is the epitome of an impressive natural experience! As one of the number one destinations for motorbike and sports car enthusiasts all across the world, this route can be challenging, with a number of hairpin curves to keep you on your toes – 36 to be exact!
You’ll have more than enough time to enjoy the breath-taking views as you wind your way down the numerous twists and turns that this route has to offer. You can begin your journey in the pretty village of Heiligenblut with it’s beautiful Gothic church, before starting the 30-mile long drive up. There are many lookout points along the way, so you’ll probably want to take your time and make a few stops.
Eventually, you will reach the foot of the Grossglockner, the “Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe”, from where you can explore various hiking routes: Take a 30-minute walk directly to the massive Pasterze glacier on a safe, well-marked trail, or take part in one of the guided tours with a national park ranger.
Iceland: Route One
Iceland’s Ring Road (also known as Route One) lets you experience everything that makes the country so popular as a holiday destination. From active volcanoes to frozen ice fields and the Northern Lights, travelling via this route makes for a truly captivating experience.
Each day of travelling brings a new experience, whether it’s thermal hot springs, wild horses, rushing waterfalls or snow-covered mountain peaks. This isn’t your typical European driving holiday! We recommend travelling in a vehicle that’s a little sturdier than your average car due to the tough nature of the terrain here – a used Range Rover Evoque, for example, would get the job done beautifully.
It goes without saying that you will have multiple photograph opportunities here and although it’s possible to drive the entire road in under a day, it’s best to give yourself at least a week to make the most of this beautiful country.