Europe is hands-down one of the best places in the world for setting out on an epic road trip!
From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the dazzling French Riviera, all the way to the scenic landscapes of the Swedish Lapland, there is a road trip route to suit every type of traveler.
So if you’re dreaming of setting out on the open road this summer, then look no further, because we’ve rounded up the best summer road trips in Europe to inspire your next vacation!
Best Summer Road Trips in Europe
Contributed by Jules from Jules’ Trails
With its wild, breathtaking coastline and seascapes, the Algarve offers one of the best coastal road trips in Europe.
Crystal blue waters and red-colored limestone cliffs surround quaint fishing towns where the people are welcoming and the food is glorious. To experience most of the beauty that this place has to offer with no rush, allow yourself a 7-day road trip to both explore and relax.
Fly to Faro International Airport where you can easily rent a car and set off toward Quarteira and Albufeira, the two closest towns. Here, you can stop for a quick bite at the many excellent restaurants on the promenade. If you want to have a taste of authentic Portuguese cuisine, order some Sardinhas (grilled sardines).
Set off again towards the western coast and stop at Benagil beach. Here, you can rent a kayak or jump on a boat tour to the must-visit Benagil caves, only accessible via sea.
The Algarve is also a surfing paradise, especially the area around Sagres, home to surf schools and a real hub for surfers. Stop here if you’re a fan of windy beaches and challenging waves. If you’re up for a short hike, head to the Cape Sagres viewpoint for breathtaking views of the dramatic and wild coastline.
End the trip on the vast, sandy beach of Praia da Cordoama. Relax watching skydivers fly above your head while you sip on a Sagres, or join them in the air with a guided tour.
Contributed by Joanna from Andalucia in My Pocket
Going on a road trip in Andalucia in summer is probably the best way to see this beautiful autonomous region from the South of Spain. It is recommended to fly to Malaga and rent a car at the airport here, as it is the most cost-effective option both for flight and vehicle rental prices. Depending on how much time you have to spare, you can choose to either visit the highlight cities of the Moorish Empire or go off the beaten path as well.
For a seven-day road trip around Andalucia, consider adding the cities of Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, and Cadiz to your itinerary. They are the best example of Moorish architecture, with gorgeous fortresses such as the Alhambra in Granada, and gardens such as the Alcazar in Cordoba. If you have extra time, add a day in Jerez de la Frontera to your itinerary as well. Among the best things to do in Jerez de la Frontera, you must experience a flamenco show but also do a sherry tasting at a traditional bodega. Here, you can taste the original sherry (not the sweet one) and learn more about how this fortified wine is produced.
You should dedicate another full day to seeing the white villages of Andalucia. There is an official route for the white villages of Andalucia which includes stops in Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra and Ubrique.
Contributed by Chrysoula from Greece Travel Ideas
This seven-day circular road trip in Mainland Greece begins and ends in Athens. You can collect your rental car on arrival and drop it off as you leave Greece. It is a 50-minute drive from the airport to central Athens- the ideal place to book rooms for your first and last nights.
Your first day is in Athens, so leave the car parked! Get up early to avoid queues for the Acropolis with its iconic Parthenon, the stunning white marble temple dedicated to Athena. The afternoon can be spent exploring other sites before taking the funicular railway up to the top of Lycabettus Hill in time for the sunset.
On Day 2, you will head via the impressive Corinth Canal to Mycenae, one of Greece’s most ancient sites. Epidaurus is 45 minutes further on and can be visited on the same day. Head to the coastal city of Nafplio where you can stay for two nights. There are old and new parts of the city to explore and a beach for relaxing.
Olympia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home of the ancient Olympic Games. The drive from Olympia to Delphi takes more than three hours so the seaside town of Nafpaktos makes the perfect break, but there are several other lovely places to stop along the way. Delphi is surrounded by mountains and was the center of the Ancient Greek world and has amazing views. Meteora is the final stop on this memorable tour and is where six Orthodox monasteries perch on a strange rock formation. Your tour will end with a second day exploring more of Athens – including Monastiraki for fun souvenir shopping!
Contributed by Loredana from Destguides
Cornwall is one of the best road trips to do in England and the UK, especially in the summer! A week or two is recommended to make the most of your time exploring the area as it’s vast. If you’re short on time, a 3-day Cornwall road trip can be done. In this case, you should be aware that such a short road trip will not really be a relaxing holiday, but more so one full of lots of sights and attractions and driving in just a few days!
If you are after a laid-back beach holiday, then it is recommended to rent an Airbnb or find a b&b in a town like St Ives where you can kick back and relax for the weekend (fingers crossed it’s sunny!). Also, plan ahead! St Ives might be overly touristy, but it is for good reason! It is so, so beautiful, and it’s sometimes hard to believe that it is a beach destination in the UK!
Other points of interest along the Cornish coastline include Penzance, Newquay, Lizard’s Point, Land’s End, and more! You will find many highly-acclaimed surf beaches as well if that’s your thing, such as Perranporth Beach, Gwithian Beach, and Fistral Beach. Fancy a walk in a garden? Consider paying a visit to the Eden Project or the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Love a delicious coffee in a cute harbor town? Mousehole might be the place for you.
Cornwall is really full of endless stunning locations and destinations and fun activities for all types of travelers.
Contributed by Elisa from France Bucket List
One of the best places to visit in France in summer is the southern coast, and more specifically, the French Riviera. From Menton to Toulon, explore pretty coastal towns, historic sites, and some of the best beaches in France. The best way to visit this area is on a French Riviera road trip. A self-drive holiday is fun and gives you the freedom impossible to find on guided tours.
The city of Nice is a good starting point for a French Riviera trip as it is well connected by international flights and local trains. For the trip, count a minimum of five days to get a good overview of this part of France, but you can easily extend it or shorten it – the driving distances between towns are short.
The list of main stops for this French Riviera road trip includes Nice, Menton, Cannes, Antibes, Saint Tropez, and the hilltop villages of Eze and Grasse. There are some pretty islands to visit too – Hyères Islands are our favorites – but you will need to add a couple of ferry bookings to the road trip.
Despite being an independent state, Monaco is also part of the French Riviera, and Montecarlo is well worth the stop for visiting during the day.
Iceland Ring Road
Contributed by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
The Ring Road around Iceland is one of the most adventurous and stunning road trips in Europe. This road circles the whole of the country and covers 600km. The majority of roads are tarmacked but in the far north, some parts are gravel when you adventure off to explore. It includes everything from waterfalls and steaming volcanic vents to hot tubs and beautiful ice-covered beaches.
The road trip around Iceland starts and finishes in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, and can be completed in either direction in as little as 4 days, but a week or more is perfect.
Heading east from Reykjavík will take you along the busy and well-known Golden Circle route before coming to the stunning black sand beach at Vík with its iconic sea stacks just offshore. A short distance further along the coast will take you to Diamond Beach featuring icebergs washed up on the shoreline. Behind the beach is the large Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon which is the edge of a large glacier where the icebergs first enter the water.
After Diamond Beach, the route heads north along the east coast where there are deep fjords and high mountains. This is a really remote area with very few tourists.
The road then heads inland towards Lake Myvatn and Krafla volcano where there are steaming lava fields, large volcanic craters, and the large Dettifoss and Godafoss waterfalls.
The route then heads south west back to Reykjavík.
Contributed by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
Ireland is a country filled with history, culture, magical landscapes, and incredible beer and whiskey! If it’s not on your list of places to visit, it should be. The rolling hills of green welcome you with open arms. There are so many things to do in Ireland, but we can only highlight a few top things that should NOT be missed. Depending on the amount of time you have to spend, you could do a road trip around Ireland anywhere between 10-30 days!
Dublin is where most visitors enter Ireland and is worth a few day’s stay. Dublin is incredibly walkable so put on your most comfortable shoes! From the history of the Dublin Castle, to the magic of the Little Dublin Museum, to the vibrant Temple Bar area – you’re guaranteed to find something you love.
A trip to the Emerald Isle is not complete without seeing the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs are an icon of the Irish coastline. You can visit them on a day trip from Dublin but the best way to avoid the crowds is to visit overnight so you can enjoy sunset! If you don’t have enough time to visit the Cliffs, check out the Howth Cliff Walk closer to Dublin.
If a beach getaway is more your travel style, don’t worry, Ireland has amazing beaches too! Gweedore is the beach that Irish locals visit on summer holidays. The beach is located near the small town of Gaeltacht, at the foot of Errigal Mountain. Spend the day hiking or relaxing at the beach before grabbing a pint at the local pub.
A road trip through Ireland is a must-do for any traveler!
Isle of Man
Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad
Although the Isle of Man is only 33 miles long and 13 miles across, there are plenty of places to visit and explore, making it one of the best road trips in Europe. The ferry takes around 4 hours before you dock in Douglas.
The whole of Isle of Man is a UNESCO Biosphere, with an amazing coastline filled with crags, cliffs, stacks, coves, and bays to discover.
Drive south and visit Castletown and the beautiful Rushen Castle in the middle of the town and explore the Nautical Museum, the Old Grammar school, and take a walk out to the Lighthouse on Langness.
Further south is Port Erin with a sweeping sandy beach where you can hire paddleboards, kayaks or go fishing off the rocks.
Further on is Peel and the ruins of Peel Castle. The House of Manannan guides you through the history of the Isle of Man’s Celtic, Viking, and maritime roots.
Continuing your road trip around the Isle of Man, do not miss a walk around the Curraghs and the possible sighting of wild wallabies. A pair escaped from the Curragh Wildlife Park in the 1970s and have been breeding in the wild ever since.
At the top of the island is the Point of Ayre where on a good day you can see the coastline of Scotland and England.
Travel down to Laxey to marvel at the “Lady Isabella”, the name of the huge red wheel of the Laxey mine. If you have time, jump on the Snaefell Railway up to the summit of Snaefell, the highest mountain on the island.
You could spend a week or two traveling around Isle of Man, or concentrate on one area in a weekend.
Contributed by Olivia from Inspired by Croatia
Situated in the northwest corner of Croatia, the Istrian peninsula is a hidden gem that is still relatively unknown to most travelers visiting this Mediterranean nation.
Boasting an interior carpeted with rolling green hills and a rugged coastline encrusted with beautiful rocky beaches, Istria was just meant to be discovered via road trip. One week is the perfect amount of time to explore the peninsula’s medieval hilltop villages, bathe in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, and taste some of the region’s most renowned local delicacies.
Begin your journey through Istria in the ancient Roman town of Pula, located at the southern tip of the peninsula. Pula is best known for being home to one of the most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters outside of Italy! After soaking up the city’s history, continue your way up north along the coast to the picturesque town of Rovinj. This former fishing village is perhaps the most darling town in all of Croatia, featuring rows of pastel-painted houses crowded along the seafront, charming Italian piazzas, and a tangle of cobblestone streets.
Next, continue driving north to the beautiful summer resort town of Porec. Get to know the town’s history by exploring the 6th-century basilica that makes up the heart of the town. Be sure to take some time to visit the nearby Sveti Nikola Island to enjoy some of the area’s most beautiful beaches.
After Porec, head inland to visit the medieval hilltop towns of Motovun and Groznjan. Both of these tiny villages boast landscapes that are straight out of a fairytale and local cuisine like nothing else you’ve tried in Croatia.
Finish your road trip in Pula or continue on to the Dalmatian coast!
Contributed by Bea from Bea Adventurous
There are few other places on earth that allow you to pack as much into a weeklong road trip as Scotland does. Take on the NC500 and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime. Immerse yourself in history as you discover the many castles that dot the Scottish coastlines whilst you reenact scenes from BraveHeart on the now desolate battlefields. Enjoy a wee dram of whiskey after tasting Scotland’s finest seafood. Head to Chanonry Point for an aquatic show like no other, as the dolphins make their way up the estuary in search of their dinner. Lace-up your walking boots and tackle the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. Prepare to be mesmerized by the jaw-dropping scenery you will encounter along the way.
Scotland is a photographer’s dream and the best advice I can give anyone exploring the NC500 is to allow as much time as you possibly can. The trip can easily be completed in a week, but with so many hidden gems you could easily spend a month and still have only seen half of them! Travel slow and stop often. Invest in a good photography tour book that will help you scout out its secrets. And make sure you embrace the weather! Scotland looks even better when it’s moody!
Contributed by Ellis from Backpack Adventures
When people think about Lapland they think about snow and winter activities like dog sledding and northern lights. But Lapland really is a year-round destination. Especially, Swedish Lapland has great hiking opportunities in summer and is, therefore, an excellent destination for a road trip.
Swedish Lapland in summer means comfortable temperatures, green nature, long days, and the chance to experience the midnight sun. It is the best time to be outdoors in some of the most remote wilderness areas of Europe.
The Laponia heritage area is a network of different national parks that are still home to the indigenous Sami that use the area for reindeer herding. Professional hikers will be delighted by the challenging Kungsleden, but there are also lots of easy-going day hikes through the forests and mountains of Swedish Lapland.
The best way to explore Swedish Lapland is on a road trip. The roads are in excellent condition and will bring you to the most northern cities of Sweden. Kiruna is the gateway to spectacular tundra landscapes. Jokkmokk is Lapland’s cultural capital and a great place to learn more about Sami culture. Lulea has a scenic location in the Bothnian Bay and is surrounded by vast forests.
Besides the cities, you have a chance to drive through the Laponia heritage area and the scenic Torne Valley along the Finnish border. Everywhere you go, you will find yourself immersed in nature. If you are an outdoors person, a road trip through Swedish Lapland in summer won’t disappoint.
Contributed by Rachel from Average Lives
One of the best summer road trips in Europe is on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
A Sardinia road trip is full of some of the world’s best beaches, incredible hikes, and quaint towns. To discover most of the island you would need at least two weeks, but you could spend a week in the north or south.
A recommended route would be to begin in the capital city of Cagliari and discover the Castello Quarter, Bastione, and Poetto Beach. After that, you should drive the pristine coastline towards Villasimius and explore the iconic Sardinian beaches.
Another incredible spot is Cala Goloritze, where you can hike to one of the best beaches on the island, with sparkling clear water. Also, Gorropu proves that Sardinia is more than just beaches, as you can hike to and through one of the deepest canyons in Europe.
Nearby, you can drive to the ‘real Sardinia’ by visiting the inland villages, including Orgosolo which is full of street art and political graffiti and over 300 murals. Other great spots include Cala Luna, Cala Brandinchi, Olbia and the beautiful La Maddalena Island. While there you should visit Caprera Island, and see Cala Coticcio, the Garibaldi Museum, and Cala Napoletana.
When you’re back on the mainland, you should discover the picturesque castle on the hill in Castelsardo, the postcard-perfect Alghero and Neptune’s Grotto, or the colorful town of Bosa. Undeniably, a road trip in Sardinia is one of the best in Europe – you need to see it for yourself.
Contributed by Martina from PlacesofJuma
One of the best summer road trips in Europe is the picturesque Tuscany in Italy. The eastern part is especially amazing with its many beautiful landscapes and is perfect to be explored by car. The countless country roads that lead through these regions seem to be made for a road trip! Only a little bit of traffic and good tourist infrastructure make for a perfect road trip.
It is best to start your road trip with the Tuscan capital of Florence. Here, you should definitely see the famous Ponte Vecchio – the so-called Old Bridge – one of the most impressive photo motifs of Tuscany. The next stop is Siena, which is for us personally one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Of particular interest here is the Piazza del Campo, probably one of the most impressive main squares in the country.
The journey then continues to Arezzo. This city is a little off the beaten path and is famous for its monthly antique market! Finally, we suggest you plan a few days in Val d’Orcia because here you’ll find the picturesque hilly landscapes and cypress avenues that you’ve seen in travel magazines and various Instagram photos.
As a highlight, we suggest visiting San Gimignano as your last stop. Known as the Manhattan of the Middle Ages, this UNESCO old town enchants with its well-preserved family towers, which are unique in Italy on this scale.
For the entire road trip from Florence to Siena, on to Arezzo, and then to Val d’Orcia and San Gimignano, you should plan at least 14 days. Of course, you can extend this road trip according to your mood!
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