Road-tripping is one of the best ways to experience the world. Having some of the globe’s best views at your
fingertips, from the safety and freedom of the open road, is joy indescribable – and something that can only
be experienced to be understood fully.
But planning a road trip is a full-throated endeavor, particularly if you intend to experience more of the world beyond the UK’s shores. Thankfully, many road trip routes start on local shores before taking you across fields unknown to far-flung locales and future favorite places. But what routes are these, and what do you need to know first?
Planning Your Trip
Before you land on any of the following road trip ideas, you must consider the various logistical needs
It would also be wise to consider the number of stops you should take on your journey. These stops would not
purely service your holiday wants but also your travel needs. After all, failure to rest properly between driving
stints can dramatically increase the likelihood of an accident.
Four Road Trips for Your Bucket List
Embarking on a road trip from the UK to explore Europe’s diverse landscapes and cultures offers a range of exhilarating experiences. Here are some of the best European road trips that you can consider for your bucket list:
1. The Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a captivating journey along Ireland’s west coast, stretching over 2,500 km and offering a blend of breathtaking scenery, rich culture, and unique experiences.
This route showcases some of Ireland’s most dramatic natural wonders, including the towering Cliffs of Moher, the stark beauty of The Burren, and the serene Achill Island. It’s a photographer’s paradise, offering new, stunning vistas each turn.
Culturally, the journey takes you through historic towns and Gaeltacht regions, where Irish traditions thrive. Towns like Dingle and Kinsale invite travelers to experience authentic Irish life, music, and cuisine.
Culinary enthusiasts will relish the fresh, locally sourced seafood and the chance to dine in some of Ireland’s finest restaurants. For adventure seekers, the route offers surfing, hiking, and kayaking in some of the most picturesque settings.
Additionally, the route is flexible and accessible, especially for travelers from the UK, making it possible to tailor the journey to individual preferences. Whether seeking a short exploration or an extensive road trip, the Wild Atlantic Way promises an unforgettable experience of Ireland’s rugged beauty and enduring charm.
2. Tour of Southern France
Embarking on a road trip to Southern France from the UK, primarily through the convenient Channel Tunnel, unveils a world of diverse landscapes, rich history, and culinary experiences.
Once you cross from Calais, the route towards Annecy takes you through the changing vistas of the French countryside and up into the picturesque Alps. Annecy, known for its stunning alpine views and pristine Lake Annecy, offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and outdoor activities like hiking and boating.
Southern France is a tapestry of historical and cultural sites. You’ll encounter medieval villages, grand Renaissance châteaux, and ancient Roman ruins. Cities like Avignon, with its majestic Palais des Papes, and Arles, famous for its well-preserved Roman amphitheater, provide fascinating insights into Europe’s past.
The region is a paradise for wine lovers. The renowned vineyards of Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon offer an opportunity to explore some of the world’s best wines. Wine tastings and vineyard tours in these picturesque settings are not just about sampling exquisite wines but also learning about the rich wine-making traditions of France.
Approaching the Mediterranean, the landscape unveils stunning azure waters and vibrant cities like Nice and Marseille. These cities are famous for their beautiful beaches, rich art and culture, and the unique culinary delights of the region, including the world-renowned bouillabaisse.
The well-maintained roads and clear signage in France make this road trip a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The accessibility from the UK through the Chunnel adds to the convenience, making Southern France an ideal destination for a road trip.
3. Portsmouth to Spain
Embarking on a road trip from Portsmouth to Spain, particularly starting with a ferry journey to Bilbao, offers an enriching and convenient way for UK travelers to dive into the Spanish experience.
The ferry route from Portsmouth to Bilbao is a stress-free gateway into Spain, avoiding the complexities of long drives across multiple countries. This journey over the Bay of Biscay is not just a means to an end but an enjoyable part of the adventure, setting the tone for the trip.
Arriving in Bilbao, the heart of the Basque Country, you’re immediately introduced to a unique blend of ancient traditions and modernity. The region is famed for its lush green landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Bilbao, with architectural wonders like the Guggenheim Museum, exemplifies this fusion, making it a fascinating starting point for your Spanish road trip.
The Basque Country is a culinary haven known for its distinctive pintxos, exquisite seafood, and the local Txakoli wine. The food scene here, from cozy tapas bars to high-end Michelin-starred restaurants, is a highlight for any food enthusiast.
Driving south from Bilbao, the landscape unfolds into a diverse tapestry. The rugged northern coast boasts charming fishing villages and beautiful beaches, ideal for relaxation and surfing. Further along, the Costa Brava offers stunning coastal scenery with clear waters, secluded coves, and sandy beaches.
Spain’s rich history is palpable throughout this journey. You can explore medieval towns, Roman ruins, and cities steeped in history. Iconic destinations like Barcelona, known for its Gaudí architecture, and Madrid, with its bustling streets and world-renowned art museums, are easily accessible and add depth to the road trip experience.
One of the greatest advantages of this route is the flexibility it offers. Whether you linger in the northern regions or head straight for the sunny southern coasts, the journey can be tailored to your preferences, offering a blend of leisure and adventure.
4. An Alpine Adventure
The journey through the Alps is a mesmerizing adventure that combines natural beauty, cultural richness, and many activities.
The Alps are renowned for their stunning mountain vistas, and driving through these ranges offers an ever-changing panorama of awe-inspiring scenery. The roads here, often winding and nestled between soaring peaks, provide a thrilling driving experience. Every turn brings a new, breathtaking view, whether it’s towering cliffs, serene alpine lakes, or verdant valleys.
Scattered throughout the Alps are numerous picturesque villages, each with its unique character and charm. These villages, with their traditional chalets, flower-decked balconies, and cobbled streets, offer a glimpse into the Alpine way of life. Places like Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany and Chamonix in France are scenic stops and cultural hubs where you can immerse yourself in local traditions and history.
The Alps are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The region is perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and paragliding in warmer months, offering routes and trails for all skill levels. The Alps transform into a world-class skiing and snowboarding destination in the winter. Resorts like St. Moritz in Switzerland and Kitzbühel in Austria offer some of the best winter sports experiences in the world.
Related: Best hikes in the Alps.
The Alpine region is also known for its unique culinary offerings. Each country brings its flavor, from hearty German fare to exquisite French cheeses and chocolates. The experience of dining in a mountain chalet and enjoying local specialties with a view of the snow-capped peaks is genuinely unforgettable.
Beyond the adrenaline of outdoor activities, the Alps are also known for their wellness and relaxation offerings. Many towns boast thermal baths and spa facilities where you can unwind and rejuvenate amidst the tranquil mountain scenery.