To be truly able to see and understand a place, get into its minutiae; nooks and crannies and experience the intrinsic aura of a place, one should take a road trip at least once in their lifetime. A road trip is something that emanates the actual essence of travel. Not only that, but to a certain extent provide a state of innate liberation from pre-set schedules of a planned trip. It can be a single long continuous road in the middle of a desert, or the dizzying meandering roads of snow-capped hills, a road trip isn’t just any other vacation, it is an experience of a lifetime.
It gives freedom to have a tea a side-kick restaurant, soak up the atmosphere of festive procession, participate in carnival marching towards somewhere, smell the lavender fields, give lift to a stranded person, shop in a make-shift flea market. It is the most independent way to travel. Also, one gets to learn a lot; not only about the place/s that cross his/her way, but also about life in general, i.e. in the philosophical aspect. One gets to see how life is in different arenas of life, how people are, how people live, why they are like that and how they deal with things.
One important and obvious pre-requisite of having a fun road trip is the requirement of scenic places to drive through and good roads and on-the-way amenities; i.e., infrastructure. What strikes anybody’s mind when they decide on a place of beauty that also has worthy infrastructure? Nothing but Europe, of course! Europe is the ideal continent where road trips are concerned, for many reasons :-
1.) Good quality roads with proper signage.
2.) Varied choice of landscapes, cultures, people, languages, places and ways of life.
3.) One visa (Schengen) takes you to almost all countries
4.) Weather is amiable, especially in summers; the ideal time to take road trips there.
Lastly, the place has so much history and is symbolic of so many important events of the world; be it the concentration camps of the Nazis like Auschwitz, the Alps, Mount Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, the Buckingham Palace, the Colosseum, the Vatican, etc. that are worth seeing in person rather than through pictures or testimonials. Our pick of 5 road trips, to be taken in Europe :-
1.) Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast, or “Costiera Amalfitana” is Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline, a landscape of towering bluffs, terraced villages into hill sides, precipitous roads, lavish gardens, and extravagant mansions over clear-aqua waters mirroring the image of green mountains above them. Deemed by UNESCO “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values,” the coast was awarded a coveted spot on the World Heritage List in 1997. The coastline’s most famous towns—Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello—have captivated and inspired artists for centuries, from 14th-century writer Giovanni Boccaccio to 19th-century composer Richard Wagner and 20th-century playwright Tennessee Williams.
To begin, road trips are preferably started from Salerno, the coast’s most convenient access point and a busy port. The road runs past viewpoint after viewpoint—the one at Capo d’Orso—and skirts the villages of Maiori (sandy beach) and Minori (ruins of a first-century A.D. Roman villa) before a junction close to Atrani (two tempting churches) whisks you inland to Ravello. Ravello is a small romantic town located in Southern Italy; perched on steep, terraced slopes and blessed with lush gardens, quiet lanes, sleepy, sun-drenched corners, and a lofty setting. The corniche road then brings one to Amalfi; a scenic seafront setting with many cafes and shops, and a mild climate, hugely popular for resorts and the panache of high-life. The must-see places of the area are Cathedral Duomo di Sant’Andrea; Valle dei Mulini, a steep-sided ravine dotted with ruined watermills; Grotta dello Smeraldo, a marine cave of luminous emerald waters that you can visit by boat, elevator, or rock-cut steps; the Vallone di Furore, one of the coast’s most impressive gorges and the villages of Praiano and Positano.
Locals recommend planning a drive of the Amalfi Coast during the shoulder tourist seasons, mid-September to October and May, when the road is less crowded and lumbering tour buses are fewer. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are famously winding, narrow, and challenging to drive along with daring Italian drivers, known for their behind-the-wheel bravado. So one might want to watch out for that. Image :- Chris Fletcher
2.) The Highlands, Scotland
If one wants to explore the majestic mountains of the north and the rolling valleys, and want to experience a feast for the eyes; then with the right company and a perfect playlist, he/she is guaranteed a scenic drive through the enrapturing Highlands of Scotland. Scotland’s Highlands are unlike anywhere in the world and a Highland road trip covers some of the most spectacular places in the UK.
One should start in Glasgow and head to Loch Lomond before continuing north to the small outpost of Fort William from there. Here one can hike the mighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain of the British Isles, or head west towards Mallaig with a stop at the picturesque Loch Shiel. From Mallaig, one should take the car ferry over to the Isle of Skye, and head back to the mainland via the Skye Bridge. From here it is a short drive to the fairy-tale-like Eileen Donan Castle.
Depending on the time frame, one could drive further north to the fishing town of Ullapool and the little village of Lochinver, with its white-sand beaches. Or else drive east towards Fort Augustus, which is the perfect base to explore Loch Ness. Drive along the Loch to the quaint town of Inverness and take the scenic route via Pitlochry to Edinburgh, and one will see iconic Scottish landmarks like the Lochs, Whiskey distilleries and Highland cows.
The best time to go is from April to September. The roads are narrow and meandering to drivers should be careful. Also, there is left-hand driving in Scotland. Image :- Liam Warton
3.) The Romantic Road, Germany
The German Romantic is one of the biggest magnets for tourism in the southern provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Based (very) loosely on the old Roman route between the participating towns and adding in some stunning medieval locations to the north, the concept of the Romantic Road is a little bit like the British “ploughman’s lunch” – a marketing idea which appears to be based on history and tradition but which is actually a much more modern invention.
Located in the south of Germany, it offers some of the most stunning scenery of the country. Driving from Würzburg to the foothills of the Alps near Neuschwanstein Castle, one will pass thorugh sweeping views, ancient cathedrals and castles. One will drive through the pretty Tauber Valley before arriving in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which dates back to the 13th century with medieval streets and thick city walls – doubtlessly the pearl of the Romantic Road! Other highlights include the gorgeous town of Nördlingen, Augsburg with its stunning cathedral, Hohenschwangau with its jaw-droppingly beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle; Hohenschwangau Castle and the nearby historic town of Füssen. With more time, one can drive up to Munich from there and end the road trip in one of Germany’s most traditional cities.
The best times to go are Summer, Spring and Fall and the roads and route can be easily navigated through and driver-friendly. Image :- Magnus Lögdberg
4.) France beyond Paris, France
Paris, one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world has been the interest of generations of people all over the world. However, when it comes to road trips, and when taken in France, it is the idyllic countryside that a traveller should consider. On the way, one can easily see the landscape carpeted with lish, green meadows and the light persistent breeze fragrant of summer flowers. Many tiny villages and towns are dotted along the route, portraying the true essence of the French way of life. A must do; have lunch at a local café in any obscure village and experience the true taste of the delicious French cuisine.
An excellent way to start the trip would be to initially tour Paris and then rent a car from there to the surrounding countryside that lie in its immediate and far suburbs. From Paris, the drive could take one to the scenic Chartres, Le Mans, Rennes, Caen, Rouen and then circling back to Paris. Just outside of the city, one should stop in Versailles to see Napoleon’s remarkable palace, and then move on to Chartres, which is home to a UNESCO World Heritage cathedral. From there one could go further for exploring Renne, which still has plenty of well-maintained wood-edifice buildings, which are typical for that area of France. North of Rennes is the spectacular Le Mont-St.-Michel, a rocky island set in the English Channel, just off the coast, that is almost entirely inhabited by the medieval Benedictine Abbey and church – certainly not to be missed! Rouen is home to the extraordinary cathedral made famous by Monet’s painting, and makes for a fabulous last stop on this French road trip.
Best time for a road trip is from April to October; and the roads are beautiful with strategic navigation ease. France has left-handed driving. Image :- Regis Krol
5.) Dublin-Kilkenny-Cork-Galway, Ireland
Ireland was voted ‘Favourite holiday destination in the World’ by readers of Frommer’s Guide. Lonely Planet listed Ireland as the world’s friendliest country and Cork City as one of the top ten cities in the world and the Irish tourist board’s website, DiscoverIreland.com, was named the best tourist board website in the world. Southern Ireland has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, especially along the coast. This road trip is the perfect way to get to know the culture, landscape and history of Ireland, passing impressive castles as well as picturesque Irish villages.
Our Southern Ireland road trip starts in Dublin and brings you to Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick and Galway, and ends back in Dublin. Some of the highlights of this road trip are County Kerry, which has a rugged coastline and tall mountains, and is especially famous for the Ring of Kerry, a circular road that follows a trace of coastline of mountainous fingers jutting out into the ocean. The infamous Cliffs of Moher, which tower 700 feet above the ocean, are another highlight of this trip. Dublin is known for the Dublin Castle, Phoenix Park, and Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison turned museum that held and executed the rebels of the 1916 Rising and Trinity College, where the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow are held. Cork is famous for The Church of St. Anne, known for its clock tower dubbed “The Four Faced Liar” on account of all four of the clocks showing slightly different times. The biggest lake in the country, Lough Corrib, is situated north of the city of Galway.
The best time to go is between March and October. The roads are narrow and difficult, not ideal for novices; so that must be kept in mind before going. Image :- Mark Lawson