When it comes to Europe, there are so many places to visit and sights to see that it can sometimes be overwhelming. Not only do you have 50 countries to choose from, but each of those countries has hundreds of places to visit and enjoy. While there’s something to be said for a group tour, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, perhaps the best way to see Europe isn’t by plane or train, but by car. Because covering all of Europe would be a massive undertaking for just one blog post, we’ve broken it down into four different sections: Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
Below are some of the best road trip suggestions and destinations in Northern Europe.
Copenhagen may be the most popular stop in Denmark, but it certainly shouldn’t be your only one. If you make the mistake of only stopping in Copenhagen, you’re going to miss out on some of the most beautiful places in the country.
The Adventurous Miriam blog says fairy tale lovers will love Funen, the inspiration for many a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Be sure to stop at Egeskov Castle, is one of the best-preserved Renaissance castles in the world.
Live Tiny Travel’s Denmark road trip includes a stop in Ribe after you visit Funen. Ribe is one of Scandinavia’s oldest towns. According to Live Tiny Travel, walking through the streets of Ribe reminds her of the Lord of the Rings.
Next up on our Northern Europe list is Estonia. Estonia is home to two Unesco World Heritage sites. The historic old town of Tallinn and the Struve Geodetic Arc.
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations that spans ten countries. One of those triangulations falls in Estonia.
Meanwhile, Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and a throwback to medieval times. As Google explains, “It retains its walled, cobblestoned Old Town, home to cafes and shops, as well as Kiek in de Kök, a 15th-century defensive tower. Its Gothic Town Hall, built in the 13th century and with a 64m-high tower, sits in historic Tallinn’s main square. St. Nicholas Church is a 13th-century landmark exhibiting ecclesiastical art.”
Rear View Mirror, the road trip travel blog, suggests that you head to Narva after visiting Tallinn. “Narva is home to most of Estonia’s Russian population and the place to admire the opposing fortresses, Hermann Castle in Estonia and Ivangorod Fortress in Russia,” writes Rear View Mirror.
If you’re looking for a road trip itinerary that show off the true natural beauty of Estonia, check out Reverie Chaser, who suggests visits to the Endla Nature Reserve and Lake Peipsi.
For more facts about Estonia, read the Telegraph’s article before you go.
One of the northernmost locations in this Northern Europe tour, Finland is known as the Happiest Country on Earth according to the World Economic Forum, which says, “It is the country’s social safety net combined with personal freedom and a good work-life balance that gives it the edge.”
Take your time covering the 720.8 miles/1,160 kilometers (Source: This is Finland) it takes to travel north to south in Finland. In fact, The Dream Big Travel Far blog spent three weeks exploring the country.
Dream Big’s travel itinerary included stops at Sipoonkorpi National Park and Tiilikkajarvi National Park.
If you don’t have three weeks to spare, the blog Our Life, Our Travel has a two-week travel itinerary for you to follow. It includes a day trip to Porvoo and two days in Turku and the Archipelago.
Either way, Culture Trip suggests a visit to Tankavaara gold mining village in northern Lapland. The website says the Midnight Sun is one of the highlights of a road trip through Finland.
“What is unique about a road trip in Finland is that you can drive at any time of day or night thanks to the Midnight Sun. It is amazing to drive well past Midnight while the sun is still barely below the horizon and it makes driving safer too (so long as you still take regular breaks),” according to Culture Trip.
When you visit Iceland, the best road trip is on Ring Road. The entire journey takes 12 to 13 hours to complete but is well worth it.
According to the site Nordic Visitor, “Since most of Iceland’s interior is uninhabitable wilderness, this highway only goes around the populated coastal areas. Circling the country, along the way you’ll find the most popular tourist attractions. This includes the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, Dyrhólaey cliffs, and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.”
An added bonus to the trip, at certain times of the year you’ll catch sight of the aurora borealis.
One of the most beautiful drives in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry. The 111 miles/179 kilometers drive follows the southwest coast of Ireland, giving visitors stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Skellig Islands. The Ring of Kerry website has everything you need to know about the iconic drive through Ireland.
Further up the western coast of Ireland, you’ll find the Cliffs of Moher, an iconic sight seen in many movies including The Princess Bride, think the Cliffs of Insanity. Just north of that is the city of Galway, one of the largest cities in Ireland.
From there, you can continue up the coast to the city of Sligo, or take the two-plus hour drive to Ireland’s east coast, where you’ll find the country’s capital, Dublin.
A visit to Riga is on everyone’s list when they travel through Latvia, but don’t make that your only stop. The blog Wonderful Wanderings says there are beautiful small towns, forests, sand dunes, and hiking trails scattered on the west coast of Latvia.
Stop in Jurmala for some fun in the sun, then get some exercise in at Kemeri National Park.
If you’re looking for something that spans more than just Latvia, the blog Bruised Passports has worked out a road trip itinerary that includes Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The 11-day journey features “…decadent spas, sandy beaches, fairytale forests, weird monuments, and cities laden with history at every corner.”
If you want to confine yourself to just one Baltic State, consider Lithuania. According to Culture Trip, “With flat, scenic roads, and well-maintained highways, Lithuania is an excellent country for a road trip.”
Culture Trip’s road trip takes just under six hours to complete from start to finish, but if you moved that fast, you wouldn’t be able to see all the highlights. Instead, stop and take in the sights.
True Lithuania says a drive down Panemune (Nemunas Valley) Road offers the most scenic route in Lithuania. You also want to stop in Vilnuius, the country’s current capital before heading to the previous capitals, Trakai, Kernave and Kaunas. Each city offers a glimpse into Lithuania’s past.
Spanning approximately 149,000 square miles, Norway is about the size of the state of California, which means a road trip through the country is going to require some planning.
If you don’t mind getting a little cold, Rough Guides suggests a visit to the Arctic fjords. You start in Bergen on Norway’s southwest coast and drive to Voss, home of the Tvindefossen waterfall. After that, you take a few ferries to make sure you get up close and personal with the glaciers before working your way north to the stilted homes of Trondheim.
If you’re a fan of a challenging drive, then Troll Route, the mountain pass road that goes from Andalsnes to Valldalen, is your destination. With hairpin turns at almost every corner, it’s not for the faint of heart or faint of stomach.
If you’re looking for something a little shorter, but no less death-defying, consider a drive along the Atlantic Road. Just under 5 miles/8 kilometers long, Skyscanner calls Atlantic Road one of the most incredible roads in all of Europe. It’s no wonder, the drive takes place on curvy bridges over treacherous waters.
Blogger Nordic Visitor created this comprehensive road itinerary called “The Complete Sweden Route”. It’s a 14-day driving tour that spans 1,394 miles/2,270 kilometers. The trip starts in Stockholm and includes stops in Ystad and Gothenburg before ending back in Stockholm. Here’s a link to the full itinerary.
Auto Europe says Sweden is filled with breathtaking views. If you ditch the car and take a ferry to Koster Island, you won’t be disappointed. The island is home to approximately 12,000 species both above and below the water. It’s also an excellent place for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking.
If seafaring is more your speed, then Grebbestad is your destination. The town is well-known for its seafood. There are oyster safaris and lobster catching trips out of Grebbestad. If eating is more your speed, then the town is filled with restaurants serving up the fresh catch of the day.
Blogger Along Dusty Roads has her own road trip itinerary that travels along western Sweden. It starts and ends in Gothenburg and includes stops in Smogen and Fiskebackskil.
Rounding up the collection of Northern Europe road trips is the United Kingdom.
If you want to travel the full expanse of the British Empire, from north to south, then blogger Rough Guides has a road trip itinerary that takes you from London to Edinburgh and the Highlands of Scotland.
Before you leave London, be sure you stop by some of the places I highlighted in this previous blog post, Best Time to Visit London and What to Do.
For something that only covers Scotland, Travel + Leisure suggests a road trip from Edinburgh to Inverness. The trip only takes a few hours and includes a drive through the Scottish Highlands, and plenty of stops for food.
Written by Erika Towne