Europe is an awesome continent, and that’s not just because I’m from there. 51 countries are packed in from west to east, and if you’re planning on a road trip adventure, there aren’t many places better thanks to open borders, the Schengen Visa and an almost endless number of top-notch destinations just waiting to be explored.
All you need to do is rent a car, buckle up and pick one of these awesome itineraries before you hit the road for your European tour.
Doing it the Baltic Way
Vilnius, Lithuania – Riga, Latvia – Tallinn, Estonia
In August 1989, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were all part of the Soviet Union. But in a push for independence, these three Baltic nations quite literally stood hand in hand to create a remarkable display of solidarity. Approximately two million people formed a human chain from Vilnius to Tallinn via Riga, and now you can retrace their steps and visit three awesome countries along the way.
Start in Vilnius, with its beautiful UNESCO-listed Old Town and hip neighbourhood Užpis which is full of creative spaces, craft breweries and Nordic-inspired restaurants. Don’t forget to learn about the city’s intriguing history at Gediminas’ Tower and the KGB Museum before heading north to Latvian capital Riga, the approach to which has stunning views over the River Daugava.
Riga is a bit more fast-paced than Vilnius, partly thanks to its cracking nightlife, frequented by foreign stag and hen parties. Skyline Bar is a popular evening spot, with first-class music and excellent views across the city. Evenings are also a great time to go on a kayaking tour through the city’s canal system and out onto the River Daugava, while in the day you can check out Riga Central Market – Europe’s largest indoor market – the Latvian Academy of Sciences or go and get an Insta-worthy picture at the Riga sign.
Another drive north through the beautiful Latvian and Estonian countryside is the final stop, Tallinn. Tallinn has one of the best-preserved medieval Old Towns in the world, and you can spend hours wandering, eating and drinking your way through this part of town. Interesting places to visit in Tallinn include Kadriorg Palace, which was built for Catherine I of Russia by Peter the Great and is now an art museum with beautiful gardens, and Tallinn Television Tower for its breathtaking views over the Tallinn region.
Driving down the Danube
Vienna, Austria – Bratislava, Slovenia – Gyor, Hungary – Budapest, Hungary
The capital-laden Danube is synonymous with river cruising, but what some people don’t know is that it also makes for an awesome drive, with plenty of major destinations to stop off at on the way. Start in Vienna and, alongside in indulging in copious amount of Wiener schnitzel and Sachertorte, explore the incredible ground of Schonbrunn Palace, and feel the thrill of exciting fairground rides at Wurstelprater, the world’s oldest amusement park.
Next up it’s a short one-hour drive to nearby Bratislava in Slovaka, with its majestic castle, UFO-style bridge and compact centre, which helps to generate a great late-night atmosphere, then onto the small northern city of Gyor in Hungary. Gyor is a quaint and peaceful alternative to the nearby capitals and is full of museums, watering holes and photogenic hotspots. Continue along the Danube’s side and eventually arrive in Budapest where you’ll be able to soak in a thermal bath at Szechenyi, grab a Soproni at one of the famous ruin bars and see the beautiful Gothic spires of the Hungarian Parliament Building.
The Ring of Ice
Route One, Iceland
Iceland is, quite possibly, Europe’s most naturally beautiful destination, and although it has only two cities and a population concentrated on its Capital Region of Reykjavik, the entire country is connected by an 828-mile ring road – Route One.
The great thing about this road trip is that your itinerary can be whatever you want it to be. Enjoy seafood fresh from the ocean at one of the small fishing villages along Iceland’s remote east coast, check out the black sands and crystal clear blocks of ice that form Diamond Beach, or stop off at a random outpost and camp out under the glorious Northern Lights.
Route One is also connected to the Golden Circle, which means you can make stops at the Geysir hot springs with its exploding fountain, the jaw-dropping Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park, where you can quite literally see where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates converge. A driving holiday in Iceland is best done in summer, as the roads in winter can be treacherous and safe weather conditions cannot be guaranteed.
If you’d like to embark on an epic European road trip, head on over to Discover Car Hire to book your wheels.