Best driving roads in Europe: 10 routes to add to your trip when you travel the continent
Road trips might seem like something that only happen in movies or across the USA, but Europe is actually home to numerous incredible driving routes – and you might already be spending your summer holiday much closer to a world famous highway than you think.
Motoring experts from car leasing company LeaseCar.uk have researched ten of the most scenic routes across Europe to inspire drivers to explore more of the world this summer.
These routes range from remote old military roads in Scotland and famous cycling routes in the Pyrenees to tunnels covered by waterfalls in Romania and views of fairytale castles in Germany.
“There’s really nothing better than jumping into the car, winding down all the windows, putting on your favourite music and cruising along miles and miles of open road on a bright, sunny day,” a spokesperson for LeaseCar.uk said.
“This is an experience that can be enjoyed in our own country, of course, but we must admit it’s made all the more special in certain places abroad where the roads are complimented by breathtaking – and often unusual – scenery.
10 routes to add to your trip during your holiday travels
“Though a few of the ten are notoriously difficult drives, the reward is that they boast some of the most superb surroundings in the world, and many lead to some fantastic sight-seeing spots and tourist destinations which is perfect for holidaymakers.”
Col de l’Iseran, France
Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved pass in the Alps and stands at an elevation of 2,764m. It has appeared on the Tour de France five times.
You’ll need to go soon though as the pass is only accessible by road during the summer months. In the winter it falls within the Espace Killy ski area, so the summer holidays provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy its splendid backdrop.
The Old Military Road, Scottish Highlands
The old military road, A93, situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, boasts bare landscapes and endless views over mountains. It is so remotely positioned that you might even spot deer and other wild animals on your journey.
Nockalm Road, Austria
The 35km Nockalm Road in Austria is a varied and beautiful alpine road with views of the largest stone pine forest in the Eastern Alps – as well as the round, green summits of the Nockberge and the vast mountain pastures.
Best driving roads in Europe: A few of the ten are difficult drives – but the views are worth it
Best driving roads in Europe: The 35km Nockalm Road in Austria is a varied and beautiful alpine road
It is quite challenging with some tight hairpins but this is combined with long, open, and very rewarding straights.
Stelvio Pass, Italian Alps
The main road of the Stelvio Pass is closed in the winter months from November to May, so summer is your only chance to experience it.
Try driving this pass either early morning or late evening to catch the sunrise or sunset for the added “wow” factor.
Port de Larrau, Pyrenees, Spain and France
This road famously ended the career of one of cycling’s all-time greats – Miguel Induraín – in the Tour de France 1996 due to its tough climbs and relentlessly steep gradient.
The upper slopes are particularly impressive as you climb above the tree-line, but the beauty of Port de Larrau is its isolation. There are very few tourists here which adds to a great sense of tranquillity and peacefulness.
Best driving roads in Europe: The Transfagarasan is “the world’s best road” says Jeremy Clarkson
The Transfagarasan, Romania
Dubbed “the world’s best road” by Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear, the Transfagarasan highway is an extraordinary feat of engineering that was originally built as a strategic military route. Now, it resembles a Scalextric set stretched over 50 miles of twists, turns, drops and climbs.
Drive through tunnels covered by waterfalls, stop by Bâlea Lake for stunning views, and enjoy a variety of landscapes.
Route One, Iceland
Circumnavigating the island, the iconic Route One road skirts the rocky vistas of the south coast, the extraordinary crossing of the north-east ash fields, and the hot springs at Myvatn. Short detours will take you to the thunderous waterfall at Dettifoss, and whale-watching at Husavik on the north coast.
In some parts it is so remote from civilisation that the last link in the circuit was only completed in 1974, and some sections are still laid to gravel rather than tarmac.
Ring of Kerry, Ireland
This driving route encircling Ireland’s Iveragh peninsula takes in some of the island’s most remarkable landscapes including the splendid scenery of the Killarney National Park, and the Macgillicuddy’s Reeks mountain range looming in the distance.
Best driving roads in Europe: Romantische Strasse, Germany features fairy-tale castles and palaces
It can be completed in the course of a long summer’s day, but if you have the time, try to allow two days to undertake a full circuit in daylight.
Romantische Strasse, Germany
With its fairy-tale castles, palaces, and natural wonders, this winding route through the south German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württenberg is not to be missed if you are near the area on your summer holiday.
Enjoy architectural romance, picturesque medieval townscapes and idyllic moated castles on this journey that, at 220 miles, is best enjoyed over several days to allow for sightseeing.
Furka Pass, Swiss Alps
The Furka Pass was immortalised by the famous Aston Martin DB5/Ford Mustang car chase in James Bond’s Goldfinger, and the road wouldn’t have been chosen for this scene by mere accident.
Visibility is fantastic, and the road’s surface is immaculate, so practically speaking this is a pleasure to drive. The cherry on top is the outstanding landscape, as you pass by glaciers, lakes and miles of lush mountain range.