Europe is the perfect destination for a summertime road trip adventure. The lush green fields, snow-capped mountains, quaint villages, vineyards, breweries, and historic castles make it easy to see why this region has been a tourist destination for centuries. If you're looking for something new to do during your next vacation or time off from work, consider planning a European road trip! In this post we will cover road trip ideas in Europe that are perfect destinations for adventuresome travelers looking to do a Euro road trip to experience both the history of Europe and enjoy some modern-day luxuries.
A Few Notes On Driving In Europe Before We Begin
It should be obvious but driving in any country that is unfamiliar to you will bring it's own nuances. This includes things such as rules of the road, etiquette, and licensing requirements.
Beware Of Driving In Cities
For Americans, it might be shocking that you can't drive everywhere that you want. In fact, while Europe has excellent highways that are equivalent and sometimes superior to the ones found across North America, cities are often a major challenge. Unlike the United States and Canada where most of our cities are less than 200 years old, many major European cities and villages were established thousands of years ago. Despite their ancient nature, they are home to millions of residents and millions more tourists visiting them each year. To cope with over-crowding issues, cities like Rome have introduced ZTL Zones (Zona Traffico Limitato) where personal cars are prohibited unless you have a resident pass or have registered your car with the police as a tourist before entering.
Don't Drink And Drive - Seriously, These Laws Are Strict!
Additionally, drinking and driving rules are much more strict in Europe. While most Americans are familiar with the standard being 0.08% BAC, most EU countries have a 0.05% standard instead, Cyprus, Estonia, Poland, Sweden, and Norway have 0.02% regulations, and Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia have a Zero Tolerance statute. European countries also do frequent random drug and alcohol testing so it's best to simply avoid drinking entirely if you will be driving anytime soon after.
Driver's License Regulations For Non-European Drivers
Like all things related to traveling internationally, each visitor's country of origin will have different regulations when it comes to what regulations to expect while driving through Europe. Generally speaking though, most European countries do not require Americans or Canadians to purchase additional permits. However, you should always have your current state / provincial driver's license and passport with you at all times should their be a reason for law enforcement to check. you will also need this to rent a car in Europe.
However, there is also an International Driving Permit, known as IDP. You can get an international driving permit online or through various traveler assistance places in major cities as well. This is essentially a standardized translation of your existing driver's license that makes it much easier for officials to understand should there be an issue. Even though this is not required for most European countries, prices are generally less than $100 and that's money well worth it if a problem should arise.
European Road Trip Ideas For Your Guys Getaway
There are a wide variety of theme ideas for your European road trip. These range from trips between major cities to exploring parts of the continent outside of cities. Generally speaking, unless you are a very skilled driver used to dealing with high amounts of traffic and narrow spaces ... avoid urban driving.
Exploring Vineyards In France, Italy, and Spain
It should be obvious that Europe's famous wine regions aren't going to be served by excellent public transportation such as metro and trams. There really isn't just one spot that we can recommend over the others but destinations such as Southern France, Tuscany, Rioja etc. all make for an exciting adventure traveling by car. Many European wineries operate differently than what you may expect in the US where you can walk into an open tasting room so it is highly advisable to do research and planning before you create your route.
Additionally, make sure to combine visiting wineries with stops at fine food purveyors, restaurants, and explore the local history as well.
Autobahn Driving, Hiking, and Castles in Germany
Germany's Autobahn is a legendary bucket list destination for most men who love to drive and so we needed to include it on this list but wanted to make sure you had a place to go ... not just back and forth on the road at high speed. While there are many myths about Germany's Autobahn, the notion that there is no speed limit is technically correct. However, there is an advisory speed of approximately 80 mph but it is not technically illegal to exceed this when driving safely.
Our pick for a road trip destination in Germany would be to explore the Black Forest. This is a region of South West Germany, in the mountains along the French border where you'll find fantastic hiking trails with dense forests and glacial lakes as well as legendary castles to visit. There are plenty of ancient ruins to tour as well as some such as Hohenzollern Castle and Sigmaringen Castle which have been fully restored.
Amalfi Coast in Italy
The "Blue Highway" or Strada Statale Amalfitana is a nearly 50-kilometer stretch of coastal highway on the southern tip of Italy's Sorrentine Peninsula and is legendary as the "road with 1,001 turns". Here you will see beautiful landscapes with thrilling drops into the azure blue sea hundreds of feet below you just inches from the edge of the road while winding through Italian villages.
Some people compare this road to California's Big Sur road which has a similar rugged landscape and plenty of twists and turns. Make sure to spend plenty of time along this route to stop, enjoy some food, history, art, and wine too (when you are done driving for the day!)
La Route des Grandes Alpes in France
While the other European road trip ideas we've outlined above can be traversed pretty much any time of year, La Route des Grandes Alps should only be done during the summer months as you will experience significant amounts of snow any other time of year. Even in the summer, it would not be uncommon to still find snow at the top of some passes.
Route des Grandes Alpes can be done in smaller, bite-sized increments but for the full experience, we recommend the full 684 km route from Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) to Menton on the Mediterranean Sea, just north of Monaco.
Construction of this epic mountain road began in 1909 and paving was completed in 1937. Road quality will range from perfectly paved to very rough with frost heaves and gravel-filled potholes in other parts so this is a road trip route that requires both a skilled driver and a car with good suspension.
For the right group of men though, this road trip will be an experience of a lifetime as you will traverse more than 9,000 feet of elevation as you travel through some of the world's most scenic Alpine mountain passes and ultimately arrive at the beautiful coast of the French Riviera.