Thanks to Europe’s compact nature, you can often take a winding route through a couple of countries in just one day. However, if you’re after a bit more than just country counting, Europe presents countless road trips where the journey will take you, and the destination will too. From the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy up to the glaciers of Iceland, these iconic European road trips will have you honking your horn with the simple glee that comes from cruising the open road.
The Ring of Kerry, Ireland
While incredibly popular, the Ring of Kerry remains one of Ireland’s great drives, and for good reason. You can easily traverse this circuit of the Iveragh Peninsula on Ireland’s southwestern coast in a day, but you could spend a couple of days exploring where the road takes you. Beginning in the town of Kenmare, the route follows the N70 road along the coast. The narrow road provides all of the Irish rugged coastlines you can handle. Along the way, you can see manor houses like the 19th-century Derrynane House, ancient ring forts like Staigue Fort and cute villages like Sneem. If you have the time, you can park your wheels and take a boat out to Skellig Michael, a former monastic settlement on the rockiest of islands.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
If you’re a bit of a daredevil, Italy has an iconic road trip for you, the SS 163 Amalfitana. Following the Tyrrhenian coastline, this route is carved into steep rocky terrain, making for a drive where you’ll need your wits about you. Narrow, winding and stomach-churning, the SS 163 is worth all of the nail-biting turns to experience the Amalfi Coast. South of Naples, the UNESCO-listed coast is best explored on a road trip beginning in the town of Vietri Sul Mare and winding up all the way over in Sorrento. Along the way, you’ll see the Italy of your imagination, the candy-colored villages clinging so perfectly to the land, all while lapping up the turquoise sea. You could easily spend an entire vacation along this route, holing up in villages like Ravello, Amalfi, and the famous Positano.
The Ring Road, Iceland
For the ultimate road trip in Europe for nature lovers, it’s hard to beat the Ring Road in Iceland, otherwise known as Route 1. Circling the entirety of Iceland, this iconic road trip measures over 800 miles, with most travelers beginning in the capital of Reykjavik. While you want at least a week to fully appreciate the route, you’ll have no regrets on spending the time. Since the Ring Road covers the whole country, you’ll experience all that Iceland has to offer, from rural countryside to volcanoes, glaciers, coastal villages, fjords and plenty of waterfalls.
The Romantic Road, Germany
As its name would suggest, the Romantic Road in Germany, otherwise the Romantische Strasse, presents fairytale castles, half-timbered medieval villages, leafy forests and glistening lakes. It is, in essence, a romantic road trip through Germany. What formed in the 1950s after the war to lure travelers to back to the country, the route has become a major tourist draw. Flights to Germany will land you near The Romantic Road. The road heads through the two states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, beginning in Würzburg and heading south to Füssen. The over 200-mile road trip presents enticing, and romantic stops along the way. You’ll find postcard worthy towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Dinkelsbühl, castles like the Harburg Castle and Disney inspiration, Neuschwanstein, and glassy lakes such as Forggensee.
If a road trip for you is all about the road, Norway has the path for you, and for trolls apparently. Trollstigen, otherwise known as the Troll’s Road, is easily one of the country’s most famous routes. Covering around 100 kilometers, Trollstigen spans a stretch of the Rauma municipality. The route presents eleven hairpin turns that scale Stigrøra mountain. Opened in 1936, the road itself is a feat of engineering as it was carved ever so steeply into a mountain. Along with a number of viewing platforms, you can marvel at the 1,050-foot Stigfossen waterfall.
Have you taken any of these iconic European road trips? What’s your favorite? Share your pick with us in the comments below!