Holiday season is picking up, but not everyone feels safe getting back on a plane just yet.
From breakfast buffets to the inevitable queues, social distancing isn’t going to be easy to ensure abroad, and every establishment will have a slightly different set of rules. Step forward: the road trip, a self-possessed holiday enjoyed mostly from inside a metal box.
5 best road trips in Europe
Here are five of the best road trips Europe has to offer, from the serene sands of Italy, to Iceland’s northern wastes…
1. The Amalfi Coast Road, Italy
What more is there to be said about the Amalfi Coast – the impossibly appealing, UNESCO-listed stretch of shoreline halfway down Italy’s west coast. The crumbling cliff sides are dotted with brightly coloured roofs and seafood-stuffed trattorias, and the area has become an understandable byword for Mediterranean food and beauty. The road can be narrow and winding, but with Naples, Pompeii and Capri all in the vicinity, there’s plenty of room for improvisation.
2. The Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
A white-knuckle drive more than 2,000 metres above sea level, the Transfagarasan snakes through the Carpathian Mountains with more hairpin turns than a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Once named ‘the world’s best road’ by Top Gear, expect numerous viaducts, bridges, tunnels and hazardous herds of sheep (confident drivers only), but rewards motorists with quite astonishing mountaintop views.
Increasingly popular with tourists, the sometimes treacherous conditions mean the road closes during winter months.
3. The Ring of Kerry, Ireland
You could shoot round the Ring of Kerry in an afternoon – but you definitely shouldn’t. This circular route lends itself to a long weekend, spanning the lush foliage of the Killarney National Park, the vertiginous peaks of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, and the spiky Skellig islands, which will be particularly recognisable to fans of the recent Star Wars trilogy.
Our pro tip is to visit in shoulder season – the roads can be narrow and winding, and too much congestion can be challenging. We also advise driving clockwise, so you’re on the same side of the road as the views.
4. The Romantic Road, Germany
When you think of the German countryside – the Gothic fortresses, fairytale villages, pine-coated mountainsides – this route through Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg is what you’re picturing, whether you know it or not.
A 220 mile highway running southward between Würzburg and Füssen, the road itself is among the most modern things you’ll see, as any number of medieval townscapes flash past your windows. Highlights include the walled city of Dinkelsbühl, the excessively grand Neuschwanstein Castle, and a delectable array of local vineyards.
5. Route 1, Iceland
A country-sized ring road that circumnavigates the entire island, every aspect of Iceland’s cinematic scenery will appear at some point beyond your windscreen. Expect vast volcanoes, jet black lava fields, bubbling hot springs, gushing waterfalls, and, depending on the season, endless sparkling snow.
For concerned holidaymakers seeking seclusion, Route 1 is as remote as they come, and drivers must ensure their vehicles are weather appropriate. Iceland is not a small country, and most trippers leave about a week to do it in.