Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The road to freedom: Great European Summer Road Trips

With big name routes and vast open spaces, America is naturally the first destination that springs to mind for a road trip. With summer fast approaching,the strongest Pound for many years, and excellent and affordable connectivity to the European Continent, though, Europe is a great choice for your next road tour. We've picked three of our favourite European trips - of many fantastic routes across North, East, South and West - from Northern Spain's lush hills and pristine beaches to Norway's Atlantic Road.

Northern Spain and Glitzy Biarritz

Pyrennes Mountains - France and Spain

Spain's unspoilt North Coast has been creeping onto the travel agenda in the last few years, but this summer, this region comes into it's own with San Sebastian crowned joint European Capital of Culture for 2016. Fantastic roads mean that traversing the region is easy and flexible, but our favourite route starts in the far South-Western corner of France, in Europe's surf capital and the holiday resort of Queen Victoria, Biarritz. From here it's only a short drive over the border into Spain, touching the Pyrenees that act as the natural border between the two countries. San Sebastian is the first major stop, notwithstanding the coastline's beautiful beaches and seaside resorts. You can expect world class food in hundreds of eateries across the city's central grid and seafront, where Rio de Janeiro meets Eastbourne. From here, head inland to Pamplona, home of the annual bull run, before tacking West to sleepy Vitoria-Gasteiz, an authentic Spanish town. The last leg is North to Bilbao, a former industrial city that has been transformed since the opening of the Guggenheim Art Gallery on the city's riverfront.

Tuscany: Italy's gift that keeps on giving

Gorgeous view of Florence

There's a bit of everything, scenery-wise, in the Italian region that remains a firm favourite of road-trippers. Start on Italian's Ligurian coast in Pisa (Leaning Tower optional) before heading North and inland to Lucca, Montecatini Terme, and Tuscany's capital, Florence. All three offer culture, history and famous Italian dining- notwithstanding beautiful scenery in-between. From here it's South to precariously-perched hill-town San Gimignano, before stunning Siena. The road South from here offers breathtaking variety, from ancient forest to arid, open plains and even wild, free hot springs at Saturnia.

Norway's Atlantic Road: the modern marvel

Atlantic Ocean Road - Norway

At just over 5 miles, Norway's Atlantic Ocean road might be a more a jaunt than a full-blown road trip, but making this short stretch onto a longer trip makes for a memorable experience. Traversing a remote archipelago, the 1989 road constitutes an architectural marvel, sweeping up, down, and all around, and even catching a few waves itself. Summer really is the optimal time to visit- think long evenings and beautiful sunsets. Norway's reputation for expense can be off-putting, but travelling by car helps keep costs down.

You can take your own car across the continent, and most easily to Spain or France, or you can rent once you're there- just remember to get fully covered including comprehensive excess insurance in case of any problems. Europe's road trip possibilities are endless; and a tantalising proposition for a summer break. Bon voyage, and enjoy!

Photo Credits: All the photographs in this article have been borrowed from wikipedia under the Creative Commons license and each photo has been linked to the original page on wikipedia.

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