Nothing screams freedom like being on the open road in your campervan. You can go anywhere, you can stay anyplace, and you can see anything. But this can be slightly daunting; where to start? Where to go? There are so many possibilities, and while a road trip route planner can help you along the way, you need a general direction prior to departing. That is where we come in, we’ve got our top 5 road trip ideas lined up for you so that all you have to do is follow the open roads and whatever map you choose. They stretch across Europe, and have something for everyone. So let’s get started!
#1 Romantische Strasse, Germany
This is the perfect trip for those on a time limit. This road trip will take you through the breathtaking southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Beginning at Würzburg’s Residenz, take a night to enjoy this beautiful place. The palace is definitely worth a visit, to view their grand central staircase is overtopped by a vast ceiling fresco of the four continents, created by Tiepolo. Following this is the medieval wine village of Tauberbischofsheim - quite the mouthful! You follow the Tauber river upstream to the spa town of Bad Mergentheim and then viewing the moated castle at Weikersheim will make you question what century we’re in! Even more impressive are the remparts at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, circling a breathtaking medieval townscape. Following the pretty walled city of Dinkelsbühl, the route enters the eerily bare landscape of the Ries. This 15.5 mile crater was formed by a giant meteorite 15 million years ago, and will have you awestruck. Once you’ve regained your thoughts, you can cross the Danube at Donauwörth and then into the foothills of the Alps. Consider stopping for a night of camping or for a few hours of hiking, and then pass the town of Landsberg am Lech until the Romantic Road terminates at Füssen. This 220 mile trip is best driven in spring, summer or autumn to provide longer, lighter days to highlight the beauty of the Alps. Our best tip is also to pack light, providing room in the boot for some local dry white wines!
#2 Route One, Iceland
If there is one place to visit before you die, it is Iceland. For no other landscape in Europe comes near the spectacular extremes of Iceland’s lava fields, ash deserts, waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. It seems impossible that one landscape could hold all of these, and that you could possibly seem them in one road trip. But simply follow the great Route One road, which circumnavigates the islands. It will lead you to places so remote from civilisation that the last link of the circuit was only finished in 1974, and some places are still only laid to gravel rather than tarmac. This route will take you through the rocky vistas of the south coast, the north-east ash fields, to the thunderous waterfall at Dettifoss and the hot springs at Myvatn. A great highlight of this trip is whale-watching at Husavik, on the north coast. Start this journey in Reykjavik, and plan in about a week to ten days to take it all in. We recommend doing this road trip in July or August to allow for longer light days and the best conditions to take in the sites.
#3 North Coast 500, Scotland
As we often mention, you don’t need to go far to have a great holiday, as a staycation in the UK can be great! To get a genuine slice of Scottish Highlands life, combined with some insane views, a road trip on the North Coast 500 is necessary. This 500 mile circular trip skirts the top of the UK and manages to capture all the mysticism and romance of the area in four days to a week, depending on how long you have. Sites along the way include the Grey Cairns of Camster, 5,000 year old burial chambers, and the many lochs of Scotland. Make sure to pack a hip flask of the traditional Rusty Nail (half Drambuie and Scotch whisky) as well as some waterproof kit! Begin at Iverness, and then any map or road trip route planner can lead the way. It is best to take this journey in Autumn, as the leaves have turned brown and the mist hangs off the lochs, but this does run the risk of wet weather!
#4 Paris to Berlin
This is definitely the road trip for tourists, those who enjoy culture and landmarks and wish to explore as much as they can. Perhaps you’ve travelled from far, and want to take in as much as you can, or perhaps you simply love the idea of bragging about all the places you’ve visited. This road trip begins in Paris, where you’ve naturally spent several days exploring the magnificent City of Love. Having seen the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and all that, you’re ready to move on. Packing a lunch of croissants or pain avec fromage, you begin driving through the gentle hills of Champagne and Reims, camping for a night under the open countryside sky. You drive until you reach the quaint capital of Luxembourg City. Here you stop for a night and explore the country’s multiple fairy-tale castles. The next day, you drive an hour north-east to Trier, Germany’s oldest city. Here you can explore the ancient Roman baths and basilicas which still stand marvellously intact. You spend an evening in the medieval village of Bacharach in Riesling wine country, with a cheeky wine tasting before bed. You’ll head to Nuremberg next and then to Leipzig, where you can take in Cold War history, classical music and plenty of cake. Following your stop, detour to Dresden, and see how it has been restored since the ruinous bombing in WWII. This city has literally rose from the ashes, and it will be fascinating to see how they have combined the new and old. Then you finally reach Berlin, considered to be one of the coolest cities and the creative hub of Europe. Help your many bratwürst go down with pint after pint of bier on one of the many terraces! Explore the numerous museums and galleries, view the East Side Gallery and the Holocaust War Monument. The perfect place to end your journey, so that you can enjoy this bustling city for as long as you would like. This road trip usually lasts one to two weeks, depending on how much time you want to spend in each stop. Remember to keep safety equipment, a reflective vest and hazard signal, in your campervan when driving through France to avoid any legal issues. Also keep some Euros in your purse for any road tolls along your way.
#5 Bucharest to Vienna
Are the previous road trip ideas too touristy and mainstream for you? Look for a more unusual destination for your road trip route planner? Then this is truly the trip for you. This journey takes seven to twelve days, and is recommended for experienced drivers. First arrive in Bucharest, and enjoy the shockingly low prices, particularly alcohol! You must try tuicǎ, a traditional spirit made out of plums, but perhaps not the night before you depart! Head northward through the Carpathian mountains to Transylvania, where you simply must stop at Bran Castle, claimed to be the home of the legendary Dracula. After a good rest, take the Transfagarasan mountain road onwards. This is considered to be one of the most beautiful routes in the world, so ensure your camera is well charged! This will take you towards the age-old cities and numerous castles of Sibu, Brasov and Sighisoara. Depending on how much time you’ve allocated to this trip, stay a night or so in each place to truly get a feel for this Eastern treasures. Next big stop is Timisoara, the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania. It is home to some of the most beautiful parks in Europe, and has an up and coming art scene. Carry on to Budapest, and with the tranquil baths and hip ruin pubs it has, this is definitely somewhere to stay more than a night. Once you’ve had your fill, depart for Bratislava, capital of Slovakia and with a pastel-hued old town. This a prime location for outdoorsy travellers, as its hilly parks are threaded with hiking and biking trails. Following this, an hour of driving gets you to your final destination; Vienna. Enjoy the coffee houses and eclectic architecture, whilst sampling their delicious delicacies.
The open road is where we can be truly arrive, a destination not about the endpoint, but the journey there. Pack your bags, search for a campervan, and get going! Time is ticking away, and the world is too beautiful not to see.