Brian Eno was quoted saying that “it´s not the destination that matters, it´s the change of scene”. In other words, the journey is what matters and there´s no better way to experience it than on a road trip, a category of travel in its own right. Provence, Swiss Alps, the Great Alpine Road, the Apennine Roads in Italy or the trip from Bergen to Oslo in Norway. There are so many incredible road trips in Europe, we had a hard time narrowing down the choices. We hope you enjoy our selection of Europe´s most unusual road trips for the Summer.
The Transfagarasan Mountain Road, Romania
This mountain route, also known as Ceausescu´s Folly, is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. Remarkable beauty, outstanding landscapes and rural communities and traditions that still hold on to its ancient charm: there aren´t many countries left in Europe where you can still see horse-drawn wagons and covered markets.
We suggest you begin your trip in Bucharest, once called “Little Paris” for its elegant architecture and sophisticated cultural activity. Only 90 kilometers long, the Transfagarasan Mountain Road runs through a part of the Transylvanian Alps. It starts at Bascov and follows the river Argea and ends in the Olt Valley. Its highest point, where the Balea Lake is found, reaches over two thousand meters and has sharp twists and turns, perfect for the daredevil in you. Highlights in this route are the village of Arefu and the Poienari Fortress, old residence of the prince who inspired Bram Stoker´s Dracula.
While in Romania, remember to bring extra clothes even in the warm Summer months and give yourself plenty of time for the crossing. In other words, don´t plan the trip simply by looking at the distances on a map. Our last recommendation: check the brakes on the car before you leave.
The Romantic Road, Germany
The Romantische Strasse or Romantic Road embraces 335 kilometers of medieval towns, castles, nature, culture and hospitality. Festivals-goers, sports lovers, art and food connoisseurs and architectural fanatics will be pleased to hit the Romantic Road as there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you have 4 or 7 days, the best way to start your adventure in Germany is Frankfurt and end it in Munich or vice versa.
There are 119 kilometers from Frankfurt to Würzburg, the “Pearl of the Romantic Road”, nestled in Northern Bavaria and located on the Main River. While in Würzburg, we suggest you check out the Residence and the Marienberg Fortress and don´t forget to stock up on wine. Although Germany is famous for its beer, the wine in this region is a hidden treasure. During the Summer months, one of Germany´s largest wine festivals takes place here. Next stop: Rithenburg ob der Tauber, Germany´s best preserved walled-town. This exciting medieval town with a fabulous market square is known as one of the country´s best places to shop. Make sure you park outside the city walls and go on one of the many walking tours available such as the Night Watchman Tour, available everyday at 8pm throughout the Summer. Ausburg is the largest city along the Romantic Road and one of Germany´s oldest, also birthplace to Bertol Brecht, poet and playwright. Make sure you check out the Spa and hot springs in Altes Stadtbad. The last stop on the Romantic Road is Hohenschwangau, home to what some call the “Cinderella´s castle”. But the one that you should tour while you´re here is the castle where “Mad King” Ludwig II actually lived.
360 Degrees in Sicily
Sicily seems to have been created for road trips. Whether you land in Catania on the east coast or Palermo on the west, Sicily outnumbers Greece when it comes to temples and ruins. But it also boasts beautiful beaches, baroque gems, picturesque villages, fabulous fish markets, mouth-watering delicacies and the luring history of the Mafia.
Europe´s highest volcano at 3,292m, Mount Edna, is located in Sicily and the scenery from up above is absolutely breath taking. Close by, is the chic town of Taormina that faces the bay of Naxos. Taormina was the capital of Byzantine Sicily and is currently a hotspot during the Summer months. A sun-soaked drive across the centre of the island takes you straight to Syracuse. Make sure you explore the Greek Theatre and the Roman Amphitheatre and stroll around the Piazza Duomo.
Enjoy the temples in Agrigento as you make your way to the westernmost point of Sicily. There, the village of Erice, 800m up a mountain of hairpin bends, has stunning views of the sea.
Palermo, the capital, has plenty to see: the Norman Palace and the mosaics in the Palatine Chapel, Piazza Pretoria and the Vucciria market where you can indulge in local cuisine. Near Palermo is the Duomo of Monreale and its stunning mosaics, about a half hour drive away. Remember, Sicily isn´t big on road signs and locals are pretty good drivers but chaotic. So, make sure you have car insurance for this one!