If you are thinking of exploring the world on a self-drive holiday then southern Europe offers you beautiful vast landscapes as a perfect backdrop – most within a couple of days’ drive from home in the UK. Driving holidays are a great way to easily enjoy warmer climates at the same time as keeping in control of your itinerary. Getting off the beaten track on a self-drive break will allow you to live like the locals and delve into Europe’s magnificent historical background.
For some, the lure of the road trip holiday can be inspiration enough to learn to drive, while more seasoned motorists might prefer to put their faith in their pride and joy vehicle over a crowded plane, train or bus.
Here are the southern Europe destinations that should help to inspire your perfect driving holiday…
Amalfi Coast, Italy – This picturesque coastline is scattered with steep hills and sheer cliffs. Southern Italy is a beautiful destination and driving the Amalfi Coast will take any driver back in time, with the beautiful architecture of Italy in every direction. Look closely and you will find a rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-coloured fishing villages. Make sure you stop off at the port city of Salerno and try some of the local delicacies.
Estoril Coast Drive, Portugal – This stunning drive takes travellers along the amazing and underrated coastline of Portugal, from Lisbon inwards to Sintra. Make time to stop at the National Palace in Sintra, and take in the incredible architecture and history. Try to pay a visit to the fishing port of Cascais Bay and stop at Cabo da Roca – Europe’s most western point. Make the most of the tranquil feel to the area and explore one of the many stretches of often-empty beaches.
Col de Turini – France – This road was featured in the first episode of Top Gear series ten, when the presenters went in search of the greatest driving road in the world. The road has also been used in the Tour de France, and is a challenging drive with long straights linking 34 hairpin bends running from Sospel to La Bollène. At its highest point the road reaches 1607 metres and the views are awesome.
Athens, Greece – Drive along the National Road from Athens to Thessaloniki until you reach the Town of Thebes. Thebes is well known for its important role in Greek mythology as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others. Continue through Levadia to reach Arachova, a beautiful town at the foot of Mountain Parnassos, just 10km from the Delphi archaeological site. You can explore this site by yourself or take advantage of a guided tour. Arachova is famous for its handmade carpets, tavernas and shops so make sure you stock up on gifts for family and friends.
Western Bulgaria – A bit further east, visit some of the most famous tourist sites in Western Bulgaria, namely the capital Sofia. Stop off at traditional small towns with architecture from the Revival Period and visit museum villages and Orthodox monasteries. Take in the fascinating various landscapes in the Balkan and Rodopi Mountains that are dotted with tiny villages, green meadows, steep cliffs and mysterious caves, Thracian tombs and religious sanctuaries.