Road trips are a great way to see vast expanses of scenery and to make the most of the journey, not just the destination. They give you the freedom to go anywhere you please. But sometimes that freedom can be a bit much, and we would prefer to follow an existing route for our trip. That’s why we’ve come up with our 10 top road trips for 2023, spread across Europe and different lengths. Read on to find which one suits you best, and then it is time to fire up that engine!
1. Route 500, Germany
If you’re looking for a comfortable drive, something fast and easy that allows you to enjoy the gorgeous views while cruising, then the Route 500 in Germany is the road trip for you. Also known as Black Forest High Road and B500, it takes you from Freudenstadt in the north to the charming town of Baden-Baden. The region crossed includes the Black Forest, a popular holiday get away and beautiful Nature Reserve. The Black Forest is known for cuckoo clocks, fairytale houses and cherry brandy. Enjoy the calming drive of this road, and be sure to divert slightly to visit Stuttgart, home to Porsche and Mercedes, as well as the majestic Hohenzollern Castle in the Black Forest.
This is a shorter road trip, and will take two days if you keep your stops short. But why do that? Enjoy this gorgeous area, take a cycle trip or a dip into the icy waters of the lakes here. Driving rules in Germany are fairly simple, but keep an eye out for German Environmental zones!
2. North Coast 500, Scotland
Looking to get a genuine slice of the Scottish Highlands? Searching for some insane views for your social media feed? The North Coast 500 promises these and more. This 500 mile circular trip skirts the top of the UK, managing to capture all the mysticism and romance of the area as well as numerous of the top sites. Sites include the Grey Cairns of camster, 5,000 year old burial chambers and the plethora of lochs Scotland has to offer.
The trip can be done in four days, but we recommend taking a week so you can take your time at each stop and plan in a hike! Begin at Iverness, and then use your map or road trip route planner to lead the way through these dramatic landscapes. Be sure to bring waterproof kit, and a flask to fill up on the traditional Scottish ‘Rusty Nail’ (half Drambuie and half Scotch Whisky!). The best time for this road trip is Autumn, as the fall weather results in mist hanging off the lochs and gorgeous settings all around. You can further enjoy the benefits of free motorhome camping in Scotland.
3. Les Corniches, France
Les Corniches differs to the other road trip ideas as there are in fact three roads to choose from, or three roads to take, depending on how you look at it! The Basse Corniche (N98) begins in Nice, the Capital of Côte d’Azur, and travels through all the brilliant seaside resorts of the French Riviera. Stops include Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and more. It finally ends in Menton, which borders on the Italian frontier, giving you the perfect opportunity to witness the fuze of these two great cultures. This road is truly beautiful, as the coastal landscape contrasts with the emerald azure sea, green valleys and aristocratic villas, and saves you from many French toll roads!
The second road, the Moyenne Corniche, offers entrancing views of the French Riviera and is more developed. Sadly this also results in more traffic. The main sights on this road include the medieval town Roquebrune Village and the medieval Èze Village on top of the hill. We recommend also visiting Mont-Boron whilst taking this journey, as it is a gorgeous park full of old olive trees and the ancient defensive Fort du Mont Alban. Bring a picnic and enjoy a romantic or cosy picnic here!
Finally there is the Grande Corniche, the most daring of the three. This dizzying road (D2564) climbs to 550m above sea level. It was built by Napoleon, and was utilized in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “To Catch a Thief”. This is also where Princess Grace of Monaco had her tragic car accident in 1982. The main town up here in La Turbie, known for its frequent fog and Roman Trophée des Alpes. This road is ideal for those looking for a thrilling ride and insane views.
4. Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is known for many things; luxurious lifestyles, beautiful beaches and delicious food and drink. It is widely regarded as one of the best vacation destinations, but did you know that it also makes the ideal road trip? This drive is one for the experienced, given the narrow winding roads, but will also provide you with views of the best architecture of Italy. Take this road from town to town, stopping for good meals and trips to the beach. It isn’t a long route, so make sure to take numerous stops and truly enjoy it.
We recommend avoiding the peak of summer for this trip, as the traffic will be crazy. Instead, head over in Spring so that you can enjoy the sunshine without the hordes of people. You can easily organise motorhome hire in Italy for your trip, and be sure to consider the rules for driving in Italy before you get behind the wheel.
5. Trollstigen, Norway
Trollstigen is famous for being one of the most scenic road trips in Europe, and the beautiful mountain pass road is also known as the Troll Route and road 63. It begins in Geiranger and takes you to Trollstigen. The drive is a dramatic and exciting experience, with 11 hairpin bends and climbing up to 858 metres above sea levels. At some points the road is cut into the mountain, and others are built on top of stone walls. Impressive sites include the Stigfossen waterfall and the Trollstigen plateau. The road is closed in the winter and opens in late May or early June, depending on the years snowfall. Once you reach Trollstigen, enjoy a hike through the boulders and scree to experience the vertical mountain face at the edge of Trollveggen. It is recommended to join a guided hike, as it is four hours one way and an extremely challenging terrain.
6. Route Napoleon, France
Opened in 1932, Napoleon road trip itinerary follows the route taken by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble. To truly follow the route of this great leader, make your first stop in Cannes for a night and enjoy this influential city. They aimed to avoid the Rhone Valley and Marseille, so headed north and crossed the Alps between Digne and Sisteron. The next night stop is in Séranon, a renowned camping location.
Next they travelled to Castellane, where we recommend stopping for a few hours to enjoy the Verdon Gorge and take a dip in the gorgeous waters. Head next to Col des Leques and through Clue de Taulanne, past Senez and then to Barrême where Napoleon and his troops stayed for a night.
Then they hiked the 30km trip to Digne, and stopped there for lunch, as you should too! Follow the Bléone river to the Durance, and stop for the night at the château de Malijai. Pass through Sisteron, and gaze at the magnificent citadel while you stop for lunch where he did. Rest your weary head in Gap, and then spend the next day travelling to Col Bayard and enjoy a good dinner and wander there. On the last day you travel the short distance to La Mure, where Napoleons famous confrontations with Laffrey occured, and then the grand entry into Grenoble to end your trip.
We advise taking over a week for this journey to really enjoy it, and delight in the best holiday destinations in France. Nothing beats the freedom of a home on wheels, so be sure to organise your motorhome hire in France for the ultimate glamping experience.
7. Estoril Coast Drive, Portugal
A lesser known road trip, this gorgeous drive takes travellers along the amazing and underrated coastline of Portugal, beginning in Lisbon and ended at Sintra. This is a great trip all year round, given Portugal's warm climate, but we recommend avoiding the peak of summer due to extreme heat in the vehicle and extreme crowds at the sites! The trip is about 100 km and can be completed in just a few hours, but to really enjoy it reserve at least three days for it.
We personally recommend planning a week to include a few beach days! This is a great trip for a road trip route planner, as the majority of signs will only be in Portugese. The main stops along the route include Belém, Estoril, Cascais, Cabo Roca and Sintra. You can enjoy the city centres and sites of each, including the Fausto Cardoso de Figueiredo statue and Moorish Castle. Be sure to enjoy Sintra for a night, as it is overflowing in superb architecture, history and beautiful views.
Be sure to visit the Antonio Carvalho Monteiro dos Milhous’ estate, the eccentric home of the famous Portuguese entomologist, and a real maze to explore. Also check out the home of Hans Christian Andersen, the famed author of fairy tales, and enjoy this fairy tale of a city.
8. Ring of Kerry, Ireland
One of the main lucks of the Irish is their insane scenery and dramatic landscapes, with a countryside famous for its rugged beauty. The Ring of Kerry itinerary thus presents as the ideal European road trip, as this 200 km loop takes you through the extent of central Ireland. You could see the sights with a day, but if you truly want to immerse yourself in Irish culture, we recommend three nights to experience it fully.
Starting from Killarney, drive clockwise around the Ring of Kerry to avoid any delays, as tour buses must travel anti-clockwise due to narrow roads. It is recommended to use a road trip App, such as ActiveMe, to avoid taking wrong turns or missing turn offs for sites. Turn off for the unmissable Skellig Ring scenic drive to take in the wonderful Valentia Island near the picturesque village of Portmagee.
From there visit Glen and Ballinskelligs, to enjoy a great Blue Flag beach and some low level tourism. Recommended stops include Ross Castle in Killarney, as well as Killarney National Park and the Blue Pool. Also in Killarney, the Torc waterfall is breathtaking, and has a great two hour hike up Torc Mountain for more stunning views. Kenmare Town is a great place to stop for lunch and a stroll, where you can visit the 4,000 year old stone circle.
9. La Route des Grandes Alpes, France
Translated as the route of the High Alps, this scenic drive will take you throughout the mountains of France. It was built solely for tourists wishing to travel a scenic route through the region, so it is perfect for your touring holiday. It takes drivers through 4 national parks and 16 mountain passes. Take three days minimum to enjoy this, and be sure to stop at the Lake of Geneva for it. This is a simple route, so no road trip app will be necessary, just an old fashioned map or a good eye for detail!
This short trip is ideal for those travelling with young kids or pet friendly campervan hire, as you're never driving too far and there are plenty of spacious campsites to stop at along the way.
10. Klausen Pass, Switzerland
This Alpine road winds through the fabled Swiss mountains, taking drivers on a long and winding journey. It connects Altdorf in the canton of Uri with Linthal in the canton of Glarus. The greatest advantage of this trip is its tranquility, for the alternative highway is taken by most travellers, leaving the Klausen Pass for locals and driving enthusiasts. You pass through forests and rock formations, switching direction and altitude constantly. It is a road trip for the more experienced drivers, and we recommend downloading a road trip App to check for any issues ahead on the pass.
The Klausen Pass finishes at Burglen, the birthplace of William Tell. Go viti the museum dedicated to him to stretch your legs, and follow this by a delicious traditional Swiss meal! This trip can easily be done in a day or two, and is the perfect addition to your Swiss road trip!
These are the top 10 road trip ideas for 2023, so be sure to plan at least one into your year! A road trip is truly the best way to explore the hidden gems of Europe. Nothing beats the freedom of the open road, and it can be yours as soon as you want it. Simply search on our site for a motorhome in your chosen destination or bring your campervan abroad, download a road trip route planner, and get driving! Bon Voyage!
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The best of these routes are covered in more detail in our free e-book, 5 Routes for Taking Your Campervan Around Europe, including a unique bonus route! Download this free e-book to discover our day-by-day itineraries and campsite recommendations.