7 Of The Most Unbelievably Picturesque Drives In Europe

Do you dream of cruising around Europe, taking in unbelievable scenery from the comfort of your rental car, stopping along the way to capture those iconic views you keep hearing so much about? Us too! That’s why we’ve put together seven of the best drives in Europe. Your Instagram feed with thank you!

1. Route Napoléon, France

Type this beauty into Instagram’s search tool and you’ll be greeted with stunning snow-capped mountains, dramatic rolling hills that frame the road, and unique rock formations. As the name indicates, this was also the route Napoléon took when he escaped from exile in 1815 on his march from Elba to Grenoble – a not-to-be-missed drive for culture junkies like us.

What you need to know

It opened in 1932 and is 325km long, taking roughly six hours to travel (although we recommend taking your time and travelling over two days). Unlike a lot of other scenic drives that feature long twisty roads, the surface of Route Napoléon is modern and smooth to drive.

What to look out for along the way

  • Parc Natural Regional de Verdon – breathe in the fresh smell of Jasmine as you pass through fields of this beautiful native flower.  
  • Napoléon monuments – you can’t travel Route Napoléon without pausing to learn about the man himself.
  • Grasse – the Perfume Capital of the World. Need we say more?

Best place to stop and take a photo

As you drive from the French Riviera north along the foothills of the French Alps, you will notice plenty of safe spots to take a roadside photo. With this route, there is no single perfect place, all of it is spectacular.

Best time of year to drive the route

Generally, the spring/summer months will be ideal weather-wise. The road can be closed between November and April due to snow and harsh conditions.

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: France.

2. The Romantic Road, Germany

Passing through the quintessential scenery of Bavaria, you’ll pass picturesque towns, villages and castles as well as dense forests and landscapes that are a true sight to behold. The route itself is known as a ‘themed route’ and was created in the 1950s to dazzle tourists with the romance of Southern Germany.

What you need to know

The route is 350km long, but we recommend taking three days to fully appreciate all the medieval castles and historical villages this drive has to offer.

What to look out for along the way

  • Nördlingen – typically Bavarian in style, this pretty town still has its original walls and is a great place to stop and soak up German culture.
  • Rothenberg ob der Tauber – this medieval old town is a haven of museums, eateries, and quaint streets.
  • Neuschwanstein – the crown jewel of Bavaria (not to be missed). This 19th century palace belonged to Ludwig II, but you may know it as the castle that mesmerised Walt Disney or ‘The Disney Castle’.

Best place to stop and take a photo

The view of Neuschwanstein mounted in the hills is unforgettable and a firm Instagram favourite.

Best time of year to drive the route

Fall, winter, and spring are all ideal times to drive the Romantic Road.

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: Germany.

3. Amalfi Coast Drive, Italy

Popular the world over, this shoreline drive goes from Sorrento to Salerno and is recognised as one of Europe’s best scenic coastal routes. From beaches to turquoise waters, you can’t fail to be bowled over by the serine views.

What you need to know

The route is a 50km stretch and takes just a few hours to drive. It is, however, possible to start and finish in Rome, which will add up to around 10 hours of driving in total.

What to look out for along the way

  • Sorrento – overlooking the Bay of Naples sits this pastel-coloured gem of a town.
  • Positano – hop in your rental car and be on your way to explore all the fine dining this incredibly scenic village has to offer.
  • Salerno – this breath-taking city is nestled on the Gulf and is a photographer’s paradise.

Best place to stop and take a photo

Everywhere! You will be surrounded by beautiful coastline – why not scroll Instagram for inspiration?

Best time of year to drive the route

It is said that there is no such thing as a bad time to do this drive, so pack up that car and off you go!  

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: Italy.

4. The White Villages Route, Spain  

Pueblos Blancos is home to the famed ‘White Towns’ of Andalusia. The route takes you through a series of dream-like white villages and seaside towns, prizing spectacular photo opportunities.

What you need to know

The route is 145km and, depending on how many stops you decide to make, can take 2-3 days to complete.  

What to look out for along the way

  • Arcos de la Frontera – sitting high above the hills, this is where the route begins.
  • Grazalema – stop here for stunning walks and natural charm.
  • Setenil de las Bodegas – climb to the town’s castle nestled in the cliffs above for Insta-worthy views.

Best place to stop and take a photo

Take advantage of the surrounding hills or simply walk the quaint streets – don’t even get us started on the fresh food! The only question you’ll be asking is which photos to post first.  

Best time of year to drive the route

Anytime between June and September.  

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: Spain.

5. Furka and Grimsel Pass, Switzerland   

Over the last two years these mountainous passes have taken Instagram by storm – and it’s so easy to see why. Nothing gets more exhilarating or iconic than driving Furka, which has an elevation of 7,976 feet. While Grimsel has an elevation of more than 7,100 feet, both offer winding roads and panoramic views of the snowy mountains of the Swiss Alps.  

What you need to know

The Furka Pass itself runs 28 kilometres, while the Grimsel Pass is 38km. To drive them both (and do them justice) allow one full day.

What to look out for along the way

  • Hotel Belvedere – another firm Instagram favourite. It even has its own hashtag.
  • Urserental Valley – you won’t be short of photo-ops here.
  • Rhone Glacier – move on to Valais and take in the epic sight of this magnificent glacier.

Best place to stop and take a photo

The Hotel Belvedere is by far one of the most iconic photos to emerge from the Furka Pass.

Best time of year to drive the route

Timing is everything here. These passes are in one of the snowiest areas of Europe, making peak travel season in July and August. Safety first, you wouldn’t want to wreck that rental car you hired.

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: Switzerland.

6. Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland

Known as one of the most picturesque drives on the Emerald Isle, this route snakes the northern coast between Belfast and Londonderry via exciting cliff-face paths, glories glens, and historical landmarks.

What you need to know

The Causeway Coastal Route runs 246 kilometres long and takes 4 days to travel properly.

What to look out for along the way

  • Carrickfergus Castle – known as one of Ireland’s best-preserved medieval marvels.  
  • The Gobbins – this is a dramatic drive that follows the Islandmagee peninsula.
  • The Glens of Antrim – the perfect spot for a sunset walk. Expect waterfalls, hills and spectacular skies.
  • Torr Head – this is a short detour but well worth it as it forms the closest point to Scotland.
  • Bonamargy Friary – this historical site was founded in the 1500s and contains the remains of chieftain Sorley Boy McDonnell.

Best place to stop and take a photo

Instagram cries out for images of The Glens of Antrim at golden hour.

Best time of year to drive the route

While summer time is the busiest, spring does offer a certain level of charm.

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: Ireland.

7. The Shakespeare Drive, United Kingdom

Road tripping around the South of England? Try taking the B4632 Cheltenham to Stratford-upon-Avon route. The drive takes place in the picture-perfect Cotswolds, the place of Shakespeare’s birth, and is a favourite among tourists. There’s no better way to explore the Great British countryside while learning about the history of the UK’s most famous playwright. You’ll pass forests and woodlands, pick wildflowers, speak to local villagers, and drive across acres of farmland.

What you need to know

Expect to drive around 60 kilometres, or one hour, but if you really want to take advantage of the landscape, we recommend parking your rental car and taking to foot.

What to look out for along the way

  • Montpellier Garden – take a walk through this pretty park.
  • Chipping Campden – explore the thatched roofs of the Cotswold. It’s like stepping back in time.
  • Royal Shakespeare Theatre – book a performance in advance. You won’t regret it.

Best place to stop and take a photo

We can’t get enough of the old English charm of these villages. You won’t be short of snaps!

Best time of year to drive the route

Summer is a must visit. It’ll be lovely and green everywhere!

Need help with car hire or rental car insurance? Read our Car Rental Guide: UK.

That’s seven! We hope this has inspired you to hire a car and take to the road on your European adventure. No matter which country you pick, there’ll be a drive to boot.

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What to know what the requirements are for renting a car in Europe? We can help. Check out our Definitive Guide to Renting a Car or check out our page on Excess Cover.
 

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