Cross-continent travel is relatively painless and simple, with ferries and trains quickly able to get us Brits across to the mainland. And from there, a network of Autoroutes, Autostrada, Autobahns et al will get you swiftly to your main destination. But let’s face it, motorways are often dull. So why not take the road less travelled?
Either as diversion off the seemingly unending miles of motorway tarmac, or even as a destination in itself, there are some amazing roads all across Europe; both to drive on or to view the scenery from.
Some are short and others significantly longer, but all will be worth driving along, as we round up some of the best driving roads in Europe.
One of the most famous road trip destinations, largely thanks to Messrs Clarkson, Hammond, and May in their Top Gear days, at the time they declared it the best driving road in Europe. While there will be a few arguments over the absolute best road, Stelvio is certainly right up there.
A series of hairpins climbing an ancient pass in the Alps is approached by sweeping corners through breathtaking scenery. The pass is part of the Route SS38 and includes 60 hairpins, of which 48 are on the famous Northern side, over more than 20 miles in the Italian Alps near the Swiss border.
North Coast 500
It’s worth remembering that regardless of Brexit, the UK remains - geologically speaking at least - in Europe. As such, one of the finest routes the UK has to offer makes it into this list, with the North Coast 500 taking in breathtaking scenery in the north of Scotland.
Looping 500 miles around the Scottish Highlands, it’s one of the longest drives here, and visitors get to see spectacular views at just about every turn, with sea, mountains, glens, lochs, and rivers en route. Certainly worth getting up to the top of mainland UK.
The historic road takes in around 200 miles of French roads in some beautiful scenery. The route was made famous by Napoleon’s return from exile in Elba, starting in the Alpes Maritimes on the south coast - an area not exactly short of great driving roads such as the Col de Turini - and heads north to Grenoble.
Along the way, the route will head through traditional villages, pass fields of lavender, take in rolling hills, and travel through a national park. Perhaps do the route the “wrong” way, and start in Grenoble so that you get to end the trip on the French Riviera.
Made famous by the James Bond film Goldfinger, with Sean Connery and his Aston Martin DB5, most of us will be travelling in something a little less special, but the route is worth it nonetheless. Travelling between Glitch and Realp, the routs isn’t very long - a little over a dozen miles or so - but the scenery is superb and the road is brilliant fun.
Stop at the now shut Belvedere Hotel on the hairpin for stunning views, the great thing about the Furka Pass is it’s short enough to do a couple of times to double the fun. There are a number of other great driving roads in the area too.
The Targa Florio was a road-race in Sicily - think the Isle of Man TT race but with Le Mans cars - that initially took in a lap of the island more or less, and in later iterations was brought down to a 45 mile loop in the mountains south of Palermo.
Any version of the famous race would be worth completing, as all were run along public roads, through towns and villages dotted about the island, which showcases its varied and ancient history to travellers.
Following the route of the Douro river as it snakes through Portugal from Spain, drivers can take in as much or as little of the route as they like. But all will see the beautiful valley that grows grapes for Port and wine made in the region, starting or ending in the scenic city of Porto.
Almost 150 miles in total, the National 222 route largely follows the river, with thousands of terraced hills on show as you drive through towns and villages, and past Quintas - or perhaps stop for a spot of tasting the region’s famous drinks.
N152 - Pyrenees
Although Alpine passes may be more famous, the Pyrenees have their fair share of stunning mountain roads too, and it’s certainly worth venturing to travel along the N152 towards the Eastern end of the mountain range.
The rural route will take in a series of Cols, with twists and turns as drivers tackle almost 30 miles of twisty tarmac in Spain. There are faster ways to get across the mountains, but few as beautiful or as fun.
Treaded together in the 1950s by tourist boards in Germany, the Romantic Road covers almost 300 miles of German scenery from the River Main to the foothills of the Alps. Passing through historic, picture-postcard towns such as Rothenburg, castles including the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, and beautiful vistas, forests and lakes, the road heads from Wurzburg to Fussen - or vice versa.
You could get a coach tour, or even walk it, but driving allows you to take things at your own pace and stop where you want. It’s busier than many of the other routes on this list, but a superb snapshot of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg.
Atlantic Ocean Road
Connecting Averoy with mainland Norway, the Atlantic Ocean Road is a spectacular road that literally gets to the edge of the ocean. By connecting up a series of islands, the engineering marvel winds its way across the water for around five miles.
There are designated stopping places so you don’t hold up traffic while taking in the view, and although short, the route is accessed by a number of other beautiful routes taking in some of the best scenary Norway has to offer.