Remember when you were little and every family vacation felt like an exciting adventure, filled with the emotion of discovery and the thrilling anticipation leading up to the big day? Unfortunately, as we grow old, vacations turn from much-awaited getaways into a routine that can feel almost as tedious as going to work.
Struggling to find cheap plane tickets and accommodation, dealing with long airport queues, going through customs, finding airport taxis, all of these are stressful tasks that can take away from the pleasant trepidation of vacation planning until you slowly start losing your interest in travelling. If going on vacation isn’t the fun escape it used to be, it’s time to ditch your plane tickets for your personal car and discover these refreshing road trip ideas that will awaken the adventurer in you!
A word of caution for beginner road trip fans: it takes up to three week-long road trips to discover all the small, scenic Tuscan villages that deserve to be seen in a lifetime – and that without counting Florence. Tuscany is one of Italy’s most beautiful regions and a true touristic gem in terms of historic sights. If you want to witness it in its full splendour, go in autumn; temperatures are not that hot and you can experience the traditional Grape Harvest ceremony, or Vendemmia, as the locals call it.
But summer isn’t a bad time to go road-tripping through Tuscany either, because the region is gleaming with poppy and sunflower fields, and the romantic pine hills and scattered hay bales are a sight to behold. Tuscany is a huge region spanning across 8,900 square miles, there is more to it than meets the eye and you will need to choose a clear itinerary before departure: Siena, Chianti, Montepulciano and Arezzo are some of the top destinations you should include on your first visit. As for Florence, or Firenze, the capital city of Tuscany, it deserves a vacation on its own, because you need more than five days to see all its museums and historic landmarks.
If you’re part of 95% of the people who have watched at least one episode of Game of Thrones, then you’ve probably admired the stunning CGI behind King’s Landing, the Red Keep and the House of the Undying…except they’re not CGI. They’re real locations that you can actually see with your own eyes in the small country of Croatia. Having recently gained more exposure thanks to the show, Croatia is a country that has it all: beaches, mountains, caves, lake and scenic countryside.
Because it has so many hidden gems, many of them in locations that aren’t accessible by train or airplane, Croatia is best explored by car. Make sure you stop by the Dalmatian Coast, visit the Roman Ruins in Split and walk on the coastline in Zadar. Dubrovnik has one of the highest concentrations of historic buildings in the world, which is why you can stay here for up to a week. Must-have attractions that you need to see if you’re a Game of Thrones fan include St Dominika Street, Bokar Fortress, Mineeta Tower, Diocletian’s Palace and Klis Fortress.
Forget everything you think you know Transylvania, vampires included. Romania’s central region is so much more than eerie gothic castles surrounded by misty forests. Transylvania also happens to be one of the top locations in the world where you can really experience unspoilt natural beauty and visit some of the oldest churches in Europe. Although the cities of Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara, Alba-Iulia and Sibiu are excellent destinations for any history buff that steps on Romanian soil for the first time, our recommendation is to rent a few nearly new cars with your friends and explore the quaint Transylvanian villages that take you off the beaten path.
Far from paved roads, mobile reception towers and train stations, these peaceful, forgotten-by-time villages are the best places to experience Romanian hospitality and traditional cuisine. And, if you’re up for some excitement, you can take your car for a spin on the Transfagarasan – which the guys from Top Gear called the best road in the world.
A Greek road trip is always a good idea. With all its tiny islands and azure beaches, it always has something new to offer, especially for passionate drivers who want to test their cars on new terrain. In fact, travelling to Greece by plane is a wasted opportunity, because this country is simply made to be explored by car – especially the continental region and the islands surrounding it. Must-stops include Halkidiki, Zakynthos and Crete, where you can also stop for a few days of sunbathing on the silvery sand beaches.
If you’re more of a history buff, take a mainland road trip from Athens and stop by the ancient sites of Peloponnese, Delphi, Volos and Thessaloniki. Apart from amazing sights, Greece also has cheap accommodation and you can find great rooms with double beds like the ones from Bed SOS at just a few euros per night. Most accommodation packages in Greece are all inclusive, meaning that you also get three meals a day and pool access.
If Vienna is Austria’s highlight for tourists who want to experience the old charm of a historic city, then Tirol, the Western region, is the go-to location for road trip and sports enthusiasts. However, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the sky slopes and winter resorts. Tirol is just as amazing in the summer, when you can enjoy scenic drives across snowy mountain peaks, fresh air, lake diving and SPA visits.
A road trip through Tirol will reveal the imposing beauty of the Austrian Alps, as well as the idyllic charm of small Austrian villages, where the locals will welcome you with traditional food. While you’re driving through the Tirol region, don’t forget to stop by its capital, Innsbruck, famous for its folk shows and ski resorts.