Hit the road in Europe: a dream driving holiday itinerary!25th March 2013
With so much to see and do in Europe, you could spend every holiday exploring a different country and still not see everything it has to offer! Flights aren’t as cheap as they once were and time to explore is restricted, so there’s no better way to explore than on a driving holiday in Europe. Hit the open road and take in some incredible sights and breathtaking landscapes at your own pace, while crossing a few country borders in the process!
The route I’ve put together is pretty epic, covering close to 2,000 miles in total which sounds ridiculous but over the course of 2 weeks, its work out to just shy of 150 miles a day which is easily achievable! It would be better of course to have a few days here and there which are completely driving free and can be fitted in wherever you wish, so take a look at the suggested route and tailor it to your plans:
Calais, France to Lucerne, Switzerland
Distance: 550 miles
This is by far the longest leg of the journey, with a route that slices through France along the A26 to Rheims and onto Nancy before following the route all the way into Switzerland. There are a number of places you can stop along this scenic route but when lunch time swings around, the champagne vineyards just south east of Rheims provide a fantastic spot to stretch your legs. The journey will take around 7.5 hours in one stint, so when you arrive in Lucerne you will no doubt be ready to relax and drink in the views of beautiful Lake Lucerne.
Lucerne, Switzerland to St. Moritz, Switzerland
Exiting Lucerne in the morning, it’s around a 2 hour drive to the Swiss resort town of St Moritz with a route that takes in the first round of alpine passes including the spectacular Julier Pass. With the mountains as your back drop, spend the rest of the day tackling some of the ski runs which are served by 57 lifts, go hiking in the Swiss National Park or perhaps even cycling, horse riding or white water rafting! Whatever activity you choose, you will be able to enjoy beautiful nature. Spend the night here and soak up the fantastic nightlife.
St. Moritz, Switzerland to Lake Garda, Italy
Next stop is the gorgeous Lake Garda in northern Italy! Instead of the quicker A22 route, opt for the SS42 route which will take longer, but it’s definitely worth it. Tunnels give way to picture postcard panoramas and roads filled with plenty of twists and hairpin bends making it an exciting journey. Tackle one of the world’s most famous mountain roads, the Stelvio Pass and the Umbrail Pass too! Eventually you’ll arrive at the dazzling Lake Garda which is just a stone’s throw from one of Italy’s most romantic cities, Verona so why not explore the likes of amphitheatres, castles and churches found there before relaxing on the shores of the lake with a vast variety of attractions.
Lake Garda, Italy to Lake Como, Italy
Distance: 95 miles
From one Italian natural wonder to the next and onto Lake Como, a mere 93 miles by car so there’s no rush with this leg; take it slow and soak up the fabulous scenery. Lake Como is the deepest in Europe and is overlooked by the Alps, completing the postcard scene. Take a ride in the funicular and enjoy breathtaking views and jump back in the car for the sole purpose of driving the Bormio pass, another spectacular section of tarmac.
Lake Como, Italy to Lake Varese, Italy
Distance: 50 miles
Once you’ve had your fill of Lake Como, it’s on to the third and final lake of the trip; Lake Varese. Enjoy another drive filled with alpine passes and photo opportunities and once you arrive why not spend some time exploring the town of Varese too. It’s not a “must-see” on your average holiday bucket list, so it will be an authentic and unique addition to your time in the country!
Lake Varese, Italy to Montreux, Switzerland via the French Alps
Distance: 215 miles
From here, it’s the last stint of tarmac through northern Italy, headed in the direction of Montreux via the French Alps and of course the awesome Grand St Bernard Pass; an unforgettable blend of lush green valleys and craggy mountain faces. In Montreux itself, on the shores of Lake Geneva, there is plenty to keep you entertained such as a visit to Chillon Castle and a trip up to Rochers de Naye, a peak which boasts incredible views. A trip to Geneva is also worth considering.
Montreux, Switzerland to Calais, France
Distance: 500 miles
From Montreux, it’s sadly time to head home, but not before seeing some more of France, passing through Besancon and Dijon before eventually reaching Calais with a smile on your face!
For more road trip inspiration why not check out our top destinations for driving holidays!