For those individuals for whom driving is not just a means of getting from A to B, Europe offers some of the most interesting roads in the world. In Europe, drivers can motor through stunning landscapes, stop off at historic sights and enjoy the chance to get a little fresh air, well away from the city.
Some of the best roads
One of the most famous roads in Europe, the Col de la Bonnette, is also the highest, laid out at an altitude of 2807 meters. This road passes through the Alps, so there is an abundance of contrasting scenery, with lush greenery at the base of the pass and really barren landscapes at the top. The route can be testing with some narrow passes and tricky corners, and once the summit has been reached, the drive down seems almost like a racetrack, with 5km of the road ahead in view all at once.
Made famous by its appearance in the Bond film, Goldfinger, the Furka Pass is part of the ‘Big 3’ passes that are interconnected and run close to Andermatt. The Pass takes a driver to the Rhone Glacier, the source of the Rhone River, and here it is possible to stop the car and walk to the glacier. The Furka Pass’s road surfaces are perfect and present great forward visibility, so a driver can put his or her foot down and really enjoy the route. Another challenging road, the way down the Pass is narrow and steep in some places. At the bottom of the Pass, the road becomes dead straight for up to 6km, and runs parallel to the railway line.
The Black Forest in Germany offers drivers many trails, some better than others, but is generally held to be a driver’s dream route. One of the best routes is on the northern stretch, which has stunning views of the forest below, and a superb switchback that runs through the forest to Baden Baden. The roads in the Black Forest are wide and open, fantastic to drive. There are also plenty of places to stop and park up, stretch the legs and take some photos. A very popular drive, the Black Forest routes can get extremely busy.
Why take a driving vacation?
Freedom is the simple answer. Drivers have the freedom to choose their own routes, select their own speed, stop where they want and explore as many places and sites as they wish. It can also be great fun, even at the planning stage, using a map to work out routes.
Talking of planning, this starts with the trip to the airport, getting passports and visas ready, and the need to hire a car at the other end. It is best to book a car rental before arriving at the destination, and careful thought needs to be put into the best type of vehicle for the trip.
It is always best to be prepared for the worst on a driving trip. This means packing a toolkit, and even some spare parts, in case roadside repairs need to be carried out. Just as important is safety equipment, such as warning signage and high visibility jackets.