More and more travellers are choosing to get behind the wheel of a car and immerse themselves more deeply in the history and culture of a destination by means of a gorgeous, action-packed motoring holiday with family or friends - many with stunning autumn colours along the way. Some countries are more car-friendly than others - for instance, Austria, France, and the USA - but there are dozens of possibilities where your road will be smooth and packed with wonderful sights and experience. And here´s our look at eight of them:
For sweeping panoramas and headspinning mountain vistas, there’s no better place to take to the open road than one of the world’s most scenic motoring destinations. This friendly nation in the heart of Europe abounds with unique road-trip potential, such as the remarkable route through the Wachau Valley linking Vienna with Salzburg and the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (top), named after the country´s highest peak and encompassing some of its most stunning mountain passes. Austria is also one of the world’s easiest places to drive, with petrol stations galore and an abundance of road-side restaurants to offer, plus the vast majority of its roads are kept in pristine condition throughout the year.
The Land Down Under is a road-tripper’s dream come true with some of the world’s most iconic attractions to visit (such as Uluru/Ayers Rock in the Outback and the Sydney Opera House) and a succession of glorious, picture-book landscapes stretching as far as the eye can see. Top routes include Sydney to Brisbane; Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Perth to Esperance, and the east coast of Tasmania. And few drivers can resist the chance to experience the Great Ocean Road, a 240-kilometre (150-mile) coastal route embroidering the country’s spectacular southeast shoreline between the towns of Allansford and Torquay in the state of Victoria.
This country needs no introduction as a top-rated tourist destination, and many of its most popular driving itineraries involve stopovers at some of the world’s most famous vineyards in areas like Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, Champagne, and many others. One classic French road trip is along the A8, which follows the enchanting Côte d'Azur coastline from Monaco to Aix-en-Provence just north of Marseille, passing some of Europe’s best beaches along the way. Equally exhilarating, the Napoleon Route starts in Grenoble and follows the trajectory followed by the emperor in 1815 when escaping to Grenoble from exile in on the island of Elba. Thirdly, the trip southwest from Paris to and through the lovely Loire Valley is another must for road-trippers looking for the most quintessentially French driving experience of them all.
With a very strong automobile tradition, Italia is well versed in welcoming motorists from all over the world. The choice of Italian road-trips is extensive, from the classic route down the idyllic Amalfi Coast to a day-long tour of the many castles, monasteries and medieval villages to be found in the sun-soaked region of Tuscany. And for the ultimate Italian driving adventure, a spin around the fabled island of Sicily (above) will certainly provide you with some unique motoring memories whilst serving up a mouth-watering taste of the real Italy and all its trimmings.
This small country´s coast has long been popular as a holiday mecca, but its interior remains one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. But word of its immense rural charm is starting to spread to travellers all over the world, and it offers some magical motoring possibilies. For instance, the drive through port-wine country from Porto along the banks of the Douro River in the north is without doubt one of the most appealing road-trips imaginable, with many of the region’s famous wine estates now opening their doors for tours and tastings. Also largely undiscovered but definitely worth the effort is the leisurely drive east from Lisbon to Évora, a magnificent city located deep in the heart of the Alentejo region, a land of fertile pastures interspersed with dazzling whitewashed towns and villages.
Another first-choice holiday destination for people who would prefer to explore such a wonderful country on four wheels, especially in the cooler autumnal months. Centrally located and bursting with tourist appeal, Capital Madrid is the perfect base from which to discover the country’s vast hinterland, which incorporates many fascinating places like Toledo, Córdoba, and the vibrant university city of Salamanca. Spain has many scenic coast roads to enjoy, such as the N-340, which starts just south of Barcelona and runs to Valencia, Málaga, and all the way to Cádiz on the country’s southwestern tip. Or take a cool drive through the green north, from Euskadi (the Basque Country) to Galicia, passing through Cantabria and Asturias.
This Alpine country is on a par with Austria for stunning mountain scenery and one itinerary in particular, called the ¨Grand Tour¨, exudes all the fun and thrills you could ever want from a road-trip in Europe. This popular 1,643-kilometre (1,021-.mile) circuit passes almost fifty of the country’s top tourist attractions, more than 20 lakes, five formidable Alpine passes, and more than a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the famous fortress of Bellinzona and the beautiful Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair. There’s much more to motoring in Switzerland than the Grand Tour though, with several other breathtaking routes from which to choose, such as a relaxing drive along the shores of Lake Geneva followed by a visit to some of the Lavaux vineyards, where the wine terraces date right back to the time of the Romans.
Whenever anyone mentions long drives in the USA, the Historic Route 66 invariably springs to mind. Top of most drivers’ bucket list, the ¨Mother Road¨ runs 3,940km (2,448 mi..) from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica on California’s glorious Pacific coast, passing through five other states en route: Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. The Pacific Coast Highway picks up where the Route 66 leaves off, taking travellers to San Francisco (including the thrill of crossing the amazing Golden Gate Bridge) continuing all the way north to Seattle. A lesser-known but also enthralling U.S. road trip is a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway which traverses the states of Virginia and North Carolina to showcase a completely different part of the United States. And of course for fall colours, nothing beats a driving itinerary through the six states of New England, as well as New York State.
Wherever you choose to go you can rest assured that Auto Europe will be able to offer you the right car in the right place, and always at the right price. Established in 1954, Auto Europe is one of the world’s leading car rental companies with over 24,000 convenient pick-up and drop-off locations in more than 180 different countries all over the world.
Have a great drive!