Taking a few days off to travel around Europe is an incredibly rewarding experience that leaves one in awe of the continent’s diversity and beauty. Whether you’re a history enthusiast exploring ancient ruins in Greece, a nature lover reveling in the scenic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, a foodie delighting in the culinary delights of France, or an adventure seeker conquering the Austrian alps, Europe offers an array of experiences to suit all tastes. 

When planning a getaway trip, you have to consider the convenience of driving from one country to another. Roadtripping allows travelers to witness the seamless blend of cultures and languages while indulging in a sense of freedom and spontaneity. From charming villages to bustling cities, Europe’s rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cultures make it an unparalleled destination for an unforgettable road trip adventure.

Below, you’ll find a list of European hidden gems that might inspire you to plan your next roadtrip!

Azores, Portugal

The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is a captivating destination that offers a unique and diverse experience for travelers. Its stunning natural beauty, including lush green mountains, shimmering caldeiras, and plunging sea cliffs, make it a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

Aerial view of the Azores, with the mountains and the ocean.

You can hike scenic trails through the forests, explore volcanic caves, and whale watch in the surrounding ocean. Nature lovers will appreciate the Azores’ abundant marine life and protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

If you’re looking for relaxation, the Azores also has you covered. Soak in geothermal hot springs, go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax on one of the many beautiful beaches.

To get to the island, you can fly from Lisbon or Porto, and explore the area with a car! Driving in the Azores is a pleasant experience, with well-maintained roads and scenic routes that offer stunning vistas along the way.

Bad Gastein, Austria

Nestled in the Gastein Valley, Bad Gastein is a charming alpine spa town that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and relaxation. It is a perfect destination for those seeking a rejuvenating retreat amidst picturesque surroundings.

The town is renowned for its thermal waters, which have been used for centuries for their healing properties. Visitors can indulge in a variety of spa treatments, soak in the healing thermal baths, and take in the fresh mountain air while surrounded by the stunning Austrian Alps. 

Bad Gastein is also a great place for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking and skiing are popular activities throughout the year, and the town is surrounded by stunning scenery. In the summer, you can hike to mountain lakes, waterfalls, and glaciers. In the winter, you can ski or snowboard down the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

The town’s Belle Époque architecture and vibrant cultural scene further add to its allure. There are a number of museums and art galleries in Bad Gastein, as well as a lively nightlife scene.

To reach Bad Gastein, you can rent a car in Vienna and drive through scenic Austrian landscapes and highways for approximately 3.5 to 4 hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Balearic Islands, Spain

The Balearic Islands, located off the eastern coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, are a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a perfect blend of sun, sea, and culture.

Village in Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands.

The four islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera offer something for everyone. Mallorca is the largest island and is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. Menorca is a more tranquil island with a slower pace of life and a rich history. Ibiza is famous for its world-renowned nightlife, while Formentera is a small, secluded island with beautiful beaches and unspoiled nature.

Driving around the Balearics is a fantastic way to explore the islands at your own pace, with well-maintained roads and scenic drives offering breathtaking views of the coastline and countryside.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. This fjord-like bay, flanked by imposing mountains, boasts picturesque medieval towns and charming coastal villages.

The Bay of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. The area is simply breathtaking, with its turquoise waters, lush greenery, and towering mountains.

History lovers will be enchanted by the fortified town of Kotor, which dates back to the 12th century. The town is a maze of narrow alleyways and ancient walls, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right.

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in the Bay of Kotor. Hiking trails wind their way through the mountains, and boat tours offer stunning views of the bay. There are also several ancient churches and monasteries to visit.

To reach the Bay of Kotor, you can rent a car and travel from neighboring countries like Croatia or Albania. The bay is accessible by road from various entry points. Just keep in mind that some roads in the region can be winding and narrow, so drive cautiously!

Berat, Albania

Berat, Albania, is a captivating city with a rich history and unique architecture that attracts travelers from around the world. Known as the “City of a Thousand Windows” due to its well-preserved Ottoman houses, Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living museum of Albanian culture.

Street view of Berat, Albania.

The city’s stunning blend of Ottoman and Balkan influences makes it a remarkable destination for history and architecture enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the ancient Berat Castle, wander through its cobbled streets, and admire the beautiful mosques and churches that dot the landscape.

Berat is also surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including the Osum River Canyon and the Tomorr Mountains, making it an ideal base for outdoor activities like hiking and rafting.

The drive to Berat is a scenic one, with stunning views of the Albanian countryside. You can rent a car and drive from major cities in Albania or neighboring countries.

Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands are an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa that offer a captivating mix of diverse landscapes, pleasant climate, and a wide range of activities. The islands’ volcanic origins have created unique and stunning natural beauty, including black sand beaches, lush forests, and impressive mountains.

Visitors can indulge in a variety of outdoor pursuits, from surfing and hiking to whale watching and stargazing. Each island has its own distinct charm, from Gran Canaria’s vibrant nightlife and sand dunes to Tenerife’s iconic Mount Teide and bustling resorts to Lanzarote’s otherworldly volcanic landscapes. The Canary Islands appeal to a broad spectrum of tourists, from beach lovers and adventure seekers to nature enthusiasts and those looking for a tranquil escape.

Driving around the islands is relatively easy, with well-maintained roads and clear signage. This allows travelers to explore the islands’ beauty at their own pace and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.

Côte d’Azur, France

The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, is a glamorous and enchanting destination on the southeastern coast of France. The region’s stunning coastline, luxurious resorts, and vibrant cultural scene attract visitors from all over the world.

Visitors go to the Côte d’Azur to bask in the Mediterranean sun, relax on its sandy beaches, and indulge in the exquisite French cuisine and wine. The region offers a delightful mix of historical towns, glamorous cities like Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez, and charming villages such as Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Visitors can explore art galleries, visit historic sites, and enjoy outdoor activities like yachting, hiking, and golfing.

The Côte d’Azur is well-connected by highways and roads. The A8 motorway, also known as La Provençale, runs along the coast and provides access to various towns and cities in the region.

Driving along the coastline provides a scenic and picturesque experience, allowing travelers to discover hidden gems and explore the diverse landscapes of the French Riviera. However, traffic can be busy during peak tourist seasons, so it’s advisable to plan the driving routes accordingly.

Crete, Greece

Crete, Greece’s largest and most diverse island, is a captivating destination that appeals to a wide range of travelers. Visitors are drawn to Crete for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm Mediterranean climate.

The island offers a plethora of activities, from sunbathing and water sports on the famous beaches of Elafonisi and Balos to hiking the Samaria Gorge and exploring traditional mountain villages like Chania and Rethymnon. History enthusiasts can explore ancient archaeological sites like the Palace of Knossos and Phaistos, and for those seeking a taste of authentic Greek culture and hospitality, Crete is a great place to experience traditional Greek culture, from the local cuisine to the music and dance.

You can reach Crete by taking a ferry from Athens or other Greek islands. Ferries operate regularly from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina, and other islands like Santorini and Mykonos to Crete. The ferry ride offers a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and the chance to visit multiple islands during your trip.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a stunning coastal city in Croatia that is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, charming narrow streets, and picturesque sea views.

Aerial view of Dubrovnik, Croatia, with the mountains and the ocean.

The city’s ancient city walls offer breathtaking panoramas of the Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands. Visitors can explore historical landmarks such as the Rector’s Palace and Sponza Palace, walk along the Stradun (the main street), and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of its local cafes and restaurants. The city’s beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters also make it a perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming.

Dubrovnik is a destination that caters to various types of tourists: history enthusiasts can delve into the city’s rich past, exploring its many historical landmarks; beachgoers can relax on the city’s sandy shores, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or take a boat trip to one of the many nearby islands; and Game of Thrones fans can discover filming locations from the popular TV series!

The city is well-connected to other major cities in Croatia and neighboring countries. The main highway leading to Dubrovnik is the A1 motorway, which connects to the rest of Croatia. The drive to Dubrovnik provides breathtaking views of the Adriatic coastline and the picturesque landscapes of Croatia.

Durham, England

Durham is a captivating city steeped in history and culture, making it an enticing destination for travelers. The centerpiece of the city is the magnificent Durham Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its stunning Romanesque architecture and breathtaking views over the River Wear. Visitors can also explore the nearby Durham Castle, now a part of Durham University, showcasing a blend of Norman and Gothic influences. 

Aerial view of Durham, in England.

The cobbled streets and picturesque riverbanks add to the city’s charm, creating a delightful atmosphere for leisurely walks and exploration. Durham offers a mix of cultural experiences, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters to satisfy art and history enthusiasts. The city’s vibrant student population contributes to its lively nightlife and diverse culinary scene.

Durham is accessible by car, and the city is conveniently located near the A1(M) motorway, which connects to major cities in the UK. Driving to Durham is straightforward, with well-maintained roads and clear signage. However, the city’s compact size and pedestrian-friendly nature make it easy to explore on foot.  Surrounding areas such as the Durham Dales and North Pennines provide picturesque driving routes and opportunities to discover the natural beauty of the region.

Whether you are intrigued by its rich heritage or wish to explore its scenic surroundings, Durham offers a delightful escape to England’s captivating past and present.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a vibrant and modern city that entices visitors with its unique blend of Nordic charm, cutting-edge design, and stunning natural surroundings. This coastal city offers a wide range of attractions, from its iconic architecture and historic landmarks like the Helsinki Cathedral and Suomenlinna Fortress to its bustling markets and waterfront promenades. 

Waterfront buildings and Cathedral in Helsinki, Finland.

Helsinki’s thriving arts and cultural scene make it a perfect destination for art enthusiasts, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters to explore. The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, and Seurasaari Open-Air Museum are just a few of the many cultural institutions that can be found in Helsinki. 

Nature lovers can enjoy the city’s numerous parks and islands, such as the beautiful Seurasaari open-air museum and the nearby Nuuksio National Park. Helsinki also boasts a burgeoning food scene, with a variety of restaurants offering both traditional Finnish dishes and international cuisine. 

To reach Helsinki by car, you can take the E18 motorway from Sweden via the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki or use the E75 motorway from Russia. Additionally, Helsinki is well-connected to other cities in Finland, making it accessible by car from different parts of the country.

Inverness, Scotland

Inverness, Scotland, is a captivating city steeped in history and surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. The city is known as the “Gateway to the Highlands,” and it’s easy to see why. With its iconic Inverness Castle, charming architecture, and close proximity to stunning natural attractions, Inverness is a must-visit for any traveler interested in Scotland. 

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Inverness is Loch Ness, the legendary home of the Loch Ness Monster. Visitors can take a boat tour on the loch, explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle, or simply enjoy the stunning scenery.

Inverness is also home to a number of other historical sites, including Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last battle of the Jacobite Rebellion. The city also has a rich cultural heritage, with museums, art galleries, and theaters to explore.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Inverness is a great base for hiking, fishing, and golfing. The surrounding Highlands offer picturesque driving routes with scenic vistas of rolling hills, mist-covered mountains, and serene lochs.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or the outdoors, Inverness has something to offer everyone. To reach Inverness by car, you can take the A9 road from the south or the A82 road from the west. The city is well-connected by roads to other parts of Scotland, making it a convenient and rewarding destination for a memorable Scottish adventure.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, the charming capital of Slovenia, is a hidden gem that captivates visitors with its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and friendly atmosphere. This compact city boasts a blend of architectural styles, from medieval to Art Nouveau, creating a delightful mix of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. 

View of the river in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Ljubljana is the iconic Ljubljana Castle, which offers stunning views of the city. Visitors can also stroll along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, cross the famous Triple Bridge, and explore the city’s many parks and green spaces.

Ljubljana’s vibrant café culture and lively events cater to a lively social scene. The city’s cultural offerings include museums, galleries, and theaters that celebrate Slovenian art and history. Ljubljana’s central location in Slovenia makes it an ideal base for day trips to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, including Lake Bled, the Postojna Cave, and the Julian Alps.

Driving in Ljubljana is generally easy, with well-maintained roads and good signage. Parking is available in the city center and at most tourist attractions. To reach Ljubljana by car, you can take the A1 motorway from Austria or Croatia, or the A2 motorway from Italy.

Salento, Italy

Salento, located in the southernmost region of Puglia, Italy, is a captivating destination that entices visitors with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique cultural heritage. The region is renowned for its picturesque countryside, charming medieval towns, and beautiful beaches along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. 

Aerial view of the coast in Salento.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Salento is Lecce, the region’s capital. Lecce is known for its Baroque architecture, which can be seen in the city’s many churches, palaces, and fountains. Other popular towns in Salento include Otranto, with its ancient fortress and stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, and Gallipoli, with its charming old town and lively nightlife.

Food and wine enthusiasts will delight in the local cuisine, which features traditional dishes like orecchiette pasta and pasticciotto pastries, paired with excellent regional wines. The crystal-clear waters of Salento’s beaches and the rugged beauty of the coastline make it a paradise for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

To reach Salento by car, you can drive from major cities in Italy or neighboring countries. The region is accessible via the A14 motorway from Bari or Brindisi, and the A16 motorway from Naples. Overall, driving in Salento is a pleasant experience and a great way to explore the region, and renting a car is usually recommended.

Skåne County, Sweden

Skåne County, located in the southernmost part of Sweden, is a captivating region that entices visitors with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and charming cities.

The county is renowned for its beautiful countryside, with rolling hills, fertile plains, and picturesque coastline along the Baltic Sea and the Öresund strait. Visitors can explore historic cities like Malmö, with its impressive Turning Torso skyscraper and vibrant waterfront, and Lund, home to Lund University and its ancient cathedral. The region also boasts numerous medieval castles, including the stunning Hovdala Castle and the iconic Malmöhus Castle.

Skåne is a food lover’s paradise, offering delicious traditional Swedish cuisine as well as a burgeoning craft beer and wine scene. The county’s sandy beaches, serene nature reserves, and charming villages make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking a peaceful escape.

Renting a car in Skåne allows you to explore the scenic countryside and visit charming towns and attractions at your own pace. To reach Skåne by car, you can drive from major cities in Sweden or neighboring countries. The county is accessible via the E6 motorway from Gothenburg, the E22 motorway from Stockholm, and the Öresund Bridge from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Frequently asked questions

Where should I go on vacation in Europe?

Choosing a vacation destination in Europe depends on various factors, including your interests, preferences, budget, and travel style. Europe offers a diverse array of experiences, from historical cities and cultural capitals to beautiful beaches and scenic landscapes. 

Consider what you want to experience most – whether it’s exploring art and architecture in cities like Paris and Rome, enjoying the Mediterranean charm of Greece or Spain, immersing in the Nordic culture of Scandinavia, or venturing off the beaten path in Eastern Europe. Each region offers unique attractions and experiences, so take time to research and identify what aligns best with your vacation goals to make an informed decision.

Where to avoid crowds in Europe?

To avoid crowds in Europe, consider exploring less touristy destinations and visiting during the shoulder seasons, which are typically the periods just before or after the peak tourist season. Instead of well-known capitals and major tourist hotspots, opt for smaller towns and off-the-beaten-path locations. 

Eastern European countries like Slovenia and Croatia offer beautiful landscapes, rich history, and fewer crowds compared to their Western counterparts. Additionally, consider visiting popular destinations on weekdays rather than weekends and try to avoid major holidays and school vacation periods when tourist attractions tend to be busiest. 

By planning strategically and choosing lesser-known destinations, you can experience a more peaceful and authentic European travel experience.

What is the most visited tourist destination in Europe?

The most visited tourist destination in Europe is London, England. London is renowned for its iconic landmarks such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Oxford Street, as well as its rich history, art and culture. 

Millions of tourists visit the city every year to experience its charm and beauty, making it one of the top travel destinations not only in Europe but also in the world. However, please note that tourism trends may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to check the latest statistics and updates to confirm the current most visited destination in Europe.

What is the best day to travel to Europe?

The best day to travel to Europe depends on various factors, including your specific destination, budget, and personal preferences. In general, traveling mid-week, such as on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, tends to be less crowded and more affordable than weekends. 

It’s essential to research the specific details for your intended European destination and compare prices across different dates to find the most suitable and cost-effective day for your trip.

What are the best holiday destinations in Europe for young adults?

The best holiday destinations in Europe for young adults include Barcelona, known for its vibrant nightlife and iconic architecture; Amsterdam, offering a unique blend of culture and a lively party scene; Berlin, renowned for its artistic and alternative scenes and nightlife; Budapest, with its affordable charm and ruin pubs; and Prague, enchanting with its architecture and nightlife. Other attractive options are Lisbon, Ibiza, Mykonos, Krakow, and London, each offering a mix of history, relaxation, and exciting nightlife to cater to the diverse interests of young travelers.

Attention! All efforts were made to validade the information published in this blog at the moment they were written, however, Rentcars.com does not take responsibility for inaccuracies or future adjustments that can happen as a result of different offers and conditions. The posts here published, as well as the eventual comments from its readers, are merely informative and it is the client's duty to confirm with Rentcars.com and/or suppliers any content that may affect their vacation plans.

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