9 of the Most Scenic Drives in Europe

There’s nothing more pleasant than to experience the beauty of any country while driving among valleys, mountains, along rivers and coast lines. I can name at least four super drives along the Carpathians and the rivers which slice through them. Unfortunately, I had to choose only 9 of the most beautiful roads in Europe.

1 – The Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

the-grossglockner-high-alpine-road

This incredible road dances on Austria’s highest mountain, connecting the state of Salzburg with the state of Carinthia. There are numerous hairpin curves on the 48 km road and an incredible panoramic view of the Pasterzen Glacier. The road is open only during the summer (usually from late April until end of October) and it’s a toll road. Since the road runs through a national park, last admission is 45 min before the park closes (between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., depending on the month). If you decide to stop for a while, there are hiking and nature trails for every level of fitness.

>> Find tours in Austria or look for tickets to Austria

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2 – Shipka Pass, Bulgaria

shipka-pass-bulgaria

The drive starts in Veliko Tamovo, which is a charming medieval town. Head south towards Dryanovo Monastery passing through Shipka pass. It’s located at 1,300 m on the Stara Planina Mountain. The views are magnificent and you’ll also pass through the Valley of Roses (most of the rose extract used to make perfumes comes from here).

>> Find airfare to Sofia

3 – Loire Valley, France

loire-valley

One of the loveliest (yet not spectacular) drives in France is along Loire Valley, between Amboise and Blois (on either side of the river). You can continue all the way to Chenonceau.

>> Find out how to get from Paris to the Loire and read about castles of the Loire Valley

4 – The Dordogne, France

the-dordogne-france

The scenic drive starts in Sarlat-la-Canéda, a charming medieval town. You’ll be driving along Vézère River, a tributary of the Dordogne. Follow D704 towards Montignac and then the winding D706 towards San-Lyon-sur-Vézère. You’ll be passing through incredible France countryside and along the way there are farms where you can stop and taste the authentic French cuisine.

>> Read about canoeing down the Dordogne River

5 – Crete Island (Chania to Palaeohora) , Greece

crete

The scenic drive starts in the city of Chania and goes past Samaria. You’ll be driving on a mountain road dotted with charming Greek villages and old churches. After 4 hours you’ll reach the beautiful pink beaches of Crete.

>> Find airfare to Greece or get travel tips for a summer trip to Greece

6 – Ioannina to Meteora, Greece

meteora

One of the most beautiful drives in mainland Greece is between Ioannina and Meteora. The road climbs into the mountains, over a high pass (which is closed usually during winter) and then going slowly down into the region of Thessaly, where the stunning monasteries are located.

>> Book a Greece tour or find hotels in Greece

7 – Amalfi Coast, Italy

amalfi-coast-italy

If the idea of a scenic drive is something close to a heart attack, then Amalfi Coast is exactly what you need. The cliff on one side, the Mediterranean on the other and a road full of curves! Lovely drive but not for those used to driving on straight highways. You’ll be passing expensive resorts, colorful villages and Greek ruins. Don’t forget to stop for a cheap fish dish in one of the picturesque villages.

>>Get more information about driving in Italy and book hostels in Amalfi

8 – Moyenne Corniche: Monaco

monaco

If you need to get from Monaco to Nice, avoid the boring autoroute and choose one of the scenic routes: Basse, Moyenne (pictured) or Grande Corniche. Moyenne Corniche follows the mountains above the coast, offering some of the best views of the Riviera. You are also passing by old towns and very interesting buildings.

>> Book a hostel in Monte Carlo or read our Monaco travel guide

9 – Transfagarasan, Romania

transfagarasan2

Initially built as a military road, Transfagarasan (or DN7C) is the highest and most beautiful paved road in Romania. It runs in the tallest section of the Carpathians, between Moldoveanu – the highest peak- and Negoiu – second highest, connecting Transylvania to Wallachia (Muntenia). It climbs to over 2000 meters altitude and the most spectacular part is to the north. Transfagarasan has more viaducts and tunnels than any other road in Romania. The road also offers access to Balea Lake and Balea Waterfall. On the southern part of the road, Poienari Fortress (the residence of Vlad Dracul) is the most important landmark.

The road is usually closed during winter and spring (late October to early June) due to snow. Even during summer the average speed is 40 km per hour due to the topography.

>> Find hotels in Romania or find a Romania tour

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Photo credits: 1 – JohnBurke on Flickr; 2- countries in colors on Flickr ; 3 – sethbc on Flickr; 4 – PhillipC on Flickr ; 5 – humadi140670 on Flickr ; 6 – timknows on Flickr ; 7- Sacred Destinations on Flickr ; 8 – Sacred Destinations on Flickr ; 9 – : Coco_ro on Flickr

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  • Spicy Campers said at 2014-07-15T08:01:23+0000: Grossglockner is our all time favorite. It's an amazing road, So breathtaking...:-) Come and try it with our campers!
  • Camper Van Fun said at 2014-07-15T07:59:34+0000: I'll put Romania and Bulgaria on my waiting list. Heard I lot about it lately...
  • Dean Soshima said at 2014-06-25T07:52:07+0000: Ok, i still have to drive in Greece, but is it view amazing or just roads too dangerous? The perfect mix is best option. I drove all others on the list. Transfargarasan in Romaina is amazing. Check my full review of this drive at http://www.wherehotelsare.com/transfargarasa-road-romania-the-best-road-ever-by-topgear-is-high-above-the-clouds/
  • Ivan Borg said at 2013-09-29T20:49:03+0000: Have to drive some of these roads...
  • Cristina Puscas said at 2012-04-16T08:39:04+0000: There are so many beautiful drives in Europe...just been to Italy, and I loved the Foggia to Vieste part of the trip. Absolutely stunningly beautiful!
  • Wetjens Dimmlich said at 2012-03-24T19:39:34+0000: Just posting this for myself so I can come back to it later when I have suitable transportation...
  • Gordie Ruzic said at 2011-08-01T01:42:56+0000: Wow!

Older comments on 9 of the Most Scenic Drives in Europe

Kevin Evans
19 March 2010

Everybody’s got their own take on this one which makes for great reading. Dordogne is one of my favourites.

Here’s a list of a few more Euro drives, as well as some further afield

http://www.thetraveleditor.com/toplists/general/Best_Drives_Of_The_World/212/

Patricia Morrise
11 July 2010

Rome would be a best choice as well, you just have to look for the good deals.Vienna is one of the fantastic cities in Europe, very romantic but not as warm as the cities.