Travel tips  »  Sensational driving routes for your next vacation

Sensational driving routes for your next vacation

Sensational driving routes for your next vacation

A road trip gives us individual freedom as we explore Europe’s beautiful landscapes, delicious regional food and drink, and fascinating local culture and history.

Peloponnese, Greece

Beginning: Ancient Corinth. End: Nemea. Distance: 635 km 

History and legend meet on this mountainous peninsula, where you’ll find classical temples, Mycenaean palaces, Byzantine cities, and Venetian fortresses. Combined with dramatic peaks and deep gorges that give way to turquoise seas and deserted beaches, it’s a glorious place for a road trip. In the northeast corner of the peninsula is ancient Corinth, a predominantly Roman city, home to Jason of the Argonauts, thief of the Golden Fleece.

From here, you can follow a route that combines historic, fortified towns with beaches and some of Greece’s most interesting wineries. Head to the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, hilltop Mycenae or coastal Epidavros with its 4th-century BC theatre, one of the best-preserved ancient Greek structures in the country. Then loop past the mountaintop Byzantine city of Mystras, old Olympia, home of the original games, and Lousios Gorge, where you’ll find the cliff-top Monastery of Prodromou.

Costa Brava, Spain

Start: Girona. End: Girona. Distance: 190 km

Combining Greek and Roman ruins with medieval towns, the eccentricities of Salvador Dalí, and a wild and rugged coastline, Spain’s Costa Brava is a fascinating and eclectic destination for a road trip. Start by exploring Girona’s hilly medieval core, with its network of alleyways and churches in Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles. From here it’s an easy trip to Besalú, its amazingly well-preserved medieval streets winding around the beautiful 11th-century Pont Fortificat (Fortified Bridge).

Heading east to Figueres, things get decidedly more bizarre at the Dalí Theatre-Museu, a trippy tribute to the local hero and surrealist artist. Dalí spent his later life nearby in Port Lligat near Cadaqués, a whitewashed village with a beautiful harbor and bohemian atmosphere. To the south along the coast are the extensive ruins of the Greek city of Empúries and its later Roman neighbour, while inland is the Castell de Púbol, a 14th-century castle that was Dalí’s gift to his wife and his muse, Gala.

Hvar, Croatia

Start: Hvar town. End: Jelsa. Distance: 35 km

Defended by the Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians, Hvar has long been a sought-after destination. Medieval walls with an imposing Spanish fortress surround the old town, whose marble streets are lined with elaborate Gothic and Renaissance palaces. In the height of summer, Hvar attracts an international, partying jet set, but off-peak it’s a magical place that acts as the perfect gateway to crystal clear waters and quiet villages.

Head to Stari Grad on the north coast, a quieter town on a horseshoe bay, to visit the Stari Grad Plain, a Unesco cultural landscape whose stone walls and terraces of olive and grape trees were laid out by the Greeks ancient. Drive country roads through a patchwork of lavender and rosemary to discover secluded beaches and hidden coves, colorful former fishing villages like Vrboska or Jelsa, and some of Croatia’s best wineries.

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