You’ve got your TentBox, you’re ready to travel! Europe awaits you, but where to go? So many choices, so little time….we’ve narrowed down a few of our favourite European road trips to get you out there.
France is well known for its campsites (most small towns have at least one), so this is definitely a good starting point for first-time campers. As you won’t need to worry about public transport, you can afford to go “off track” a bit and venture out past the normal tourist stops (although Paris is always worth a visit, if you haven’t been before).
The weather in France is usually good in the Summer, but to be sure of some sun, try the Loire Valley or the Dordogne, both of which are well known for their good weather. Anywhere south of the Loire is a safe bet though that it’ll be warm, if not always sunny. if you want something a bit cooler, then stay North, as that’s closer to the weather you’d get in the UK.
Road Trip Ideas
South of France Coastline Trip
Why not follow the coastline along the south, from Montpellier to Nice – this gives some spectacular views and campsites will be easy to find.
Be sure to take in the local villages along the way, including the walled Aigues-Mortes and Cassis (yes, the birthplace of the liquer). You can also follow the roads through the protected Camargues wetlands and Grasse, known as the “perfume capital” of the world.
If France’s vineyards are the biggest attraction, then head on over to Bordeaux as your starting point (obviously!). It is totally possible to plan a complete circular road trip based on vineyards so you will have lots to take in (or should that say, imbibe in….) – you could follow the Parc Naturel Regional or go along the Côte d’Argent (Europe’s longest beach).
Be sure to take in Lourdes, Toulouse and the Pyrenées as you go.
This is a popular road trip as it follows the route Napoleon took from the Alps to the French Riveria, but a must for any history buffs. Start at Grenoble and follow the route through La Mure, Corps and Castellane, eventually ending in Cannes, where you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous, dine out in style if you so wish and enjoy the sunny climes.
Germany has many things to attract road trippers, from castles to festivals, history to wine – you name it, you can be sure to find it. Like France, Germany caters for campers well, with many campsites and parking areas for vehicles of varying sizes.
Germany’s weather can be a bit hit and miss all year round and rain is common but don’t be put off. Like most countries, the Summer is the best season to go for better weather and we know our TentBoxers are hardy folks!
You have got to travel the Castle Road if you’re into history – all 625 miles of it! There are over 70 castles and palaces along this stretch of road and whilst it is popular with tourists, it’s worth doing. This route starts in Mannheim and ends in Prague (Czech Republic). It is well known as a scenic drive and gives plenty of opportunities for local village exploration and photos.
Be sure to take in Rothenburg ob der Tauber – this is Germany’s best preserved medieval town and includes a torture museum – strangely interesting.
If romance is in your soul then check out the Romantic Road – another “theme route”, this road travels between Würzburg and Füssen and originates from a medieval trade route. Towns on this route include Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Bad Mergentheim, and there are of course more castles to take in.
The name “Romantic Road” is so called due to the quintessential German scenery and towns along the way, reflective of the very soul of the country.
Be sure to sample the wines of Würzburg, King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau (did you know this was the inspiration for Disney’s palace in Sleeping Beauty) and the 700-year-old Alt-Rothenburger Handwerkerhaus in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
If you visit the UK on your road trip travels then try to take in both Scotland in the North and Cornwall in the South, if you can. They may be technically part of the same country, but the two areas are vastly different, with completely different weather conditions and scenery, and both are well worth a visit. England, Wales, in the West, and Northern Ireland are also popular with tourists.
Summer weather in the UK can be varied; currently, the country is experiencing a heatwave hotter than Miami, but this could change and most likely by September the temps will be back down in the low 20s C so if you’re looking for sunshine and heat, Summer really is the best time to go.
Scotland is home to hills, mountains (Ben Nevis being the tallest, and most popular for climbers), and the Highlands, and keen road trippers could spend at least a fortnight exploring the delights Scotland has to offer. It even has it’s own “Route 66”, the NC500 route, which is a loop from Inverness that takes in the delights of places such as John O’Groats (the most northerly point in Britain), the ruins of 16th century Ardvreck Castle and the beaches at Darnoch and Achmelvich.
You can pay for trips to various Scottish islands, including Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides – choose wisely though if you have limited time. Not all of the 700+ offshore islands that surround Scotland are populated but you will be able to see them from the mainland.
Be sure to prepare for the changing weather in Scotland, especially if you do go near the coast, as it can be very windy and the Highlands in particular do see a lot of rain.
Cornwall, in contrast to Scotland, is known for it’s good weather in the Summer and places such as Bude, Launceston and Newquay are big tourist traps, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a visit.
Popular road trips around this area include following the coastal roads; starting from Bude, you can follow the roads down, taking in the sights of historic Tintagel with Merlin’s Cave and its ruined castle, Newquay (great for surfers and watersports) and Penzance, before driving to Land’s End (England and Cornwall’s most Westerly point) and Lizard’s Point (Englands most Southerly tip). From here, the route curls back up to the port town of Falmouth and St Austell.
Be sure to visit the island of St Michael’s Mount near Marazion – trippers can visit by either boat or, at low tide, walk across the ancient cobbled causeway – this is slippery though, so take care. It is usually so balmy this way of the world that palm trees can be seen growing in Marazion, the only place in the UK with warm enough sustained temperatures to allow them to do so naturally.
Also, if you have time, a detour to at least see Bodmin moor is advised – you may see the wild Bodmin ponies and a visit to Bodmin Jail is a must for any history fans.
Wales is part of the UK and shares a border with England but, like Scotland, is a country in its own right. Home to Snowdonia National Park and pretty little villages founded off the back of coal mining, Wales is a beautiful area to explore with plenty of road trip options.
Many choose to follow the coastal routes (partly because driving through Wales is often tricky, with minor roads snaking around the hills which can prove problematic for larger vehicles). A coastal trip around Wales should be planned to take in the city of Cardiff, the reservoirs at Caban Coch and Llyn Clywedog, Conwy Castle and the smallest house in Britain, in Conwy itself. Places like Bodysgallen Hall and Aberdaron are also worth a visit – but perhaps not on a windy day, as Aberdaron sees winds that exceed 90mph due to its location on the very tip of the Llŷn Peninsula.
Be sure to stop at some of Wales’ many tearooms, as it is in the heart of the villages that you’ll experience the true culture and lifestyle of the country. Listen out for the lilting accent and traditional Welsh language (Cymraeg), although most residents do now speak English.
Snowdonia is also worth a visit, and many do choose to climb Snowdon itself (or take the traditional Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summit).
Whatever and wherever you choose to go, be sure to check locally for speed limits, the side of the road to drive on, language spoken and currency – not all of Europe are using the Euro (the UK is still using GBP, for example). Most of all – have a safe and happy trip, and please do send us any pics and tales you have of your TentBox enjoying the action!