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5 bucket-list routes to drive in Europe

Written by Fiona

May 09 2017

I usually prefer to go by bike or on foot but sometimes I see the advantages of travelling by car or, more particularly, my campervan. On a recent weekend in Torridon, I witnessed the huge attraction of the North Coast 500 (NC500). So many people in new cars, sports cars, motorhomes, campervans, vintage cars and motorbikes, as well as on bicycles, who had come to experience the superb scenery of the now famous north coast road of Scotland.

This got me thinking about a bucket-list of roads and routes to drive in Europe. Here is mine.

1 North Coast 500, Scotland

Starts/finishes: The Highlands capital city of Inverness.

Distance: Approximately 500 miles.

Best time to go: Spring for less traffic and autumn for stunning colours.

See NC500

What to expect

The circular route reveals the Scottish Highlands at its most awesome, with high mountains, stunning lochs, wild moorlands and a dramatic coast.

You’ll also pass castles, other historic attractions, stunning beaches and a number of whisky distilleries. What more could you want?

2 Iceland’s Route one

Iceland route one. Pic credit: Neil D’Cruze

Starts/finishes: Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.

Distance: 800 miles.

Best time to go: Summer.

See Route 1

What to expect

I have driven and hiked in the south of Iceland over a week and that gave me a taste for a lot more. The Route 1 is the national road of Iceland that circuits much of the island.

The landscape of Iceland is unique and spectacular with volcanoes, lava fields, wonderful waterfalls, hot springs and geysers to see and be wowed by.

3 The Military Road, Isle of Wight

The Military Road. pic credit: David Dixon.

Starts/finishes: Just beyond Blackgang, above the village of Chale. Out and back route.

Distance: Some 12 miles or 30 mins each way.

Best time to go: Spring and summer.

What to expect

I have heard about this short but beautiful road around the southern point of the Isle of Wight, from east coast to west.

The A3055 coast road – also known as the Military Road – climbs to the lower reaches of St Catherine’s Down, winds up above Blackgang Chine and then reveals the most amazing views of the southern coast of the island. You’ll see fabulous cliffs and sea as well as beautiful chalk cliffs at Freshwater Bay.

4 Trollstigen, Norway

Trollstigen. Pic credit: Martijnvdbraak

Starts: Andalsnes, Rauma.

Finishes: Valldal, Norddal.

Distance: Four miles.

Best time to go: Any time.

What to expect

Another route I’ve read about it the Trollstigen , which translates as Troll’s Ladder or Troll’s Path. It’s also called the Country Road 63.

It comprises a series of more than 10 hairpin bends that climb/descend to 2,300ft. There’s a viewpoint here and it’s well worth leaving time to sit and stare at the stunning views.

En route to the top, you pass over a 1,050ft tall Stigfossen waterfall on a stone bridge. How splendid is that?!

5 The Transfagarasan, Romania

The Transfargen. Pic credit: Cristian Bortes

Starts: Curtea de Arges – take road number DN7C.

Finishes: Cartisoara.

Distance: 71 miles.

Best time to go: Summer.

What to expect

Jeremy Clarkson once said he had found the world’s best driving road, The Transfagarasan in the middle of Romania. The highway is an incredible feat of engineering comprising a length of tarmac with tunnels, viaducts, bridges and hairpin bends.

Which drive would you choose to do first? I can’t decide but it would be a good idea to make sure you have euro breakdown cover in place first!

 

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