news Road trips in Europe: Recommended scenic routes for a self-drive holiday

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Road trips in Europe: Recommended scenic routes for a self-drive holiday

Fancy ditching the fixed itineraries and tour buses for something a little less touristy, more off-the-beaten-track, but just as Instagram-worthy? Exploring Europe by car might just be the holiday you need.

Exploring Europe on a self-drive trip will give you the freedom to navigate backcountry roads, visit more cities and countries in one trip, and discover the diversely magnificent landscapes that continent has to offer. Going on a road trip in Europe also gives you complete freedom in your itinerary and time, and could also prove to be a cheaper mode of transportation if there are a few of you sharing a car.

To make your trip more convenient, each of these road trip ideas starts and end in a major city accessible by flight, with car rental services at the airport. This makes exploring Europe by car even more hassle-free for you!

What’s in this guide:

Top 4 scenic routes recommended for a road trip in Europe

1. The Great British Country drive

London (1-2 days) – Fly into London and rent a car at the airport. You may want to spend a couple of days taking in the capital’s exciting diversions and get over your jet lag before hitting the winding country roads.

Peak District (2 days) – Head to the Peak District and explore small charming villages nestled amongst rolling green hills and vast valleys. Cruise along famed roads such as Winnats Pass, Snake Pass and Cat and Fiddle Pass. 

Yorkshire Dales (2-3 days) – Get wonderfully lost on the backroads of Wharfedale and Nidderdale, venture deep into the underground chambers of The Forbidden Corner, and admire the beauty of Aysgarth Falls.

Lake District (2-3 days) – Test your skills on one of Britain’s steepest routes, the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. With a 30% gradient in some areas, these paths will lead you to spectacular views but are certainly not for the faint-hearted. Be sure to pay Lake Windermere a visit, and spend a night in a haunted castle at Muncaster Castle

Manchester (1-2 days) – End your trip in Manchester. See the local sights and maybe even catch a football match!

Duration8 to 12 days
Where to rent a carLondon
Google Maps for this routeThe Great British Country Road Trip

2. Normandy, the Loire Valley, and Route Napoleon

Paris (1-2 days) – Fly from Singapore to Paris and pick up your rental car at the airport. 

Normandy (2-3 days) – From the glamour of the fashion capital, move to Normandy and drive along the coastal roads to visit the D-Day beaches. Head north of Normandy to Étretat where the epic white chalk cliffs of Normandy await, along with a white pebble beach at the foot of the cliffs for a spot of sunbathing. Another must-see is Mont St Michel, a hauntingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage village set on an island that seems to rise out of the sea. 

The Loire Valley (2-3 days) – Next, venture into wine country. Wine lovers can sample the region’s wines at one of the many vineyards on the Loire Valley Wine Route (warning: don’t drink and drive). Along the way, explore medieval towns such as Loches, and pay a visit to the famous Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Cheverny.

Route Napoleon (3 days) – This route follows Napoleon Bonaparte’s march from Elba to Grenoble in 1815 on his way to overthrow Louis XVIII. Make a stop at Grasse, a small town on the French Riviera known as the perfume capital of the world. A slight detour from Route Napoleon will take you to Verdon Gorge, the deepest gorge in France where towering limestone cliffs and clear turquoise waters await. 

Nice (1 day) – Enjoy a bit of sun and sea before flying out of Nice.

Duration9 to 12 days
Where to rent a carParis
Google Maps for this routeNormandy, the Loire Valley, and Route Napoleon

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3. The road of Greek gods

Athens (1-3 days) – Begin your road trip in the heart of ancient Greece. Athens is home to magnificent temples where Greek gods and goddesses were once worshipped. Spend a day or two exploring temples and ruins such as the Acropolis, Parthenon, and many more. Take a day trip to the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio and admire the impressive white marble columns perched atop a steep cliff 60 metres above sea level.

Peloponnese (2-4 days) – With magnificent mountains, idyllic beaches, and many ancient sites to explore, it’s no wonder the gods chose to walk here. Base yourself in the romantic seaside town of Nafplio to gain easy access to the region of Peloponnese. Tour the Nemean Wine Route to get a taste of the local grape varieties. Visit Mycenae, home of the mythical Agamemnon. Head to ancient Olympia and imagine the roar of the crowds as you step into the birthplace of the Olympic Games. 

Delphi (1-2 days) – A UNESCO World Heritage site, Delphi is brimming with ancient archaeological treasures. Known to be “the navel of the world”, Delphi is also the site of the famed Temple of Apollo, once home to the legendary oracle, Pythia. 

Meteora (2 days) – Travel to Meteora where some of the most impressive rock formations in Greece await you. Six Byzantine monasteries (of an original 24) are built on immensely tall natural sandstone pillars towering 300 to 550 metres high. Visit the monasteries and be surrounded by the spiritual and mystical air that inspires pilgrimages by Christians from all over the world.

Thessaloniki (1 day) – Fly back to Singapore from Thessaloniki airport.

Duration7 to 12 days
Where to rent a carAthens
Google Maps for this routeThe road of Greek gods

4. Multi-country European road trip

Berlin (1-2 days) – Take time to absorb the historical significance of Berlin. Experience driving on the Autobahn (a highway with no speed limit) as you head towards Prague. You may choose to stop at Spreewald, a little town on the outskirts of Berlin for a bit of canoeing in forest canals surrounded by lush greenery. Alternatively, break for lunch in Dresden, an elegant city rich in art treasures, grand classical architecture, and grandiose palaces.

Prague (1-2 days) – Enter your second country in Europe by car. The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague exudes a beauty like no other. Savour a Trdelnik as you stroll past rows of Baroque buildings, gothic cathedrals, and the Old Town Square’s most enchanting attraction — the medieval Astronomical Clock. Make a trip to sample world-famous Czech lager at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery.

The Black Forest (2-4 days) – Enjoy being in nature for a few days and rent yourself a cottage or B&B in the Black Forest. Drive along Route 500, a well-known trail from Freudenstadt to Baden-Baden filled with pleasant winding curves and beautiful panoramas. Cutting through the forest, this scenic drive offers views of tall pine trees, glacial lakes, and majestic mountains as a backdrop. Stay a night or two in Baden-Baden to enjoy its natural springs and thermal baths.

The Alsace Wine Route (2-3 days) – You can tick off your third country in Europe by car. Pop over to France on the penultimate leg of this road trip and drive along the Alsace Wine Route (Marlenheim to Thann). Apart from sprawling vineyards on sloping green valleys, there are many fairytale villages along the way to explore such as Colmar and Eguisheim. Walk along cobblestone streets lined with colourful half-timbered buildings resembling gingerbread houses, with cheerful flowers adorning sidewalks, door frames, and windowsills.

Zurich (1 day) – Finally, arrive in your last city in Europe by car. Go out on Lake Zurich and get lost along the medieval streets of Altstadt before flying back to Singapore.

Duration7 to 12 days
Fly intoBerlin Schonefeld airport
Google Maps for this routeMulti-country European road trip

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How to find open-jaw tickets on Skyscanner

These 4 road trip ideas will take you around Europe by car, starting and ending in different cities. Find the best deals for open-jaw tickets on Skyscanner using the multi-city flight search function.

  1. Select “Multi-City” at the top of the search panel.
  2. Enter your trip details. Choose the cabin class and the number of travellers.
  3. Hit “Search”.
  4. Use filters in the left sidebar to find the best flights.
  5. Click “Details” to find out more about each part of your journey.
  6. Book a flight by clicking “Select”. You’ll be redirected to the airline or travel agent’s website to complete your booking.

Booking open-jaw tickets may even be cheaper than booking individual return tickets for your Euro trip. Here’s a basic comparison for the Great British Country Drive itinerary:

Return TripOpen Jaw
Kuala Lumpur to London Return 
London to Manchester Return
Kuala Lumpur to London
Manchester to Kuala Lumpur
Total Cost: RM3,570Total Cost: RM2,930

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All you need to know about renting a car in Europe 

If you’re planning on seeing Europe by car, make sure you at least have the latest Malaysian Driving License (with English on the card). However, it will be best if you have an International Driving License to minimise any issues with the local authorities. It costs RM150 for a validity of one year but it could save you a lot of trouble! Remember to also check with your chosen car rental provider for specific requirements in each of the countries you plan on visiting.

Cost of car rental in Europe 

By now, you must be wondering about the cost of car rental in Europe. Prices differ from city to city and country to country, so do check with different providers or use Skyscanner’s car rental search to find the best deals. The prices below will give you an idea of rental prices for the cities in our list of road trip ideas.

CityAverage price per day
for Economy car rental*
London RM80

Other additional/hidden costs you should look out for (exact rates dependant on EU country and car provider, some may not be applicable): 

Additional/hidden costsAverage prices
EU VAT tax15% – 30%
Insurance and theft protection coverRM45 – 159 per day
Driver fees (additional driver, young or senior driver)RM22.80 – 90 per day
Car equipment rental (e.g. GPS system, child seats etc.)RM22.80 – 68.40 per day
Pick-up/drop-off in different locationRM40.50 – 4,500 (one-time fee)
FuelRM2.70 – 7.90 per litre
Local car rental taxes (e.g. road tax, vehicle license fee, etc.)RM4.50 – 22.80 per day
Parking feesAverage RM13.50 an hour

Minimum age to rent a car in Europe

Generally speaking, the minimum age to rent a car in Europe is 18 years old, and the maximum age is 75 years old. If you’re under the age of 25 or over 75 and looking to get a car rental in Europe, there are some caveats you should be aware of:

  1. Terms and conditions on the minimum/maximum age to rent a car in Europe will be determined by the country you rent your car from, and the car rental provider
  2. You may be liable to pay a young driver’s surcharge on top of your car rental fee (RM22.80 – 90 per day)
  3. You may be required to purchase specific insurance options
  4. The age requirements may restrict you from renting specific vehicles (e.g. luxury cars or speciality vehicles)

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Ready to set off on an adventure around Europe by car? Get great flight deals, hotels and car rental on Skyscanner or download our free mobile app for Android or mobile app for iOS for easy browsing and booking on the go.

If you’re looking for more adventure, why not head out on a road trip in Australia or discover the local charm of our country by hitting the pedals for a road trip in Malaysia? Whichever it is, remember that we’ve got your back always!

Originally published on 12 June 2019 and adapted from the original article on Skyscanner Singapore. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.