Europe's most scenic drives
Whether it's racing through the Alps or ambling along the Adriatic, Europe offers picturesque views from the road.world Updated: Aug 24, 2009 17:32 IST
Whether it's racing through the Alps or ambling along the Adriatic, Europe offers picturesque views from the road.
It's easy to be blown away by the view, at sunset, of the whitewashed lighthouse at Cabo de Sao Vincente, Portugal. The southwesternmost point of Europe stands on a tall craggy cliff, with nothing but the Atlantic Ocean all around.
Even better, however, is the journey back--a drive along the Algarve coast that takes you from sparse seaside bracken, through tiny tiled-roofed villages, and along sparkling sandy beaches.
Read related stories
Best American Towns To Visit By Car
Ten Trips On A Tank Of Gas
America's Prettiest Road Trips
In Depth: Europe's Most Scenic Drives
The route is just one of the stunning drives that Europe has to offer. Whether it's breathtaking glaciers, ocean views or farmers' lush fields that catch your eye, Europe has it all--and often just a short trip away.
"In the U.S., distances are huge and the landscape can often be the same, while in Europe--in the space of a few hours--you can drive from the Mediterranean to farmland and forest and even the Pyrenees," says Chris Mark, director of trip planning at bespoke travel firm Butterfield & Robinson.
To find the continent's most breathtaking road trips, we asked a group of eight travel and motoring experts to pick their favorites. The result? Drives to satisfy every taste, whether it's racing 'round a historic rally track or a gentle amble through the lanes of a picturesque coastline.
If adventure and Alpine scenery sound alluring, Austria's Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse offers an ideal mix of the two. Thirty-six hairpin bends may not be for the faint of heart, but the route provides a close-up view of the country's highest mountain and glacier, sure to make the journey worthwhile.
"There's the thrill of driving along on your motorbike, and in good weather the view hundreds of miles around is breathtaking," says Honda ( HMC - news - people ) Hornet rider Christian Schoeberl, ground manager for Central & Eastern Europe for Intrepid Travel, who enjoys making the journey in his personal time.
An equally thrilling experience can be had along Sicily's Targo Florio. The route still plays host to rallies but its sleepy villages, fields and narrow turns make the road one of Europe's finest drives, says Nick Smith, managing director of driving holiday and event specialist Dettaglio.
For a more gentle experience--that also avoids tourist traps--there's the coastal road that runs from near the Italian city of Brindisi all the way down to the "heel" of Italy's "boot." Unlike many of Europe's picturesque ocean drives, this one is at sea level, allowing you to stop off for a quick dip in the warm waters, says George Butterfield, chief executive of Butterfield & Robinson.
If all this sounds a little too ordinary, head to--often unfairly overlooked--Eastern Europe. In Russia, the Road of Life out of St. Petersberg to Lake Lagoda is lined with memorials marking the role it played in supplying the city during the great winter siege of World War II. But it's also a peaceful break from the buzz of the city.
"In Russia, the minute you leave the city you are right in the countryside and the difference between the two is huge," says Ala Osmond, director of Eastern European travel specialist Exeter International. "With the forests of skinny white birch trees, it almost has a fairytale-like feel."
And if stunning roads on their own aren't enough to entice you, traveling around Europe is only getting easier. With Switzerland being the latest country to sign the Schengen Agreement, effectively creating a borderless zone across countries including Germany, Spain and Greece, traveling is simple.
Says Nick Smith of Dettaglio, "With effectively no borders, the ease of access to a smorgasbord of different culture, scenery and culinary experiences is second to none."
Traveling is getting cheaper, too. While European currencies are teetering just a little below their last year's level (the greenback will only go 5% further than it did last year), the price of oil has practically halved, making your travel fund go a lot further. All the more reason to hit the road.
For more log on to www.forbes.com