The godly locations of Europe have forever inspired lovers to take to the road. With castles, legends, historic magic, magnificent architecture, indulgent cuisine and epic natural treasures, the continent is a world of romantic mystique. Savour endless alone time among some of the continent’s most enchanting scenery by revving up the engine in these dramatic destinations.
Clifftop cruising in Provence, France
Just one day of driving through Provence provdes an entire trip worth of experiences. This route has it all, from jaw-dropping natural wonders at the ‘Grand Canyon of France’ to the vibrant city life of Marseille. Start your engine in Lorgues, winding down the windows to let fresh scent of pine forests and lavender fields in.
Get your adrenalin fix as you take the mountainous roads to one of France’s most beautiful villages, Tourtour. Explore slowly, before the dramatic drive round Verdon gorges, eastbound towards Avignon. This Provençal town served as the hub of the Roman Catholic world for seven decades in the early 1300s and its awe-inspiring architecture stand testament to its historic importance.
Chateau de Varenne
Closeby is an 18th century residence you can actually spend the night in: Chateau de Varenne was built in 1738 for Guillaume Puy, the first mayor of Avignon. With its quiet location in the peaceful village of Sauveterre and a pristine French-style park, this is a gorgeous pitstop to recharge the batteries and properly soak up the region’s relaxing ambience.
Once you’re suitably recharged, journey southwards for the last leg of the trip – Marseille-bound, to be precise. Round off your Provençal adventure with a wander round the coastal gem’s finest sights – the Old Port (Vieux-Port) and its boat-lined quay, the ancient Le Panier neighbourhood, and the heavenly Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.
Rugged roads in County Kerry, Ireland
Ireland’s prettiest corners are best explored by car. The Ring of Kerry route is filled with romance, from the dainty boutique hotels that will capture your heart to wild and wonderful scenery ripe for exploring. Kick off your road trip in the buzzing town of Killarney: once you’ve had your fill of traditional pubs, centuries-old mansions and of course, the mighty craic, enjoy a drive through serene landscapes to Killorglin. Keep an eye out for the goat statue – every year a wild mountain goat is crowned king and the town erupts with days of music, dancing and fun.
Continue your Irish journey through the hills and mountains to the picturesque village of Glenbeigh before veering to the one of the westernmost towns in Europe – Cahersiveen, also known as the gateway to Skellig Ring. If you have time, drive the Skellig route on a detour from the Ring of Kerry, but if not, be sure to stop by the Old Stone Barracks. It’s said that British authorities were so anxious to build the barracks that they got it mixed up the plans, building a construction meant for the Punjab in India. Whether this is a myth is hard to say, but it’s a lovely story either way.
Park Hotel Kenmare
Leaving Cahersiveen, follow the rugged mountains, stretches of green and wild Atlantic ocean round to Waterville, the favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin. For a dose of rural charm, drive to the charming coastal village of Sneem before taking the road to Kenmare, Kerry’s first Heritage Town. Overlooking Kenmare Bay is a little bit of magic, the luxurious Park Hotel Kenmare. Enjoy an enchanting stay in this award-winning spa hotel, which dates back to 1987, before setting off through the impossibly beautiful mountain passes to Moll’s Gap. Finish your enchanting Irish road trip at Killarney National Park for an array of peaks, lakes, forests and one blissful waterfall.
A Cretan odyssey in Crete, Greece
With its pink-sand beaches, Minoan treasures, charismatic ports and quiet mountain villages, it’s easy to see why Crete is often seen as a country of its own. Set off along the north coast of the island, exploring the magnificence of Chania and its old world beauty.
Leave the city life for a strong dose of nature by driving down to Samaria Gorge, where you can hike through Crete’s only national park before embarking onwards to Rethymno. Criss-crossing mountain roads, villages nestled into olive groves, steep gorges and a string of monasteries, tombs and bastions make this province a fascinating drive.
Head southeast from central Rethymno and in half an hour you’ll arrive at the historic municipality of Arkadi, home to the legendary Arkadi Monastery. Stay the night here in a village like no other: Kapsaliana Village was once the location of the monastery’s olive press and its 12 original houses have been restored and converted into luxurious guest houses.
Waking up in the heart of this peaceful village is a truly special experience and the best way to recharge before heading to your next destination – the capital city. Heraklion is the perfect base for exploring the intriguing archaeological museum and the Palace of Knossos and the ultimate way to end your Cretan adventure.