Getting on the road with a hired car is the best way to truly enjoy what European landscapes and charming cities have to offer. There are places everybody should visit at least once, but not depending on public transport and their specific route is the true meaning of freedom. Fortunately, laying your eyes on this complete guide is the first step towards that feeling.
Some charming and obvious places are a must-go, but they are only a small part of a real adventure. Most people who do not research like you feel satisfied with a couple of capitals, making them unaware of some almost unknown locations, or better said, hidden gems.
Whatever places you decide to add to your trip, keep in mind that you have more than one option in terms of hiring vehicles. Deciding whether hiring a van, a car, or an RV is the optimal choice depends on your demands. Most of the time, when there is any sort of prerequisite, car hire is ideal because of the smaller size.
Finally, keep in mind that any vehicle hire should always include insurance to avoid high and unnecessary costs during your trip. As we will better explain at the end of the article, your car hire excess insurance is what will give you peace of mind. Now, let us get to know 40 amazing places to visit with a car in Europe.
Which Top Amazing Places Not to Miss in Europe?
1. Blue Lagoon and Vik, in Iceland
It is no surprise Iceland is featured in our guide. Blue Lagoon and Vik are both great to watch the northern lights. While Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to relax at your own hotel private hot lagoon, Vik has one of the most beautiful Iceland landscapes. The latter is also an ideal place for anyone who wants to experience a really epic sunset in their lives.
How To Get There: Choose a car not to miss breathtaking sights along the way. For Vik, follow Highway 1 from the Reykjavik airport, and you will arrive in 2.5 hours. As for Blue Lagoon, take Highway 41, then Highway 43, and follow the signs. It works from both Keflavik and Reykjavik airports.
2. Bohinj: Hidden Gem in Slovenia
Bohinj is located in the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park, a place that combines complete synchrony with nature and sustainable development. Already awarded a prize for that sustainability, Bohinj is a perfect place for hiking and several other sports, canoeing included.
How To Get There: By car is the fastest way to get there, taking only the A2/E61 course, and you are not limited in time and freedom – such as when you take a bus.
3. Route One: Explore Iceland a Bit More
You will need a four-wheel-drive car to explore the beauties of Route One in Iceland. Specify your plans when hiring a car to make sure you will be safe when exploring lava fields and volcanoes, fascinating waterfalls, and the contract between deserts and hot geysers.
How To Get There: After hiring a proper car with excess insurance, get ready for 1,333 kilometers of beauty hypnosis, starting from Reykjavík.
4. Faroe Islands: Picturesque Archipelago
The incredible archipelago near Iceland is one of those hidden places we mentioned, if you want peace and to really feel nature. Its small size makes it the perfect choice for those who want to explore everything they can within a trip.
How To Get There: Fly to the Faroe Islands and have a hire car with an insurance policy ready, for that is the best way to explore a place with almost no public transport. For example, you will freely visit the beautiful Saksun and Gasadalur villages.
5. Ilha das Flores: Secret Destination in Portugal
If the combination of hiking and watching aquatic mammals such as dolphins and whales sound like a dream, Ilha das Flores should be on your European tour. Divers and nature lovers will love the quiet and almost empty place.
How To Get There: After reaching Ilha das Flores in The Azores, start your trip from Faja Grande, a small town with fascinating landscapes. From there, visit Miradouro do Portal, Rocha dos Bordoes, and the lagoons that follow the road with your hired car – the only way to explore it fully.
6. Aguero: Hidden Mountains
Agüero is located in Huesca, Spain, and is a great place for people looking for spectacular pictures for their social media or private albums. They have a 12th-century architecture and several days of pure entertainment and art in mid-August.
How To Get There: From the Huesca Airport, drive 50 minutes with your rental car.
7. Verdon Gorge Circuit, in France
Drivers looking for a fine experience should complete the Verdon Gorge circuit in Provence, France. Of course, you need to accept the highs and lows of the road to visit the lake of Sainte-Croix.
How To Get There: Drive carefully throughout the circuit from Lorgues, following several numbered roads. Spare an entire day before the end of the spring to have the best possible experience with your hired car.
8. Cefalu: Easy to Access and Still a Treasure
Located in Sicily, the picturesque Italian scenario blends perfectly with a lovely beach. Far from being limited to that, Cefalu is an excellent choice for lovers of medieval architecture.
How To Get There: Easily reached by car or train, you can get there within one hour east of Palermo. With a car, you can also add Mondello to your tour.
9. Cotswolds: Because England is Not Only London
Those willing to spare a couple of days to get to know The Cotswolds in England will never regret it. It is a relaxing trip, starting from Cheltenham and ending at the charming towns of Malmsbury and Tetbury.
How To Get There: Experience a fairy tale trip with a car, which is not as tricky as using other transports, mainly because there are several destinations and poor options. Simply follow up the M40 to Oxford and delight yourself.
10. Romantische Strasse: Romantic Drives on Cute Streets
Talking about fairy tales, Germany has an incredible collection of medieval towns, castles, and palaces that would fit one. The Romantische Strasse route starts at the Würzburg’s Residenz, then the village of Tauberbischofsheim, and Bad Mergentheim. It will lead you across beautiful landscapes and towns, until ending at Füssen.
How To Get There: Use the local roads B25 and B17 from Würzburg, not forgetting to check the Residenz palace. As always, such routes demand a car you may get from a rental company – do not forget the insurance.
11. Sistelo: One Of Portugal’s Wonders
The second hidden gem in Portugal is easier to reach, as long as you hire a car. It comprises a small village that lives up to the nickname “Portuguese Tibet”. The cultivation terraces build up an outstanding landscape, perfectly appreciated from the “Cha da Armada” point.
How To Get There: Take the A3, then exit 12 and then IC28, N101, and N202-2, respectively. Cars are twice or even three times faster than trains and buses.
12. Lake Skadar: Breath-Taking Views in Montenegro
Montenegro’s tiny country reserves a grateful surprise to explorers who spare some time to visit the Lake Skadar National Park. There, experience an entire day relaxing by the largest lake in Southern Europe. Stay at Kodor for better accommodation and drive towards Virpazar town. Keep an eye on the road, but be aware the scenery is breathtaking even before getting there.
How To Get There: From Kodor, it is only a 65km drive to Virpazar. No need to mention hiring a car is the most comfortable and reliable way to get there.
13. Mechelen: In The Heart of Belgium
People always think in Brussels when they wonder where to go when in Belgium, and the architectonic beauty of Mechelen goes underrated. Together with history, Mechelen was elected one of the cities of the future in Europe. Their cathedral is far different from anything you have experienced: 318 feet and a 20-minutes climb with a splendorous view.
How To Get There: Follow the motorway you come from the Brussels Airport, travel via the E19, and take exit number 9 or 10. It should not take more than 30 minutes.
14. Paris: An Eternal Cliché
Yes, the worldwide famous city of romance could not be out of a list of amazing places in Europe. By car, you will be able to spot locations that tourists and ordinary visitors cannot see.
What To Do There: When in Paris, enjoy the benefit of a hired and insured car to visits free museums, gardens, and historical places.
15. Tromso-Lofoten Islands, in Norway
Start off by taking your rented and excess-insured car in Tromso, where the series of breathtaking panoramic views begin. On your way to the Lofoten Islands, enjoy the possibility of sleeping in your rental car to appreciate their mountains and beautiful lakes better.
How To Get There: the route can be completed by vehicle only, and the local legislation allows camping – so you can simply sleep in your car.
16. Adishi: A Hidden Gem in Georgia
Watch the sunrise combined with the gorgeous landscape of Adishi, made of mountains and a small village in Georgia. It is perfect for hiking and also for ski.
How To Get There: No other transport equals hiring a car. Get it in Tbilisi and drive to Mestia on comfortable roads, and then to Wikhnashi. You will be a stretch from Adishi, but keep in mind you should have an off-road vehicle.
17. Cartagena: Beauty and History Combined
Visit and see the contrast between the old part and the more modern part of Cartagena, a place that breathes history. The beaches of dark sand are worth visiting, and you can get to Santa Marta or Playa Blanca since you will have a rental car at your disposal.
How To Get There: Arrive at Cartagena and use your rental car to visit Santa Marta, Playa Blanca, and other places more easily accessible by car.
18. San Sebastian and Its Beautiful Beaches
Excellent restaurants and the most beautiful beaches in the Basque Country can be found in San Sebastian, a friendly place you should have on your tour. Easily accessible with a hired car, this location could not be described in a way that would really represent its unique view.
How To Get There: Fortunately, you can get there from the rest of Spain or even France by following the national highway N-1.
19. Val D’Isere: Skiing Pit Stop
Another worthwhile ski spot in Europe, Val D’Isere is an excellent stop by the French Alps. It is really intended for people who love the sport, with cozy accommodation.
How To Get There: The best option is to follow the road from Geneva or Lyon international airports, only three hours away.
20. Torquay: Park The Car and Get on a Boat For an Hour
One of the most splendorous destinations within the English Riviera is found in Torquay. Explore parks, gardens, beaches, and caves with the same beauty of world-renowned cities and 10x fewer tourists.
How To Get There: With a hired car, you can get there from London or start from Exeter, which is 30 minutes away. Wherever you begin, a car is still the fastest option.
21. Crovie: Leave The Car For a Moment To Meet the Small Village
As always, the sweetest spots share some things in common: a small village, one single road, and awe-inspiring sights. From Crovie, you can also check the Scottish village of Pennan.
How To Get There: Reach it three times faster with a vehicle, whether a car, an RV or a van with excess insurance, just one hour from Aberdeen.
22. Trollstigen: Visit Roads With Incredible Mountain Views in Summer
Perfect for hiking and sightseeing, Trollstigen is open from May until late Autumn. Engineering magic made it possible to get close to mountains and perspectives one could not have without stone and steel walkways.
How To Get There: the best way is to rent a vehicle with a maximum length of 13 meters. People can also rent cars in Andalsnes and drive from there.
23. Nimes: Underrated Historical City of France
With its historical sites and beautiful nature, Nimes is one of the best places in France to include in your European trip by car. If you want to go beyond cities that everyone is used to, that is a pick.
How To Get There: follow our hint of hiring a car in Paris and get in 6 hours – following A6 and A7.
24. North Coast 500: Alternating Road and Walks in Scotland
Those who are fascinated with pictures of sea cliffs from other suggestions should not decide just yet. The North Coast 500 is a must for adventurers with that preference, an experience that lasts 500 miles.
How To Get There: From Inverness, get on your hired car with Scottish legislation in mind, and a car hire excess insurance policy to protect your money.
25. Lake Como: Little Towns in Italy
Hidden in the north of Italy, Lake Como is close to Switzerland and is incredibly beautiful when bathed by the sunlight. Its surrounding towns, Como and Bellagio, are worthwhile places you have to visit.
How To Get There: It is just an hour from Milan, following the A9 motorway.
26. Marbella Golden Mile: Discover Why People Have Mansions There
Many wealthy and famous people have houses and boats there, which already establishes a picture of how Marbella Golden Mile is. Of course, you will be much more interested in the beautiful coast, rather than in luxury assets.
How To Get There: Drive from your airport to Marbella with a hire car and enjoy the possibility of getting to Benahavis, Ronda, Mijas, Elviria, and many other places.
27. Venice: Give The Car a Break When You Reach It
Venice’s famous canals are not free of tourists, but that is not enough reason not to visit it. It is the kind of place where you not only do not mind getting lost but also want that to happen.
How To Get There: Hire a car and get there from any major city in Italy – keep in mind you will have to leave it.
28. Cinque Terre: Do Not Believe Everything You Hear, Cars Are Allowed
Visit the region of Cinque Terre, comprised of five towns that give that feeling that you could just stay there for the rest of your life. Enjoy the advantage of having your hire car or van ready to take you from one village to the other.
How To Get There: You can get there from La Spezia or Pisa Airport.
29. Balkan’s Road Trip
Another complete tour in one is the suggestion to make a road trip in the Balkans. With a car or van hire excess insurance, your thoughts will only be on the beauty of countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, etc.
How To Get There: You can start from Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. Then, decide which countries to include in your tour – perhaps with some gems on this list.
30. Budapest: Another Capital Worth Visiting
It is clear by now that the most amazing places to visit with a car in Europe are a mix of unknown gems and fairly well-known cities. Budapest is within the second group, with breathtaking architecture and an easy place to explore.
How To Get There: Fly to Budapest and use your hired car. That is the best way to know the city without paying too much for it.
31. Fanes-Sennes-Prags: Alternate Driving and Hiking
Back in Italy, one of the fascinating parks in Europe is the Fanes-Sennes-Prags. Its valleys and rivers should be the choice of those who love extraordinary scenery. Once again, a perfect place for hiking and taking amazing pictures.
How To Get There: If you follow our recommendation to Venice, Fanes is not even 3 hours away following the A27.
32. Cologne: A Special Place in Germany
We could not mention amazing places in famous cities and leave Cologne out of the list. It is perfect for both day and night activities, so whenever you decide to park the car, have some comfortable shoes to explore the vicinity. As always, the city’s cathedral is one of the most important stops.
How To Get There: to continue with the Europe tour plan, a perfect trip would be to go to Cologne from Paris via A1 and E42, crossing Belgium.
33. Copenhagen: Discover a Piece of Denmark
Copenhagen should be added to the tour of those who love excellent restaurants and parties. You can also drive along empty roads with your hired car from there and discover hidden gems all around Denmark.
How To Get There: the famous city of Copenhagen is easily accessible from many places in Europe. There is no need for specific instructions.
34. Gothenburg: Get To Know Swedish Castles
Sweden is featured for the first time in our list of best places to visit with a car in Europe. Driving along the west coast, Gothenburg is a great stop, together with a collection of castles you will find there.
How To Get There: Get there from the main cities in Sweden and Scandinavia. If you are reading this list in the given order, you can get there in 5 hours from Copenhagen.
35. Stavanger: Explore The Wilderness in Norway
Those who have not yet experienced how Norway’s wilderness and fantastic landscapes feel should go to Stavanger.
How To Get There: Stavanger has an airport, and from there, you can explore their nature with a rental car and almost no limitations.
5 Final Hidden Gems To Visit With a Car in Europe
Finally, our list of the best and most amazing places to visit with a car in Europe is close to its end. Now, let us introduce you the five hidden gems you must add to your bucket list:
Hunyad Castle: Beautiful Place Not Very Far From Bucharest
West of Bucharest, Hunyad Castle is how many people would describe a fairy tale castle. You will need to drive 200 km to get there, but you will take longer than expected due to incredible sights along the way.
Pena Palace: Hidden Treasure of Sintra
Pena Palace is even more colored than the Hunyard Palace and definitely stands out when compared to other similar buildings. It is a must for those who appreciate such architecture. Once you have a hired car in Sintra, you are good to go.
Pulpit Rock: Do Not Leave Norway Without Visiting It
We hope Stavanger is still fresh in your minds because going there must include the Pulpit Rock. Fortunately, with a protected vehicle – such as a van hire excess insurance – the hills and the region’s wilderness will not be a problem. Trust us, visiting it will be one of the best experiences in your life.
Komani Lake: The Beautiful Canyon of Albania
If you decided to take a tour through the Balkans, then Lake Komani has to be part of it. It does not indicate for a moment that it was artificially created, generating one of the most amazing views on this list. Its way does not count on the easiest roads out there, but you will have time to relax on a ferry cruise.
Varmland: Your Car Might Get Jealous of The Canoe
We are back to Sweden to finish this list of hidden gems that can be accessed by car, van, or RV. The main road leading to it is the E18 road, as well as the road 45. It is an excellent place for adventure and activities in nature.
5 Things to Remember Before Your European Tour
- Check twice which type of vehicle you need to get to a place and if there is any sort of limitation.
- Tours must be covered by insurance for safety, and getting a car hire excess insurance will save your budget.
- Do not define your tour by the number of locations. Sometimes you can add the most amazing places to visit with a car in Europe that are already in the way.
- Always verify how to drive in any European country, as they might have unusual laws.
- Get details on weather conditions and never assume you know how it will be at a particular time of the year.
We have gone through 40 amazing places to visit with a car in Europe, and there might be more suggestions than you can enjoy in your next vacation. Go through it a few times, establish the best tour with the inclusion of your favorite ones, and get planning.
As always, do not forget that hiring a vehicle is the best option to really get to know a place, but only if you are duly insured. Regardless of how comprehensive your collision waiver policy is, always make sure to get the best car hire excess insurance – including for vans and RVs. That way, you will pay a few bucks instead of the majority of any possible damage or loss.