Thursday, 24 May 2012 9:19 AM
Road trips are traditionally associated with exploring the US on famous roads such as Route 66, but there is nothing to stop you embarking on a similar break closer to home. Europe has some great roads for people who love spectacular scenery and lots of places to visit along the way.
Travelling right across the continent is too time consuming to be realistic, but there are week-long routes in most countries that are perfect for motoring getaways. Such trips are easy to plan, with little to organise apart from buying a suitable European breakdown cover policy, checking your car insurance is valid overseas and downloading the relevant maps for your sat nav.
You can also book your accommodation in advance, but that will reduce the flexibility that is part of the fun of holidays like this. It is not difficult to find a cheap hotel in most destinations and, if you are worried about ending up with nowhere to sleep, you could put a tent in the boot just in case.
Pas de Calais, France
One of the advantages of choosing northern France for your road trip is that it is easy to get to by ferry or train. The Pas de Calais department is also full of beautiful scenery and historic attractions.
Your 160 mile journey will take you along the stunning Opal Coast, where you can stop for a day on the beach, as well as pay a visit to towns like Boulogne, Hesdin and Le Touquet where you will sample traditional French life. The highlight of any visit to the area is the cuisine and you can look forward to tasting sumptuous seafood, foie gras and some distinctive local beer.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Italy has plenty of coastal roads, but few are quite as spectacular as this highway in the province of Salerno. The tarmac is flanked by drops into the sea on one side and rugged cliffs on the other, so it can feel a little precarious as you tackle the hairpin bends.
The impressive vistas more than make up for it, as do the fascinating towns you can call in at during your tour. Stop at Amalfi to visit the 9th century cathedral, Positano to see the icon of a black Madonna and Furore to relax on the beach.
Alpine Road, Germany
Germany is not renowned as a holiday destination for Britons, but if you enjoy views of towering mountains, forests and idyllic lakes, you will love this 300 mile road trip from Lindau on Lake Constance to Berchtesgaden, close to the Austrian border.
The Alpine Road will take you past 25 fairytale castles and 21 lakes, together with palaces, onion-domed churches and abbeys. In addition to stunning views, you can look forward to enjoying the hospitality at Bavaria's traditional inns and the many spas along the route.
The Norwegian fjords
The coast of Norway is one of the most beautiful areas you will ever visit and there is no better way to enjoy it than from its winding mountain roads. Drive from the port of Bergen to the city of Trondheim and you will encounter glaciers, waterfalls and hairpin bends aplenty. The highlight of this trip is the spectacular Atlantic Road - a series of eight curved bridges that link small islands on the highway between Molde and Kristiansund.