Wondering what you can do in Europe this winter? Rent a car and go on a road trip in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy or Ireland.
From historical monuments and delicious regional foods to scenic routes and wine country, we’ve rounded up 5 of the best European winter road trips you can enjoy with friends and family.
Winter temperatures in Portugal rarely hit below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a pleasant winter destination. We suggest flying into Faro Airport (just three miles from the city center) and pick up your rental car there. Stay two nights in Faro while you explore this historic town.
Visit Praia de Faro, Cidade Velha and enjoy your meals at the Faro waterfront. After two nights in Faro, head to Monsaraz, a medieval town in Alentejo province. It’s one of the oldest towns in Portugal boasting of well-preserved historic homes, ancient walls and forts, and the Monsaraz castle. Walk the cobblestone streets and experience traditional Alentejo food.
Your next stop is Estremoz, also known as the marble city. Estremoz is a Moorish-influenced town with medieval fortress and marble mines. Check out the wrought-iron balconies, whitewashed houses with red roofs, impressive Estremoz castle and city walls. Join in the weekly Saturday market if you’re there over the weekend.
The next stop before heading to Lisbon is Evora, a UNESCO world heritage city located in the heart of Alentejo province. This medieval city showcases a Roman Temple, 16th to 18th century whitewashed houses decorated with terracotta tiles, and the famous Chapel of the Bones.
Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is your last stop. Drop off your car and enjoy the city on foot, ride the city’s trams and join the many guided tours around the city.
Those who love wineries and who have never been to Madrid would enjoy this itinerary recommended by Wine Tourism Spain. The Madrid to Bilbao wine country road trip will take you from Madrid to Segovia, Ribera del Duero wine region, Burgos, La Rioja, and Bilbao.
Before you leave, read the 5 Top Things to Do in Madrid. Spend at least two nights in Madrid visiting the city’s famous art museums and have a tapas crawl experience before picking up your car for your road trip to Segovia.
Segovia is only 62 miles from Madrid. It’s home to a 15-century monastery, Roman aqueduct with 160 arches (2,000 years old), and Alcazar. After a night in Segovia, head to the northern plains of Ribera del Duero wine region. See the traditional houses, castle, wineries and taste the best wines here. Stay in Penafiel, the main town in the heart of the district, located about one and a half hours from Segovia.
Next on the list is Burgos and Haro, the capital of La Rioja. Taste the local La Rioja wine and a traditional Riojan dinner. Lastly, head to Bilbao, a port city in Northern Spain.
Find out the full itinerary on Wine Tourism Spain’s website.
For a short drive but scenic road trip, we suggest Black Forest scenic route. It starts in Feldberg and ends in Waldkirch, in just under 45 miles. You can fly into Stuttgart, pick up your rental car and enjoy Germany’s Autobahn before taking the scenic road trip.
According to Germany tourism board, this mountain route runs along the “gently curving B500 road over the green hilltops of the Black Forest.” Get stunning views of mountains, valleys, villages, and pretty Black Forest houses. It’s best to discover the area by taking your time and enjoying the towns along the route or taking a detour to the countryside.
If you have time, we suggest combining the Black Forest scenic drive with the Baden wine route, Germany’s oldest wine trail.
Driving on the Almafi Coast offers panoramic views of the coasts, pastel-colored villages, and mountains. But this drive is not for those who are uncomfortable driving on curvy and narrow roads by the mountains. There will be heavy traffic during peak season, and in winter time your drive may be more pleasant with less traffic.
The downside is the driver will miss out on all the fantastic views while the passengers have the time of their lives. However, there are spots where you can pull over and soak in Italy’s most scenic coastline.
Start in Salerno and slowly wind through Ravello and Amalfi before ending your road trip in Positano. It’s only a 41-mile drive. Take a short drive between these villages, and stop for one or two nights at each place.
Those who can’t manage the drive may want to hire a private driver instead.
Self-drive is the best ways to see more of Ireland. Fly into Dublin and take a few days to recover from jet lag before picking up your rental car and driving 77 miles to Kilkenny.
Kilkenny is a medieval town in southeast Ireland. Visit the Kilkenny Castle, Black Abbey and join Pat Tynan’s Kilkenny’s medieval mile walking tour.
Your next stop is Cork, a university town on the southwest coast of Ireland. Discover the food capital of Ireland. Perhaps take a day trip by driving to Blarney Castle and Gardens, located around five miles from Cork.
Next stop is Galway, set on the west coast of Ireland, before heading back to Dublin. Some must-see attractions in Galway include Cliffs of Moher and Kylemore Abbey.
For things to do in Dublin, read 5 Best Things to Do in Dublin.