Sometimes your holiday only truly begins when the 5 hour flight finally lands and you’ve endured a 3 hour transfer to your exciting foreign hotel. But why should you spend all of that time and money organising a relaxing break that doesn’t start from the moment you leave work the day before? Answer to the dilemma – an amazing European road trip! It’s difficult to know where to begin when thinking about hitting the road in a new country, but here are a few ideas to help spark those city break of a lifetime plans.
One for the Foodie
So many places in Europe offer a culinary journey of unique and traditional tastes, but none more so than the world renowned delicacies of Italy. The whole globe enjoys staple Italian meals each week with their family, but there really is no place like home for eating some of the finest food in the world.
Starting Point: What better place to begin than in Parma, with its rich gastronomic history and abundance of iconic treats. Here you’ll enjoy amazing, tasty prosciutto and an array of cheeses, all surrounded by stunning countryside and ancient ruins. Romance at its best.
Next Stop: Just one hour down the road and you hit the cosmopolitan city of Bologna – its name says it all! However many spaghetti Bolognese’s you may have tried over the years, none will come close to the mouth-watering tastes available to you here. Fresh meats, hearty sauces and all kinds of homemade pasta will have you eating out for every meal.
Final Stop: Ending your road trip only 2 hours away, the state of San Marino is the ideal finishing point. Although a state in its own right, its mixture of Italian cuisine and unique dishes are a match made in heaven. A fitting finale is the famous Torta Tre Monti or “Cake of the Three Mountains”, named after the nearby Three Towers of San Marino. This indulgent treat consists of layer upon layer of wafer and chocolate. It’s too good to miss.
One for the Shopaholics
One of the best parts of travelling to somewhere new is discovering incredible new stores you never knew existed. From fashion to beauty, home wares to food and drink, you’ll enjoy some retail therapy with all of these products in…France of course!
Starting Point: Dijon has French architecture and picturesque villages down to a T. Here you can experience shopping like a true local by strolling around the large, indoor market and enjoy the tastes, smells and bartering of a traditional market. From cheeses to wine, clothes to furniture, you’ll need another case to get it all home. There’s even an original mustard shop that dates back to 1820!
Next Stop: Rivalling Paris in the battle of glam vs. chic, Lyon has everything you’ll need for a spot of fashion over-indulgence. Just a 2 hour drive from Dijon and you’ll trade medieval thatched-roofs for shiny apartments and luxury retail plazas, where everything from designer labels to one-off boutiques are at your fingertips.
Final Stop: If you’ve managed not to spend all your money in Lyon, then take a four hour drive down to the coast and make the most of the beautiful scenery in Nice. A slightly longer drive, but well worth the wait as once you arrive you’ll be mixing sunshine with shopping in every chain store, designer brand and unique stall you can possibly imagine. Nice is a shoppers dream – the sunny beach is a bonus.
One for the History Buff
We’re so busy thinking about which new city from ‘across the pond’ we can visit, that it’s so easy to forget how much of an interesting and massively undiscovered country we call home! I’m really not sure there’s anywhere else in Europe that offers as much culture and intrigued as the British Isles do. You may think you’ve learnt everything you need to know about UK history, but you’d be wrong!
Starting Point: English beauty doesn’t come much fairer than the picturesque west coast city of Bath. Dotted with incredible Georgian houses, Roman remains and original features everywhere you turn, visiting Bath will be a truly historical journey. The city dates back to 500BC when the natural springs were discovered, and the impressive Bath Abbey is one of the last examples of a medieval church still standing since its build in 1499AD.
Next Stop: Moving up the country with a three hour drive you can pay a visit to Chester. Growing in popularity, this pretty city has an illustrious past and air of distinctive character. Founded by the Romans, Chester is the only UK city to have preserved its Medieval Walls in their entirety, making for a very enjoyable and educational walk. After being left deserted for 5 years’ once the Romans withdrew, Chester built its way back up as a port, trading city and commercial hub in the 18th century. There’s so much to learn!
Final Stop: It has to be the one and only, York. York is history and culture, from the hugely impressive York Minster to the Roman Walls protecting the city. This iconic British location is a hive of activity as people flock from all over the world to learn more about its involvement in the development of our country, leading back to York’s position as our former capital city. It also has the added bonus of incredible food and drink, endless boutique shopping in streets like the famous Shambles and amazing attractions to make you wish you were staying for longer.
Let’s face it, Europe is continent where almost every city is worth paying a visit to. The list of road trips is endless, and we’ve missed out key destinations that are on the rise for 2014 like Norway and Iceland. Whether you’re a foodie, a shopper or are in search of a little more knowledge, a road trip allows you to make your city breaks go however you wish. Give it a go!