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Road trips in Europe are one of the coolest ways to immerse yourself in a region or visit several countries during a single trip. This budget-friendly way of visiting Europe works great for family trips too!
These Europe road trip itineraries have family travel in mind, with some of the best routes to take in Europe with kids. Time to load the car and set off for your epic European road trip adventure!
FAMILY ROAD TRIPS IN EUROPE: DRIVING AROUND EUROPE
What makes European road trips so great is the fact the continent is pretty compact overall. You can drive a few hours and cross the border into another country in most cases.
This means instead of just driving through different states or cities like you would when road tripping in North America or Australia, you can see a whole lot of different countries too.
On a second trip to Europe, we did a guided tour that took us through 8 different countries over 3 weeks.
This was a fun way to see a lot in a short time, but doing it yourself is a far more affordable option… especially when travelling with kids!
PREPARING FOR YOUR EUROPE ROAD TRIP
Check out these articles and resources for help planning your ultimate European road trip:
These must-do road trips in Europe will take you right across the continent. With some of these road trip itineraries focused on a single country, others will take you through many.
One thing is for sure, you will love doing any of these European road trips with kids!
TIME NEEDED: At least 3 days
Of all the road trips our family has taken around Europe, there is one route which has a special status. My husband comes from Hungary, and I from Lithuania, so naturally we have travelled a fair amount of times between the two countries.
We have taken this Eastern European trip at Christmas time, in spring and summer, and have varied the route slightly to get the most out of it and not get bored on our way.
My son loved our road trip holidays, although we didn’t plan many child-specific activities into it. He enjoyed listening to stories (either by me or the CD player in the car), playing games, sleeping in the car and sleeping in a new place each night.
What he liked most is learning about new places we would visit though. Trying a new meal (and often leaving it for me to finish), going for an ice-cream, visiting a castle, a Christmas market, an interactive museum or new playground.
Depending on your interests, you can alter your stops, but here are the ones I recommend including:
Augustow – A small Polish town close to Lithuanian border where you can take a boat trip around the canals and have a hike in a forest.
Bialystok – Border town with a very special mix of Poland, Belarus and Lithuania. Great food and even better beer!
Warsaw – Everyone says it’s the new Berlin, so have a look for yourself. Plenty to do for a whole week.
From here there are three main ways to continue.
Eastern: Hold east and continue to Lublin – a charming student city. If you want to take a little detour, you can visit Lviv in Ukraine and enjoy great chocolate and flaming coffee. Believe me, the extra time and kilometres are so worth it. Continue to Rzeszow, Kosice in Slovakia, with a stop in Eger, and to Budapest.
Central: Head straight to Krakow and then down to Zakopane to admire the mountains. The road will take you through the High Tatra mountains, so it is more suited to experienced drivers. Keep in mind that you might need special equipment if driving during winter. Visit Liptovsky Mikulas in Slovakia, Vac and Szentendre in Hungary before you reach Budapest.
Western: From Warsaw go towards Ostrava, then to Brno and finally to Bratislava to visit the biggest cities of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. On the way to Budapest stop in Gyor for the final rest before reaching your final point.
If you drive straight from Vilnius to Budapest, it will take you around 16 hours.
But we know the road trips are not about driving straight from point A to point B, but about the road between those points. This way you can decide how slow you want to go.
From our experience driving with one or two small kids, the shortest amount of time you can do it and still have fun on the way is two nights and three days. Of course, the more stops you have, the more fun it is.
The Peloponnese is a peninsula off mainland Greece that is easily accessible from Athens and offers up stunning beaches, ancient monuments, a rich history and gorgeous terrain.
It also happens to be home to many of the historical sights throughout the Percy Jackson books.
You can plan a whole road trip throughout the region while fueling your kids’ interest in Greek mythology and getting the opportunity to see the real Greece.
Start your road trip in Athens, home of the Acropolis and your first introduction to delicious Greek foods and warm Greek hospitality.
On the Peloponnese, kids will be impressed by the man-made Corinth canal, the remarkable Epidaurus ancient theatre and Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics.
The whole family will love the charming seaside town of Nafplio, the quiet beaches without any foreign tourists and the seaside restaurants serving the freshest seafood.
Finish your road trip by looping around to Delphi, the famous site of the Oracle and the prophecies of the god Apollo. You can do variations of this road trip in 1-2 weeks.
Our Greece road trip was the perfect way to get the kids involved in travel and hone in on their interests. It also gave us the perfect excuse to visit Greece for the first time!
-Dawn from 5 Lost Together
TIME NEEDED: 2 weeks
Does your family enjoy adventure, food and fun? Then take them on a road trip around Sicily. Italy’s island off the boot might be small but it’s full of fun experiences for both kids and adults.
The driving is relatively easy, as long as you take your time and plan ahead.
Start in Catania and do a loop driving north past Mount Etna, Italy’s smouldering active volcano. Pretty Taormina is close by and it’s a great place to stay for a few days and explore the area.
The views of Etna from the town’s ancient theatre are incredible. This trip also takes you past seaside towns with amazing beaches like Cefalu and San Vito Lo Capo.
You can get your history fix at Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples and climb the limestone Scala Dei Turchei cliffs looking out to Malta.
You can explore the stunning Baroque towns of the Val di Noto and visit the vibrant market in Ortigia.
In Sicily, you will find delicious seafood and pasta dishes and kid-friendly pizza. There are choc chip cannoli to try but you won’t want to miss granita – Sicilian gelato. It comes in fruit, nut and chocolate flavours and that the locals eat it for breakfast served with warm brioche.
This Sicily road trip is around 900 kilometres and you could easily spend two weeks exploring the island this way. Kids will love the mix of activities, wonderful beaches and of course eating ice cream for breakfast!
Distances between places of interest are relatively short (no more than 2 hours) so children will not need to be stuck in the car for too long.
10 days to two weeks will allow you time to cover the region at leisure.
Begin the trip in Syracuse, a compact city full of child-friendly attractions including Ancient Greek ruins, puppet shows and a medieval castle.
Your next stop should be the Val di Noto, a region of Baroque cities all within day-trip distance of sandy beaches: sightsee in the morning and retire to the beach in the afternoon.
Highlights include the honey-coloured streets of Noto and the chocolate shop in Modica.
Head inland to the hilltop town of Enna to experience a truly off the beaten track region of Sicily. Here you’ll find an incredible castle with views across miles of wheat fields: this is where much of Italy’s pasta comes from.
Dominating the landscape for miles around in eastern Sicily is mighty Mount Etna. Children will be in awe of this active volcano. Although there’s a cable car, join an organised tour to gain a full understanding of how this mountain affects the people of Sicily.
The final stop on your itinerary is pretty Taormina, a clifftop city packed with inviting shops and restaurants.
With a Greek amphitheatre offering impressive views of Mount Etna and the turquoise Bay of Naxos, Taormina is a charming city with a cable car giving access to a pebbly beach below.
Brittany – or Bretagne in French – is more than just a region, it’s a cultural Celtic identity with strong connections to Galicia in the north of Spain and Wales in the UK.
Located on a peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Channel, Brittany is the most western part of France and a great destination for a road trip with kids.
It’s the home ofAsterix and Obelixafter all! And you can see why if you visit Carnac in the south of Brittany.
Apart from beautiful beaches, the area is known for their many pre-Celtic standing stones, the Menhirs. Yes, that’s right, the stones that Obelix used to carry around.
Driving north, the next stop Douarnenez is a must. Kids love the fish market at the harbour, but the real attraction is the Museums Harbour, where they can freely explore different ships and boats.
Not far from Douarnenez is the Point de Raz. A coastal point with 70m high cliffs, fresh winds and a lighthouse at the top. It’s a great hike with kids, taking approximately 1 hour. The trail is well maintained and stroller friendly.
Heading further north, you definitely should stop around Dinard.
The north of Brittany is way less wild than the south. Instead of steep cliffs and the rough Atlantic ocean, the north is softer: shallow waters with distinctive tides.
It’s great for searching for shells and enjoying a beach vacation!
The road trip around Brittany takes at least 7 days, depending on your travel style but I recommend to take a bit more time to fully enjoy this beautiful region.
Sardinia makes a great destination for a road trip with kids. Sardinia has a bit of everything from stunning mountains, to quaint old towns to some of the most beautiful beaches that you will find anywhere in Europe.
There isn’t that much public transport on the island so a road trip is definitely the best way tovisit Sardinia.
Our recommendation is to spend 10 days to 2 weeks doing a road trip around the north of the island.
Start your road trip in Alghero which is a beautiful city with fabulous fortified sea walls to explore with the kids. It makes for a great introduction to the island and is an easy place to fly into and hire a car for the rest of your trip.
From Alghero you could head northeast to the beaches of the Costa Smerelda, calling in at the stunning Cala Brandinchi before heading south towards Cala Gonone.
This is a great place to have some adventure with the family as you can explore caves, or go mountain biking, kayaking and rock climbing. Of course, if you prefer, you can simply relax by the pool and enjoy the glorious weather or build sandcastles on the beach.
Finish your road trip by heading across the mountainous interior of the island to the pretty fishing port at Bosa where you can visit the castle and spend a night or two soaking up the Italian atmosphere before completing the loop back to Alghero.
The Wild Atlantic Way is an extensive road trip route of 1,553-miles, from top to bottom, following the majestic shorelines of the west coast of Ireland.
The route can start at either end – in the southernmost points of County Cork to the northern tips of County Donegal, although there’s nothing stopping you from starting at any point along the way.
To start out, most people will arrive at Dublin airport, although Belfast’s airport gives an ideal vantage point for starting the Wild Atlantic Way from Northern Irelandas it is just a short drive to the northern points of County Donegal.
Along the way, the coastal road trip includes many of Ireland’s well-known tourist attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and the peat bogs Connemara, with a recommended stop halfway at the old city of Galway.
It is well signposted from top to bottom following blue signs with WW waves on them.
I would recommend at least one night of camping at the various campgrounds and national parks in Ireland, as these are great experiences for kids with barbecuing, camping and the wild forests to escape the car and explore along the way.
Be sure to bring warm clothing as the weather can be a bit nippy at night. Plus some games and a football to keep them entertained.
Taking a road trip from London to the Lake Districtin the United Kingdom is wonderful with kids. You can expect the drive to take close to five hours non-stop. But you will want to allow time for enjoying the English countryside and popular cities along the way.
Stop in Oxford, which is one hour from London, to view Oxford University’s stunning 12th-century buildings. Explore the Oxford University Museum of Natural History or take a sightseeing tour on the River Thames.
If your family enjoys chocolate, continue your road trip with a slight detour to Cadbury World in Birmingham. You can learn how to make chocolate and enjoy a 4D chocolate experience.
Once you reach Lake District National Park, you will want to continue your road trip to enjoy the multiple lakes and outdoor, family-friendly activities.
Consider renting a luxury motorboat orjoining a cruise on Lake Windermere to create amazing family memories while taking in the beauty of the region. Then explore Wray Castle. This former vacation home to Beatrix Potter (the author of Peter Rabbit) is designed with kids in mind.
Make a day of it by playing at the outdoor play trail and enjoy a picnic before hiking the easy trails around the castle.
This road trip is a perfect choice for families with kids who want to explore beyond London to some of England’s most beautiful destinations.
Road tripping Scotland is a great way to explore the country. There is something worthy for a stop at every corner. Scotland’s wild beauty is a giant playground for children.
When the kids are starting to get cranky in the car, you can easily stop by the road and let them roar free for a while. Collect sticks, throw rocks in a loch or on hot summer days, go for a quick swim.
Edinburg to The Scottish Highlands through Loch Lomond is a great road trip. It takes about 4.5 hours by car without stopping. However, you will want to stop many times!
Loch Lomond is a good place to spend a night. Balloch has many fun, educational places for children.
On rainy days you can visit the Loch Lomond Sea Life Aquarium or the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. If the weather is nice, go for an adventure to TreeZone. Or enjoy a cruise, hire a canoe or bike to explore more of the area.
There are many easy hiking trails as well. Duncryne Hill is easily accessible for children.
Once you reach the Scottish Highlands, you must visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The kids will appreciate seeing the Harry Potter Train going through.
-Krix from Travel Hacker Girl
Yorkshire Dales, United Kingdom
TIME NEEDED: At least 2 days
The Yorkshire Dales is a location for all ages and the best way to access it is by a road. All districts within the Yorkshire Dales are just a few minutes drive of each other. Why not pack up the car and take a road trip with the family.
Consider pulling over for a picnic wherever you feel is safe. You can make any location a unique picnic spot, just be sure to leave the site as you found it. Consider going off-grid in trying out the Tan Hill Innand enjoying some incredible local cuisine.
Explore the stunning National Park that surrounds you by taking regular breaks to hike to remote locations and stretch your legs.
Be sure to look out for one of my favourite spots: the stunning waterfall that surrounds Keld.
Take a 35-minute journey from the nearby city centre of Leeds to Haworth, tothe home of the Bronte Sisters. Here you can find yourself relaxing with an unbelievable view at the door adjacent to the parsonage that inspired “Wuthering Heights“.
Stroll the village visiting the antique shops, souvenir shops, and the traditional Yorkshire tea rooms.
We’ve always had a soft spot for Finland, ever since we spent a week exploring Finnish Lapland. But having recently taken a two-week road trip around the southern half of the country, we’ve fallen for Finland even more.
Our road trip to Finland started in Helsinki, where we spent a few days exploring the capital’s sights. Highlights here include the island fortress of Suomenlinna and swimming in the Baltic Sea at the Allas Sea Pools.
From Helsinki, we travelled north to Lake Saimaa and the Finnish Lakeland region. During the summer months, Finland is awash with blues and greens, the forested landscape scattered with patches of brilliant blue water.
There is so much water in Finland that it has been given the nickname “the land of the thousand lakes”.
We spent two days staying in a villa on the banks of Lake Saimaa, the biggest lake in Finland, before travelling further north to the edge of Linnansaari National Park, home to the rare and endangered (and very cute) Saimaa Ringed Seal. After two more days here we headed back south.
One option, if you have time, is to cut across the country and spend a couple of days in the city of Tampere on the western coast.
We didn’t have this luxury, unfortunately. Instead, we drove back towards Helsinki before breaking west towards the city of Turku (a much faster route).
Beautiful Turku lies on the southwest coast, just two hours from Helsinki. It’s the oldest city in Finland, filled with lively cafés and restaurants and a cool creative buzz. There’s plenty to do here, such as visit the 700-year-old Turku Castle.
Nearby is the picture-perfect harbour town of Naantali. This is a great place to stay for families, not least because it’s the gateway to magical Moominworld.
The small theme park is home to Tove Jansson’s loveable characters. It will delight kids big and small, even if you didn’t grow up reading tales of the Moomins.
From Turku we drove back to Helsinki for a final two days before heading – somewhat reluctantly – home.