Europe offers some of the finest road trips in the world, allowing you to hit the road and leave your troubles behind. With scenic drives, winter sports available and a vast history to explore, start the new year as you mean to go on. Here’s our guide to the top 3 European road trips to enjoy this January.
Innsbruck comes into its own during winter with perfect conditions for winter sports and beautiful scenery to keep you entertained during your drive. Temperatures hover around freezing throughout January so make sure you pack well to enable you to enjoy this beautiful city and everything it has to offer. Start your trip by exploring Innsbruck, Austria’s fifth largest city. Visit the stunning Goldenes Dachl, a building with guilded copper tiles adorning it’s roof which dates back to Roman times. Explore the elegant Hofburg castle, a gothic building with vast vaults. Take a trip to the top of the Stadtturm tower to admire the views across the city. It’s worth purchasing an Innsbruck card from one of the tourist offices as this provides you with free entry into the many sites and museums in the city.
Once you’ve explored Innsbruck, it’s time to hit the road for a picturesque drive through the Alps. 14m southwest of the city is Axamer Lizum, host of all the Alpine skiing events at both Winter Olympics that have been held here. Head out on the A12 motorway to Wattens, roughly a 15 minute drive to visit Swarovski Crystal World. From here, drive out to Soll, another 40 minutes drive. Take a scenic drive for an hour and a half to the Arlberg Pass. Here you’ll be able to indulge in some winter sports, with skiing and snowboarding widely available. St. Anton am Arlberg is great for tourists, with a wide range of slopes on offer.
- For more details, visit stantonamarlberg.com
Tuscany is beautiful all year round, benefiting from much milder weather during the winter months than most of Europe. Temperatures average around 11 degrees centigrade during January. With its winding roads, lush rolling hills and picture postcard landscape, there is no better way to explore Tuscany than by road. To really make your trip extra special, book yourself into one of the many luxury Tuscany holiday villas that are available in the region.
With so much to explore here, I recommend taking a road trip through the heart of Tuscany. Start in Florence, where you can hire a car easily from the airport. Obviously make sure you take the time to explore this beautiful city. Visit Piazza Della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, two squares in the heart of Florence that are must see destinations. Don’t leave before seeing Michelangelo’s statue of David or before taking a trip up to the Basilica do San Miniato all Monte, to take in the beautiful architecture and incredible views. Then take to the road and head south to Siena. In total, this journey takes around an hour but you’ll be constantly stopping to take photographs of the scenery, to stop off at one of the Chianti vineyards you’ll be passing or to stop at small hilltop villages to enjoy the hospitality. Once in Siena, explore this classic medieval hilltown by climbing the bell tower and its 505 steps. It provides great views across the town and surrounding area. Florence is a great base to road trip from. Piza and it’s leaning tower are just an hour’s drive away,as is the walled city of Lucca. Take a 20 minute drive up into the hills at Fiesole or a longer trip east to Viareggo to explore the Tuscan coast.
The French Riviera
The south of France is a beautiful part of the world throughout the year and one which calls out to be explored by road. Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes area is shielded by the nearby Alps which means weather is much milder here during January than the rest of France and even Provence. The area doesn’t see much rainfall throughout the year and it is very rare that it snows here. Average temperatures for January are about 6 degrees centigrade.
Explore Nice, the capital of the Riviera before you head onto the road. Visit the old town and wind your way through the narrow streets where it feels as though you’ve gone back in time. Take a night time stroll along the seaside promenade which lights up for a spectacular sight. From Nice, hit the road and take your pick of destinations along the French Riviera. The trip to Monaco is a particular delight, as you pass through fortified towns, past Roman buildings and along coastal roads which provide incredible views of the coastline. This may be the playground of the rich and famous but it can also be enjoyed for the simple pleasures in life too.