Plan a European Road Trip with Home Exchange
Exploration awaits you. Load up your car, grab some family and friends and hit the open road. With HomeExchange, the adventure doesn’t cost much more than the supplies to keep you moving and fed. Discover a few routes to take you away from your every day and to unlock your imagination.
If you have the time, there is no better way to explore an area than by car. It offers you the flexibility to set your own schedule and allows you to veer off the beaten track to see what life is really like. Below are some suggested routes to experience the many incredible offerings that Europe has. Jump in at any point and allow your exchanges to act as a compass. We shared our tips on how to plan a road trip with HomeExchange so, now, it’s time to start exploring!
A drive through history
Few cities are quite as dynamic as London. And we don’t just mean because of the traffic. The culture and the options for exploration are practically endless in and around the sprawling metropolis. Once you have had your fill, pack up and head towards the channel. There are plenty of options to get across but why not enjoy the ride and take a ferry. We recommend landing in Calais which offers you the perfect launch point to explore the beauty of the French regions of Normandy and Brittany.
Master your fear of heights at the Étretat cliffs, investigate the extraordinary Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen and move on to take a moment to remember the historical impact of the Normandy beaches. Move along the coast and find a little religion at the Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel. Taste the Cancale oysters while you wander through Brittany making a point to stop in Saint Breic, Quimper and seeing how many menhirs you can count as you roam Carnac. Finish your journey off with a spark of curiosity as you investigate the îsl de Nantes and discover the Machines of the Isle.
- Good for: History Fans & Families
- Optimal Length of Trip: 2-3 weeks
- Insider Tip: Time your visit to Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel to be there with low tide and watch as the water rises. It’s spectacular to witness the ocean flow as the Abbey transforms into a floating island. Park your car in the Mont Saint-Michel lot and the Abbey on the complimentary bus (free with the Mont tickets).
The flavor of adventure
Capture a taste of the region by beginning your trip in Bordeaux. The beaches and sea along the sprawling Landes de Gascogne offer an ideal welcome for your culinary exploration.
In 2016, San Sebastián (Basque Country, Spain) was designated as the “European Capital of Culture” and, it is known one of the best gastronomic destinations in the world. Savor the “pintxos” route through the city and discover the famous and beautiful La Concha Beach. All our quest for culture to continue to Bilbao where you can marvel at the Guggenheim or head out of the city and adventure into the National Parks and beautiful landscapes of Cantabria and Asturias. The power of the Picos de Europa National Park will provide you with a lasting memory of the strength of nature.
A meal of traditional food of the areas including Cocido Lebaniego of Cantabria and Fabada Asturiana of Asturias will give you a greater understanding of the area’s strength! From Asturias, continue on to Galicia and find your way to the final stop of the pilgrimage route, the famous Santiago de Compostela. Allow your journey to continue along into Portugal where you can wander through Porto and Coimbra before the Belem pastries welcome you to Lisbon.
- Good for: Those who love food and wine
- Optimal Length of Trip: About 2 weeks
- Insider Tip: Make a point to visit the Dune of Pilat (close to Bordeaux) it is the tallest sand dune in Europe. Once you arrive in Lisbon, it’s worth taking a day trip to Sintra to explore Quinta da Regaleira.
A Northern journey
Start this excursion in Belgium by diving into the enchanting areas of Wallonia and Flanders. Use Brussels as your bases as you spend days visiting the area. Kids will love the opportunity to discover Le Lion de Waterloo, riding a cable car La Citadelle de Dinant, or digging into as many mussels as possible at restaurants of Belgium. Who can say no to the magic of Brussels with its ever-present chocolate and delicious waffles? Marvel at the Atomium or venture out and find kid-friendly destinations like the Frietmuseum (French Fry Museum) in Bruges.
From there, head out to the country and explore the incredible parks and channels of Amsterdam. With Rotterdam and La Hague are only an hour away by car, and you can easily explore some of their nearby beaches, the Madurodam Park, the Windmills and tulips of the area or (for something spectacular) the Alkmaar cheese market. Families with children should take a moment to stop by De Efteling Theme Park where traditional European fairy tales come to life!
If we continue on to Bremen where your children can sing along with the statue of the Bremen Musicians or make the jump to Hamburg and enjoy a boat tour or a stroll through its Botanical Garden. From there, you can build on the fun of Legoland in Billund, Denmark before making a splash at the beaches of Aarhus. Finally, your fairy tale adventure comes to a conclusion with the rainbow homes of Copenhagen.
- Good for: Families or those who want to live a fairy tale
- Optimal Length of Trip: 3 weeks
- Insider Tip: Parking in Amsterdam can be a challenge. If your HomeExchange is in the city center, considering storing your car at a Park & Ride on the outskirts of the city. With its incredible public transport system, you’ll have no trouble finding your way around town. And for those of you who are planning on exploring some of the theme parks along this route, consider purchasing your tickets in advance through their website. It will not only save you money but offer you the chance to skip the lines when you first arrive.
Head to the coast
It is next to impossible not to allow the glamour and beauty of the French Riviera to wash over you. As you explore the coast from Marseille and move on to Niza and Cannes, you will find yourself in awe of the beaches and the incredible climate. It is almost like you have stepped into a film version of a holiday adventure. Move on to Italy and prepare yourself for the visual feast of Cinque Terre. A Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997, these five villages tucked into the Italian hills are as delightful as they are stunning.
Continue your trip across the Northern part of Italy until you find yourself in the warm embrace of Venice. Cars are, of course, not allowed in town but it is the perfect launch point to catch a ferry ride over to Croatia. The exquisite blue of the Adriatic Sea will guide you from Pula to Zadar where you will be serenaded by the Sea Organ. Make the most of your time by spending a few days in Split with a day trip (or two) over to the Dalmatian Islands.
- Good for: Couple or those who love the beach and sun
- Optimal Length of Trip: 2 to 3 weeks
- Insider Tip: Make a point to take your car with you to the Dalmatians Islands. It is especially useful if you go to the largest of the islands, as you can explore more of these incredible isles.
Fresh mountain air
Allow yourself to get lost in the atmosphere of Alsace. The beauty of the landscape and the houses welcome and invite you to slow down and stroll through the streets of these magic villages. From there the vibrant homes of Colmar or the majesty of Strasbourg Cathedral will take you back to another age. Allow yourself to wander to Freiburg and explore the glory of the Black Forest. It is as though the stories by the Brothers Grimm have come to life with castles, villages and the enchanting local traditions. Make a point to taste the Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) or a traditional Black Forest wine. Top your trip off with a refreshing dip in Lake Konstanz. You might find yourself wanting to bask in the views or continue your journey on to experience the winding road of Klausen Pass in Switzerland. The scenery alone is worth the effort.
- Good for: Couples looking to get a taste of the region and enjoy the stunning views
- Optimal Length of Trip: 1 to 2 weeks
- Insider Tip: If you happen to take this trip during the Summer, make a point to experience the night festival in Konstanz. It’s a show to experience at least once in your life.
Can’t get enough road-time? You can always check out what is described as the “Ultimate” trip around Europe. It covers 16,287 miles (26,211 km) and takes a few months to complete. But just think of how much you’d save by finding your accommodations through HomeExchange!