I love to dream. Recently, those dreams have been overtaken by adventures of a road kind. My keenness to experience vanlife has peaked and I’m preparing myself to take on many road trips when I finally make the wheel-y big leap into purchasing my first vehicle.
In reality, the prospect of my van-travelling life could be any number of months or years away. But right now, a girl can dream. And I’m dreaming about where I would like to visit when I get the opportunity. I’ve compiled a list of beautiful road trip spots which I will definitely be checking out ASAP. I can’t wait to wake up to a damn good view and a cup of coffee…
North Coast 500 – Scotland
Scotland is a rugged, wild natural beauty. I’ve been lucky to visit this country many, many times. It’s no surprise to those who have visited that it was voted the ‘Most Beautiful Country in the World’ by Rough Guide readers, back in 2017.
For a while now, I’ve been aware of the North Coast 500. It’s a 500-mile circuit around the Northern tip of Scotland. The Freedom to Roam in Scotland means that very little exploration is off-limits. Hence, you could probably design your very own experience along this route; from whisky tasting to Munroe hiking to castle ruins viewings. Sounds like an adventurous dream to me! I have a strong feeling that this might be one of my first road trips (not least because they drive on the correct side of the road 😉 ).
The Lakes of Upper Austria
My attention was brought to the lakes in Upper Austria by Simeon Baker, a photographer/guitarist who’s lived in a van for around 4 years now. As the Austrian lockdown was easing, he started exploring the beautiful lakes (Traunsee and Attersee) in the Upper Austrian region (between Linz and Salzburg). He parked up by the lake; showing off the classic coffee-with-a-view. But he also hiked up forested mountains to view the lakes from above and proceeded to take some beautiful sunset shots of the mountainous landscape. That almost sounds like my perfect day, if I’m honest!
The Upper Austria area features many lakes, and I’m sure some of those lakes are more touristy than others. Hallstatt (pictured below) is probably one of the most photographed places in Austria. It kinda makes sense when you see it. I would definitely be keen to explore a lot of the lakes in Austria, including the very popular Hallstatt, but I’d be keen to find more adventure in the lesser-known lakes too. Nevertheless, this area is high on my list.
Verdon Gorge – France
Admittedly, I have underestimated France for a very long time. I’ve often dismissed it in favour of further-flung destinations. However, in my search for closer travel spots I’ve come to really appreciate what France has to offer, especially because I did enjoy my short solo trip to Paris a couple of years ago.
When I first saw a picture of Verdon Gorge I was blown away to discover that it is found in France. That entrancing, turquoise water reminds me of the Caribbean, not a European country that’s a stone throw away from the UK. It would feel rude not to dive into those waters and traverse the river by Stand-Up paddleboard…
This ‘road trip’ would only take up one day but I’m sure I could find a lavender field or vineyard to explore too. Verdon Gorge isn’t too far from Nice and Cannes so it could make for a perfect day trip spot when visiting the South of France!
Romantische Strasse – Germany
Now, ideally, I’d have a road trip buddy for this next one because Romatische Strasse translates to ‘Romantic Road’ in English. 😉
It’s a 350km stretch of road in Southern Germany that features some beautiful ‘olde worlde’ landmarks; medieval towns, fairytale castles and layers of luscious forests. This place really calls upon my inner Middle Earth-loving kid. Imagine waking up surrounded by trees, framing an intimidating castle… I would probably pretend to swing an imaginary sword around, whilst my companion laughed at my weirdness.
The Private Beaches of Portugal
Looking at a map, it’s clear that Portugal has a pretty significant coastline on its west side, which means there’s a lot of beaches to share with the plethora of tourists and locals. The thing is, most tourists don’t stray too far from the popular beach towns, so if you explore just a little farther afield, I’ve been assured that you can end up finding a beach that you can enjoy entirely to yourself. I can’t think of anything better!
I am one of those people who has a bit of an affinity with the ocean and Portugal is another location that I overlooked a little. However, I’ve heard great things about the potential for incredible road trips in this part of the world (along with a great vanlife community who enjoy this place). I’d definitely be up for daily barefoot walks to watch golden sunsets with freshly baked pastel de natas (and maybe a cheeky ice-cold beer too).
The Ultimate Intercontinental Road Trip
All of the above are adventurous. But I think this one might be another world of adventurous…
How about a Euro-Asian roadie from the UK to Singapore?
Yeah, it would take a little while but it would feature an incredible diversity of countries – a feat that can only be challenged by the Panamerican trail (that route isn’t in Europe, hence why I haven’t mentioned it here). Maybe one day I will consider traversing this mammoth distance, but for now, I will just marvel at anyone who traverses that route (many have done it by bicycle, even!)
Okay, so I think I’ve finished talking about the dreamiest vanlife road trips in Europe… but oh, there are so many more places I could’ve mentioned (Albania, Montenegro, Norway, Estonia… the list goes on).
One thing is for certain, it would probably take years to fully explore Europe, so I think it’s finally time that I stay a little closer to home for my next trips, especially seen as I’ve never been to Germany, Spain or Portugal (a rarity for a Brit). As each day passes, it is also clear how excited I am by the freedom that a van would afford me, especially when travelling!
Anyways, where do you think I should head on a road trip (when the lockdown is over and I have a vehicle)?