So you’ve a week or less but don’t want to confine yourself to a city break. Or maybe you’ve visited all the major centres and don’t know where next….Read on…..
Experience has taught me that one always comes home from a road trip knowing one could have done better! Chosen routes are not always the most logical option and something amazing has always been omitted! So the following suggestions are just vague outlines – hints at what’s out there! The only thing they have in common is that we’ve done them all(although not necessarily as a short break). Many of the options avail of non major airports – there can be great value flights into the likes of Bristol, Frankfurt Hahn, Bergamo (well – maybe not 2023 – it’s Italy’s Capital of Culture this year!) and Charleroi.
Fly to: Charleroi or Brusssels
Touring: Waterloo – Bruges – Ypres – Ghent – Antwerp
This is the only one on the list where you base yourself in one place for the duration of your trip. Spend a few days enjoying Bruges and then add day trips to Ghent, Ypres, etc. Of course it can all be done on public transport but the car allows for various combos and extra stops.
Fly to: Zadar/ home from Pula
Touring: Zadar – Pag – Plitvice National Park -Opatija – Pula
Sleep: Zadar – Pag -Plitvice -Opatija – Pula
If short on time then leave out Opatija and Pula and return to Zadar from Plitvice. Of course there are lots of islands to choose from but Pag is accessible by bridge. If touring in high season then get to Plitvice in the evening and stay overnight – you can then beat the bus tours the following morning.
Plitvice National Park
Fly to: Bristol
Touring: Stonehenge – Avebury – Oxford – Cotswolds
Sleep: Oxford – Cotswolds Villages
Go straight from the airport to Stonehenge (about 80 minutes) then on to Oxford (via Avebury if you’ve time). Then prioritise your time depending on your interests – you don’t have to visit EVERY college in Oxford you know! (We spent three nights in Oxford and just one in the Cotswolds – I’d have loved to get to Stratford-on-Avon but didn’t have enough time). We made this trip in October so neither Oxford nor the villages were overly busy
4. Germany (Mosel Valley)
Fly to: Frankfurt-Hahn
Touring: Trier – Mosel Valley – Koblenz
Sleep: Trier – Cochem
Distance Trier – Koblenz is just 130kms so there isn’t a lot of driving involved – allowing time for lovely leisurely walks and wine tasting!
Porta Nigra, Trier
Fly to: Athens
Touring: Corinth – Mycenae – Epidauros – Sparta -Mystras – Olympia
Sleep: Nafplio – Pylos – Olympia
It’s little over one hour’s drive from Athens airport to the Corinth Canal. There are SO many ancient sites here but there are also some gorgeous beaches so this makes for a great culture/leisure combo….
Fly to: Shannon
Touring: Ring of Kerry – Ring of Beara – Slea Head
Sleep – Killarney – Dingle
These 3 peninsulas (or peninsulae??) are stunning. There’ll be a lot of driving but the towns are great for nightlife after a day on the road.
Ring of Kerry
Ring of Beara
Fly to: Bergamo (Round Trip or home from Verona)
Touring: Bergamo – Parma – Bologna – Ravenna – Ferrara
Sleep: Bergamo – Parma – Bologna – Ravenna
Just what town in Italy is NOT gorgeous! We love Bergamo and have visited a few times, always en route elsewhere. If you love mosaics then you’ll love Ravenna. We spent just one night in Parma – mainly to sample the ham and cheese!
Fly to: Bari
Touring: Matera (not in Puglia but near enough!!) – Alberobello – Ostuni -Otranto
Sleeping: Matera – Ostuni – Otranto
You’ll need 2 nights in Matera but don’t leave it out... Alberobello is probably my LEAST favourite place in this whole blog but you can’t really go to Puglia and bypass it!
Fly to: Malaga
Touring: Malaga – Grenada – Cordoba – Seville – Caminito del Rey
Sleep: Malaga – Grenada – Cordoba – Seville
It’s a lot, I know, to fit into a few days because the 4 centres are quite spread out and each one really deserves more than a flying visit. If it’s too tight then drop Malaga and plan around the other 3, allowing most time in Seville – make sure to pre book your Alhambra admission and Caminito del Rey .
Caminito del Rey
10. Spain (Costa Brava)
Fly to: Barcelona (Round Trip or home from Girona)
Touring: Coastal Villages – Cadaqués – Figueres – Girona
Sleep: Calella de Palafrugell – Cadeques – Girona
We did this mini trip one late April, having camped in the region many times during the summer hols. Such a difference!!! No problem parking in those tiny villages, tables available in restaurants. Weather was warm enough to sit out during the day. There’s a bit of culture here too – the ancient site of Empúries and Dali’s wonderful museum in Figueres…
Try to avoid peak season – parking can be stressful in popular tourist spots.
When booking accommodation you may have to compromise a bit – don’t expect to find a reasonably priced hotel in the historical town centre with ample parking facilities.
Familiarise yourself with national and local speed limits and make sure you know your left from your right!
If spending just one day in a town or city, make sure the main sights are actually open on the day.
If not booking a return flight then check any excess fees on the car rental for returning it to a different location. The savings you make on cheap flights might be gobbled up in extra charges. None of the above journeys are huge so it might be worth your while to drive the few hours back to the original airport…
Hand baggage will be plenty for all the above but you’ll be able to spread stuff out once you’ve got the car so squish in an empty fold up bag when packing.
All the above trips can be easily extended to fill 2 weeks. You can tackle the route at a more leisurely pace, lingering to explore more of the city streets (1),(7),(9) or enjoy the beaches(2),(5),(8),(10) and wineries(4),(5),(8),(9). Or you can add more destinations to the itinerary – keep going on up along Ireland’s west coast (6), or head to Verona and the Italian Lakes(7)
Before you go…….
I’ve written about many of the above destinations so have a look here….