With the winter cold and blustery winds in full force, it can be a battle to keep your spirits up from day to day. I’ve found that on those cold winter nights, even thinking about a warm spring day in another country puts a smile on my face. With a wealth of countries and advanced public transportation, Europe has long been a backpacker’s paradise.
While most people tend to take advantage of the rail system, an option that gets overlooked is renting (or in some cases buying) a car and taking a road trip. This allows for stops at little towns and places that you would not normally see on a train, plus it can make for a much cheaper deal, especially in the more expensive, Western side of Europe. Here are a few European road trip ideas for a cheap holiday in 2014.
Oh the south of France
Even the mention of France to a romantic is sure to get their heart to swell, and for good reason. From a language that sounds like a soft purr to the blissful Mediterranean coast, France truly is a beautiful country. It makes sense to start your spring road trip in the second largest city in France, Marseille. From here you can take a walk through Cours Julien and the Le Panier villages, which give a glimpse into life by the sea. From there it’s a sight-filled drive which only costs you your petrol money, as you go along the coast and head up to Lyon. Make sure you take this 3 hour drive during March, that way you won’t miss the Grenoble Jazz Festival that goes on during the month. Since you’re now in the center of France, a short drive takes you almost anywhere else in the country.
Tapas and free museums. That’s just the start of what Madrid has to offer in the spring. For instance, head to the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, home to Picasso’s Guernica along with other pieces by Salvador Dali. Make sure to head there on Sunday, as the cost of admission is completely free that day. After that a stroll around the city is sure to show the differences in culture from barrio to barrio, along with plaza’s and monuments strewn throughout. When you’ve had your fill of Madrid, head up north for a 252 mile drive (about 4 and half hours) and you’ll end up in Pamplona. Depending on your risk aversion, you can either watch from afar the spectacle that makes up the running of the bulls (July 17-24), or get a first-hand experience. Either way you’re bound to have a story to tell for the rest of your life.
Riding on Das Autobahn
A road trip through Europe would not be complete without a ride on the Autobahn, Germany’s high-speed highway. With no speed limit, driving on these roads is an adventure in itself and you’re sure to reach your destination fast! For a thrilling and scenic trip, start off in Munich during the end of May. The Fruhlingsfest or Spring Festival, is in full force during this time, complete with carnival rides and of course, the famous beer tents. Buy as much food and drink as your budget allows, then take the autobahn 244 miles northwest to Frankfurt, where you can catch Fressgass Fest in June. Here you’ll have a chance to stroll down one of the most famous streets in Frankfurt, tasting all kinds of culinary creations from the street food vendors along the way.
Greg Shuth is a part-time writer and full-time traveler from Texas. He is currently in the middle of a tour around Russia by moped.