European driving holidays

Our top driving hotspots

Enjoy the freedom of driving to your destination rather than flying, and save money to boot.

There's no luggage limit, and there are huge savings to be made – particularly if you favour camping or caravanning.

If you’re looking to hit the open road this year and need a little inspiration, here's our list of top European driving holiday hotspots.

Dordogne region, France

The beautiful Dordogne region is around a day's drive from Calais. The region's stunning scenery represents the best of rural France, offering plenty to see and do for the whole family. Temperatures average around the upper 20s to mid 30s Celsius during the summer months, so take plenty of sunscreen (and insect-repellent, too, if you're camping near the river).

Lake Maggiore, Italy

Lake Maggiore, Italy

The Lakes, Italy


The Italian lakes region in the north of the country has long been a favourite for the more discerning traveller. If crystal clear, azure waters, sleepy cobblestone villages and sweeping mountain vistas are your thing, then the area is a must. And it's only around a day's drive from Calais, making it the ideal spot for a European driving holiday. Those seeking a more sedate pace may do best to avoid the ever-popular Lake Garda, however there are plenty of alternatives such as Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano and smaller surrounding lakes. Explore the Monte Generoso trail for breathtaking views from a mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Just an hour’s drive from Calais, Bruges is the ideal day-trip or short-break destination. This wonderfully picturesque, charming medieval town has been attracting visitors for decades. There’s no shortage of places to eat, drink and shop – with the ever-popular Christmas market proving a huge draw during the festive season. Just remember the regional dialect is Flemish (not French), although English is spoken widely throughout the region.

Museumplein, Amsterdam

Museumplein, Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Amsterdam remains a hugely popular destination for those looking for a short break within easy driving distance of Calais (around 4 hours). Quaint, gabled buildings line the canals which criss-cross through the city, whilst the popular 17th century city-centre district boasts a lively atmosphere and multi-cultural feel. Of course the city has a notoriously darker side too, which affords Amsterdam that rarest of qualities – a destination that manages to be all things to all people.

Gutach Falls, Germany

Black Forest, Germany

This sweeping, wooded mountain range lies to the South West of the country in Freiburg – around 8 hours’ drive from Calais. One of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations (particularly with campers), the Black Forest combines beautiful outdoor scenery with a strong sense of local tradition. A visit to the town of Triberg is a must – home to Germany’s largest waterfall and, of course, Black Forest Gateau.

Bilbao's Teatro Arriaga

Bilbao's Teatro Arriaga

Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao is a mere ferry ride from the UK and offers a thriving city as well as glorious beaches, forests, rivers and even two small mountain ranges. Whether you love the outdoor life, prefer culture and shopping, or want to bask on the beach, Bilbao has it all. Bilbao is a also handy starting point for holidays throughout Spain, Southern France and northern Portugal. Ferries travel to Bilbao from Portsmouth.

Getting there

Check out our travel Europe information map.

Plan your trip with our free online European Route Planner, and make sure you've got European breakdown cover – save up to 30% when you book online and enjoy peace of mind with 24-hour English-speaking assistance.

AA Car Insurance customers enjoy 90 days of free European cover, and we also offer travel insurance too. AA members enjoy enhanced benefits.

Get up to speed with the latest driving requirements for each country and local laws, and don’t forget to check out our European driving advice. You'll find everything you need for driving in Europe in the AA Shop. Standard delivery is free on all mainland UK orders. And members enjoy a 10% discount.

15 October 2015