Europe


Few destinations are as much like a storybook as Germany—especially when you’re on an epic road trip.

The country is filled with roads that wind through the land, with over 100 routes traversing the picturesque villages and countryside. With castles and flowing rivers, mountain peaks and beautiful towns, it’s straight out of a fairytale.

And it doesn’t stop there. Even the names of the roads lend themselves to this storybook theme. Next time you pack up and hit the road in Germany, consider these three routes that make for exciting and romantic road trips.

Romantic Road Trip

The Romantic Road

Located in the southern part of the country, the Romantic Road runs from Würzburg to Füssen—350 kilometers or 220 miles. Formulated in the 1950s as a way to stimulate tourism, the culture and scenery along the route really does lend itself to a romantic atmosphere full of canals, lakes and sweeping meadows.

Start in historic Würzburg as you wind south past the medieval cities of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen. Also a part of the tour, Neuschwanstein Castle and the Alps provide a chance for visitors to tour a castle. You’ll end up in Füssen, an adorable Bavarian town with mountains in the distance.

The Castle Road

If your image of a storybook road trip is one filled with expansive German castles, the Castle Road is the route for you. You’re bound to have a magical experience with more than 70 castles along the way.

The road starts in southwestern Germany in Mannheim with Mannheim Palace, a Baroque castle that hosts tours and devotes part of the building to the local university. The entire route runs 1,000 kilometers—more than 600 miles—before ending over the border of the Czech Republic in Prague. Other notable castles include Heidelberg Castle, Nuremberg Castle and, of course, Prague Castle.

Castle Road Trip

The Fairytale Road

Not as long as the Castle Road, but longer than the Romantic Road, the Fairytale Road runs from Hanau in the central part of Germany to Bremen in the north, allowing you to cover many different parts of the country between the three roads. The road gets its name because it features many destinations relevant to the lives of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. People around the world are familiar with their tales.

Along the way, visit Hanau, where the brothers were born, and Steinau, their childhood home. They studied at Marburg, also along the route, and visitors can also spot Little Red Riding Hood land from Alsfeld to Fritzlar and Bad Wildungen, Snow White’s village. The picturesque and historic nature of the route just enhances the experience.

Getting Ready to Go

Next time you’re planning a road trip in Germany, make sure you have plenty of space in the car. You can ensure there is room to be comfortable by enlisting the help of a cargo hitch carrier to keep your luggage safe and sound atop the car.

Packing for these types of road trips require one very important thing—a camera. Before you head out, make sure your memory card has plenty of space so you can capture the romantic trip. You’ll be impressed by so much of what you see—from stunning viewpoints to even the most minute details.

Another thing you’ll want to bring along is a physical map. The map will ensure you stay on the right route and find your way back if you get lost. Happy travels!

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La Concha Bay, San Sebastian

Spain is home to more than 5000 miles of coastline, so there really is no lack of choice on where to catch some beach time. Often, we associate beaches with sun, sand, and… shells, but it really depends what your flavour is. Whatever it is, Spain can provide.

Playa de las Cathederals- Ribadeo

Spain is blessed with both the white sands of the Mediterranean, and the rugged coastline of the atlantic. Some of the countries’ most impressive coastal spectacles, are on the less renowned, choppy coasts of the north. It is the rough temperament of the ocean which puts some holidaymakers off, but the relentless battering of the ocean on the side of cliffs are a pull-factor for those that can bear the winds.

The Playa de las Cathedrals is a stunning example of atlantic coastline, and an awe-striking reminder of the power of nature. Here, the white horses of Pegasus charge forwards to batter against the cliffs, leaving a row of majestic cliff carvings, unlike any others.

It is an absolute must to arrive here at low tide, and is worth planning ahead. At low tide, it is possible to walk under a series of arches in the cliffs, and explore caves, making for a unique beach side stroll. At high tide it is still possible to admire the formations from above, but there will only be a tiny amount of beach available.

La Concha- San Sebastian

Not all beautiful beaches are nestled away in the middle of nowhere, and there is the odd city beach which manages to be just as stunning. Situated near the French border on the Northern Atlantic coast San Sebastian is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It boasts two very clean, and appealing beaches, both of which are worth a visit. Forget the beaches of Barcelona, and check out La Concha!

A far cry from the usual below-average-but-I-guess-it-will-do beaches, La Concha is set against a backdrop of hills and island. The atlantic waters lap the shore of the golden sand, adding atmosphere to an already buzzing city. The beach and surrounding promenade are thriving with tourists, but the atmosphere is rousing, and the beach can turn it’s sands to partying when the sun goes down!

San Sebastian is set to be European Cultural Capital in 2016, and is thriving with budding artists and musicians. A stroll along the sea-front at sunset will tickle the senses, and delight the soul, as the lapping of the sea merges with the sounds of the buskers, and the chatting of tourists and locals alike.

Playa de les Illets- Formentera

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Sometimes, you just want a straight up vacation, with a hard weeks relaxation, lapping up the sun-rays, and only moving from the sun-lounger to cool down with a dip in some crystal clear Mediterranean water. Sound familiar?

Formentera is one of the Balearic Islands, and lies to the south of it’s party-hard cousin, Ibiza. It is part of the Ses Salines nature reserve, and the beaches are both spectacular, and reasonably quiet. Where Ibiza screams out for dance, drugs, and sex on the beach, Formentera whispers white sand, water-sports, and fine-dining on seafood.

One of the finest beaches the island has to offer is Illets, which offers several kilometres of perfect white sand, close to the amenities of the adorable port town. The mild sea is family-friendly fun for swimming, snorkelling, and kicking back in the sun. For a relaxing beach, with a tropical island vibe, Playa de les Illets really hits the spot.

Mundaka- Basque

Somewhere hot and comfy to lie in the sun is high up on most people’s beach priorities. But not everybody’s. Some people want to hit the waves! Spain has many beaches that suit all levels of surfer dude, but Mundaka is not for the faint hearted. Mundaka lies deep in the heart of Basque country; a northern region with it’s own identity, and a rich history waiting to be explored.

It is perhaps the most famed surf beach in Spain, and is internationally acclaimed in the surfer community. Intermediate and expert surfers come here to ride the beast left-hand wave, which reaches heights of 12ft! Needless to say, Mundaka is not the best place to learn, so newbies should try out their skills elsewhere first.

Beginners, or interested bystanders can marvel at the wild velocity of the waves, and at the courage of the keen surfers who take on the ocean. Mundaka is not however the first pick of beach for those who are not interested in surfing. There are much sandier, and more relaxing beaches available. It is a beach that is all about the beauty of the wave!

Playa de Rodas- Islas Cies

The Islas Cies are a beautiful set of islands off the coast of the Galician region of Spain. This is a little taste of the Caribbean in Spain, and you will be pleased to know the stunning island is completely uninhabited. It instead forms part of a national park, which is open to the public in the summer months, and accessible via a short boat ride from the pretty town of Baiona.

Here a perfect crescent of soft white sand, couples with the lapping of the atlantic ocean. The experience is a tranquil one, that would perhaps not be available on the equally beautiful, but often hideously overcrowded beaches of the Med.

You may notice an under-representation of south coast Mediterranean beaches. There is no doubt that the well-known areas up and down the coast, such as Malaga and Alicante, contain their share of stunning sand, and omni-present sun. Sometimes the ease and luxury of these beaches can be their downfall, and the resorts that amass around them can take away from the charm.

It all depends what you are looking for really, but the real untouched beauty, may be found on the more rugged atlantic coast, where sun might have to be sacrificed for superb scenery, and secluded gems. Whatever it is you are looking for, Spain has a beach to satisfy.

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Trail hiking

Europe is a vast continent, a land where travel between countries is easy, but where borders of culture are still well defined. There are many ways to enjoy the Continent, many climates, large cities and urban sprawls, rural expanses, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, and just about every activity you can think of. People find their own way to fall in love with Europe, their own perspective from which to see its beauty. Here are five vastly different European trip ideas:

  • EU Rail Pass

    If you are interested in exploring Europe by train, hopping from city to city to taste the cultures of up to 24 European countries, then the EU rail pass could be the ticket to your vacation. The pass gives you reduced price train fair deals, and can be purchased to cover one country, several bordering countries, or all 24 countries involved in the scheme. Prices for the full pass start at 400 Euros, but for three months unlimited travel across the EU, tickets reach 1000 Euros.

    This may seem costly, but it makes for huge savings and the ability to get across the vast continent quickly and with comfort. You can visit anywhere with a major train connection, across France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Budapest, Greece, Croatia, and many more. Sounds great doesn’t it?

  • Trail Hiking

    Here is a completely different type of European trip, and one more suited to the nature loving outdoor adventurer. Europe is very accommodating for hikers, long distance bikers, and horse riders, and features hundreds of routes laid out as GR paths, marked with red and white stripes. Many of these paths are suitable for any ability level, but research is advised especially where mountain trekking is concerned.

    Spain features a famous Christian pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, which spans the entire breadth of the country, and has many popular routes from all directions on the Continent. The Pyrenees, either on the French, or Spanish sides, offer weeks of peaceful, enduring, but accessible mountain trekking, broken only by quaint farming villages. For some serious Alpine trekking you could try Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, which takes you past 10 of the 12 highest peaks in the Alps, from France to Switzerland.

  • A Beach Holiday On The Mediterranean

    The mediterranean is hot, dry, and the sea is warm, blue, and inviting. The people are relaxed, and why wouldn’t they be? They live in one of the most relaxing environments on the planet. There are many European countries that you could visit for a beach holiday; check out the golden mile in Spain, or the West coast of Ibiza, or sunbath in Crete, Turkey, Sardinia, Sicily, Cyprus, or the south coast of France. There are many Mediterranean beach getaways, for the party-goer, the family, or the couple, and you can find high intensity resorts and hidden coves. Wherever you choose a suntan is guaranteed.

  • Skiing

    Just when you thought Europe was going to be too warm and relaxed, you are going to come to realize that it also has some of the best skiing in the world. You can glide down mountain slopes, and be welcomed back to the plushest of ski resorts, and most wholesome homemade food you will ever appreciate. Europe is home to the Alps, the famous mountain range of mountain ranges. They are accessible for skiing mostly from Austria and Switzerland, but also from France and Italy.

  • Countryside Charm

    You have seen the big cities, hiked through mountains and waded through rivers, relaxed on the Mediterranean, and raced through the Alps on a pair of skis. Now, it is time to wind down with a vacation in the charming European countryside. Try the UK for some quaint country charm, combined with rolling hills, and farmland, or the agricultural capital France, with its flat farmland, mountains, lakes, vineyards and wine culture, or Eastern Europe for some of the most impressive scenery the Continent has to offer.

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