Looking for winter road trip ideas in Europe? Not sure where you can head to enjoy safe driving and incredible scenery even in the low season? Don’t worry- we’ve got you covered! Here are some of the best winter road trip ideas for every itinerary.
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Best Winter Road Trips in Europe
Winter road trips in Europe can be difficult. Depending on where you live (or where you’re starting the road trip from, getting there can be tough! Many mountain passes are closed and many big tourist towns and attractions close for the winter
However, don’t despair. There are still some incredible places to visit all around Europe during winter. If you’re going in November and December, you could enjoy some of the best and biggest Christmas Markets in Europe.
If you’re going from January- March you could choose between finding winter sunshine, or going to enjoy some towns and cities in Europe which are EVEN BETTER in winter!
Intrigued? Read on…
Tips for planning your Europe Winter Road Trip
Before you set off, whether you’re travelling by car, motorhome, campervan or motorbike (!), there are some things you need to do to prepare your vehicle.
Firstly, make sure you know all the kit you MUST have in your vehicle while touring Europe. Get your free checklist here:
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Make sure you have winter tyres fitted. These are mandatory in many countries in Europe between October- March, and in countries like France in mountainous regions. You may also need to carry snow chains.
Plan your itinerary carefully. Days are shorter in winter, meaning you can’t travel as far. Roads can also be more treacherous at night when it gets colder, so try to avoid driving at night where possible.
You’ll also want to allow extra time between stops, whether you’re touring Europe in a motorhome and using campsites/ aires, or staying in hotels/ B& Bs. If the weather is bad, you’ll drive more slowly, so it will take longer to get between places. Adding an extra 20-30% is a good rule of thumb.
Start your day later. Cold temperatures overnight can leave many roads slippery in the morning, even if they have been gritted. Wait until mid-morning to start your travels so the roads have had a chance to warm up a little.
Epic places to visit on a winter road trip in Europe for snowy scenes
Here are some of our favourite European winter road trip itinerary ideas. If you’re going before Christmas, here are some of the best and biggest Christmas Markets in Europe.
- Start point/ city: Bergen
- Endpoint/ city: Flåm
- Route: Various
Western Norway’s fjords are a great winter road trip for snow-savvy drivers. In the winter, few people visit the fjords, making it a fantastic time to view the sights AND take incredible photos.
Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, is a great winter base. There’s plenty going on and, if you visit in December, you can see Pepperkakebyen, the world’s largest gingerbread hamlet!
Some epic winter road trip ideas from Bergen
- One of the prettiest routes is to Flåm. You could ride the Flåm railway and visit Aurlandsfjord.
- You could also drive to Voss, one of the best places for adventure sports, Gudvangen (home of Viking Valley), and the Stegastein viewpoint.
- Don’t miss the many waterfalls around the area- they’re breathtaking.
Don’t forget, whether you’re driving a car or motorhoming in Norway, you must have winter tyres, and drive with your headlights on all day.
Remember the days are much shorter so you won’t be able to travel so far. Also, the south of Norway is below the arctic circle. If you want to go above the Arctic Circle, head to Tromso.
You could also tie this in with some other Scandanavian counties, like Rovaniemi in Finland (Finnish Lapland is the home of Santa Claus!)
Romantic Road, Germany
- Start point/ city: Würzburg
- Endpoint/ city: Füssen
- Route: Autobahn B3
- Distance (miles and km): 460km / 290miles
- Time to drive: 3-10 days
The Romantic Road is one of the most famous road trips in Germany. The entire route is around 290 miles (460km) through Bavaria in South Germany, starting in Würzburg (in the north) and ending in Füssen (in the south, near the Austrian Border and the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein!)
Although this route is phenomenal at any time of the year, driving it in winter is extra special. The architecture and scenery is spectacular and the towns look even more like they’ve just sprung from a fairytale.
Winter Road Trip itinerary idea
- Start your winter road trip in the traditional wine city of Würzburg.
- Don’t miss the spectacular Christmas town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, or the historic towns of Feuchtwangen, Nördlingen or Augsburg (apparently the the oldest city in Germany!)
- Many many castles and historic sights, including Harburg and Hohenschwangau. If you’re motorhoming in Germany, there are nearby aires which are fantastic.
- Detour into the Black Forest and visit Triberg, home of the world’s largest (and smallest!) cuckoo clocks!)
- The final stop is Füssen, full of beautifully painted buildings and the closest town to the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle.
You could also tie this winter road trip in with visits to nearby Austria (Salzburg, Innsbruck, Hallstatt and the Alps are great winter destinations), Bruges in Belgium, or incredible old town centres like Prague and Vienna.
Southern Ring Road, Iceland
- Start point/ city: Reykjavik
- Endpoint/ city: Reykjavik
- Route: Varies depending on the weather
One of the most breathtaking winter road trips in Europe is in Iceland.
If you visit between November to March, you’ll find frozen waterfalls, incredible snow-covered vistas and, if you’re lucky, it’s one of the best places in Europe to see the elusive Northern Lights.
My husband and I were lucky enough to visit Iceland in winter and by far the best bit was having a vehicle suitable for driving around. If you are hiring a vehicle, make sure it has winter tyres fitted and carry a ‘just-in-case’ pack of blankets, hot drinks and food.
If you’re taking your own vehicle, make sure you have proper winter tyres fitted. Also, although the Ring Road doesn’t technically shut during winter, the northern half can become treacherous in bad weather, so keep a close eye on the forecast and you may wish to stick to the southern half.
If you’re planning to camp, be aware that many campsites close during winter, so it can be tricky to find places with electricity and fresh water.
Highlights and itinerary ideas for an Iceland winter road trip
- Spend a day exploring Reykjavik- there’s a lot of history to see here.
- Plan to spend a day or two around Vik. Here, you’ll find the Black Sand Beach at Reynisfjara, the abandoned DC3 plane wreck, and Yoda cave.
- If you continue towards Hofn, you’ll find the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, and Vatnajökull National Park.
- Don’t miss any of the incredible waterfalls along the route. Depending on the weather and when in winter you go, many will be frozen, which makes for spectacular photos!
Switzerland winter road trip ideas
- Start point/ city: Basel
- Endpoint/ city: Lugano
- Route: #2
- Distance: 270km
For an unforgettable winter road trip with breathtaking scenery, plan a drive between the beautiful cities of Basel and Lugano in Switzerland.
If you’re confident driving in snow and wintery conditions, you can take backroads to enjoy the best of the views and visit some local villages. You’ll also go over some spectacular mountains, so be sure your tyres are good and stop frequently to let your brakes cool.
NOTE: Make sure you have winter tyres fitted and pack an emergency kit with food and warm clothes. If you’re motorhoming in Switzerland, make sure you have your tank heaters on too.
Winter road trip itinerary idea
- Start in Basel, a city which is worth exploring for a day or two if you have time.
- Then head out towards Lucerne. Almost every corner of this road makes you go ‘wow’ and there are plenty of viewpoints to stop at and capture the views.
- If you’re early enough, you might be able to drive the spectacular Furka Pass- one of the best road trips in Switzerland.
- You might also want to detour West to Valais and the Matterhorn- the views are incredible.
- Head south to Lugano. There may not always be snow here, but it always has a wonderfully warm atmosphere and plenty to enjoy. This area is famous for winter sports, so you can enjoy some cross country skiing or snowboarding if you fancy it.
Edinburgh to Inverness, Scotland
- Start point/ city: Edinburgh
- Endpoint/ city: Inverness
- Route: Edinburgh- A84- A82 to Glencoe, Fort William and Invernesss
- Distance (miles and km): 253.88 km
- Best time to visit: New Year/ Hogmanay
One of the best winter road trips in the UK is a circular route from Edinburgh up to Inverness, via Glencoe and Loch Ness.
Definitely spend a few days exploring Edinburgh either before or after your winter road trip- this city is fabulous and there’s so much to see. Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile or climbing Arthur’s Seat for a spectacular perspective of the city.
Once you’re ready, set out on your road trip, driving through Loch Lomond and up to Glencoe. The views here are SPECTACULAR- definitely one of the most scenic road trips in Scotland. The route starts as the A84 but turn onto the A82 towards Fort William.
After travelling for three to four hours, you’ll arrive at Fort William and be able to see Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest peak, in the distance.
Take the A-82 along Loch Ness to Inverness. Allow around three hours for this section- there are plenty of places to stop for photos or trying to spot Nessie.
From Inverness, you can either return to Edinburgh via the A9, or carry on north and tackle the famous North Coast 500!
And, if you can, spend Christmas and certainly New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh to experience to wonders of Hogmanay and the famous fireworks!
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
- Start point/ city: Malin Head, Donegal
- Endpoint/ city: Mizen Head, County Cork
- Route: Wild Atlantic Way
- Distance (miles and km): 1600 miles (2600 km)
- Best time of year to drive or specific festival/ event: March- St Patrick’s Day
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest coastal driving roads in the world- and one of the most famous! The coastline is wild, rugged and breathtakingly beautiful.
It runs from Malin Head in County Donegal to Mizen Head in County Cork. Usually, the route is packed by anyone wanting to go roadtripping or campervanning in Ireland, but in winter, it’s MUCH quieter.
How long does it take to drive the Wild Atlantic Way?
The best part of this route is that you can choose to do as much or as little as you wish. If you want to do the entire route without rushing, I recommend 1-2 weeks minimum. Don’t forget, there’s plenty to see off the main route which you won’t want to miss and you can combine it with several of Ireland’s other famous road trip routes.
Highlights of a Wild Atlantic Way road trip
Some of the highlights of a Wild Atlantic Way road trip include:
- Mizen Head (one of the locations where the latest Star Wars movie was shot)
- the windswept isle of Skellig Michael,
- Achill Island (Ireland’s largest island and an epic kitesurfing destination)
- Galway City
- Cliffs of Moher
- Bantry Bay
- Malin Head
Of course, there are PLENTY of other places you can visit in Europe during winter. Places like Italy, Spain and Portugal are always popular, as are further away destinations like Croatia and Greece. If you’d like to see more, here are some of the best European cities to visit in winter.
But I hope these helped give you a little inspiration to get the ball rolling.
Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.