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8 easy driving destinations for first-time road trippers

Photo of Anna HardyPhoto of Anna Hardy
By Anna Hardy

14 March 20248 min read

Nice, France You'll find plenty of easy driving routes along France's South Coast.

Please note: this article is sponsored by our partners at Enjoy Travel. The links on this page will take you directly to the Enjoy Travel website.

Road trip holidays can be one of the most exciting ways to experience a destination, but driving abroad can be understandably daunting for first-time renters.

To help you hit the road with confidence, we’ve tapped our partners at Enjoy Travel to round up eight of the easiest road trips in the world, along with our top tips for your first road trip abroad.

1. Miami to Key West, Florida

Full of palm-fringed beaches, glorious national parks and panoramic views, this driving route from Miami to Key West in Florida is one of the best road trips in the US. And thanks to it only involving one road – the U.S. Route 1 over the Overseas Highway, it’s an easy journey for first-time car renters, too.

The route itself can be driven in under four hours, but we recommend enjoying several overnight stops to make the most of the stunning scenery. Highlights include the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the iconic Seven Mile Bridge and the beautiful beaches of Key West.

Best type of car to rent: For a smooth driving experience in Florida, consider an easy-to-drive automatic such as a Toyota Corolla. Or if you’d like a bit more space, a Toyota Rav4 will do the trick. Collect your car from Miami Airport to begin your road trip south.

2. County Cork, Ireland

If you’re anxious about driving abroad for the first time, County Cork in Ireland is a fantastic destination to dip your toe into self-driving holidays. As in the UK, motorists drive on the left side of the road and the region is well connected with dual carriageways.

As for where to go, follow the coast south of Cork for charming waterside towns such as Kinsale, Glandore and Baltimore – the gateway to the southern islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear. Or, loop inland from Cork to explore historic market towns and spectacular unspoiled countryside.

Best type of car to rent: Whether you hit the coast or the country, a four-wheel drive like a Seat Tarraco will see you safely around this southern county. You can rent one from Cork Airport, just a 15-minute drive south of Cork city centre.

3. Cyprus’ south coast

From history-rich cities to picturesque beaches, a Cyprus road trip is a great way to explore the island’s best bits at your own pace.

The south coast is well-suited for a simple road trip, with good quality motorways running from Paphos all the way to Ayia Napa. You could either tackle the whole route (approximately two and a half hours drive time), ticking off the major resorts of Pissouri, Larnaca and Limassol, or break it down into a smaller trip between just two of the south coast cities.

Best type of car to rent: To cruise along Cyprus’ south coast roads at ease, you won’t do much better than a Hyundai i10. Hire one from either Paphos Airport or Larnaca Airport, depending on where you want to start your adventure.

4. The Golden Circle, Iceland

Known worldwide as one of the most scenic driving routes, chances are you’ll have heard of Iceland’s Golden Circle. Easily navigable by car, it’s a top choice for anyone planning their first driving holiday abroad.

Whether you do the whole loop in a day or take your time over two or three, highlights not to miss include the epic Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir hot spring and the stunning landscapes of Þingvellir National Park.

Best type of car to rent: Iceland’s Golden Circle is a well travelled route, so a ‘city’ category car such as a Toyota Aygo is more than suitable to see you smoothly around this circuit. Pick one up from Keflavik Airport, just 50 minutes from your starting point, Reykjavík.

5. South of France

With rolling countryside, pretty towns and glamorous coastal stretches, driving in the South of France is one of the best ways to see all the region has to offer. The roads here are well-maintained and signposted, so you should find getting around straightforward.

There are ample destinations you can start a road trip from – fly into Nice to follow the coast south to the chic cities of Cannes and Saint Tropez, or head to Montpellier or Marseille for a scenic loop around Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Nîmes. Alternatively, pick up your hire car in Toulouse to have some of the region's best countryside on your doorstep.

Best type of car to rent: If you’re sticking to the cities, a Fiat 500 is a top choice for two, easily navigating any smaller roads. For families or groups of friends, a Peugeot 208 is a great alternative, with light steering for cruising around towns and along motorways. Collect your car from Nice Airport.

6. Andalusia, Spain

As one of the most popular destinations for driving holidays in Spain, Andalusia is no stranger to a road trip round-up list. Expect impressive cities and sun-soaked countryside aplenty.

For a beginner’s road trip, keep it simple with a circuit from Malaga, looping around Seville, Córdoba and Granada – the region’s major cities are easily reached via motorways and national roads. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can expand the route to include more of the south coast. Cadiz, Marbella and Nerja are all top stops.

Best type of car to rent: For couples, a 'small' category car (think, a Fiat 500 or similar) is a great pick for zipping around city streets. Families might prefer a five-door 'medium' car like a Suzuki Vitara. You can pick one up at Malaga Airport, the gateway to this beautiful region.

7. Montenegro

Whether you’re seeking dramatic scenery or classic beach resorts, Montenegro’s coast delivers both. Luckily the roads here are safe and straightforward, making it an ideal destination for a beginner’s self-driving holiday in Europe.

After collecting your hire car from Podgorica Airport, you can easily head straight for the E-80 highway which will take you down to the coast. Head north and the same road will take you past the beautiful coastal towns of Petrovac and Budva all the way to the dazzling shores of Kotor.

Best type of car to rent: Driving Montenegro's coast is a breeze in a Skoda Fabia. This small family car is ideal for easy driving and parking, but offers enough space to be comfortable on longer drives. You’ll find plenty of rental options at Podgorica Airport.

8. The Algarve, Portugal

Thanks to its well-paved roads, good signage and lower levels of traffic compared to in the larger cities, the Algarve is considered one of the easiest places to drive in Portugal. Its coastline is a great road trip route for first-time renters, with both the A22 motorway and N125 national road running the majority of its length.

Fly into Faro and you’ll have a choice of routes: go east to explore the cities of Olhão and Tavira, fringed by the sandbanks and lagoons of Ria Formosa Natural Park, or head west for the classic seaside resorts and beaches of Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos.

Best type of car to rent: A good size for navigating coastal towns, a Renault Clio ticks all the boxes for safe and practical car hire in the Algarve. Whichever route you choose, Faro Airport is your road trip starting point.

Top tips for first-time drivers abroad

  • To avoid busy driving conditions, plan your road trip in the shoulder seasons when there are fewer tourists and the roads are quieter.
  • From knowing which side of the road to drive on to speed limits and basic road signs, always research your destination’s driving rules and regulations before you head abroad.
  • Once you’ve chosen your route, check if any roads you’ll be travelling on have tolls. It’s useful to know in advance how much these will cost, and what forms of payment are accepted.
  • Just as travel insurance is an essential part of your trip preparation, car hire excess insurance should be too. This waives the cost of any excess fees included in your car hire policy, saving you money should something go wrong with your vehicle.
  • Think about what navigation you will need – most car hire companies will rent sat navs for a fee, but you may want to bring your own. If you’re relying on your phone maps, consider what data roaming charges this could incur. Having a paper map is always a sensible backup!
  • For any longer routes, plan your rest stops and overnight stopovers in advance so you know roughly what distance you want to cover each driving stint. Factor in fuel stops too for any long-distance drives.
  • Before you set off, check you’ve got the essentials for both you and your vehicle. This includes your driving licence, car rental documentation, insurance policy, a first aid kit, water and snacks. Portable phone chargers are also useful, especially if you’re relying on your phone for navigation. Breakdown items such as a roadside emergency kit and spare tyre will come with your car hire. 

*All drive times and distances are accurate according to Google Maps.

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