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7 of the best coastal road trips in Europe

17 August 20237 min read

View of a round curing around peaks and cliffs on the south coast of France, near Marseille

Please note: this article is written in partnership with our partners at Enjoy Travel. The links on this page will take you directly to the Enjoy Travel website.

Looking for a holiday that will put a rev in your engine? Hire a car, embrace the freedom of the open road and get ready to beach hop your way along Europe's loveliest coastlines.

From short and sweet seaside drives to epic shoreline adventures, we’ve tapped our partners at Enjoy Travel to round up seven of Europe’s best coastal road trips.

1. Faro to Monte Gordo, Algarve, Portugal

Length: Around 32 miles | Allow 2-3 days

Strike out towards the Spanish border from Faro and discover the Algarve’s sleepier eastern shores on the 32-mile (52km) stretch to Monte Gordo.

This easy driving route along the N125 gives you plenty of opportunity to dip into whitewashed villages, Blue Flag beaches and the spellbinding blue lagoons and sandbars of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

The charming towns for Olhão, Santa Luzia and Tavira are worth stopping in for a spot of sightseeing and lunch, but the real draw is the seemingly endless stretches of soft, golden sand that make the Algarve so well loved.

Lively Monte Gordo is your final stop. Spend a night here to make the most of its sprawling dune-backed beach.

Hire your car from Faro International Airport and start your official road trip from Faro town, just 12 minutes away.

2. Palma to Alcúdia, Majorca, Spain

Length: Around 124 miles | Allow 5-7 days

With secluded sapphire bays tucked around every crook of rugged headlands, Majorca’s sun-drenched shores are as glorious as Mediterranean coastlines get. Buckle up behind the wheel to savour the best of the island’s east coast on this journey from bustling capital, Palma, to picturesque Alcúdia.

Hugging the shoreline, cruise your way past turquoise coves and sandy bays that pocket Majorca’s southernmost coast and pause at pretty places that are much easier to reach by car, like Torrent de Cala Pi.

The drive only gets better as you hit the east coast. Hop between gin-clear beaches, panoramic viewpoints and historic lighthouses as you make your way to the dreamy resorts of Cala Figuera, Cala d'Or and Cala Millor.

End your road trip in Port d'Alcúdia for fresh seafood feasts and sweeping views of Alcúdia bay.

Pick up your rental car from Palma de Mallorca Airport, just a 20-minute drive from your starting point, Palma.

3. Nice to Marseille, France

Length: Around 164 miles | Allow 7-8 days

The South of France at its finest, this week-long route from Nice to Marseille takes in the glamorous beach resorts and pretty landscapes of the Côte d'Azur.

As the capital of the region, Nice’s chic shops and restaurants are worth a day or two before you put pedal to the metal heading west along the coastal D-roads. Yacht-filled marinas and boutique-lined boulevards are the norm in Cannes and Saint Tropez - both iconic resort towns to tick off as you skim the coast to lively Toulon.

Next up is Cassis, a scenic fishing town where colourful houses and a quaint harbour fringe the Mediterranean Sea. If time allows, the staggering limestone cliffs of the Calanques National Park are a worthy detour en route to France’s oldest city, Marseille, where your drive finishes.

Only ten minutes from Nice by car, collect your rental vehicle from Nice Airport to kickstart your journey.

4. Heraklion to Kissamos, Crete, Greece

Length: Around 110 miles | Allow 5-6 days

Crete has no shortage of golden sandy stretches and baby-blue seas to admire with a dramatic coastline spanning 109 miles (175km) – and this seaside saunter across the north of the island is the perfect way to appreciate it.

Heraklion is a brilliant starting point to your road trip, brimming with archaeological sites and intricate old town streets. The E75 will lead you west along rugged shoreline, passing the seaside villages of Agia Pelagia and Bali before reaching Rethymno, known for its Venetian harbour.

The road tucks inland before you reach Chania’s kaleidoscope-of-colour waterfront buildings, so if you want to stick to the coast, prepare to tackle some tiny, winding streets.

Finally, makes tracks over to the seaside gem of Kissamos. The pastel-pink sands of Elafonissi Beach are just an hour’s drive away from here if you have time.

Begin your Crete adventure by renting your car from Heraklion Airport and making your way to Heraklion, less than ten minutes away.

5. Naples to Salerno, Italy

Length: Around 66 miles | Allow 5 days

Perhaps one of the most iconic coastal drives in Europe, this postcard-perfect journey from Naples to Salerno shows off Italy’s Amalfi Coast at its very best.

Taking the SS18 out of Naples, pause at Pompeii to marvel at its ash-covered ruins before meandering your way along the coastline to Sorrento, where pristine beaches and limoncello go hand in hand.

From here, a road-tripper’s paradise awaits. Roll down your windows for the famous and romantic Amalfi Drive, weaving along the SS163 past the rainbow cliffside towns of Positano, Praiano and Amalfi. Dip into pebble coves, wander cobbled streets and soak up sea views as you go.

Salerno’s impressive cathedral and pretty al fresco eateries are a fitting end to this dreamy coastal drive.

Get started by hiring your car from Naples Airport, a quick ten-minute drive from your road trip route beginning in Naples itself.

6. Catania to Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Length: Around 227 miles | Allow 8-10 days

A snapshot of Sicily’s best coastal towns paired with lush, sloping coastal roads? This spectacular drive from Catania to Palermo delivers just that. Allow a good eight-plus days to do it justice.

Start your engine in the ancient port city of Catania and prepare for epic views of Mount Etna as you weave north on the SS114 to hilltop Taormina, the town on everyone’s mind since its starring role in season two of HBO’s The White Lotus.

Highlights on the way to Palermo include Messina’s beautiful, curved harbour and its views across to mainland Italy; the coast-hugging road into Capo d'Orlando; and charming Cefalù for more The White Lotus filming locations.

The island’s energetic capital is your final port of call, a hub of fantastic architecture, food and art.

Gear up to hit the open road with a rental car from Catania Airport. Make your way 15 minutes north to start your trip on Catania’s coast.

7. Alicante to Malaga, Spain

Length: Around 320 miles | Allow 10-14 days

Delve into the highlights of Spain’s south coast with this driving adventure spanning over 300 miles of shoreline.

If you have a full two weeks to play with, take your time driving south out of Alicante, stopping for balmy beaches and seaside ice cream in Torrevieja on the way to Cartagena. Don’t miss its stunning Roman theatre.

Your next stint south will take you through some of Andalusia's most scenic coastal stretches – think tumbling valleys and sun-bleached sandy swathes. Mojácar, Carboneras and the looping bends of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park should all be on your itinerary en route to Almeria.

There’s some wonderfully chilled out coastal driving – as well as a string of pretty beaches – on the road into the Nerja. All that’s left to do is make your way to Malaga to find out why it’s more than just a gateway to the Costa del Sol.

Pick up the keys for your rental vehicle at Alicante Airport and fire up your engine for this Spanish adventure, starting just 20 minutes away in Alicante’s centre.

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

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