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At the Wheel: Europe's Top Scenic Drives

1st September 2015

From curvy coastal highways to dizzying mountain passes, Europe touts some of the most spectacular, death-defying and culturally captivating over-the-car-bonnet scenery on the planet. So whether you hire some wheels for a day or two, or spend your entire European sojourn behind the wheel, don't miss these incredibly scenic drives.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

A dramatic dance of a road that twirls its way through Austria’s highest mountain, at times tippy-toeing along bare cliff faces and leaping into the clouds, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it certainly rewards its followers. Passing through tunnels, wooden mountainsides, flowering meadows and green prairies, the steady incline leads to a most mesmerising finale: jagged snow-capped peaks and glistening glaciers atop the pyramid-shaped Grossglockner.

 Stunning mountain scenery awaits on Grossglockner.

Amalfi Drive, Italy

Clinging to Italy’s magnificent Amalfi Coast, this drive is a sun-drenched, flavour-fuelled discovery of contrasts. Around death-defying, cliff-hugging turns suspended above the crashing waves below, discover colourful villas cascading up steep coastal cliffs in the midst of ancient Greek temples and overlooked by medieval pirate watchtowers perched on green slopes. Stop in the posh resort towns and quaint fishing villages to indulge in fresh seafood direct from the sea and the famous local concoction: limoncello liqueur. This elaborate 50km stretch of Unesco-protected scenery is downright breathtaking from start to finish.

 The Amalfi Drive packs a coastal punch.

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

You’ll want a front seat for this famous loop taking in the best out-of-the-car-window scenery in the Emerald Isle: the stunning Iveragh Peninsula. Trailing through valleys and mountains, crossing countless rivers and lakes and tracing sandy beaches and coastal cliffs, the 200km Ring of Kerry hails no shortage of awe-inspiring panoramas worth capturing. But there are also ancient Celtic ring forts, brightly coloured fishing villages, warm and welcoming Gaelic pubs and castles and churches to discover.

 The Ring of Kerry is Ireland's most famous route.

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Romantic Road, Germany

What was once a trade route in the Middle Ages is now an enchanting 350km journey through the medieval-infused, picturesque landscapes of southern Germany. Watch as fairytale-like palaces and Baroque castles appear on the verdant horizon, wind through cobblestoned villages and walled medieval towns, and step out to explore Gothic cathedrals and local museums. Bavarian beer halls, Franconian wineries, the world’s largest ceiling fresco and the stunning Alps complete this romantic picture.

 Medieval wonders line the Romantic Road.

Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Spain

Snaking its way through the Sierra de Cadiz Mountains and crossing the Grazalema Natural Park, this “Road of the White Villages” takes in the best of Andalucía – and if you believe the locals, the best of Spain too. Trailing a cliff overlooking the Guadalete River, this charming route links together a string of the region’s iconic-white-washed villages, passing by Moorish castles and ancient Roman ruins, lush valleys and fertile plains swathed in the Spanish sun. Friendly locals, Flamenco bars, fine food and world-class wines inject extra verve into this blessed stretch of tarmac.

 Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos is Spain's top drive.

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