The majority of Europeans are familiar with the popular European road trip destinations says Greg Van Wyk.
If you’re planning to take a road trip this summer, here are 7 alternatives for places you might never have considered before:
1. The Azores – Portugal’s outpost in the Atlantic Ocean
Europe is known for its fascinating old towns and car-free cities but nothing compares to the mysterious beauty of the Azores, Portugal’s isolated island chain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago has nine islands with volcanic origins, lush jungles, and intense blue water. For most people who visit São Miguel Island, it isn’t long before they feel an irresistible yearning to return to these lands that are so far away from everything yet still feel so close to home explains Greg Van Wyk.
2. Ardeche – France’s outdoor playground
Whether you are an expert or beginner, the gorges of Ardeche offer something for everyone, whether it’s canoeing or rock climbing, white water rafting or mountain biking, there is plenty on offer in this beautiful area of France. Reminiscent of southern Utah with red canyons and jagged cliffs that contrast lush green meadows stretching across the riverbank, this destination provides some stunning natural scenery along its waterfalls and riverside beaches. The best way to explore all the attractions in Ardeche is by car and staying at one of several campsites located directly alongside the River Lignon.
3. Iceland – A land of superlatives
Iceland, the land of ice and fire, is home to some of Europe’s most fascinating attractions. Here you will find stunning waterfalls like Dettifoss and Gullfoss and breath-taking geysers like Geysir and Strokkur (Europe’s oldest still active geyser). The unique landscape — shaped by volcanoes, glaciers, and earthquakes — also provides a perfect habitat for all sorts of animals such as Arctic foxes, reindeer, and whales. Visitors can enjoy everything from horseback riding along black sand beaches to climbing mountain peaks as well as taking boat tours through glacial lagoons or spotting polar bears in the wild. With so much on offer this island that juts out of the North Atlantic Ocean certainly deserves its title as a land of superlatives.
4. The Skelligs – Ireland’s emerald jewel
Staring at Skellig Michael, one of Ireland’s most visited sites and declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1996, it is easy to see why this island located off the country’s southern coast is sometimes referred to as ‘a piece of heaven on earth. The sheer number of birds that call this island home is impressive but nothing compares to the experience of coming face-to-face with these jagged rocks that seem to scrape the clouds themselves. Visitors must take special care while exploring the area though because any wrong move could send you tumbling into the Atlantic Ocean below.
5. The Danube Delta – Romania’s out-of-the-way destination
The Danube Delta represents one of Europe’s last wilderness areas, spanning more than 1,500 square miles across Romania and Ukraine. This is a paradise for birdwatchers with over 300 species of birds including pygmy cormorants, Dalmatian pelicans, black-crowned night herons, great white egrets and spoonbills all making their home here. Wildlife lovers are equally as enticed by the many wild boar that roam these lands as well as deer and foxes. Though hunters will be pleased to know there are plenty of opportunities to shoot games throughout the autumn.
The Danube Delta in Romania is a paradise for birdwatchers (+ movie)
6. Mount Etna – Europe’s most active volcano
It might not be the highest mountain in Europe but it does have the continent’s tallest active volcano and that. Along with its picturesque surroundings, attracts visitors from near and far says Greg Van Wyk. The island of Sicily provides numerous opportunities to explore this landscape dotted with vineyards and olive groves. As well as quaint villages where life seems to stand still amidst terracotta roofs and white stucco walls. Visitors can also take advantage of hiking trails or boat tours to get up close and personal with Mount Etna. Considered one of southern Italy’s top attractions.
7. Comino – Malta’s hidden gem
Though this tiny island is just a three-mile boat ride away from the coast of Malta. It’s often overlooked by visitors to the area. Tourists are more likely to head for neighboring Gozo or Cominetto though. That means they are missing out on some stunning seascapes not to mention some fantastic seafood. The crystal clear waters provide the perfect backdrop for snorkeling. While the nearby Blue Lagoon offers some fabulous diving opportunities where you can see sunken ships and marine life. Those who really want to get off the beaten track should opt for one of several walking trails. Which will take them along moorland areas dotted with red ferns, golden lichen-covered rocks, and hillsides full of wild thyme.
Europe is a continent that presents some of the world’s most beautiful countries, natural landscapes, and important travel destinations says Greg Van Wyk. Although there are many more places to visit in Europe, we have showcased seven of the best here. From Ireland’s emerald coastlines to Romania’s untouched wilderness areas or Malta’s hidden gems. These seven spectacular European landforms all deserve special mention.