Hit the road...
As many a Hollywood movie demonstrates, road trips provide rich experiences to write home about. Getting from A to B should be more than functional, and that's especially the case when discovering a new country: the most authentic aspects will be found using a car rather than a tour bus. Of course, not all countries are particularly easy to drive in, India and Italy are two examples of where you may be best off leaving it to the locals.
But others are a pure joy - the rules of the road are adhered to, the scenery is worth the petrol money, and the freedom to go where you want, when you want, adds to the sense of adventure. So if you're after a relaxing driving holiday, here’s the Flexicover team's pick of five countries in Europe in which prove life's not just about the destination but the journey itself.
We are all familiar with the German's reputation for efficiency, well this seems to extend to driving. The trump card is the autobahn: a quarter of its 8,000 miles have speed limits adjusted to match traffic and weather conditions, which drivers seem to stick to rigidly, leading to an excellent safety record. So you can meander safely through the remnants of its communist east, its wine region, rustic Bavaria and even take a drive through areas that inspired the Brothers Grimm’s stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. How’s that for a fairytale holiday?
Fact fans: Sweden is the only country in the world with a better safety record than the UK when it comes to driving. That alone makes it worth a self-drive holiday, if not for the beautiful scenery, much of which is only accessible with a car. If driving in the summer, the northern part of Sweden is an ideal place to visit: it’s the sparsely-populated, mountainous region of the country which boasts spine-tingling vistas. It’s still best to be extra careful in winter, especially as there are very limited hours of daylight, so the foresty landscape of the southern and central parts are recommended instead.
It wasn't so long ago that The Netherlands was a place you'd want to avoid driving in as the roads were in bad condition and fatalities were high. The network was so flawed the government were forced to plough a large amount of money into its roads, and now they're blessed with one of the best safety records in the world. The drivers are courteous, the signage is useful and the roads are modern and well-designed. So it's the ideal place to lap up both coastal or city views. Flower lovers can even take the Flower Route, where the scent is just as alluring as the visuals. Best taken in April and May when the countryside is in full bloom, road trippers will see the likes of tulips, hyacinths, narcissi, and daffodils.
Drivers will be glad to know that the friendliness the Irish are famous for extends to the rules of the road. Locals are well used to rental cars on the road and visitors are given time and space to navigate, though the roads are a little more complicated in its major cities where odd one way systems prevail. There are many popular routes that can really show off the country at its best. Both the Wild Atlantic Way and the stunning Ring of Kerry are popular thanks to the mix of rolling hills and dramatic coastline, punctuated with family-run B&Bs and rustic pubs serving top-class Guinness – for the end of a day’s driving only, of course.
Norway has one of the world’s best driving records because of - not in spite of – its icy conditions. Leaving nothing to chance, the Norwegians are strict on the rules of their roads: there’s no mobile phone use, headlights must be kept on at all times, mountain passes close if it’s deemed too dangerous, and cars must be super safe and have high-quality tyres. It also professes a culture where drivers won’t touch a drop of alcohol beforehand. So once visitors learn their rules, they’re free to drive where they please, with most enjoying the glacial scenery by day and chasing the Northern Lights by night.
So on your travels, whether you choose to take the long and winding road or another option entirely, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day while away.