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Get Back Out on the Open Road with our Pick of the Best Self-drive Holidays in Europe

Sell a socially-distanced road trip with Laura French’s guide to self-drive holidays in Europe

There’s nothing quite like getting out on the open road – windows down, music playing and ever-changing landscapes streaming before your eyes – as you motor from one unknown place to the next.

Which is why a self-drive is an excellent option for clients after an independent holiday where they can explore at their own pace, discover little-known treasures and make up for lost time by ticking off several places in one big trip – all while remaining in the safety of their own socially-distanced bubble.

Here’s a guide to some of the best itineraries across Europe that will get them back out on the open road this summer – PCR tests permitting.

Best for… Getting off the beaten track

Where: Germany

Why: Christmas markets, Rhine cruises and city breaks might spring to mind when you think of Germany, but a self-drive gives clients the chance to dig a little deeper. Fred Holidays reservations manager Jan Alexander recommends a six-night German Fairytale Route that meanders from Frankfurt up to Bremen, with highlights including Marburg, a castle-topped university town; Kassel, home to a baroque palace; and Hamelin, a medieval town in Lower Saxony that’s the origin of the Pied Piper tale.

Christmas markets, Rhine cruises and city breaks might spring to mind when you think of Germany, but a self-drive gives clients the chance to dig a little deeper

Book it: fredholidays.co.uk

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Best for… Long, scenic drives

Where: Ireland

Why: From the Ring of Kerry to the Causeway Coast, Ireland seems to have been made for long, lazy drives through billowing landscapes. Abercrombie & Kent combines the highlights in an eight-night Tastes of Ireland self-drive from Dublin to Galway, which takes clients through the Wicklow Mountains, Cork, Blarney Castle, Kerry, Connemara, County Kildare and beyond. Along the way, they’ll enjoy Irish cooking classes, whiskey tasting and a tour of The Burren Smokehouse to learn how smoked salmon is prepared, with lavish accommodation including The K Club, a French-style chateau famous for its two championship golf courses.

Along the way, they’ll enjoy Irish cooking classes, whiskey tasting and a tour of The Burren Smokehouse to learn how smoked salmon is prepared

Book it: abercrombiekent.co.uk


Need to know

Most European car rental companies have a minimum age of 21, with a surcharge for under-25s, and drivers normally need to have had their licence for at least a year.

Best for… Culture

Where: Croatia

Why: Croatia’s historic walled towns, white-sand shores and dramatic karst-filled landscapes tick just about every box, and with its compact size, good roads and clear signage, it’s easy to get around, says Nicky Shafe, marketing manager for Prestige Holidays. The operator has launched a new fly-drive here in response to growing demand, with key stops including the traditional hilltop village of Motovun, culture-rich Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Istrian capital of Pula, famed for its majestic Roman amphitheatre.

Croatia’s historic walled towns, white-sand shores and dramatic karst-filled landscapes tick just about every box, and with its compact size, it’s easy to get around

Book it: prestigeholidays.co.uk

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Best for… Coastal views

Where: Italy

Why: Plunging cliffs, turquoise coasts, soaring mountains and whitewashed fishing villages make the Amalfi Coast worthy of a multi-stop itinerary, and for those looking to combine it with Puglia, Citalia has the answer – an eight-day self-drive that takes in Amalfi Town, Positano and Praiano, then hops across to the other side of the ‘boot’ to explore rural Puglia. Experiences on the coast include a hike along the ocean-fringed ‘Path of the Gods’ and a visit to the Emerald Grotto, a jade-coloured pool. Over in Puglia clients can amble through the White City’s maze of streets, visit Unesco-listed Alberobello to see its famous cone-shaped trulli houses, and explore the baroque city of Lecce, with ample time to stop and sample local delicacies along the way.

Over in Puglia clients can amble through the White City’s maze of streets, or visit Unesco-listed Alberobello to see its famous cone-shaped trulli houses

Book it: citalia.com

Best for… Late-season sun

Where: Spain

Why: From the heritage-filled villages of the north to the sun-soaked beaches of the south, Spain is impressively diverse and there’s no better way to get to know it than on an independent tour. Direct those after a late-season escape to Andalusia, where Brightwater Holidays offers a self-drive version of its Gardens & Architecture group trip. The eight-day itinerary takes in the region’s Moorish influences – best seen at the elaborate Alhambra Palace – as well as the mountain villages of the Sierra Nevada, the arched columns of Cordoba and the colourful tiled courtyards of Seville, showing visitors an alternative side to southern Spain and taking them beneath the skin of this culturally rich region.

The eight-day itinerary takes in the region’s Moorish influences – best seen at the elaborate Alhambra Palace – as well as the mountain villages of the Sierra Nevada

Book it: brightwaterholidays.com

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