Road Trip: Highways, Cities & Hidden Gems of Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe, while not quite on our doorstep, is a wonderful destination within easy reach of the UK (especially with the power of a supercar at your disposal). With a diverse array of countries, including Croatia, Russia, Romania and the Czech Republic, you can experience cities crammed with culture, landscapes that range from open prairie to mountain ranges and, very importantly, roads that stretch for mile upon mile with barely a car in sight.
Welcome to Eastern Europe – a location that, for the supercar owner, is the ultimate adventure playground for you to test your driving skills to the limit…
Reasons to Visit Eastern Europe
1. The incredibly diverse culture: Countries might not be far apart geographically, but when it comes to identity and culture they’re poles apart. Cross a border, and brace yourself for a whole new world…
2. The traditions and experiences: Cites, such as Krakow, Prague, Vilnius, and Kotor will, quite literally, blow your mind as you explore and discover local customs. Get the timing right and you can party like a local at incredible festivals across the region.
3. The welcome: Many Eastern European countries were, not so long ago, closed to outsiders. Today they embrace visitors with open arms and many are the friendliest and safest places on the planet today.
4. The food: Gastronomic choices abound, and that includes beverages on which to imbibe. In many cases local production isn’t enough to export, so only by being ‘boots on the ground’ will you ever get to experience what’s on offer. Quite simply, foodie heaven…
5. The landscapes: From national parks to lakes, beaches to jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain views, Eastern Europe over delivers on every front.
Best European Roads & Cities: Road Trip Heaven
Achingly beautiful cities, deserted roads and a variety of landscapes, you certainly won’t be disappointed with a road trip to Eastern Europe. Check out the following to whet your appetite.
From Poland to Estonia
After spending at least a day exploring the wonders of the Polish capital of Warsaw, head to Krutynia River, the country’s lake district and a premier Eastern European kayaking destination (no experience required). Spend a day messing about on the water before heading to Białowieża Forest, one of the continent’s last primeval forests and a protected UNESCO world heritage site.
Hit the road again, this time crossing the border into Lithuania, and head to Vilnius, the delightful capital city where you can marvel at the culture in the daytime and party hard after dark. Next stop is the capital of Latvia – Riga – with its art nouveau and gothic architecture (and rather scrumptious delicacies that include smoked fish and spicy sausages).
Hit the beach next, as you head to the resort city of Pärnu in Estonia, a relaxing place to wend away a day or two, enjoying the long, sandy beaches, walking the river of the same name that bisects the city, dining on regional specialities of pork, fish and pastries, and enjoying the rather fine beer and vodka that the country is known for.
Final stop is the Estonian capital of Tallinn – small, compact and perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in all of Eastern Europe, it’s a fitting place to end a trip of around 700 miles.
The Adriatic Highway
One of the best ocean drives in the world, the Adriatic Highway takes in the countries of Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro. Incredible coastal views, mountains, serpentine turns and twists, crashing waves hundreds of feet below, hairpin bends… Truly the stuff of supercar dreams.
Stop at will along the way, perhaps enjoying The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro and the beautiful fortress old town of Kotor with its fjord-like landscape. The fascinating city of Dubrovnik enchants and, if time is on your side, you may wish to linger here a little longer than you intended. And then there’s Split, a city that we guarantee will steal a little piece of your heart. We recommend ditching the guide book and just wander – get lost if possible – and discover those never-to-be-forgotten cafes and bars to chow down with locals for a few hours and truly embrace the traditional vibe.
You can visit the beautiful islands of the Dalmatian Coast from here, we recommend doing so from the port town of Zadar – where you’re far more likely to experience delicious tranquillity as you sip a traditional rakai, local beer or a rather good, locally produced wine while watching the spectacular sunsets the region is renowned for.
The Adriatic Highway, or Jadranska magistrala to give it its Croatian name, really is a bucket list drive that you have to experience at least once in your life…
The Transalpina Highway
Romania’s high-altitude Transalpina Highway extends from Novaci to Sebes should definitely be on the bucket list of every supercar driver. At only 87 miles long it might not be the longest in the world, but wow! Is it spectacular. You can only drive the road during the summer months due to the altitude (7,038 ft/2145m) and snow during the winter, and is officially open from July 01 to November 01 each year.
We recommend a road trip that takes in the beautiful city of Bucharest before driving the 171 miles to Sibu, a Transylvanian gem in its own right, before hitting the awesome mountain ‘Devil’s Path’ that is the Transalpina.
The Best of the Rest: Eastern European Roads and Cities
Other great driving and travel opportunities include:
- The Troyal-Karnare Pass, Bulgaria
- Serpentine Road, Kotor, with its 25 infamous switchbacks
- Vienna to Vienna: stopping at Ljubljana, Zagreb, Budapest, Krakow, Wroclaw and Prague
- Moldova to Albania: taking in Chisinau, Transylvania, Sofia, Skopje and Tirana
Eastern European roads and cities represent some of the best driving in the world. Still relatively undiscovered, the roads are far less crowded than the more-visited areas of Central and Northern Europe and are generally in good condition. Plus there’s a huge added bonus that local communities are generally welcoming (and if you’re in a supercar, you’ll likely become somewhat of an infamous visitor with people clamouring to investigate your ride… )
We really can’t recommend a road trip in Eastern Europe enough. It’s a place where adventure beckons around every curve and bend, locals are genuinely pleased to see you, and the roads? Well, they might just be the best the planet has to offer…
Image by Aida Toromanovic – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0