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Top 10 European driving holidays – mountains or coasts

When your comprehensive Octagon Car Insurance policy gives you 90 days European cover as standard*, it seems a shame to leave the car behind when you go away. So why not choose a European driving holiday this year?

When it comes to driving for fun in Europe, the top two choices are mountains or coasts. You can either head for the spectacular mountain passes of Central Europe, with their twisting roads and breathtaking views from high above, or curve casually around the coasts and enjoy the fresh sea air, beautiful beaches and quaint coastal towns.

The best Alpine roads for a driving holiday

Nothing rewards your choice of a driving holiday quite like the staggering views from the top of the classic Alpine passes. In fact, the views are pretty remarkable all the way up, and you’ll probably want to take turns driving so that everyone has a chance to appreciate the scenery, not just keep their eyes on the road ahead!

Winding Alpine passes snake up the side of the valleys and over the mountain tops of Switzerland, Austria, Germany and France. However, these are not like the crazy winding mountain roads of Morocco or Turkey, with their rough, stony road surfaces. These are roads designed for driving, so you can be sure of a good quality road surface and plenty of safety barriers.

If you plan your Alpine driving holiday carefully, you can include some of the most breathtaking roads in Europe. Here are five of the most exciting Alpine passes that simply have to be on your list:

  1. Col de la Bonnette – the highest road in Europe at 2801 metres
  2. The Furka Pass – as seen in Goldfinger, when James Bond wound his DB5 around the twists and turns
  3. The Stelvio Pass – voted the best driving road in the world in 2008
  4. The San Bernadino Pass – which has such a good road surface, you’ll often find yourself sharing the road with a rally of vintage cars
  5. Grossglockner High Alpine Road – climbing almost 1000 metres in just 30 miles with 36 stunning curves along the way

Driving holidays by the coast

If you prefer your driving holiday to be a little more on the level, but still just as interesting and beautiful for you and your passengers, then there are plenty of options for fascinating coastal drives. You might not get the very best of roads, but the winding B-roads and minor roads are worth the extra effort to get away from the crowds and enjoy the magnificent sea views in peace.

Most classic coastal routes link major resorts, but you’ll also find plenty of charming seaside towns and fishing villages along the way too. As you head away from the main tourist areas, you’ll also find the beaches start to empty, often giving you a secluded cove all to yourself for the afternoon. Here are five coastal drives that everyone should try:

  1. The Atlantic Highway – better known as the A39 through Devon and Cornwall, with views across Exmoor National Park
  2. The Outer Hebrides – island hopping by road and boat along some of the most ruggedly beautiful roads in Britain
  3. The Corsican Coast – following the DS81 from Cargese to Calvi, this route often takes you up into the hills, making the coastal views even better
  4. The Atlantic Road, Norway – whale watching, mind boggling bridges and crystal clear fjords make this a memorable drive
  5. The Emerald Coast, Sardinia – one of Europe’s trendiest coastlines packed with chic, sophisticated resorts beside turquoise seas

Mountains or coasts? Why not have it all?

Of course, if you can’t choose between a thrilling mountain drive and a scenic coastal route, you can always do both with the Basque Circuit in Spain. This 480km drive combines the Pyrenees with the beautiful Bay of Biscay in a spectacular driving holiday the gives you the very best of both worlds.

*All comprehensive Octagon Insurance policyholders are entitled to 90 days European cover within one period of insurance (12 months). If a total of 90 days is exceeded, third party European cover is provided. Please refer to your policy wording (Section I) for more details.

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