Road Trip Europe with This 30-Day Itinerary

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For years, we dreamed of taking an epic road trip across Europe in a motorhome. Finally, with our three-year-old and infant in tow, we rented a motorhome for a month to kick off the adventure! We saw mountains, oceans, and rivers and ate some of the best food of our lives.

We not only hit some of the popular tourist spots, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and eating fondue on Lake Geneva, but also spent a lot of time exploring smaller villages and towns we’d never heard of before.

If you are looking for a traditional Europe road trip hitting all the highlights of the continent, this itinerary is not for you. Our road trip style is a bit more spontaneous and we like to get off the beaten path. We search for hikes, national parks, small towns, and sometimes just set the GPS to “avoid tolls” and see where it takes us!

I hope you use this itinerary to road trip Europe this summer!

Why Take a Road Trip in Europe?

When most people imagine taking a trip across Europe, they think of hopping on and off trains or using easy hopper flights. We’ve made several of these types of trips, but there are a few reasons why we chose a road trip across Europe instead of public transportation.

1. Spontaneity

Some of our favorite travel memories have come from days we didn’t plan. My wife’s strategy as she plans our itineraries is to find the popular regions and then visit small towns and hidden gems that pop up nearby. We’ve found countless waterfalls this way! (She has her priorities!)

A few years ago we were driving our motorhome through the Italian Dolomites and stumbled on an incredible gondola going up to the top of a mountain. We immediately pulled over, bought tickets, and went to the top. It was some of the most epic views we’d ever seen (video below).

We didn’t know this gondola was here, and we only found it because we were driving aimlessly. This is one of the reasons we love road-tripping.

2. Choose your own adventure stops.

While driving across France, we joined a program called France Passion, where you can camp at wineries and farms for free. Several of the wineries we stopped at also had Bed and Breakfasts as well (if you aren’t in a camper!).

3. Sleep in your own bed every night.

So this is not the case for every road trip, but it is if you rent an RV in Europe.

One of the things we loved most about our month-long trip to Europe was sleeping in our own bed every night. We’ve researched a TON of motorhome rentals in Europe and found a company we love called Anywhere Camper. They will drop off your RV almost anywhere in Europe (hence the name!) and then fly to pick it up at the end of your route. This allows you to cover more ground versus doing a round-trip route.

The Route

We kicked off the trip in Paris. Our whole road trip ended up being more than 2,000KM over the course of a month. We crossed into 6 different countries (France, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Andorra, and Switzerland). We landed in Paris on September 12th, so we got to experience cooler temps throughout our trip. This “shoulder season” is one of our favorite times to explore Europe because the crowds are smaller than in summer (to put it mildly), but everywhere is still open.

Paris, France

We always start a road trip in a major city where we can easily get a motorhome rental (and where we can get over jetlag while exploring!). We did all of the big stuff, like the Eiffel Tower and a food tour of French cuisine. But the highlight was Alyssa taking a pastry class at Le Cordon Bleu. They offer a few public classes each week so she learned how to make choux pastry from the best pastry chef in the world. (Really. There’s a competition. He won.) Highly recommend for anyone who loves food!

Champagne, France

Champagne Avenue is one of the nicest, fanciest places I’ve ever visited. We drove around the town of Epernay, a couple hours outside Paris. We toured multiple champagne houses dating back centuries and even camped at two champagne houses. If you like wine, champagne will blow you away. Prosecco is crap in comparison!

Vougeot, France

Ever heard of this small town? Us neither. However, there was an epic castle we toured surrounded by vines with live music. There were so many people we had to park and walk up from five minutes away. Our daughter took it upon herself to try a grape straight from the vines, Malbec I think. She would give it a 0/10, do not recommend.

Mouthe, France

This is rated as the coldest place in France. It was definitely one of the coldest places we stayed on our entire trip. You can’t see them in the photo below, but off to the right are ski slopes.

Surrounding our idyllic campsite were cow bells jingling off in the distance, a waterfall, and a trail system for hikes. Mouthe is part of the national park, Parc naturel régional du Haut-Jura.

Geneva, Switzerland

While we only spent one night in Switzerland, I think it’s all my wallet could afford.

After spending the better part of an hour searching for parking, we set off searching for some cheese fondue. One giant bowl and $75 later (for a bowl of cheese!!!), we enjoyed a sunset looking out over the lake in Geneva. While it’s a buzzing city, I would absolutely love to come back here for a longer stint.

Annecy, France

Annecy is known as the “Venice of France” and for good reason. The town itself sits on a beautiful lake, and the city center has water flowing through it. This was one of our favorite days we spent on this trip wandering around, eating crepes and enjoying the views.

Tip: There’s free parking at the Basilique de la Visitation at the top of the hill and you can walk into town.

Chamonix, France

Oh, Chamonix, you are one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever set foot in my entire life. (In true French fashion, it’s pronounced sha-mo-knee.) In the picture below you can see the views from our campsite. Hands down, this is the most beautiful place we have ever camped anywhere in the world.  One of the things we did in Chamonix that I would highly recommend is to take the cog train up to a glacier where you can explore ice caves.

Chamonix is an adventure town and not the best for traveling with little kids, but we share a few recommendations for things to do with kids.

San Bartolomeo Al Mare (The Italian Riviera)

After experiencing bitter weather up in Chamonix, we decided we needed to warm up for a few days. So we drove over to San Bartolomeo Al Mare and parked next to the beach. Do we know anything about this town other than the fact that it is Italy and we could eat pizza and pasta? No.

However, these are some of our favorite smaller towns to explore. We had no expectations coming in, and we had an amazing couple of days walking around and trying restaurants, playing in parks, and hanging on the beach.

Monaco

One thing we knew before arriving in Monaco was that you cannot drive an RV into the country. Therefore, we found a campground in Italy with a shuttle that would take us to the train station that goes into Monaco. We spent most of our day at the aquarium (Musée Océanographique de Monaco) and walking around the city.

Pernes-les-Fontaines, France

“Hey Siri, Google towns in Provence worth visiting.”

“Here is a town that looks like the set of Beauty and the Beast:”

One thing we wanted to do on our France trip was to explore some of the smaller and lesser-known villages. One day, we spent a day walking around Pernes-les-Fontaines, known for its many fountains. It looked like the town where Belle grew up and our three-year-old loved it! We visited on a Saturday and walked through the farmer’s market and the entire village. At every turn, there were vines growing on the buildings, fountains, and idyllic coffee shops. I highly recommend also stopping in nearby Avignon, which we drove through and gawked at! All of these tiny towns in Provence are picture-perfect.

Carcassonne, France

Founded in the 6th century BC, this medieval castle is famous for its 52 towers and impressive architecture. However, Alyssa and I will forever remember it because we had a classic Toulousian dish that changed our lives. Cassoulet is a hearty, slow-simmered stew with sausage, navy beans, duck confit and pork. I think about it all the time.

This is also the largest castle in France and where we took the best ever picture of our daughter:

Ignore the tulle and she is ready for battle!

Lourdes, France (Pyrénées National Park)

Lourdes is a major destination for those looking for healing. People come from all over the world for the waters in Lourdes that are supposed to have healing powers. What we loved most about Lourdes wasn’t the town itself (which was crowded) but its access to the Pyrénées National Park (above). We spent two days exploring the national park which was absolutely stunning.

If you want to get a taste of the national park vibes, you can watch a video below from one of our hikes in the park.

Another great activity in the area is the Parc Animalier des Pyrenees. This zoo was honestly the best zoo I’ve ever been to in my life.

You get (almost uncomfortably) close access to the animals and the walking track through the zoo is more like going on a scenic hike than just visiting a zoo. If you have kids or just like zoos, I would highly recommend stopping here near Lourdes.

Andorra la Vella, Andorra

You’ve probably never heard of the tiny country of Andorra. Nestled in the mountains, it’s tucked between France and Spain and takes about an hour to drive the length of the country. It kind of feels like someone took a ski resort town and turned it into a beautiful little country.

Unfortunately, we got sick during our stopover in Andorra and spent our time enjoying food poisoning and Googling the nearest ER. What we did experience in the country was gorgeous though!

Bagà, Spain

A short drive into Spain from Andorra, we crossed into an area named Bagà. It was a small village next to recreational land (AKA lots of free camping for us) and mountains. We had no intention of spending more than an afternoon here, but we liked it so much we stayed a couple of days. You can see more of the experience in this video:

Tavertet, Spain

This cute little town was basically all closed up when we got there. Check out this campsite though! Not pictured: A great playground and a public pool.

Perealada, Spain

Driving toward the Costa Brava, we stopped in this little town for cappuccinos. If you’re the gambling sort, check out this castle which is actually a casino.

Castellop d’Empuries, Spain

We are beach people. If there’s a chance to spend an extra night or two on the coast, we take it. So when we found Camping Laguna and had an oceanside campsite, we extended our stay night after night.

Look at this family. That is what happiness looks like! We enjoyed cava and tapas and the sunny beach for a few days.

Cabrera de Mar, Spain

Our last night in our campers, we wanted to get as close as possible to Barcelona. Cabrera de Mar is a beachside town with a fully automated campground with facilities that’s an easy walk to parks and a beach. It was in this town where we saw schools and parks and families enjoying the sunshine that we said those tourist words…

“I think we should move here.”

Barcelona, Spain

Everyone loves Barcelona. Sometimes, European cities that are so popular don’t live up to the hype (sorry, Paris, you’re still beautiful). But Barcelona was incredible!

We took a food tour and got to learn about different foods and the history of the city. And we (of course) visited the zoo, where the kids were thrilled to explore. We ate more tapas and tried churros and chocolate (10/10, need to walk a lot to recover from those calories). This was definitely a city we will come back to! We dropped off our motorhome at the train station and found an Airbnb in the gothic district that was walkable.

FAQs

What is the best time of year to visit Europe?

To beat the crowds, we recommend visiting Europe in May or early June or waiting until September and October. The weather will be perfect, and there won’t be as many crowds. Everything will still be open for the season but may offer off-season pricing, making the trip a little less expensive.

Can you go on a road trip to Europe?

No you can’t drive to Europe (someone asked me that recently!) But you can freely and easily drive across borders in Europe. Very few borders have security (unlike US borders), and you may even cross into another country without realizing it. There may be milk restrictions, like needing a certain driving pass for Switzerland. Our camper rental included all of those passes, so we didn’t have to worry as we traveled!

What is the best car for a Europe road trip?

We are 100% motorhome people. We’ve been RVing for a decade and it’s our favorite way to travel, no matter the continent!

How much money do you need to spend a month in Europe?

Let’s not sugarcoat it. A month-long trip is expensive! We share all of our detailed expenses from this road trip here.

Can you drive a campervan around Europe?

You do not need a special license to drive a campervan in Europe. Some countries may require an international driver’s permit.

Are campervans popular in Europe?

Campervans are more popular in Europe than they are in the States! If you think you’ve seen packed campgrounds in America, wait until you show up to the coast of Spain in the fall. They snowbird in Europe to Spain and Portugal just like they do to Florida!

Road Trip Europe: 30-Day Itinerary

For the time of year, we chose southern Europe for our 30-day road trip. There’s so much more to see, but if you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, use this road trip Europe itinerary to outline your own dream trip. Have questions about planning an RV trip in Europe? Drop it in the comments!

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