Following the events of COVID 19, air travel may not be very easy for most families this summer. However, here are some great road trip ideas to satisfy the inner traveller. Grab your keys and drive around for a great summer!
Article by: Nina Treboux
Route 1: The Italian Tour (Recommended for traveling with kids!)
Cities: Turin, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Lucca, San Miniato, Florence, Bologna, Imola, San Marino
Start the tour in the city of Turin where you can visit the Royal Palace of Turin or if you are travelling with kids, try the amazing Egyptian Museum. As a next stop, head to Genoa, one of the old Italian naval cities, for the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and a sea-oriented experience at the Aquarium of Genoa for the younger ones.
Head onwards along the coastline and arrive at Cinque Terre. Take in the wonderful views as you walk along the mountain path through the five villages (or take the train). The colourful and cozy villages are an absolute highlight! Also, try the beautiful and sandy Monterosso beach. From here you can continue your dolce vita trip to Lucca – a village full of historical buildings, among which churches such as the Chiesa di San Michele. Teach your kids not to lie at the Pinnochio park.
From Lucca travel to San Miniato where you can go hunting for truffles as a family (check if you’re around for the truffle festival in autumn when the entire village smells of it). Take your tasty treats to Florence, an all-time classic on any voyage to Italy, and see Michelangelo’s David and enjoy the sunshine at the Boboli Gardens. Take in the view over the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo and indulge in more topnotch Italian food in one of the numerous Osteria’s.
Next, Bologna, with the famous Two Towers and the Fountain of Neptune. Beautiful city, somewhat off the beaten track and regorging of quaint city alleys and a more laidback rhythm of life with many terraces.
Not far away is the next stop, known to those loving the fast life: Imola. Formula 1 fans know it as the home ground of Ferrari. Winning here in a Ferrari is supposedly like entering heaven. Why don’t you try and go for a spin? Also do check out the Museo Checco Costa, by the racetrack.
Finally, end the tour in one of Europe’s smallest states: San Marino. There are lots of things to do and see here in San Marino like visit the Guaita Tower on Monte Titano for families who like nature, or visit the Basilica of San Marino to enjoy a historical site. The seaside is close by and you might want to end your trip bathing in the Adriatic sea. La vita è bella!
Route 2: The French Trek
Cities: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Montpellier, Aigues-Mortes, Nimes, Arles, Camargue, Marseille, Côte d’Azur.
Discover different periods in French history on this route. You can begin in Toulouse, try the delicious southern french cuisine and visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse and stroll around this city known for its aeronautic engineers and space technology, but also for the famed Cassoulet dish. Next, head to Carcassonne, fans of the board game and medieval castles cannot miss the famous Carcassonne castle. Explore the site, feel like a knight or dame and take in the surrounding landscapes. Do try the local wine!
Next you can head to Montpellier, here you can visit the Place de la Comédie before heading to the old town of Aigues-Mortes. Here the crusaders left France on their way to Jerusalem. Its city and harbour sites are excellently preserved and once again make you feel like travelling in time. Further East make sure you have enough time to discover Nimes and Arles, which are sure to delight any history buff with the roman ruins in the area, but also with their southern French small city charm, the corner cafés, the limestone houses and a strong focus on arts and poetry. No wonder Vincent Van Gogh spent some years in Arles.
Whilst you’re around, discover the Camargue and take in the beautiful landscapes of this patch of nature. The Rhone estuary branches out and meanders through the country and traditionally made it an ideal place for rice plantations and horse breeding. Be sure to visit France’s third-largest city: Marseille. The Old Port of Marseille, the Palais Longchamp, the Frioul islands just off the harbour – very varied and worth a day-visit.
What would a trip through southern France be without the famous Côte d’Azur? Drive along the coast below pine trees and gaze at the azure-coloured sea that has made so many people fall in love and which is the topic of so many summer songs in French chansons. Hyeres, Cannes, Nice, Monte-Carlo – pick your final destination for a relaxing stay on the coast before heading back to your regular life.
Route 3: The Greek Travel
Cities: Thessaloniki, Mount Olympus, Larissa, Ioannina, Agrinio, Patras, Corinth, Athens, Island of Kea
The country of the thousand islands – but on land. Even if you were to get lost, your Odyssey towards the destination will be filled, not with dangers, but with delightful encounters with the Greek countryside, cities and its people. To begin, travel to the city of Thessaloniki, where you can spot the famous White Tower of Thessaloniki and enjoy the portside. After a bit of a drive, you can visit Mount Olympus, the home of Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses, if you are a nature person you can even hike up the mountain. Make sure to put in a good word for your dear ones to appease the volatile inhabitants of ancient Olympus!
Relax overnight in the charming city of Larissa, where you can have a taste of the olden days by visiting the ancient Theatre of Larisa. Next up is another big stretch to the city of Ioannina that can be seen after enjoying the views of the countryside. Here, you can take a little boat tour on Lake Pamvotis. Enjoy Greek food and wine – both vary greatly between countryside and seaside. Fish-lovers will find their paradise with the catch of the day from the harbour. Carnivores will be delighted by the many variations of lamb with exotic spices.
Continue on your journey to Agrinio, where you can go rock climbing at Varasova with the whole family. Keep going to Patras, the home of the Rion-Antirion Bridge, a very modern structure among the ancient ruins. The fun is not over, next you can visit Corinth, here, music lovers and history lovers unite. You can visit the Archaeological site of Corinth which is the famed Temple of Apollo.
Lastly, the trip would not be complete without a visit to Athens, of course you can always visit the Acropolis and Parthenon but be sure to also check out the Plaka markets and local shop vendors. After all the driving, you may even want to take a quick boat ride over to the Island of Kea for a vacation from your vacation!
Route 4: The German Trip
Cities: Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz, Eltville, Deidesheim, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Tübingen, Ulm, Augsburg, Munich
Experience Germany in a bucolic way and let romantic towns charm you into driving slowly in the country of limitless Autobahns. Begin your trip in Cologne, if you are a fan of architecture or history you may especially enjoy the Cologne cathedral that took more than 300 years to be finalised and miraculously survived the bombings during World War II. Alternatively, if you are traveling with kids, start your road trip with a bang by going to Phantasialand, an amusement park or the Cologne chocolate museum.
Then all the way along the Rhine stopping first in Bonn and Koblenz to visit some of the best German wineries and take in the beautiful view. The famed legend of the Nibelungen takes place in this area with Siegfried disappearing onto the Rhine with the immense gold treasure – can you see its glimmer through the dark waters? If you take a boat tour along this major waterway, you better hope your captain knows the waters and won’t let himself be distracted by the beautiful siren Loreley sitting on a rock at a particularly sharp bend.
Stop at Eltville at the hotel Kronenschlösschen and use this as an opportunity to visit kloster Eberbach. Coincidentally this is where ‘The name of the Rose’ was filmed so you can enjoy the famous abbey with good wine and impressive cellars.
Generally one wouldn’t think of Germany for wine – but back in the 19th century these were the white wines one drank. The old vineyards all along the Rhine are the heirs of these century-old traditions. Do indulge and learn something new about wonderfully mineral white wines and try the different grape varieties.
Continue your journey to Deidesheim where you can stay at Deidesheimer Hof. Here you can find the excellent restaurant where Chancellor Kohl invited the French President Mitterand for a historic lunch. If you are brave, try what the Chancellor dared Mitterand to eat: the German specialty ‘Saumagen’.
Next is the old University city of Heidelberg, US headquarter following the second world war. And with reason. Beautifully preserved this town breathes history of great teachings, as well as living a good life with wine and hefty wood. Visit the Heidelberg Palace or Schwetzingen Castle. The nightlife is also perfect for teenagers or young adults on the trip while the Heidelberg Zoo will entertain younger kids.
Then why not take a trip to the city of Stuttgart, where you can visit the Porsche Museum. A car lover’s dream! Afterwards, head to Tübingen, Ulm, and Augsburg, which has a nice relaxing atmosphere and great scenery. All are great locations for family pictures and discovering quaint German towns with rich history and somewhat off the beaten track.
Finally, end off in Munich, where you can visit the Victuals Market or the Marienplatz. Bavarian specialities of course include Weißwurst and beer before noon – ideally dress up in the traditional gear to blend in perfectly at the Augustiner Brauhaus! For those wanting a break from the road, relax for a few days either on the lake Chiemsee or the Tegernsee.
Get in touch with the Sphere team if you would like a customized road trip plan. We can help you build a personalized travel plan with a stay in one or more of the wonderful Sphere properties.