Tag: roadtrip

These Are The 7 Longest Roads in The World

Driving down endless roads is unarguably one of the highlights of any great road trip. Check out the longest road in the world, as well as six runner-ups that are nearly as long!

Your international travel plans have probably come to a halt due to the ever-changing restrictions caused by COVID-19. However, that should not stop you from learning about potential destinations for the coming years.

Take a look at this map to see where the world’s longest roads are located.

These are the longest roads in the world (click to jump to each section):

  1. US Route 6
  2. US Route 20
  3. Golden Quadrilateral Highway
  4. Trans-Canada Highway
  5. Trans-Siberian Highway
  6. Highway One
  7. Pan-American Highway

Continue reading to find out more about each of the world’s longest roads!

U.S. Route 6

Loveland Pass historic photo from the 1960s. Loveland Pass in Colorado is a part of the US Route 6, one of the longest road in the world. It connects Long Beach in California with Princetown in Massachusetts.
Photo by Robert J. Boser

Total length: 5 100 km/3 100 miles

Starting point: Long Beach, California

Finishing point: Provincetown, Massachusetts

Road trip duration: 2 weeks+

Apart from being one of the longest roads in the world, the U.S. Route 6 is also one of the best cross-country US road trips. Afterall, is there a better way to explore the United States than by traversing the entire country?

As covering this much distance can be challenging, it is recommended to spend at least 2 weeks on the road to complete this road trip. Get on the US-6 in the small town of Provincetown, Massachusets. You will pass through nearly 15 states in total before reaching the destination in Long Beach, California.

With the Rocky Mountain National Park, Utah’s spectacular natural beauty, Nevada and its hidden gems, as well as countless other points of interest along the way, this truly makes one of the best road trips you could ever take.

U.S. Route 20

apart from being one of the longest road in the world, US Route 20 is the main driving road through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Photo by ArtTower

Total length: 5 500 km/3 400 miles

Starting point: Newport, Oregon

Finishing point: Boston, Massachusetts

Road trip duration: 2 weeks+

Looking for an alternative cross-country road trip that goes along just one single highway? The US Route 20 may just be the perfect pick for you. This journey would be 500 kilometers shorter than the previously mentioned US Route 6.

This 5500-kilometer (3400 miles) long road stretches from Newport in Oregon all the way to Boston over on the East Coast. From all the attractions that you’ll see along the way, the unarguable highlight is the Yellowstone National Park.

As this is one of the longest roads in the world, it is recommended to spend at least 2 weeks on the road to make the most out of each destination. Much like the US Route 6, GPS navigation won’t be needed for this road trip. Just follow the same road from start to finish!

Golden Quadrilateral Highway- India

Golden Quadrilateral Highway, one of the longest roads in the world, connects the four major cities in India.
Photo by Soham Banerjee

Total length: 6 000 km/3 600 miles

Starting point: Delhi, India

Finishing point: Delhi, India

Road trip duration: 2 weeks+

The Golden Quadrilateral Highway is the second-longest road in all of Asia. This road is crucial for India, as it connects the four main cities in the country- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai.

Travelers who plan to complete the loop around the Golden Quadrilateral Highway should think twice about driving in Delhi and Mumbai, two of the largest cities in India. Each of these cities is home to around 20 million people. Can you imagine what rush hour traffic must look like in such an enormous city?

Nonetheless, driving down the Golden Quadrilateral Highway is bound to be an unforgettable adventure. Apart from seeing some of the largest urban populations on the planet, travelers will also visit landmarks such as the Taj Mahal. Be sure to stop by Belgaum and admire some of the breathtaking waterfalls around the area.

Trans-Canada Highway

Trans Canada Highway, one of the longest roads in the world, connects two ends of Canada. Spectacular scenic drive through Glacier National Park.
Photo by Mariano Mantel

Total length: 7 000 km/5 000 miles

Starting point: Victoria, British Columbia

Finishing point: St. John, Newfoundland and Labrador

Road trip duration: 2 weeks+

Although not the longest road on the planet, the Trans-Canada Highway is considered the longest national highway on Earth.

Those who decide to drive across this lengthy scenic route are in for a real treat, as the Trans Canada Highway will take them right through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country. Don’t forget to plan stops in some of the country’s fascinating National Parks, Gros Morne and Glacier to name a few.

Expect to spend at least 2 weeks on the road to complete this road trip across one of the longest roads in the world. Accommodate some extra time for stops at scenic overlooks, as you’ll surely find yourself stopping to take in the views rather often.

Trans-Siberian Highway- Russia

Trans Siberian Highway, one of the longest roads in the world, seen in winter. Volvo driving through snowy forest in Russia
Photo by Сергей Корчанов

Total length: 11 000 km/7 000 miles

Starting point: St. Petersburg, Russia

Finishing point: Vladivostok, Russia

Road trip duration: 1 month+

The third-longest road in the world is the Trans-Siberian Highway. This 11 000-kilometer highway connects St. Petersburg by the Baltic Sea with Vladivostok, a Russian city just 3 hours north of the North Korean border.

The Trans-Siberian Highway became fully paved in 2015. However, this does not mean that crossing this route has become easy. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Harsh weather conditions and a remote location both make passing the Trans-Siberian Highway challenging, to say the least. Parts of the road can quickly become impassable during the road, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

That’s not to say that a road trip across the Trans-Siberian wouldn’t be the adventure of a lifetime. Some of the attractions along the way include a visit to Moscow, passing Lake Baikal, and getting close to North Korea as you approach Vladivostok. You’ll drive across seemingly endless plains of Northern Asia, coniferous forests, and tall mountains.

This journey would take at least a month to complete, given that there are no delays due to unpredictable weather conditions.

Highway 1- Australia

Highway 1 in Australia, one of the longest roads in the world. Straight, empty paved road goes through green fields and trees.

Total length: 14 500 km/9 000 miles

Starting point: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Finishing point: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Road trip duration: 2 months+

Apart from being the second-longest roadway in the world, Australia’s Highway 1 takes the trophy as the world’s longest national highway! Driving down this enormous 14 500 km (9000 miles) loop is one of the best ways to see the best of what Australia has got to offer.

Australia’s Highway 1 will take you across all states of the country. You can begin the journey in Sydney and head south towards Melbourne. This chunk of the journey alone makes for a great road trip idea already, check it out.

A segment of Highway 1 just south of Sydney is named the Grand Pacific Drive. The 140 scenic coastal route is considered to be one of the most scenic driving roads in the world!

long sandy beach and wavy blue ocean off the great ocean road on a clear sunny day in victoria australia. The article is about the longest roads in the world.

You could also detour in Melbourne and head down the Great Ocean Road, which is yet another scenic coastal drive. Check out the itinerary here. All in all, there are plenty of attractions worth visiting along the way.

The recommended duration for this road trip is at least 2 months. That way you can make the most out of each stop along the way, and won’t feel like you’ve rushed through too quickly.

Pan-American Highway

pan american highway is considered to be the longest road in the world. Straight road through plains of south america.
by Herbert Bieser

Total length: 48 000 km/30 000 miles

Starting point: Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Finishing point: Ushuaia, Argentina

Road trip duration: 6months+

Driving across the Pan-American Highway is on the bucket list of travelers around the globe. Many consider the Pan-American Highway to be the ultimate road trip in the world. While we all have different visions of the perfect road trip, there is no doubt that this is the longest one of them all.

According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world’s longest “motorable road”.

The entire journey from the northern tip in Alaska all the way to the south of Argentina spans nearly 50 000 kilometers (30 000 miles) in total. Those who decide to complete this fascinating journey will pass through 14 countries on 2 continents, as well as 6 different time zones before reaching the end. Although the Panamericana is considered to be the longest road in the world, not all of it can be passed by car. In fact, the road disconnects for about 100 miles nearly in the middle of the journey.

Darien Gap

There is a 100-mile stretch of remote wilderness in Panama and Colombia which is known as the Darien Gap, and the Pan-American Highway does not pass through this jungle. Instead, the road cuts off in Yaviza in Panama and resumes in Turbo, Colombia. There have been plans to build a road through the infamous Darien Gap, though with no success yet.

The Darien Gap is widely regarded as one of the most remote locations on the planet, even though it’s only around 60 miles long. This stretch of vibrant jungle doubles as one of the most dangerous places in the world, thanks to both dangerous wildlife as well as criminal activity.

As the jungle is the only way to cross from Colombia to Panama by land, Darien Gap has become the road of choice for illegal immigrants who want to get to North America. Add in the lack of law enforcement that makes the spot ideal for cartels and other criminals, and you end up with a quite dangerous area.

The dangerous Darien Gap does not mean that completing this road trip is impossible. In fact, most travelers choose to ship their vehicles over from Panama City to Cartagena and resume the road trip from there. There used to be a ferry crossing, though it is no longer in service.

As the two roads aren’t connected to one other, it is debatable whether the Pan-American Highway can really be considered as the world’s longest road.

Discussions aside, crossing the Pan-American Highway would definitely make for a long adventure! Most travelers need at least half a year to complete this journey.

Have you driven on any of these roads? Post photos from the longest road you’ve seen on Instagram using #Rentalmoose for a chance to have your work featured in our upcoming articles!

Don’t forget to check out our curated travel guides for more travel inspiration. You don’t have to drive the longest road in the world to have an unforgettable adventure!

Manuel Antonio National Park. Green, thick rain forest and long sandy beach, calm crystal blue sea on a clear day in costa rica.

Pura Vida Road Trip- Costa Rica Itinerary

Pura Vida – the magical word combination that all of us are searching for in this life. Simply translated Pura Vida means “pure life” or “simple life”. This is the motto of the people in Costa Rica. Not just a motto but actually a way of living. Discover your Pura Vida with our curated Costa Rica itinerary.

Shouldn’t it be the same for all of us? That’s why I decided to fly to Costa Rica and travel around the country by car – to find this magical Pura Vida for myself during an unforgettable Costa Rica road trip. 

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

San Jose to Arenal Volcano- 135 kilometers (85 miles)📍 

Arenal Volcano to Papagayo Peninsula- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 

Papagayo Peninsula to Jaco- 230 kilometers (140 miles)📍 

Jaco to Manuel Antonio- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

Manuel Antonio to Pacuare Lodge- 265 kilometers (165 miles)📍

Pacuare Lodge to Limon- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

Limon to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca- 60 kilometers (40 miles)📍

1000 kilometers (600 miles) in total

Planning- Before You Leave

Before setting off to explore Costa Rica with our detailed itinerary, take a look at some essential information listed below.

Why should you visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has it all the rainforests, the volcano, powerful waterfalls, the tropical jungles and beautiful Caribbean beaches (both white sand and black sand). There really is everything in this small country – from relaxation to hard parties. Let’s start to explore!

Rentalmoose tip: Get yourself a four-wheel-drive car to explore Costa Rica as some of the roads can get bumpy. And some places might not have roads at all. Find a suitable car for your Costa Rica road trip using Rentalmoose.

Can tourists drive in Costa Rica?

Absolutely! All you need to drive in Costa Rica is a driving license issued in your home country. International Driving Permits are not mandatory.

Although the general traffic rules are similar to those in other countries, the enforcement of traffic laws leaves a somewhat gray area. With that in mind, it is advised to follow all of the regulations.

Traffic in Costa Rica is one the right side of the road.

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Costa Rica itinerary!

San José

san jose costa rica  whitewashed government building, white facade traditional architecture in the heart of san jose on a sunny day. Costa Rican flag in the foreground.

San Jose photographed by Jose Conejo Saenz.

My flight took me to the capital of Costa Rica – San José – the biggest city in the country. I decided to stay here for a few nights to discover the city as well. San Jose is an absolute must on any Costa Rica itinerary by car.

My suggestion would be to stay 1 day or 1 night as Costa Rica countryside has so much more to offer than this big and noisy city.

It’s good to know that San José is the least violent city in the Latin American region! Some people even say that Costa Rica is the Switzerland of America. 

The architecture in San José is mostly not very beautiful with some exceptions. The pretty buildings can be found around the Paseo Colon. 

What can’t you miss in San Jose?

Teatro Nacional is a stunning Neoclassical building that is home to Costa Rica’s national opera and ballet companies.

If you have decided to spend a night in the city then go see a show – this is the best way to see the beautiful architecture of this building and of course to enjoy the lovely performance. 

It’s also possible just to buy a tour in the building if you have no time for the show. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: There are often art exhibitions or different performances on the square in front of the Theatre! These are free for the public, so keep your eyes open!

If you are interested in the history of the country then there is the National Museum of Costa Rica in San José. It’ll keep you occupied for a while. 

Another lovely building close-by is San José’s Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s famous for its stained glass windows but there’s a lot to see on the inside as well – like delicate tile work and sculptures. 

Where to stay in San Jose?

 There are some hotels with lovely Colonial-style architecture  – for example, Hotel Grano de Oro (which was chosen as a top hotel in Central America and Caribbean region by Condé Nast in 2018!) which has beautiful wooden decor in its rooms. 

The hotel also has a fabulous gourmet restaurant with the same name, which is one of the top restaurants in San José! Grano de Oro’s famous restaurant serves a fusion of Costa Rican and European cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Rentalmoose tip: When booking a hotel or a restaurant in San Jose, be careful – there is a city with the exact same name in the US as well! Make sure you make your reservations to the right city! Learn from other people’s mistakes (read – mine haha!). 

Next on your Costa Rica itinerary: Arenal Volcano, 3 hours

Arenal Volcano

Large arenal volcano mountain seen from a nearby rain forest. The tip of the volcano is covered by large white clouds, seen on a sunny day in costa rica.

Arenal Volcano in the clouds

 After wining and dining in San José it’s time to start the engine and set off on your Costa Rica road trip! The first stop is the Costa Rican volcano – Arenal. 

Arenal is one of seven historically active Costa Rican volcanoes along with Poás, Irazú, Miravalles, Orosí, Rincón de la Vieja complex, and Turrialba. 

There are 2 roads that can take you to Arenal, but we chose the longer one because there is a beautiful waterfall on the way and, well – who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls? 

La Paz Waterfall

My chosen road goes through Alajuela and I made a stop at the La Paz waterfall. It’s in the middle of the tropical forest – such a lovely view and refreshing air! By the way, it’s a popular wedding ceremony destination so you might get to witness one as well! 

Poas Volcano

 Very close to La Paz waterfall is another volcano called Poas volcano. It’s an active 2,708-metre stratovolcano. A stratovolcano is a conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and ash. 

There is an open viewing point from where you can actually see inside the crater of the volcano! A very cool experience indeed! 

Arenal Volcano

After experiencing the La Paz and Poas, it’s time to continue the drive to your final destination of the day which is Arenal Volcano National Park. The perfectly symmetrical Arenal was Costa Rica’s most active volcano until 2010. And it’s in the top 10 of World’s most active volcanoes. 

 Thanks to the volcanoes, the area has another thing it’s famous for – its hot springs.

The whole area together with its hotels is basically a large spa, perfect after traveling the whole day! 

These springs originate in a geothermally heated underground river. Local hotels tap into this source and bring the water to the surface, creating mineral-rich hot springs for their guests to enjoy.

Need any more reasons to stay? I didn’t think so! 

Where to stay near the Arenal Volcano?

There are several hotels to choose from, my recommendations would be Tabacon Thermal Resort, The Springs Resort, or The Royal Corin Resort. Now relax and enjoy your time!

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Papagayo Peninsula, 3 hours

Papagayo Peninsula

empty, white sandy beach in papagayo peninsula in costa rica. Small waves, blue ocean and green resort lawn lined with tall palm trees. Sunny day in costa rica

You are probably totally soaked and relaxed and it’s time to live the wellness area behind because another resort is waiting for you – welcome to Papagayo Peninsula. The place with pretty beaches and tropical forests. 

The peninsula has been formed this way by the volcanic activity and weather.

There are 31 separate beaches on the 15mi / 24km of the peninsula. Not too many private wild beaches left in the world but this is your chance to find one!

 You now have 2 options – whether you prefer to stay in the peninsula to discover more of it or go hunt other beaches on the coast. 

Where to stay in the Papagayo Peninsula?

If you’d like to stay in the peninsula for longer and indulge yourself in the tropic but at the same time in luxury then the Four Seasons hotel is a place for you. A luxury in the jungle! 

Andaz Costa Rica Resort will also be just as good of an option for treating yourself. Find your inner explorer as the place has many experiences to offer, choose from hiking, surfing, paddleboarding, animal spotting, snorkeling, diving, and many more outdoor activities. 

What are the best beaches near Papagayo?

If you don’t plan to stay in the peninsula then hit the road again and start driving to the South. There will be many beautiful beaches along your way – Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande and Tamarindo to name a few. If you have plenty of time to discover Costa Rica – go and see all these different beaches and villages next to those. 

If you are on a strict time limit, then choose one of the following beaches: 

Playa Flamingo

Playa Flamingo is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches because it has the finest white sand, clear blue water, and lagoons. The prettiest and probably most crowded due to that.

Playa Grande

Playa Grande is, as its name suggests, a long beach. It is an important part of the national park because it’s a nesting place for leatherback turtles. It is still open to the public but it’s very protected. So take only pictures and leave only footprints!

Tamarindo

 Tamarindo is a surfers’ paradise, you can really feel the hippie lifestyle vibes here. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and nightlife in addition to beach life here. 

Rentalmoose tip: If you want to discover even more of the peninsula, you can also visit these beaches: Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Samara (this one is quiet with nice sand and trendy cafes), Ostional (home of turtles!) and Nosara beach

Next on your Costa Rica itinerary: Jaco, 3 and a half hours

Jaco

Jaco – the Costa Rican nightlife capital. Photography by Juliette Giannesini

 This will also be an optional visit along the route as Jaco is not just a town – but a beautiful and energetic beach spot. I put Jaco in the Costa Rica itinerary because it’s the surfing and partying capital of the country. So if you would like to do some dancing during your trip then this is the place for that! 

What is the best beach in Jaco?

Hermosa Beach

If you love surfing then head to the Hermosa beach to catch the big waves. By the way, the International Quicksilver Championship is held at this beach. If you happen to travel at the same time, you can enjoy the show while comfortably sunbathing on the beach. There are also smaller surfing competitions going on every Saturday!

Hermosa is also a great place for beginners so why not surprise yourself and take some surfing lessons or even participate in a surf camp?

2-hour surf lessons cost about 50.- US dollars per person and there are many cool surfing schools, like School of the World, Tortuga, and Jaco Surf School.

Playa Jaco

Playa Jaco is a very nice and clean beach and popular with tourists. Be aware that there are very strong tides here, so if traveling with kids, keep an eye on them at all times! 

Jaco is okay to travel with kids as its not party all over, there are plenty of other things to do and see here as well – like horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, ATV tours, kayaking, boat rides, rafting, canopy zip line, waterfall tour, a catamaran tour along the coast or a walking tour on the hanging bridges at the Rainmaker Park. I mean there is a lot to do for adventure seekers!

Rentalmoose tip: A good idea would also be a day trip to Tortuga Island. This will get you a real Caribbean feeling with its white sand and clear blue waters!

Herradura Beach

The best beach for kids would probably be Herradura beach – a more tranquil beach, which is also perfect if you need a break from the pulsing energy of more heavily-populated areas. 

The nightlife

 And now back to the party talk. After surfing this is the next reason people come to Jaco. There are many beer bars where the surfers go but also some fancier options to choose from. 

Popular clubs in Jaco are Le Loft, ManCave and Orange Pub. There are also two good beach clubs to check out – Black Marlin and Jaco Blu

After surfing and partying like there is no tomorrow, it’s time to escape from Jaco and head to a quieter place.

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Manuel Antonio, 1 hour

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park. Green, thick rain forest and long sandy beach, calm crystal blue sea on a clear day in costa rica.

The wonderful nature and beaches of Manuel Antonio photographed by Gloriana Anchetta.

 You have arrived at your next destination – Manuel Antonio National Park – the jewel of Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio is the most popular national park in all of Costa Rica. It’s not the biggest but it is so beautiful and has a diversity of wildlife. 

Manuel Antonio National Park has several beautiful beaches, especially if you’re into snorkeling! You’ll instantly fall in love with the place.

What is the best beach in Manuel Antonio National Park?

If you love white sand beaches then Playa Manuel Antonio is the place to be for you! By the way – Playa Manuel Antonio was voted as number 1 beach in the world by travelers in Tripadvisor’s “Traveller’s Choice Award 2019”. 

Or maybe you’ll prefer a little hidden beach? Head 20 mi / 32 km south from the Manuel Antonio National Park and you’ll get to the Playa Linda. This will be a complete escape from the highly visited typical tourist attractions. 

Next to Playa Linda, there is another hidden gem- Playa Matapalo

Local Farmers’ Market

 Another great experience near Manuel Antonio National Park is a local farmers market called Quepos Feria. Local feria in Quepos starts late afternoon on Friday and is open until 12 pm on Saturday. 

You can find everything you need for your perfect vacation from the Feria – local seasonal fruits and vegetables, artisanal fresh cheeses, fresh fish/chicken/meats, homemade desserts, jams, herbs and spices, flowers, fresh pipa water right out of the shell (coconut water) and even locally made jewelry and clothing. 

After the exciting time at the feria with the locals, go to Nahomi Park to enjoy the end of the day with tranquil sunset views. 

Whether you are traveling with a family, couple or friends, eco-tourists, seeking exciting adventures, or just to relax, you have come to the right place.

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Pacuare, 5 hours

Pacuare Lodge

single boat rafting down pacuare river. exciting sport to get to pacuare lodge is via whitewater rafting. The river surrounded by rainforest and large rock.
Rafting is the best way of getting to the lodge. Photography by Paco Martinez.

 Now it’s time to discover a real natural rain forest. Unfortunately, Costa Rica doesn’t shine with its roadways so you have to take the same road back which you used to come to Manuel Antonio.

Drive through Jaco and head towards San Jose. After passing the capital city and Irazu volcano you are about to arrive. 

Pacuare Lodge is a hotel that lies in the midst of the rainforest. It’s not possible to reach it by car, you have to leave your car at some parking place and the hotel transfer minivan will come to pick you up from there. 

Getting to the Pacuare Lodge

Take only a small bag with you because the journey to the hotel is something you have probably never experienced before – your bag will be put into a bigger waterproof bag and you will have to go rafting to the hotel through a Pacuare river! 

Rentalmoose tip: Keep in mind that the tides can be strong and the road to the hotel can be jumpy so it’s not the best idea when traveling with small kids. 

Once you arrive at the hotel you’ll be soaking wet, so keep that in mind when choosing the clothes for your rafting trip. 

The property

The hotel and its area are absolutely amazing. You are lucky if the weather is sunny but otherwise remember that you are in the rainforest so it can rain. A lot. Like, 48 hours straight. 

The rain won’t stop this place to be nothing but amazing. Your room is like a little wooden house – it doesn’t have windows or doors, just the insect net – which comes in handy as you can imagine what kind of life goes on in the rainforest! You will have an outdoor shower as well. Instead of slippers, you will have complimentary rain boots and umbrellas in your room.

The hotel provides many excursions in the forest which are good to participate in. The restaurant is amazing – great cuisine and an excellent wine list! 

For more romantic dining, they have a table built on the tree. That is something very different, so I definitely recommend giving it a try!

I think 2-3 days it the rainforest will be enough. After that the journey back will be (yeah, you guessed it) through the river rafting again!

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Limon, 1 hour 30 minutes

Limon

royal palm trees tall palm trees planted on a green lawn in limon costa rica. seen from below, natural beauty of costa rica on a clear day.

Royal palm trees are a frequent sight in Limon. Photo by Falco/pixabay.com

 After getting constantly wet on the rainforest there is no better plan than to go to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, to warm yourself up at the beach! The road trip heads to Limon,  the second-largest city in Costa Rica with a population of about 55 000 people. Arriving here can make you feel a bit confused – I sure felt like I had arrived in Jamaica instead. 

Limon is the home of the Afro Costa-Rican community. A part of the community traces its roots to Italian, Jamaican and Chinese laborers who worked on a late nineteenth-century railroad project that connected San José to Puerto Limón.

 Puerto Limon is not a very touristic place. Although big cruise ships dock here, most of the tourists still head to the West coast of the country. The port mostly is for exporting fruits. It can be a good thing to see a side of Costa Rica that is untouched by the Western world (with its port as an exception). 

Is Limon worth a visit?

Limon is a big port city, so it is good to visit it just for a day and head to a calmer place to spend the night. Unless you happen to visit it during mid-October when the 12-days annual Carnival takes place. 

What are the best places to eat in Limon?

 Treat yourself to a true Caribbean style meal in either of these restaurants: Soda El Patty, Mirador Da Domenico Red Snapper, or Caribbean Kalisi Coffee Shop

Next on the Costa Rica itinerary: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 1 hour

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Small wave splashes the black sand coast of playa negra. black sand beach in puerto viejo de talamanca costa rica. Dark sand and mangroves near the shore.

Exotic black sand beach – Playa Negra

 After a day well spent in the Puerto Limon, it is time to head even more south – almost to the border of Panama – to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It’s a more quiet seaside resort where it’s good to have your final rest before heading back to the airport.

The best beaches around Puerta Viejo

Although it’s on the Caribbean side and you’d probably expect some white sand beaches, this place is actually known for its black sand beach – Playa Negra. For a white sandy beach experience try one of these – Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, Playa Blanca.

Surfing in Puerta Viejo

 Puerto Viejo is already known for the surfers, it is actually becoming a hot spot for them. They come here to ride the famous Salsa Brava waves which have made the place one of the top-rated surfing paradises in the world. Be warned of the waters here, they have a strong rip current. So, swimming is not advised. This beach is for surfing experts only. 

Don’t worry, there are many other tropical beaches just within walking distance where it is safe to relax and swim. 

If you are not the one who has the patience to just chill on the beach, the place has many activities as well – horseback tours of the area, snorkeling, diving, mountain biking, kayaking, or boogie boarding. 

You can take a chocolate tour. Yes – chocolate is an important crop in this area of Costa Rica and you can take a tour to learn how they grow cacao trees, process the cocoa bean, and make chocolate. 

Nightlife

Puerto Viejo also has a lively nightlife – there are many bars, clubs, and restaurants in the area. It’s also great to know that the prices are not too high here (probably another reason after surfing why the place is popular amongst the hip youngsters). 

I must add that the roads here are in very poor condition. Except for the main highway, all the other roads are dirt paved. But it’s actually kind of cool to have a rustic place that hasn’t been changed by human hand so much.

As I have already mentioned that Costa Rica doesn’t shine with the amount of highways, you have to take the same road back to San Jose to reach the airport and drop off your rental car just nearby it. Browse through available rental cars for your road trip to Costa Rica via Rentalmoose

 Costa Rica is not about glamour. It’s about letting yourself be part of nature. Forget your daily worries that don’t have any meaning in the long terms of life. Be part of Mother Earth, appreciate it and all the living creatures on our planet. Take care of it. Enjoy what it has to offer and try not to change it. This is the meaning of living Pura Vida that I discovered for myself during this trip. 

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Croatia to Montenegro- Balkan Road Trip Itinerary

New stars of the road trips: Croatia and Montenegro. Check out this curated Balkan road trip itinerary!

Tags: road trip, travel by car, drop off at another location, Croatia, Montenegro, long trip, beaches

For years and years, people have been going to their summer vacations to the Mediterranean countries but always the preferred ones have been Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. Now, there are new, trendy hotspots – Croatia and Montenegro. See the best places in Croatia and Montenegro during this insightful Balkan road trip itinerary.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Rovinj to Plitvice Lakes- 240 kilometers (150 miles)📍 

Plitvice Lakes to Zadar- 120 kilometers (75 miles)📍 

Zadar to Krka- 75 kilometers (45 miles)📍 

Krka to Split- 85 kilometers (50 miles)📍

Split to Ston- 190 kilometers (120 miles)📍

Ston to Dubrovnik- 55 kilometers (35 miles)📍

Dubrovnik to Kotor- 90 kilometers (55 miles)📍

Kotor to Tivat- 10 kilometers (6 miles)📍

910 kilometers (565 miles) in total

Planning- Before You Leave

Before you set off on your Balkan road trip, take a look at some essential information below.

Why should you visit Croatia and Montenegro?

There is no surprise that Croatia and Montenegro have gotten popular among international tourists- they have the same natural beauty, crystal waters, lovely islands, and cheaper prices! Well, to be totally honest the prices have increased in the latest years when tourists have become more interested in the area. 

Croatia became well known when its city Dubrovnik was the shooting location for a scene in the Game of Thrones.

 Your road trip can start either from Rovinj, Croatia or Tivat, Montenegro. Whichever way you prefer. 

The closest airports to Rovinj are Pula Airport (40-minute drive) and Trieste in Italy (2-hour drive). 

Road Trip Extension to Northern Italy

As Rovinj is very close to Venice, Italy, you can extend the road trip and visit Northern Italy as well. Experience very different sides of Mediterranean countries and indulge in Italy’s delicious cuisine.

Click here for the travel guide. 

Ferries from 2 different companies sail between Venice and Rovinj 7 days a week and the duration of the journey is about 3-4 hours, depending on the ferry. Find more ferry information HERE.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The duration of this road trip is 13 hours, with a total driving distance equal to 908km (564mi). Rentalmoose suggests spending between 4-5 days and a week on the road, in order to really experience each attraction to the fullest.

What is the best time to visit Croatia and Montenegro?

The best time to visit Croatia and Montenegro would be the high season  – from May until the end of September. If you love cabriolet cars then a road trip around the Balkans is a great opportunity to rent one, you could enjoy the magnificent views. 

If you’re traveling in a larger group, then a normal car or a minibus would be the best choice. You can find different car options at Rentalmoose, just type your criteria and you’ll get the perfect car for this trip.

For your peace of mind, don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app to take photos of the car when receiving it to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee. 

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Balkan road trip!

Rovinj

Rovnij aerial view of port, blue sea and red-roofed traditional buildings, on a sunny day in Croatia.
Rovinj seen from above. Photography by Byungjei Lim.

This Balkan road trip starts from the fishing port town of Rovinj, in Croatia, on the Western coast of the Istria peninsula. 

An interesting fact is that originally the peninsula on which Rovinj lies was an island, separated from the mainland by a channel. The latter was filled in 1763. 

 Being so close to Italy makes this city bilingual, people speak both Croatian and Italian here. It also has the Italian feel to it, many people say Rovinj more like Italy rather than Croatia.

 The main economic activity in Rovinj is tourism. During peak season (May–September), its bars, restaurants, and art galleries are open ‘till late hours, while operating limited hours off-season. 

What should you see in Rovinj?

The heart of the city

 The busiest place is the center – fully pedestrian Carrera Street, with many independent shops and art galleries. There is also a farmer’s market located at the edge of the historic part of town, near Valdibora Square – the best place to fuel yourself with healthy and cheap snacks! In addition to the old town, you should definitely have a stroll along the harbor

What is the best place to eat in Rovinj?

Monte Restaurant

For a delicious meal, book yourself a spot at the Monte restaurant. People say not only is it one of the best in Rovinj but one of the best in all of Croatia – so it’s not to be missed!

But as the world moves fast, this place is already extremely popular. You have to make a reservation far in advance. 

Where to stay in Rovinj?

 To sleep off your travel exhaustion, opt for spending a night at the ultra-modern Lone Hotel, just about a 15-minute stroll away from the center. The hotel is set within the Golden Cape Natural Park.

There are various attractions onsite including a sushi bar, a nightclub, and several restaurants within the building. 

Another excellent 5* hotel is Hotel Monte Mulini. This place is also a short walk away from the old town but you can feel like in a resort here and leave the city bustle behind. Let the relaxation begin! 

Next on your Balkan road trip: Plitvice, 3 hours 30 minutes

Plitvice Lakes National Park

plitvice lakes national park, small wooden path with tourists on top of lakes and green forest. Natural beauty in Croatia.

Croatia is well known for its amazing natural beauty and waterfalls. One of the most famous ones is Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia.

 Plitvice Lakes National Park is listed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites. It is a popular visiting destination all year round, and a must-see for every visitor to Croatia. So yes – it’s about a 3-and-a-half-hour-drive, but I am sure you won’t regret going there. 

Is Plitvice Lakes National Park worth visiting?

 Most definitely! The national park has sixteen lovely emerald green lakes that are interconnected by cascades and waterfalls. Not only do humans love this natural wonder – animals do, too! This place is a home for many bears, wolves, otters, wild boars, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, and numerous bird species.

You probably won’t want to miss this exceptional natural beauty. Check the park’s official website for seasonal information and ticket prices.

After a serene afternoon in the park, the next leg of your Balkan road trip will take you to Zadar!

Next: Zadar, 1 hour 30 minutes

Zadar

zadar croatia. tourist attraction, greeting to the sun solar panels and a reflection of a cyclist with sea in background. Seen during sunset.
Zadar’s Greeting to The Sun photographed by Ivan Vuksa.

  Zadar – home to a historic old town of Roman ruins – is the urban center of northern Dalmatia as the administrative, economic, cultural, and political center of the region with 75,000 inhabitants.

In this intriguing city the old and the new live together – medieval museums next to cosmopolitan cafes. 

Zadar is a city of exceptional history and rich cultural heritage. The area of present-day Zadar traces its earliest evidence of human life from the late Stone Age, while numerous settlements date as early as the Neolithic times. 

 Zadar has good road infrastructure – the main road along the Adriatic passes through the city. And the natural beauty of the landscape will not leave you untouched.

I’m sure you will enjoy this Balkan road trip to the max! 

What to see in Zadar?

Sea Organ

 A must-see in Zadar is its “Sea Organ” – the first of its kind in the world. It is an architectural sound art object, an experimental musical instrument – a set of large marble steps, the pipes are located beneath it.

At the end of each pipe is a whistle, tuned to play seven chords of five different tones, creating sighs when the sea waves pushes air in them. This really needs to be seen and heard by yourself. 

The Greeting to the Sun

 Next to the “Sea Organ”, at the end of the Zadar peninsula, there is another masterpiece created by the same architect – Nikola Bašić. “The Greeting to the Sun” communicates with light, just like the “Sea Organ” does with sound. 

“The Greeting to the Sun” consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level with the stone-paved waterfront in the shape of a 22-meter diameter circle. Under the glass conduction plates, there are photo-voltage solar modules through which symbolic communication with nature is made. 

 Both are really cool experiences!

By the way, the film legend Alfred Hitchcock himself said that the prettiest sunsets in the world are in Zadar! Another must-see in town!

What are the best hotels in Zadar?

 After walking through the Plitvice and discovering Zadar you are probably really tired and need a good night’s rest. Book your room at the 4* Bastion Heritage Hotel in the Old Town. This is great for a car traveler as the hotel is very close to the only area you can reach with the car. So you wouldn’t need to carry your suitcases too long. 

In addition, there is a very famous fine dining restaurant “Kaštel” within the hotel. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine in elegant interiors and on a spacious terrace overlooking the garden. 

After a good night’s sleep, you can start your journey in the morning. Rested and ready for a new great day ahead!

Next on your Balkan road trip: Krka, 1 hour

Krka National Park

wide waterfall white foamy water going into crystal clear, secluded emerald lake, surrounded by trees. Sunny day in krka national park croatia
Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons

Loved hiking yesterday at the Plitvice National Park? Well, this is not it – you can enjoy another day in beautiful nature again as there is another gorgeous national park on the way. Make a stop at the Krka National Park

This park has a gorgeous swimming area, roped off at a bend in the river below the crescent of waterfalls. Before stripping off, take the shaded one-mile walk past a chain of tumbling pools to spot fish and sapphire dragonflies. And yes – now go freshen yourself up with a swim under the waterfalls. Need I even say more?

Boat tour to Visovac

 By the way, inside the National Park there is a small island called Visovac. There is a Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded by the Franciscans in 1445. The monastery was founded during the reign of Louis I of Hungary. The island can be visited by a boat tour from Skradinski Buk.

Rentalmoose tip: A boat trip through the national park is included in the entrance ticket and it is a great way of seeing much more of the park!

Next on your Balkan road trip: Split, 1 hour

Split

Prestigious outdoor restaurant by the walls of Diocletian's Palace. Tourists, outdoor terrace next to palm trees and one large empty table. beautiful sunset in split croatia

The restaurant next to the walls of Diocletian’s Palace

Welcome to Split! The largest city on the Dalmatian coast and the second-largest in the whole of Croatia. Split is an important transport center for Dalmatia and the wider region. 

In addition to the Zagreb-Split freeway (A1), all the road traffic along the Adriatic coast on the route Rijeka–Dubrovnik (Adriatic Highway) flows through the city. Split is always buzzing, the old city walls are filled with many trendy hotspots. 

What can you see in Split?

Go see the Diocletian’s Palace – a Unesco World Heritage site that is one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments, built in 305 AD. 

It was built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement residence – not a bad place to retire, right? By the way, the palace is another shooting location for the Game of Thrones. If you are a fan, go and try to find the exact spots from the series!

 Within the huge Diocletian Palace, there are many sites to see, for example, the St Domnius Cathedral and its Bell Tower. This is said to be the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the world that still works in its original structure. When climbing to the Bell Tower, you can see the breathtaking views of Split and the city’s red rooftops. 

The Diocletian Palace is actually forming half of the old town, so if you go there, you’re already wondering around in the Split’s oldest parts of the city. 

There are also many restaurants and bars where you could have some snacks and a cold drink – for example, Zinfandel Food & Wine Bar.

 Another spot you should see in Split is its harbor, where hundreds of sailing boats take off to the gorgeous islands of Croatia. If you have more time on hand, I definitely suggest visiting an island or two  (the biggest and most famous being Hvar). 

Next to the harbor, there is a promenade called The Riva. It makes a lovely place for an evening walk after dinner. 

Where can you find the best food in Split?

 A great restaurant recommendation would be Dvor. The location of this restaurant is so beautiful and the food is delicious, it’s totally worth having the 20-minute walk from the old town! 

Which hotel in Split is the best?

 When you call it a day then go and have a good rest in Hotel Park Split. You will feel very special once entering the hotel as there is live piano music. The staff will offer you a glass of champagne when checking in as a welcoming drink. A truly luxurious experience!

Another great option is Villa Split Heritage Hotel in the old town – an authentic Roman house from the 3rd century AC. The house used to be a home for the most prominent Croatian writer Marko Marulić. For this reason, the place is still sometimes called “Marulić house”. It’s located in the Diocletian Palace. 

Next on your Balkan road trip: Ston, 2 and a half hours

Ston

the great walls of ston. medieval defense walls on a green hill, with traditional croatian buildings and tourists in the foreground. sunny day in ston, croatia.

The wall of Ston

 Rise and shine! This morning let’s start the journey towards another great Croatian city – Dubrovnik. But with a little stopover at the small town called Ston which will be on the way. The reason for visiting this place is food! The best oysters in Croatia come from the Bay of Mali Ston! 

What is Ston known for?

 Always dreamed of visiting the Wall of China but haven’t made it there? Don’t worry, in Ston, there is a Croatian version of it – one of the longest defense walls in Europe.

The Ston Walls are 1200 m long and were built to ensure protection from neighboring regions. The chronicles state that the construction of the wall lasted 18 months.

 It is possible to visit oyster beds by boat from Mali Ston. Shellfish cultivation in Mali Ston Bay is currently based on only two species: The European Flat Oyster (Ostrea edulis) and the mussels called Mytilus galloprovinicialis

The oysters are the most flavourful in March, when St Joseph’s Day is celebrated. Gastro expert’s claim that oysters are best served freshly opened with some lemon juice.

You will have the opportunity to taste the freshly opened oysters smelling of the sea around St Joseph’s Day (19 March) at the restaurants in Ston and Mali Ston. 

Where to eat in Ston?

 Of course, it’s possible to eat oysters in Ston during other times of the year as well. Visit the famous Kapetanova kuća or Konoba Bakus restaurants to try some regional delicacies. 

Rentalmoose order tip: Order oysters and try their mussels and black seafood risotto as well! Delicious! There is also a dessert called “Ston cake” which should be tried, it will give some mixed feelings as its a dessert with macaroni. But it actually tastes surprisingly good, give it a shot. 

Next on your Balkans road trip: Dubrovnik, 1 hour

Dubrovnik

Old town of Dubrovnik seen from an elevated view point. Wonderful red roofs of traditional buildings near the Adriatic sea. Dubrovnik is a great destination to visit on a Balkan road trip
Dubrovnik captured by Ecksplorer.

 Bernard Shaw once said: “Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik.” So yes – you have reached another amazing walled city on the Adriatic! It’s probably the most beautiful one! 

This will be your last stop in Croatia during this Balkans road trip. Dubrovnik is really a magnificent historical city, no wonder it has also been used as a filming location in Game of Thrones as King’s Landing.

Can you drive in Dubrovnik’s Old Town?

 I must warn you that the Old Town in Dubrovnik is pedestrian-only – no cars allowed. And the parking around the city is very expensive. I am talking Monaco kind of expensive.

I strongly suggest finding a hotel which offers a private car park. Alternatively, park your car a bit further from the center and take a short walk, or use the public transport instead. 

What is there to see in Dubrovnik?

Definitely don’t skip going to the Old Town – its aristocratic Baroque palazzos and medieval churches stand together with lively wine bars, classy seafood restaurants, and elegant hotels. 

 A must thing to do in Dubrovnik is taking a walk on the Dubrovnik Walls – the medieval walls surround the whole Old Town so you basically get to see it all during your stroll. 

It’s recommended to keep a hat on and keeping a water bottle with you. It’s not that the walk would need extra climbing or hiking skills, but just to protect you from the sun and heat (especially in July and August when the temperatures reach their peak). 

The views from the walls are amazing, so don’t forget to take your camera with you! Post your best photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

 After you’ve seen the Old Town from above, it’s time to see it from the ground as well. Get lost on these tiny cobbled streets – there are many small roads that lead to great bars with amazing sea views. So don’t make a plan and go with the flow! Dubrovnik is full of such small gems! 

Also, visit what’s said to be the oldest pharmacy in Europe! Set inside the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery, the pharmacy is called Ljekarna Male Braće (meaning Little Brother’s Pharmacy). 

Rentalmoose tip: Buy their legendary rose face cream – krema od ruža – which is made of a secret medieval recipe!

Another attraction worth trying is the cable car ride – enjoy great views of Dubrovnik and the small islet Lokrum just close-by. I suggest going there during the sunset. It’s extra lovely at that time but it can get very crowded, though. 

Panoramic view of Dubrovnik and its surrounding hillside area can best be seen from a cable car ride up the Sra hill. Sunset view of the Balkans
Hesitant whether or not the cable car ride is worth your time? This wonderful shot by Ecksplorer should be enough to change your mind!

For a bit more of a private visit, book a table at the Panorama restaurant and dine above the city.

 During the high season, the beaches can be extremely crowded. But if you’re traveling off-season, go check the Banje beach just nearby. You can pay for a sunbed or go with your own towel to lay on. Alternatively, visit the beachside restaurant and club.

After a day of exploration, recharge at Barba, a place that serves you fresh seafood street food. For example, try the octopus burger. I bet you’ve never had anything like that before!

Another great experience would be fusion restaurant Azur – Croatian fresh ingredients done with Thai spices and herbs. 

Where should you stay in Dubrovnik?

After a fulfilling meal, go to have a good night’s rest at the Hilton Imperial Hotel – just next to the Old Town. The hotel also offers a paid parking garage. 

Another great option would be the Hotel Excelsior which offers free private parking!

Next on your Balkans road trip: Kotor, 2 hours

Kotor

kotor croatia coastal village, turquoise Mediterranean bay with boats, green trees and mountains in the background.
Kotor and its beautiful surroundings. Photography by PixelRaw.

 This morning, you are heading to the border of Croatia and Montenegro. Let’s hope that there won’t be much traffic on the border as it sometimes may happen. The first stop in Montenegro is the spectacular Bay of Kotor, a must on any Balkans road trip. 

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. The bay of Kotor is a ria (a submerged river canyon) though people often call it the most southern fjord in Europe.

Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive landscape. 

What are the best places to visit in Kotor?

 Kotor, like Dubrovnik, has a beautiful old town which is said to be the best-preserved medieval old town in the Adriatic area. The old town is a medieval maze where you can wander around and find different museums, churches, Venetian palaces, and lovely cafes.

Although Kotor now is a tourist attraction, it still hasn’t lost its authentic charm. By the way: in 2016, Lonely Planet named it the number one city in the world to visit. So let’s dive into it!

 For a spectacular view you are again challenged for a little climb (nothing too much though!).

Go climb the Castle of San Giovanni from where you’ll be able to see stunning Kotor from a different perspective.

The view of the Old Town and the Boca Bay will take your breath away, if climbing the 1355 steps hasn’t already. The stunning views are worth every single step!

 If you want to see more magical places, then head to Perast. Perast is a tiny village on the edge of Kotor Bay. The village is said to be one of the most beautiful places in Montenegro! It is situated just a few kilometers northwest of Kotor. 

Another must-see on any Balkans road trip in Montenegro would be Our Lady Of The Rocks, or Gospa od Skrpjela.

It is one of the two gorgeous islands in the bay of Boka Kotorska, which are situated in the sea across Perast. It is actually an artificial island, which was created using a bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks. 

After a day spent in Kotor, it’s time to continue to journey to your final destination on this route. 

Next: Tivat, 20 minutes

Tivat

tivat montenegro, luxury superyachts parked in the marina. large white and red crane and small boats in the foreground, whitewashed building on the shore with palm trees and tall mountains in background.
Superyachts in Tivat photographed by Виктория Сидоренко

 Tivat is not far from Kotor, it’s also located in the Bay of Kotor. It’s one of the smallest municipalities in Montenegro with its population being just around 14 000.

Tivat is probably the most glamorous city on this road trip – it has a fancy marina with expensive superyachts, classy restaurants, and glitzy boutiques. So how did a modest and ordinary town end up like that? 

 Canadian businessman Peter Munk bought a naval shipyard in Tivat, intending to transform it into a luxury vacation resort and a marina for luxury yachts called Porto Montenegro. Tivat went through a major multimillion-dollar remodeling of its marina and the surroundings.

Today, it is a place where the world’s jet-set resides and rests during their summer holidays. 

As most of this Balkan road trip is in historic cities, it’s nice to see something different that Tivat offers. Although there are traces of history in this place as well. For example, the Renaissance Summer House Buca in the center of the city.

Where can you find the best food in Tivat?

 A great meal is found at restaurant One which can also boast with unbeatable views of the yacht marina, a million-dollar view indeed! 

Another option would be to buy yourself some green and healthy organic food from Bonella – a “supermarket” where you can only find the good stuff. Jet setters approved! 

Where to stay in Tivat?

 I suggest to book a room at Regent Porto Montenegro in Porto Montenegro. This way you’ll be inside the new and fancy area, or maybe even see the fabulous promenade and marina from your room window.

The hotel is located in the UNESCO-listed Boka Bay within a luxury Porto Montenegro Village in the town of Tivat. The luxury hotel is built in a Renaissance-Venetian style. 

Another great 5* hotel is The Chedi Luštica Bay. Set on the waterfront and boasting a private beach area and an outdoor pool, The Chedi Luštica Bay Hotel is located in Trašte Bay, 14 km from the center of Tivat.

Drop off

The good news is that Tivat airport is just 3km away from the centre. By the way, this small town’s airport happens to be the biggest airport in all of Montenegro! Browse through rental cars that support airport drop-off via Rentalmoose.

DON’T HAVE A CAR YOU CAN TAKE ON A BALKAN ROAD TRIP? NO PROBLEM!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. 

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Weekend Getaway- Northern Italy Road Trip Itinerary

The North Italian weekend getaway (with a little bit of Switzerland). Check out this Northern Italy road trip itinerary!

Tags: Travel guide, road trip, drop-off at another location, Italy, Switzerland, travel by car

I know that sometimes you wonder where to travel for a weekend getaway and you don’t come up with something amazing that excites you enough to open your laptop immediately to purchase your flight tickets.  

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (Click the red pins for directions):

Milan to Lake Como- 50 kilometers (30 miles) 1.7 EUR (highway tolls) 📍

Lake Como to Saint Moritz- 145 kilometers (90 miles) 📍

Saint Moritz to Limone Sul Garda- 280 kilometers (175 miles) 📍

Limone Sul Garda to Verona- 100 kilometers (60 miles) 4 EUR📍

Verona to Venice- 115 kilometers (70 miles) 8.8 EUR 📍

690 kilometers/430 miles in total

I am a travel freak and always looking for something that excites me and could possibly give me memorable experiences for a lifetime. We all work hard to pay our pills but there really should be more joyful times when we enjoy our lives to the fullest. 

As nature is in my heart, I thought about seeing different landscapes and views where my eyes could rest and where I can get inspiration to continue working hard to achieve my goals. So this post is for travel enthusiasts who are into active traveling.

For my weekend motivation road trip, I visited classical lake Como which has beautiful Italian architecture and an old town on the riverside of the lake. After that, the road trip took me to Switzerland to visit the historical village of Saint Moritz, which is one of the most popular winter ski resorts in the World. Those views towards alps are stunning there.

The next stop was at the breathtakingly beautiful lake Garda, back in Italy. And then I was off to my last destination – Venice – with a little stopover in Verona. 

Planning- Before You Go

Before you set off on your road trip in Italy, take a look at the basic information below.

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The driving duration of this Italian road trip is around 14 hours so the minimum program should be 3-4 days, ideal for a weekend getaway.

When is the best time to visit the North of Italy?

The best time for this Italian road trip is from May to October (with summer months being the high season – meaning more crowds, higher prices, and longer waiting time everywhere). 

Depending on the season, please be aware that it can be cold and even some snow on the mountains when traveling off-season.

Keep that in mind when choosing a car. You’ll find the perfect options for every season on Rentalmoose.

Trip extensions to Switzerland and other parts of Italy

Extend your road trip further with two road trip extensions recommended by Rentalmoose.

Swiss Alps

When you’re in Lake Como, you can head north to Lugano and then continue exploring the scenic Swiss Alps. Spend a night in Andermatt, see the top of Europe near Interlaken and wander the streets of Geneva. Click here for the guide.

Tuscany

If you’d rather see more of Italy, head south to the magical city of Florence. Drive around the vineyards, visit forgotten medieval castles and see “The Medieval Manhattan of Italy”. Check out this guide to help you plan your next Italian road trip.

Alternative Route

On top of road trip extensions, Rentalmoose suggests an alternative route for this road trip. Whether you’ve already been to this part of Italy or would rather not go to Switzerland during this trip, check out this travel guide for an alternative road trip route between Milan and Venice.

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A 20-second travel guide: Northern Italy by car. Check out my profile for more trip ideas ##tiktoktravel ##travelguide ##traveltip ##italy ##roadtrip

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Can tourists drive in Italy?

Absolutely! However, you will need an international driving permit to drive in Italy unless you are an EU-citizen. These can easily be obtained in your local country and are mandatory for non-EU driver licenses when driving in Italy. For more information on International Driving Permits, click here.

Driving in Italy for the first time might be quite a hectic experience. Getting around large cities is chaotic and driving around tight cobblestone streets can be a nightmare. On top of all this, the locals don’t really seem to be following the speed limits.

Speeding is common among drivers in Italy. Once you get caught, you will probably realize it was not worth it. Tourists in Italy have to pay the fine on the spot to the police and can additionally be charged by the car rental company.

Going up to 21km/h over the limit on the highway will cost you around 150 Euros, while breaking a “no-parking” rule will cost you around 80 Euros.

Traffic in Italy is on the right-hand side.

To avoid any future misunderstandings, don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app to take photos of the condition of the car when receiving it and before starting your journey to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee. 

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive into this fascinating Italian road trip.

Milan

milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, famous tourist site at piazza duomo. Grand architecture and glass ceiling hosts luxury boutiques and is one of the highlights of milano. see it on an Italy road trip

The Galleria next to Milan Duomo 

The starting point of this Italy road trip is the city of Milan

Flying to Milan

Milan has 3 big airports – Malpensa, Linate and Bergamo. All of the airports are more or less about a 1-hour drive from the next location on your North Italian road trip – lake Como. 

During high season in Summer there might be a lot of traffic around the city center and parking can be hard to find.

How to find a rental car in Milan?

For rental car options, have a look at Rentalmoose.com which offers you the best prices for car rentals from the most well-known car rental companies. 

Keep in mind that when you are seeing that car rental companies are offering really low prices online then there might be some risk for you – either high deposit or hidden fees. There is no such issue when booking through Rentalmoose. 

With the Rentalmoose app, you can take pictures of your car’s visual condition (scratches) and when returning you have proof of your car condition which means lower risk for you and a better car renting experience. 

To avoid any misunderstandings, use the Rentalmoose app to take photos before starting your journey and to qualify for a 50% rebate from excess coverage.

Pick a suitable car that you feel like driving with. When you want to enjoy the summer breeze then opt for a convertible or when you are going with more than two people then a sedan or an SUV is a better choice. 

Add your criteria at Rentalmoose and you’ll see the most suitable car options for your Italy road trip.

Parking your rental car in Milan

When visiting Milan, Rentalmoose suggests parking the car outside the center and using public transport to go and see the Milan Duomo and the beautiful Galleria next to it, and if you are not the one driving – enjoy an Aperol Spritz at one of the cafes around here.

Milan is in the other direction from lake Como so your driving time will be longer. 

Are you looking for the best attractions in Milan?

Looking for the best things to do in Milan? Wondering where you can eat the best pizza in town? Check out this travel guide to see Rentalmoose’s favorite spots in Milan!

Next: Lake Como, 40 minutes

Lake Como

villa d'este restaurant. View the villa's beautiful garden while dining in the terrace. Empty, decorated tables, windows lined with purple flowers and park with tourist on bench.

Hotel Villa d’Este in lake Como 

The first leg of your Italy road trip is a casual 1-hour drive north towards the border with Switzerland. 

What should you see in Lake Como?

When arriving to lake Como, enjoy the stunning view and take a walk in the old town and riverside. 

Villa d’Este

A very nice place to visit in the area is Villa d’Este. Maybe treat yourself to a drink and a dessert in their lovely restaurant with the most amazing view to the lake and mountains. And if you have more time – take a ferry to Bellagio. A true fairytale city.

Looking for more attractions in Lake Como? Check out this travel guide!

Fox Town Factory Stores

Now, if you want to go shopping then Como is not the best spot as it’s a small town and it doesn’t have too many boutiques around. But close-by is an outlet called Fox Town Factory Stores where you can purchase designer goods and save some euros. 

They have the most well-known brands and it’s good to check out their discounts when going there. Fox Town is located in Switzerland, just across the Italian border, about half an hour’s drive from the center of Como 

Detour- visit Lake Lugano

Before you set off to Saint Moritz, consider heading up north for around 30 minutes until you reach the picturesque Lake Lugano in Switzerland. Click here to discover the best things to do in Lugano.

Next: Saint Moritz, 3 hours

Saint Moritz

badrutt's palace hotel building seen at night during wintertime. the hotel's classical architecture, castle style and famous tower. Be sure to see it on an Italy road trip

Badrutt’s Palace in Saint Moritz

Are you ready to visit one of the oldest and most iconic ski resort areas in the whole world? When driving from Como to Saint Moritz you will see amazing views on the way. 

Feel free to stop to breathe the fresh air and take a few photos of mind-blowing views. Remember to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Also, be very careful when driving the curvy mountain roads. 

Saint Moritz is a popular Winter destination but there is plenty to do during the summer season as well. But keep in mind that the climate is a bit cool, even during the summer. 

What can you do in St. Moritz during the summer?

Mountain Biking

For those who like biking or want to have an adrenaline rush, mountain bikers can use the cable car to reach the Piz Nair mountain station at 3,056 meters above sea level. The views are breathtaking and the trails are as varied as the wonderful natural environment itself. Read more here about why you should experience mountain biking. 

Relax in a spa

After getting dirty on the bike, there is nothing better to do than going to the sauna and relaxing in the spa. This is another thing that St Moritz is famous for. 

Most of the hotels have spas here. Most legendary hotels here are Badrutt’s Palace, Kulm hotel, and Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski. Good thing is that summer is the low season in the resort so you can get better hotel deals this time!

La Restaurant

Badrutt’s Palace is in the heart of the village. It’s dating back to 1898, being one of the first hotels which had electricity and in 1913 they built the first indoor tennis court in Europe. 

Instead of an indoor tennis court, it is now home to the Le Restaurant dining room. So if you want to experience something extraordinary then book a table in Le Restaurant in advance. 

They do have an outdoor tennis court within the hotel though so you don’t have to miss the game. 

Chesa Veglia

A bit of a more casual place to eat in Saint Moritz is Chesa Veglia – located in a gorgeous and authentic Engadine farmhouse, converted almost a century ago into the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. The hotel is situated just 350 meters from the lake. 

Kempinski, on the other hand, is just in front of the lake where during the wintertime the famous St Moritz Snow Polo takes place. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: When in search of cheaper hotels for your budget, look for the ones out of the center –  the prices are cheaper yet they are still a short drive away from the village. 

Next: Limone Sul Garda, 5 hours through Paseo Stelvio

Limone Sul Garda

beautiful natural beauty near garda lake. Limone Sul Garda, small town in northern part of lago di garda. Large rocky hill seen from the lake's surface, trail from boat on the lake and clouds in distance.

Photography by Tommy Rau

Stelvio Pass

Before continuing the Italian road trip, make sure you choose a route that goes to Limone via the Stelvio Pass. It will be a longer route but – this road has been rated as one of the world’s greatest driving roads by Top Gear. 

In fact, Stelvio Pass has landed on our list of the top 10 best driving roads in Europe. Check out the rest of them!

Check out this Top Gear video where they are driving through it and let them give you a taste of the feeling what you are about to get from this road trip.

And our road trip has brought us back to Italy, on the way to another great lakeside destination – Lago di Garda – the biggest lake in Italy which is known for its crystal clear water. Our stop here is in Limone Sul Garda. 

Limone Sul Garda

Limone is a very tiny but gorgeous village. It’s the perfect place for a little stop, walk around in the village and in the promenade to enjoy the cute old houses and all the flowers – there are so many vibrant, colorful flowers everywhere! Walk until the harbor and then treat yourself to a delicious gelato – famous Italian ice cream. 

Lunch recommendations

A good feast awaits you at the Vecchia Malcesine restaurant. And for a simpler lunch go to Ristorante Gemma

See more of Lago di Garda

Have you fallen in love with this beautiful crystal-clear lake? Check out this travel guide and add a slight detour to your Italy road trip. Visit the southern tip of the lake, stay in the town of Sirmione, or ride one of the thrilling rollercoasters in Gardaland.

Where to stay in Limone Sul Garda?

For the real Italian vibe, stay at the Splendid Palace hotel or Hotel Castell – both of them have marvelous views of the lake. 

If you prefer more modern accommodation, look no further than Park Hotel Imperial

Once you’ve spent enough time at the crystal-clear Garda Lake, the next leg of your Italy road trip is a 90-minute drive to Verona!

Next: Verona, 1 hour 30 minutes

Verona

arena di verona, large colosseum is the main attraction in verona, italy. Seen on a cloudy day, tourists in the distance and old column in front of the arena. Be sure to see it on an Italy road trip

Arena di Verona 

Let’s continue to drive towards the final stop on your road trip in Italy – Venice. 

Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli

But first: about a half an hour drive to the South on the lakeshore there is one of the best restaurants and hotels in the Garda area (if not in the World…) – Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli

It is very private and as a tourist almost impossible to find – there are even no signs on the streets. If not planning to spend the night there you can go to their restaurant also. This place comes with a price tag, it is expensive. But the food is oh so divine! 

Villa Feltrinelli appears unchanged since 1892, yet it’s always different. This will be a once in a lifetime experience! 

Sirmione

If Villa Feltrinelli doesn’t suit your travel budget then drive until Sirmione. This is another beautiful location on Garda lake. And it’s literally in Lake Garda as Sirmione is on the top of a peninsula. Don’t forget to see their amazing castle, Scaliger.

Lunch recommendations

Go to restaurant La Rucola 2.0 or La Speranzina if you are ready to pay more for your fabulous meal or go to Trattoria Clementina where you can find great food for a reasonable price. 

After you have discovered Sirmione, hop in the car and drive to Verona. Name sounds familiar?

Probably because this is the city where the world’s best-known love story came from. Oh yes, the place of Romeo and Juliet! 

What should you see in Verona?

Casa di Giulietta

Go visit the Casa di Giulietta – a 14th-century residence with a small Juliet’s balcony and if you are together with your loved one then write your names on the wall as thousands of loved ones have done before you. 

Arena di Verona

Another must-see place is Arena di Verona. The Verona Arena is a huge 1st-century Roman amphitheater, which currently hosts concerts and large-scale opera performances. So check their program, maybe you can see some event there. I was lucky to witness Andrea Bocelli himself singing there.

After an afternoon in Verona, a pleasant 90-minute drive will take you to the final stop on your Italy road trip! 

Next: Venice, 1 hour 30 minutes

Venice

gritti palace terrace restaurant, outdoor dining with a view of canal grande. Sunny day, no tourists and canal full of boats. Be sure to see it on an Italy road trip

View from the Gritti Palace Terrace in Venice

You’ve reached beautiful Venice, a really unique city that is built on the islands and belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals. 

What can’t you miss in Venice?

The places to see in Venice are its Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco. Of course, you have to go on a gondola ride while there! You can also go shopping as most fashion brands are represented in Venice and many Italian ones make special collections that are only possible to buy in this city!

Where to stay in Venice?

The most famous hotels in Venice are Hotel Danieli (Legendary The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was filmed there), The Gritti Palace, Aman hotel and Belmond Hotel Cipriani. 

Of course, all of those come at a price (possible to get a better price when traveling off-season!).  A good hotel recommendation with a reasonable price would be Hotel Ai Due Principi

Lunch recommendations

For the best pasta go to The Gritti Palace Terrace – the view from there is jaw-dropping! Be sure to visit Harry’s Table, a soon-to-be-open restaurant that belongs to Cipriani.

Looking for more fun things to do in Venice? Check out this travel guide!

Drop-off

Rentalmoose insider tip: drop off your rental car in Venice because the traffic in Venice is by gondolas anyway and this way you’d skip high parking fees. Catch Italia Rail fast train that takes you directly to Malpensa airport in 4h 5 mins from Venice. 

If you still choose to park your car at the port for the time you enjoy Venice and drive back to Milan, then a pit stop recommendation would be Bergamo (or maybe your flight departs from Bergamo airport anyway?). If you happen to be foodie then Michelin 3* restaurant Da Vittorio in Bergamo is a must. In this case, drop off your rental car at Milan Bergamo airport. 

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

See the detailed Venice parking information here.  

biarritz plage grande main beach with tall waves, surfers and city in background during sunset in france

Gourmet Experience In Basque Country- Northern Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Are you one of those people who plan their road trips around food? Then there are two options – you either have been to Basque Country or you are already planning to go. Check out our curated Northern Spain road trip itinerary!

 Either way, check out this comprehensive Spain road trip itinerary around the Basque region in Northern Spain and the South-West of France. It’s an unforgettable weekend getaway, perfect for foodies. During this road trip, you’ll be able to see some of the best places to visit in Spain.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Bilbao to San Sebastian- 100 kilometers (60 miles)📍 13.95 Euro Highway Toll

San Sebastian to Biarritz- 50 kilometers (30 miles)📍 5.6 Euro Highway Toll

Biarritz to Dune of Pilat- 170 kilometers (105 miles)📍 11.4 Euro Highway Toll

Dune of Pilat to Bordeaux- 70 kilometers (45 miles)📍

390 kilometers (240 miles) in total

Tags: Travel guide, road trip, drop-off at another location, Basque country, Spain, France, gourmet, short trip

Planning: Before you go

What is the best time to visit Northern Spain?

The best season to visit the North of Spain is during the Summer months, as well as early September. Even during those months, the weather can be tricky due to the region’s location next to the ocean. Be well prepared and pack some warmer clothes and a rain jacket, just in case.

How much time should you dedicate for this road trip?

 There are just about 6 and a half hours (about 450km / 280 miles) of driving in total. However, Rentalmoose recommends taking some extra time to enjoy the locations to the fullest. So foodies, ready to pack your bags?

 This road trip can be done in both directions – whether you land in Bordeaux and depart from Bilbao or vice versa. 

 You can rent a car at either one of the airports and drop off at another location. Find your suitable rental car for this road trip in Spain via Rentalmoose.

Don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app and take check-in photos of the rental car before starting your journey to qualify for a 50% rebate from the excess coverage fee.

Road Trip Extensions

You can extend your Spain road trip to explore the nearby regions even further! Take a look at these possible road trip extensions. 

The South of France

Once you’re in Bordeaux, consider driving east and exploring the picturesque French Riviera. See the European Grand Canyon, stroll down the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice, or try some of the regional delicacies. Click here for the travel guide.

Normandy and Brittany

This road trip requires the least amount of driving. When you’re in Bordeaux, make your way to Nantes (roughly 3 hours away) and explore the best of Normandy and Brittany, before finishing in Paris. Check out the guide here.

Costa del Sol and Andalucia

This trip extension is ideal for long trip lovers. Drive south across Spain for around 8 hours until you reach the sunny city of Malaga, one of the hotspots on the dreamy Costa del Sol. Sunbathe at the best beaches in Europe and indulge in delicious seafood. Don’t forget to check out our travel guide when planning your trip.

Can tourists drive in Spain?

 Yes! France and Spain both accept most driving licenses in the world. Although International Driving Permits are recognized, they are not mandatory when driving in either of the countries. Click here to find out all you need to know about International Driving Permits for any of your future trips.

Make sure to follow the speed limits carefully when driving around Spain. There are lots of speed cameras set up all over major roads, some of them are nearly impossible to spot.

International tourists are required to pay their fines on the spot, or online via the DGT website. Keep in mind that the price will be two times higher if you decide to pay online. Speeding tickets range from 50 to 250 Euros, depending on the excess speed and the road type.

As the driving goes through wine regions, don’t forget that both France and Spain have extremely strict drink driving laws – 0,5mg/ml of alcohol per liter in your blood. Don’t take any risks to drink and drive.

Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive into your Spain road trip!

Bilbao

gugenheim museum unique architecture and small river in foreground, seen during sunset on a sunny day in bilbao spain.

The Guggenheim museum photographed by Phillip Maiwald/Wikimedia Commons.

Your road trip in Spain starts in the city of Bilbao. Take some time for the cultural program the city has to offer. Bilbao is a genuinely cool place – it has a rich history as well as the vibe of a young and modern metropolis. 

What are the best restaurants in Bilbao?

Nerua Guggenheim at the Guggenheim Museum

 Just take a look at the architecture of the Guggenheim museum! And of course take a look at the inside of it, too. It’s one of the best places to visit in Bilbao, and a top pick for any road trip in Spain.

Whilst already there, why not try out the Nerua Guggenheim restaurant? It is a bit more expensive than other places in town but the food is totally worth the price.

Azurmendi

 Another fine-dining restaurant that the locals swear by is Azurmendi. The restaurant was chosen as Elite Traveler’s reader’s favorite restaurant in the world and used to be number 38 in the official World’s Best Restaurants chart back in 2017. One thing’s for sure, it is one of the best restaurants in the North of Spain.

juicy delicious gourmet meal decorated with three red flowers served on a white plate. Delicacy served at Restaurant Azurmendi in Bilbao Spain.

One of the many delicacies at Restaurant Azurmendi. Photography by Dale Cruse/Flickr.com

Kate Zaharra

 If you are over the molecular gastronomy and want to eat something simple (but good!), then head over to Kate Zaharra. The cozy eatery is located in a charming farmhouse that overlooks the city, providing a breathtaking backdrop during your meal. Open for lunch between 1 and 4 PM, all week long.

El Puertito

Do you love seafood? Especially oysters? Then El Puertito is a place for you! The very first oyster bar in Bilbao. There is the best oyster selection you can dream of! But if you don’t love oysters, then El Puertito may not be the ideal place for you. 

Don’t worry if your hotel doesn’t have parking, as Bilbao has many car parks around the city center. Find the closest ones to your locations on the map here.

What to see around Bilbao?

Bay of Biscay

Before continuing to San Sebastian, consider taking a little break at the picturesque coast of the Bay of Biscay. 

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

 An optional trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – a castle on the rock at the sea. This is a short 50-minute drive from Bilbao. As there is just one road, you’ll need to come back using the same way. All in all, there is around an hour and a half of driving in total. 

Rentalmoose insider tip: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe was one of the shooting locations for Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of the show, the castle is a must-visit!

Asador Etxebarri

 On your way to San Sebastian, Rentalmoose suggests making a slight detour from the main road to one delicious restaurant. The detour will add less than 20 minutes to your trip, but the cuisine is well worth it! Be sure to drop by for lunch at Asador Etxebarri. Thank us later.

The next stop on this Spain road trip is the wonderful city of San Sebastian.

Next: San Sebastian (1 hour)  13.95 EUR Highway Toll

San Sebastian

traditional spanish buildings, small square with a palm tree and church in background on a cloudy day. view from maria cristina hotel room in san sebastian spain

View of the city from 5* hotel Maria Cristina 

 One sentence is enough to convince you why San Sebastian is worth visiting during your road trip in Spain: 

This northern Spanish city holds one of the highest numbers of Michelin stars per square meter in the world. 

Michelin star restaurants in San Sebastian

 Three of five 3-Michelin-star restaurants in Spain are in this city, complemented by another great selection of restaurants that add up to 16 Michelin stars in total.

 If ready to pay a higher price, try to visit the 3-Michelin-star restaurants: Arzak, Akelarre, or Martin Berasategui. Don’t skip Mugaritz, the famous 2-Michelin-star restaurant. 

 Rentalmoose insider tip: These restaurants need to be booked way ahead. Check their websites for details.

Pintxos- a regional delicacy

If you don’t plan to spend a  fortune on food then don’t worry; one of the foodie treasures in San Sebastián is its famous pintxos; culinary bites ranging from the original slice of bread piled with food to tiny miniature haute cuisine creations. 

Where are the best pintxos in San Sebastian?

 There are many pintxos bars around the town, for example Bar Sport or La Cuchara de San Telmo. Find these two, as well as a long list of other spots here.

colorful frog-shaped gourmet dish on a shining plate. The petit fours served at arzak restaurant in san sebastian

The petit fours at Arzak restaurant

Parking in San Sebastian

Parking in San Sebastian can be hard to find during high season, although there are many underground parking places around the town. Unfortunately, these are not free of charge. 

 The best places to park in the city center are Parking de la Concha, Parking Boulevard, Parking Okendo, Parking San San Martin and Parking Buen Pastor. 

 There are also many parking places just outside the town and if you park in one of those, public transportation to the city center will be free for you.

Where to stay in San Sebastian?

 San Sebastian has two very good and recommended luxury hotels: Hotel Maria Cristina and Hotel de Londres y de InglaterraWe recommend taking an overnight stop here before continuing on your Spain road trip.

For a budget-friendly stay, consider booking a room at Villa Soro or Arima hotel. 

Next: Biarritz, 50 minutes 5.6 EUR Highway Toll

Biarritz

biarritz grand plage sandy beach and wavy ocean with surfers, colorful buildings seaside buildings in the background during sunset in france

La Grande Plage in Biarritz photographed by Moibtz.

 San Sebastian was the last stop in Spain, now it’s time to cross the border into France! Head to Biarritz – a seaside city that was once the favorite spot of Empress Eugénie, Napoleon’s Spanish-born wife. The city lies just about 35km (22mi) from the Spanish border, and it is another stop on your road trip.

Why is Biarritz famous?

In 1854, the emperor Napoleon III and Eugénie bought several acres of dunes in Biarritz. The couple gave the engineer Dagueret the task of establishing a summer home surrounded by gardens, woods, meadows, a pond and outbuildings. 

 Napoleon III chose the location near Spain so his wife would not get homesick for her native country. The house was called Villa Eugénie, which today is Hôtel du Palais

 The presence of the imperial couple attracted other European royalties, like the British monarchs Queen Victoria and the Spanish king Alfonso XIII. This, of course, made Biarritz extremely well-known. 

Biarritz has one of the highest real estate prices in France to this day. The luxurious seaside tourist hotspot is also known for its oceanfront casinos, and its surfing culture. It’s a great place to stop for a day and soak in the sun during your road trip!

Where can you find the best food in Biarritz?

Villa Eugénie

 For the best fine dining experience, don’t wander further from the Hotel du Palais. Their gourmet restaurant has the same name the building once used to have – Villa Eugénie. This is definitely one of the most royal experiences you will have in Biarritz. The spectacular ocean view is the cherry on top.

 With spectacular views of the Basque Country coastline, the lighthouse, and the famous Grande Plage, this restaurant is fine dining at its finest. Expect white tablecloths, multiple sets of cutlery, and impeccably dressed waiters with a strong focus on showcasing local and regional dishes.

The best seafood

 If you happen to be a fan of seafood then Chez Albert is a must for you! Open between 12:15 PM and 2 PM for lunch, 7:30 PM and 10 PM for dinner service. Closed on Wednesdays.

Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t forget to try their seafood soup which Chez Albert is very famous for.

Or just go to Port des Pêcheurs – a small and romantic fisherman port, where you’ll find plenty of restaurants with a selection of fresh seafood. Don’t expect to find glamour here, though these places serve high-quality food!

Marché aux Halles de Biarritz

  Foodies should definitely visit also Marché aux Halles de Biarritz. Built in 1885, it’s not only the main local market but also a place to have a drink and meet friends. You can find everything you need there, fruits and vegetables, the best local products, meat, cheese, bakeries and a few nice places to eat.  

 The second and smaller part of the market is dedicated to fish and seafood where you can buy a plate of fresh oysters for 6 euros. You should know, however, that the market isn’t very cheap. Don’t count on staying on a tight budget when visiting it.  

What are the best things to do in Biarritz?

La Grande Plage

An absolute must when visiting Biarritz is going for a swim in the ocean. When you plan to have a break from all the eating and wandering around the place, go to relax in Biarritz’s famous beach La Grande Plage. If you are traveling with kids, keep in mind that there are quite big waves.

Plage Port Vieux

 If you want a quieter beach with safer swimming options for kids, go to Plage Port Vieux. It’s located on a tiny bay between two cliffs creating a very sheltered beach which makes it the safest place for kids and adults to swim. 

Promenade & Le Phare Lighthouse

If you are not the type who can sit still and sunbathe all day, take a walk along the promenade to the famous Le Phare Lighthouse. Go to the top and see the whole view of Biarritz from above. 

Biarritz Aquarium

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit the museum of the sea – La musée de la Mer. It’s an aquarium in the Art Deco building just in front of the sea. It’s possible to see countless underwater creatures there. 

Where can you park in Biarritz?

Trying to find parking in Biarritz? There are seven payable parking houses in the heart of the city. These are the best free car parks in Biarritz: 

  • Jai Alai d’Aguiléra, 
  • Floquet (Avenue Charles Floquet), 
  • Hippodrome des Fleurs, 
  • SNCF train station, 
  • Atabal (Allée du Moura), 
  • Biarritz Lighthouse, 
  • Lac Marion, 
  • Plage Marbella et Milady, 
  • Club Hippique.

Where to stay in Biarritz?

 When you plan a lavish and extraordinary vacation then why not walk in the footsteps of Napoleon and Eugénie and stay in the Hotel du Palais which is so full of history. 

For a bit modest and less-costing stay check the La Maison du Lierre or Hotel Georges VI

Next: Dunes of Pilat, 2 hours 11.4 EUR Highway Toll

Dune of Pilat

pilat france largest sand dune in europe large sand hill with people climbing and green trees in background

The tallest dune in Europe photographed by Julia Casado.

 Take a break in Dune of Pilat which is on the way to Bordeaux, the last point of this Spain road trip itinerary. Dune of Pilat is the tallest dune in Europe at 110 meters above sea level. 

 Due to its exposed location along the sea and steep angle, the Dune of Pilat is a famous paragliding spot, so if your soul wants some action then this is an option for you to try. 

 Pick your activity, whether you like climbing on the sand dunes to see the marvelous views, or try paragliding – this place offers you a rush of adrenaline before driving to your final destination, Bordeaux, where you can continue indulging in delicious food.

Next: Bordeaux,1 hour

Bordeaux

bordeaux france traditional white building with large windows, at a cobblestone square with tourists on a sunny day

Bordeaux photographed by Niki Nagy.

  Now you have reached your final destination on your great road trip, it’s time to find your hotel, park your car and enjoy the best of what France has to offer – wine! Bordeaux is a very famous wine region and its unique due to its closeness to the sea. The city is praised as the wine capital of the world! 

Well, there has to be something special about Bordeaux. Even the Queen of England herself claimed that Bordeaux is “the very essence of elegance”. It’s a must-see!

What can’t you miss in Bordeaux?

Museums and Art Galleries

Bordeaux offers plenty of attractions for art lovers. If you love the work of old masters, go to The Musée des Beaux Arts

If you are a fan of modern art, you should head to the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art instead. 

Day trip to the vineyards

When you plan to stay longer in Bordeaux, a day trip to a vineyard is a must. You can either drive there with your rental car (but in this case you’re going to need a sober driver) or visit the Tourist Office where the transportation will be organized for you. That way, you can enjoy the amazing wine as well. 

Day trips from Bordeaux

 Other day trip options are the beautiful town of St Emilion, then Médoc (home to many famous Bordeaux wine châteaux like Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild) and also Arcachon – an endearing seaside spot known for its oysters. 

La Cité du Vin

 When talking about wine, Bordeaux has the greatest wine museum in the world – La Cité du Vin. The building is odd in architecture but it’s well worth a visit. Of course, there is a wine shop (with 800 different wines!) and wine tastings there. 

This isn’t a museum of Bordeaux wine but Bordeaux’s museum of world wine – from Greece to Chile, you can learn a lot about world wine cultures there. 

What are the best places to eat in Bordeaux?

 Yes, wine is great in Bordeaux. What else is amazing? Food, of course! The French chef Joel Robuchon has said: “Bordeaux has produced that is world-famous: oysters from the Bay of Arcachon; milk-fed Pauillac lamb, grazed on the Médoc marshes; and cèpes de Bordeaux, in my opinion, the best mushrooms in France. They grow superb raspberries just a few kilometers from here; their ducks for magret de canard (duck breast); and the asparagus, too, is wonderful.” 

La Grande Maison

Robuchon used to have his restaurant in Bordeaux, but it has now been taken over by another famous French chef – Pierre Gagnaire. The Michelin 2* restaurant is in a fabulous hotel La Grande Maison which belongs to the wine magnate Bernard Magrez who predominantly owns Bordeaux wine estates (and also other wine regions in France, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Japan, Morocco, and the US).  

 Of course, the hotel and restaurant are both very expensive. However, the restaurant offers a great deal for weekday lunch: a 3-course menu for 60 euros. This way you can enjoy the grand architecture and interior design of this amazing place on a slightly tighter budget. 

The best restaurants in Bordeaux

On top of La Grande Maison, other great restaurants in town that Rentalmoose recommends trying out are Le Chien de Pavlov, Garopapilles, and Racines

Parking in Bordeaux

There are very limited options to park your car on the street in Bordeaux. Cheap parking is offered on the outskirts of the city in several locations. 

Rentalmoose parking tip: park your car in one of the car parks in the city center, which is closest to your destination and is not expensive.

Where to stay in Bordeaux?

 There is a huge selection of grande 5* hotels in Bordeaux, each of them has a gourmet restaurant as well. But there are many gorgeous options which don’t cost a fortune. Try your travel dates at Villa Victor Louis or Hotel Burdigala. 

Drop-off

For maximum convenience, drop off your rental car directly at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport right before leaving. Browse through rentals that support drop-off at another location via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip in Spain? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

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Rentalmoose OÜ 2020