We all know escaping the country for the weekend is at the top of everyone’s bucket list this Winter, but for whatever reason, flying isn’t always an option and car journeys longer than 8 hours can also use up a lot of energy and you end up spending the whole weekend on the road. Finding a weekend getaway destination that’s within driving distance of the UK is easy when you know where to look! Luckily for you, we’ve done the searching so your only task is to book your hire car, and take to the road on your European weekend road trip.
Travelling from London to any destination requires some planning of your onward travel beyond the boundaries of the M25 to ensure you find the best route, and the best deals. Whether you’re opting for a Ferry, EuroTunnel, or taking the Eurostar or aeroplane and completing your journey by hire car from a pick-up location in Europe, keep reading to discover 5 European destinations that take less than 8 hours to get to.
The city of fashion and food, art and architecture, Paris is at the top of our weekend road trip bucket list for sure. Easily accessed by train, ferry and road, the heart of France has more to offer than you could imagine. Spend your weekend in a holiday apartment in the centre for the ultimate Parisian experience, taking care of where you park your car of course, as spaces cost from €20 a day. Shop ‘til you drop and fill your boot at Galleries Lafayette and along the Avenue de Champs-Élysées, see the sights from atop the Eiffel Tower and experience a range of pastries and cakes in Paris’ many pâtisseries, all just 6 hours from central London by car.
A perfect destination for Christmas. Full of beer and Belgian chocolate, Bruges is the ultimate winter wonderland. Jump on the Eurotunnel from around £64 each way from Calais and your weekend is off to a swift start. Just 4 hours’ drive away, the Christmas markets are a must-visit when going for a single night’s stay along the canal. Easily distinguishable by its cobbled streets, canals and medieval buildings, Bruges is a popular destination around winter time, so you’ll need to book early to get good deals on hotels and car hire. Make sure you visit the Chocolate museum while you’re there and also sample the hundreds of beers that Belgium is most famous for.
A 7 hour drive east of the UK, this 2000 year old city in western Germany is the ultimate cultural hub to spend a short break. Mixing High Gothic architecture with old town and modern office blocks alongside the city’s twin-spired Cologne Cathedral gives the skyline a very interesting shape. Sweeping river views of the Rhine and gilded medieval reliquary, Cologne attracts thousands of visitors each winter to sample their famous sauerkraut and schokoladen. For big brands and designer fare, head to the city’s Belgian quarter or stray towards the centre to leave your mark on the Hohenzollern ‘Love Lock’ Bridge.
A favourite for weekends away, the Netherlands’ capital is known worldwide for its bicycles, canals and stunning narrow houses and museums. Mixing culture with education, the Anne Frank and Van Gogh Museums are essential to soaking in the city’s history, followed by a visit to one of Amsterdam’s many coffee shops and embarking on a canal cruise or bike ride in search of some hidden gems. With vibrant colours and smells, Amsterdam’s markets are one of the best ways of discovering new tastes at lunch and dinner time, especially when in search for a bargain. Arriving in the city by hire car couldn’t be easier after a 7 hour journey as it costs just €8 per day for a park and ride ticket into the centre.
Capital of the small country of the same name, this bustling city sits at the base of deep gorges, cut by the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. Famed for its medieval fortifications and traditional style buildings, Luxembourg City offers stunning views and plenty of opportunities for photos and guided historical tours. Just 7 hours from London, this European driveable destination the perfect weekend road trip. Spend your time touring Luxembourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral and Vianden Castle, making sure to visit the market stalls on Place Guillaume II square for flowers, food and handicrafts, then head up to Casemates du Bock to soak in the stunning views over the city before heading into the centre for traditional Luxembourg cuisine.
If you do plan on renting a car in the UK to drive abroad within the EU, you are legally required to provide proof of Insurance and vehicle ownership – that’s why we’ve created Europdrive. It will also cover you in case of breakdown, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for which you will also receive an RAC booklet, detailing all emergency phone numbers should you need them. Once you’ve reached one of these 5 amazing destinations, don’t forget to share your images with us using #Europcar.