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Road trip through Europe

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Dec 18th, 2011, 06:50 AM
  #1
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Road trip through Europe

Hello,

I am planning a three-four week trip to hit as many countries and castles as I can. I have long loved and read about castles, so I plan on visiting as many of my favorites as I possibly can.

In short, I plan on landing in London, renting a car to drive through Europe and down to Madrid, where I would take off from to return to the US.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or general comments? I've never been to Europe, I only speak English, and I love driving.

It would look like:
London > Amsterdam > Frankfurt > Zurich > Geneva > Milan > Neuschwanstein > Munich > Salzburg > Venice > San Marino > Rome > Genoa > Marseille > Carcassonne > Bordeaux > San Sebastian > Valladolid > Madrid
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Dec 18th, 2011, 06:59 AM
  #2
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Keep in mind I primarily want to see castles and the general countryside. I'm not really planning on spending time in any of the cities, pretty much just passing through.

Also, I'm very much OK with driving the distance -- I've driven across the US numerous times, I even completed one 10,000 mile road trip in a week.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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First thing to consider is the cost of a 1-way rental from the UK to Spain, especially with a right-hand drive UK car.

For a 3-4 week rental you should look into one of the various lease/buy back programs some car co's offer. I don't know much about those, so perhaps others can help you out.

Generally I'd recommend an open jaw ticket such as you are planning, but for this type of trip consider flying into/out of somewhere central like France.

Sounds like an adventure - I wish you a great trip.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 07:11 AM
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hi mcjonns, it must be the season for people planning improbably difficult trips!

first of all, are you prepared to pay a big premium for a one-way rental? because that's what you'll get with renting in London/amsterdam and returning in Madrid. you might think at least of renting when you get to Amsterdam - you'll cut down the cost of the ferry/train considerably that way, unless there are some castles you were thinking of taking in between London and amsterdam? [Dover does spring to mind, and possibly Scotney, but I don't think i'd cross the atlantic to see it].

secondly, have you worked out what sort of mileage you are looking at? Viamichelin or Mappy can both do this for you, but it looks a pretty long way to me, even in 4 weeks let alone 3. and what castles are you looking at in venice? or Milan? most of your places are cities. do you intend to stay in the cities and use them as bases? in which case you will find a car a real pain.

in fact, your itinerary mentions only one specific castle, Neuschwanstein. of course there are many more around Munich, but precious few in Venice. you may have more on your list, but how finely tuned is your itinerary?

thirdly, I suspect that you have no idea of the driving times that touring Europe will demand. it is often a lot harder work than driving long distances in the US, and can take you much longer than you could imagine.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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J62, thanks! I have considered the costs and I'm comfortable with them.

annhig, improbably difficult trips are just another person's adventure ;-) If it was easy, I wouldn't want any part in it -- but to each their own

I've already calculated costs for a one-way rental, gas, tolls, etc.

I mentioned Neuschwanstein specifically because there are no major cities near it as a reference point, all the other castles are close enough to the cities mentioned that I didn't identify them.

It is roughly 2,387-ish miles

I don't see how driving time is any different in the US than Europe. 50 MPH here is 50 MPH there. granted, I plan on stopping a lot in Europe, but in my time I've driving over 300,000 miles in the US in total. Google maps estimates that the driving time is 2 days and 15 hours -- which, over 3-4 weeks, seems reasonable.

If I'm wrong then please point out how! I want to factor that in correctly in advance instead of be surprised on the trip! haha
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Dec 18th, 2011, 08:03 AM
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A righthand drive car is awkward on the continent. Every time you get to a highway toll booth, you're on the wrong side.

You have a number of cities in your itinerary. Cars are a handicap in cities. You have to pay to park them. And you have to deal with dense city traffic. In some Italian cities the central area is limited to local drivers. You get ticketed if you drive your rental car in there. (Search the forum for ZTL.)

You can time your driving using a site like www.viamichelin.com or Google maps.

Since you're specifically interested in castles, maybe do some more research. There are a lot of castles in Scotland, for example.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 08:13 AM
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Mimar, thanks for that specifically helpful information!

I do want to go to Scotland, however I can't visit as many overall castles if I went there. Plus, my favorite castles are along the areas I mentioned.

I don't plan on visiting each city so much as just pass through them. Perhaps stop to eat and visit a shop or two, but primarily I would spend time in the towns around the castles.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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This may sound harsh -- but since you are not concerned about the cost, already know what you want to see/where you want to go, think the drive is totally doable . . . and are prepared to drive a rhd car . . . you probably won't get any useful advice here. Are you sure you've found an agency who will let you drop a RHD car in Spain?

"I don't plan on visiting each city so much as just pass through them."

"passing through" some of those cities will take literally hours w/o even stopping.

(Your plan is daft/impractical/inefficient/not to say thousands of $$ more expensive than it needs to be. Plus you'll be driving through hundreds of miles w/ practically no castles. It is more a laundry list than a 'plan)
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Dec 18th, 2011, 08:35 AM
  #9
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but it sure sounds like fun to me!
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Dec 18th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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I've driven a rhd car on the continent and lhd in UK. It's slightly more difficult (line of sight and parallel parking) at least for me, and a little disconcerting to sit in the front passenger seat.

We do it 2-3 times a year but when you're planning to cover as much ground as possible, why incur the extra aggro? If you do keep the rhd car, be sure the local Spanish agency will take it back.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 09:18 AM
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>I even completed one 10,000 mile road trip in a week.

You're my hero. 10000 miles in 7 days (168 hours) equals an average of 59.5 miles per hour with 24 hours of driving per day. If otoh you sleep 8 hours per day and go to the loo every now and then your down to 89 miles per hour on average.
I've never done Cannonball, but I'd love to.

I did NYC to Texas in a week once.

So why would you want to drive down to Spain from London? This is rather boring most of the trip. And the rhd is a real pain on the continent. I would start in Paris and go east, throug Switzerland, drive the best of the mountain passes, gr. St. Bernhard, Stilfser Joch, Dolomites, side trip to Venice, Klagenfurt, Graz, Lake Neusiedl, from Budapest east on the M3 to Romania right to the Moldovan border, from there north throught the Carpathian mountains bear watching into Slovakia further north through the forests of the eastern Beskids along the White Russian border. From there I'd go west thruogh northern Germany, Netherlands and Belgium back to Paris.

That would be a road trip!
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Dec 18th, 2011, 09:46 AM
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Driving in Europe is slower than in the States except on super highways because one does not have the same open spaces. Every few km. you will hit a town; driving in the mountains is generally slower. Unless you actually used Google maps or viaMichelin to get driving distances and times, I suspect that your estimates in terms of territory covered are very optimistic.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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I do not know of any car hire company based in the UK that will allow you to take car on a ferry to mainland Europe. However I could be wrong and is so can someone add a link here please.
You list cities and no countryside.
For instance- why go to Amsterdam then onto Frankfurt? Take this route and you will miss the Ardennes and Luxembourg too.
I bet others will also come along with alternatives to this advisable plan you have.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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I'm curious as to which castles you want to visit. Would you mind posting your list?
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Dec 18th, 2011, 10:48 AM
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Please take this advice from someone who has done numerous road trips through europe and loves driving there.

Renting a car in the UK and the driving it all over the continent is a really bad idea (even if the company will let you) since you will be driving wrong-side drive for almost the entire trip. And since you mention only London not sure why you need a car there at all - since the Tower of London and Windsor Castle are both seen more easily by public transit. (NOt sure what other castles are in/near London - unless you mean palaces rather than castles -which is a whole different thing.)

As a bigger questions not sure how you are defining castles - or what your interest is. But there is a huge difference between a "real" castle - a fortress built for military purposes (usually before the 16th century), a palace (a huge building built primarily for pleasure/entertainment from the 17th century on) and the plain fake (Neuschwanstein was built by Mad King Ludwig in the 1860s - and is no more real than the Princess's Castle at Disney World).

Finally - your itinerary makes no sense. You are bouncing around like a ping pong ball - rather than following any sensible route.

Agree - if you list the castles you want to see people can help you get it organized - but although you say you don;t want to see cities - just "castles" t's not apparent from your list what places you actually want to see:

Castle?
Palaces?
Other large houses?
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Dec 18th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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I am going to presume that the 10,000 miles in a week is an exaggeration or a typo - if not we are being trolled.

So, if this is real, why do people continue to challenge the OP when he says he has looked into the logistics of the one-way rental, including all the costs? It's his trip and he has made it abundantly clear he knows all the downsides. There is no need to "set him right", is there?

The mileage, roughly, is about 6,100 km, or 3,850 miles. Obviously, the actual mileage will vary a little as the OP does not intend to go into the cities but to visit castles along the route. That is about 37 % more than the 2,800 miles from New York to LA, or the equivalent of driving on to Portland from LA. Doable in 25 days by someone who loves to drive? Absolutely - so how about anyone still trying to convert (teach/guide/assist/inform - whatever makes you feel good about your efforts) the OP to your preferred way of traveling.

I tried a little rerouting to shorten the mileage and you can take about 200 miles off by trying this;

http://g.co/maps/csems

Now, I enjoyed this as an exercise regardless of whether we are being trolled, but I would appreciate it if the OP clarified the 10,000 mile 1 week road trip declaration as well as confirming exactly what type of advice they are looking for considering how well the locations and logistics have been planned to meet the goals of a European castle tour.

Is it suggestions of castles to see on the route of which you might not be aware? lodging suggestions? General comments about traveling in Europe

One suggestion that has not been made that might save some money and provide for more convenience would be to rent and drop one vehicle in the UK (or even stick to the rail for that short compact portion of well steeled England) and then pick up another on the continent. The drop charges could well be less and you are back in a left hand drive vehicle for 90% of the travel.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 12:18 PM
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aramis: "Obviously, the actual mileage will vary a little as the OP does not intend to go into the cities"

I think you missed the bit where he said he does plan on going into most of those cities.

>>I don't plan on visiting each city so much as just pass through them. Perhaps stop to eat and visit a shop or two . . .<<

But go ahead, humor him
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Dec 18th, 2011, 12:20 PM
  #18
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“janisj on Dec 18, 11 at 10:32am

This may sound harsh -- but since you are not concerned about the cost, already know what you want to see/where you want to go, think the drive is totally doable . . . and are prepared to drive a rhd car . . . you probably won't get any useful advice here. Are you sure you've found an agency who will let you drop a RHD car in Spain?

"I don't plan on visiting each city so much as just pass through them."

"passing through" some of those cities will take literally hours w/o even stopping.

(Your plan is daft/impractical/inefficient/not to say thousands of $$ more expensive than it needs to be. Plus you'll be driving through hundreds of miles w/ practically no castles. It is more a laundry list than a 'plan)”
~~~ ~~
I understand from reading that traffic is congested, but having driven through LA, NYC, Phily, Dallas, Boston, etc. Not preferable, but I still want to.
While it is a laundry list, yes, I really enjoy long road trips. It will countryside I’ve never seen. I’ve driven across highway 70, 40, 5, etc in the US numerous times (40 I’ve done thirty-five times, from California to N. Carolina, then back). I still love the drives.

“Cathinjoetown on Dec 18, 11 at 11:09am
I've driven a rhd car on the continent and lhd in UK. It's slightly more difficult (line of sight and parallel parking) at least for me, and a little disconcerting to sit in the front passenger seat.

We do it 2-3 times a year but when you're planning to cover as much ground as possible, why incur the extra aggro? If you do keep the rhd car, be sure the local Spanish agency will take it back.”
~~~~~
Thank you for the suggestion! I’ll look into that.

“logos999 on Dec 18, 11 at 11:18am
>I even completed one 10,000 mile road trip in a week.

You're my hero. 10000 miles in 7 days (168 hours) equals an average of 59.5 miles per hour with 24 hours of driving per day. If otoh you sleep 8 hours per day and go to the loo every now and then your down to 89 miles per hour on average.
I've never done Cannonball, but I'd love to.

I did NYC to Texas in a week once.

So why would you want to drive down to Spain from London? This is rather boring most of the trip. And the rhd is a real pain on the continent. I would start in Paris and go east, throug Switzerland, drive the best of the mountain passes, gr. St. Bernhard, Stilfser Joch, Dolomites, side trip to Venice, Klagenfurt, Graz, Lake Neusiedl, from Budapest east on the M3 to Romania right to the Moldovan border, from there north throught the Carpathian mountains bear watching into Slovakia further north through the forests of the eastern Beskids along the White Russian border. From there I'd go west thruogh northern Germany, Netherlands and Belgium back to Paris.

That would be a road trip!”
~~~~~~~~~~
To be fair, logos999, I didn’t do the drive alone. It was 4 drivers switching off. Being that we had a radar detector I think we averaged over 59.5 MPH
My trip is solely designed on the castles I want to see. I like your road trip, and I did consider Romania, but my goal is castles, castles, castles.

“Michael on Dec 18, 11 at 11:46am
Driving in Europe is slower than in the States except on super highways because one does not have the same open spaces. Every few km. you will hit a town; driving in the mountains is generally slower. Unless you actually used Google maps or via Michelin to get driving distances and times, I suspect that your estimates in terms of territory covered are very optimistic.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Like I said in a post or two ago, I got that information from google maps. However, I forgot about the edition to Rome – so it’s farther than previously quoted.

“ribeirasacra on Dec 18, 11 at 11:47am
I do not know of any car hire company based in the UK that will allow you to take car on a ferry to mainland Europe. However I could be wrong and is so can someone add a link here please.
You list cities and no countryside.
For instance- why go to Amsterdam then onto Frankfurt? Take this route and you will miss the Ardennes and Luxembourg too.
I bet others will also come along with alternatives to this advisable plan you have.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My logic for choosing this route was based off of castles I want to see and the assumption that larger/better highways would exist between major cities. But the primary/overriding goal was castles. Instead of list each castle, which I could do, I was just naming the major cities near each castle I want to see.

“isabel on Dec 18, 11 at 12:32pm
I'm curious as to which castles you want to visit. Would you mind posting your list?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The main ones are (in the rough order that I would visit):
England:
Windsor
Bodiam
Dover

Netherlands:
Muiderslot
Germany:
Burg Eltz
Marksburg
Burg Rheinstein
Schloss Bürresheim
Neuschwanstein
Switzerland:
Château de Chillon
San Marino
The three tours: Guaita, Cesta, and Montale
France:
Cité de Carcassonne
Spain:
Alcazar de Segovia
“nytraveler on Dec 18, 11 at 12:48pm
Please take this advice from someone who has done numerous road trips through europe and loves driving there.

Renting a car in the UK and the driving it all over the continent is a really bad idea (even if the company will let you) since you will be driving wrong-side drive for almost the entire trip. And since you mention only London not sure why you need a car there at all - since the Tower of London and Windsor Castle are both seen more easily by public transit. (NOt sure what other castles are in/near London - unless you mean palaces rather than castles -which is a whole different thing.)

As a bigger questions not sure how you are defining castles - or what your interest is. But there is a huge difference between a "real" castle - a fortress built for military purposes (usually before the 16th century), a palace (a huge building built primarily for pleasure/entertainment from the 17th century on) and the plain fake (Neuschwanstein was built by Mad King Ludwig in the 1860s - and is no more real than the Princess's Castle at Disney World).

Finally - your itinerary makes no sense. You are bouncing around like a ping pong ball - rather than following any sensible route.

Agree - if you list the castles you want to see people can help you get it organized - but although you say you don;t want to see cities - just "castles" t's not apparent from your list what places you actually want to see:

Castle?
Palaces?
Other large houses?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Medieval fortresses. Review the list above. I listed the cities because I was thinking that the major roads would be between major cities. If that’s wrong, please do let me know.

“Aramis on Dec 18, 11 at 12:53pm
I am going to presume that the 10,000 miles in a week is an exaggeration or a typo - if not we are being trolled.

So, if this is real, why do people continue to challenge the OP when he says he has looked into the logistics of the one-way rental, including all the costs? It's his trip and he has made it abundantly clear he knows all the downsides. There is no need to "set him right", is there?

The mileage, roughly, is about 6,100 km, or 3,850 miles. Obviously, the actual mileage will vary a little as the OP does not intend to go into the cities but to visit castles along the route. That is about 37 % more than the 2,800 miles from New York to LA, or the equivalent of driving on to Portland from LA. Doable in 25 days by someone who loves to drive? Absolutely - so how about anyone still trying to convert (teach/guide/assist/inform - whatever makes you feel good about your efforts) the OP to your preferred way of traveling.

I tried a little rerouting to shorten the mileage and you can take about 200 miles off by trying this;

http://g.co/maps/csems

Now, I enjoyed this as an exercise regardless of whether we are being trolled, but I would appreciate it if the OP clarified the 10,000 mile 1 week road trip declaration as well as confirming exactly what type of advice they are looking for considering how well the locations and logistics have been planned to meet the goals of a European castle tour.

Is it suggestions of castles to see on the route of which you might not be aware? lodging suggestions? General comments about traveling in Europe

One suggestion that has not been made that might save some money and provide for more convenience would be to rent and drop one vehicle in the UK (or even stick to the rail for that short compact portion of well steeled England) and then pick up another on the continent. The drop charges could well be less and you are back in a left hand drive vehicle for 90% of the travel.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thank you for your info! Very helpful. I have revised the route many times, but only recently did I include the bit into Italy – so yes, it is closer to 3,600 miles – my apologies for forgetting there.
10k miles on one trip was not a type, nor an exciting prospect at the time, but I am incredibly glad I did it. With 3 other drives it was a heck of a trip!
What I am looking for is what I don’t know: All I know is what I’ve experienced in the US. I don’t know the European transit system, difficulties in travelling through various countries, who knows! Anything I’ve not mentioned that comes to your mind is what I want to know. I’m not asking for touristy suggestions, what to see, where to eat, where to sleep, but general travel information – things about navigating through the areas mentioned that a US citizen and novice European traveler might be clueless about.
Several people, yourself included, have given great suggestions that I’ve not considered.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 12:25 PM
  #19
 
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One suggestion that has not been made that might save some money and provide for more convenience would be to rent and drop one vehicle in the UK (or even stick to the rail for that short compact portion of well steeled England) and then pick up another on the continent. The drop charges could well be less and you are back in a left hand drive vehicle for 90% of the travel.>>

aramis - I think i did mention that but it's worth repeating.

but i think that we are banging our head against a brick wall - the OP is so certain that he's right the only mystery is why he bothered to post his query here in the first place.
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Dec 18th, 2011, 12:28 PM
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"janisj on Dec 18, 11 at 10:32am

(Your plan is daft/impractical/inefficient/not to say thousands of $$ more expensive than it needs to be. Plus you'll be driving through hundreds of miles w/ practically no castles. It is more a laundry list than a 'plan)"
~~~~
Do you know of a better way to get from one castle to another other than driving to each one? Please, do tell.

And no, I can't afford a private jet or helicopter.
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