From the Swiss Alps to the French Riviera, these are our favorite European road trips

Europe has an embarrassment of riches, from the amazing art and architecture to the spectacular scenery and fine food and wine. And it's all very accessible by car, if you know the best routes.

Here are our 7 favorite European road trips packed with culture, cities, history, mountains, food, beaches, wine and art.

Romantic Rhine (Düsseldorf to Mainz, Germany)

Route: Düsseldorf - Cologne - Bonn - Remagen - Koblenz - Braubach - Boppard - St Goar - Loreley - Kaub - Bacharach - Rüdesheim - Mainz Length: 5-7 days, 235 km / 146 miles

After traversing riverside cities Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bonn, watch epic scenery unfold as the Rhine Valley carves between towering cliffs clad in forest and capped by castles, to delightful Mainz.

History and wine lovers will love getting up close to the Rhine’s mightiest sights, hike through its loftiest vineyards and discover hidden treasures and romantic hideaways.

Boppard is one of the region's prettiest towns while Rüdesheim offers a chance to hike into the picturesque vineyards. The weather is best April to October, but July and August can be crowded.

Swiss Alps (Arosa to Zermatt, Switzerland)

Route: Arosa - Vals - Disentis Abbey - Andermatt - Engleberg - Giessbachfälle - Grindelwald - Lauterbrunnen - Schilthorn - Kandersteg - Altesch Glacier - Zermatt Length: 7 days, 612 KM / 382 miles

Zigzag through majestic peaks, Alpine panoramas, cable-car rides and local charm. Perfect for families who love the outdoors, this trip visits five cantons via hairpin bends, tunnels and passes.

In Andermatt, don’t miss hiking to the sparkly Lai da Tuma, the source of the Rhine. Stop at the Aletsch Glacier, a seemingly never-ending 23km-long swirl of ice with deep crevasses.

Access the glacier from picture-postcard Fiesch where you can ride a cable car from the village. Then take the train to car-free Zermatt and the pop-up-book effect of the one-of-a-kind Matterhorn.

The Graceful Italian Lakes (Stresa to Bergamo, Italy)

Route: Stresa - Verbania - Cannobio - Varese - Como - Bellagio - Tremezzo - Varenna - Bergamo Length: 5-7 days, 213 KM / 132 miles

Writers from Goethe to Hemingway have lavished praise on the Italian Lakes, dramatically ringed by snow-powdered mountains and garlanded by grand villas and exotic, tropical flora.

A popular holiday spot since Roman times, the Italian lakes have an enduring natural beauty. At Lago Maggiore the palaces of the Borromean Islands lie like a fleet of fine vessels in the gulf.

Their grand ballrooms and shell encrusted grottoes were once host to Napoleon and Princess Diana, while the siren call of Lago di Como still draws high-rollers to its discreet forested slopes.

Riviera Crossing (Cannes to Eze, France)

Route: Cannes - Antibes & Juan-les-Pins - St-Paul de Vence - Nice - La Grande Corniche - Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Menton - Monaco - Èze Length: 4 days, 110 KM / 68 miles

French road trips just don’t get more glamorous than this: cinematic views, searing sunshine, art history aplenty and the Mediterranean around every turn.

Cruising the Côte d’Azur is an iconic French road trip. From film town Cannes to down-to-earth Nice, via the corkscrew turns of the Corniches and into high-end Monaco, it’s a drive you’ll remember.

Filmmakers, writers, celebs and artists have all had their hearts stolen by this glittering stretch of coastline. Try to avoid the summer traffic in July and August, but any other time is a dream.

Roving La Rioja Wine Region (Logoroño to Laguardia, Spain)

Route: Logroño - Nájera - San Millán de Cogolla - Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Haro - Briones - Elciego - Laguardia Length: 2-4 days, 140 KM / 97 miles

Learn all about the gift of the grape on this quiet road trip through vine-studded countryside. Head out in September or October and visit wine museums, bodegas and admire stunning architecture.

La Rioja is home to the best wines in Spain and on this short and sweet road trip along unhurried back roads you’ll enjoy gorgeous vine-striped countryside and asleep-at-noon villages.

But the real draw is the food and drink. Logroño is gaining a culinary reputation while in Briones you’ll find Dinastía Vivanco, offering several floors on the history and culture of wine.

Chateaux of the Loire (Chinon to Chambord, France)

Route: Chinon - Lageais - Villandry - Azay-le-Rideau - Chenonceaux - Amboise - Blois - Cheverny - Chambord Length: 5 days, 189 KM / 118 miles

For centuries, this has been a backdrop for royals and extravagant castles. From medieval warlords to the royalty of Renaissance France, powerful people have left their mark on the Loire Valley.

This trip weaves nine of the Loire Valley’s most beautiful and impressive castles, including medieval fortresses like the Forteresse Royale de Chinon where Joan of Arc first met Charles VII.

Or see the luxurious Château du Chambord, with its double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Go in May and June for good cycling weather or July for the gardens.

Along the Danube (Passau, Germany to Vienna, Austria)

Route: Passau - Engelhartszell an der Donau - Linz - St Florian - Mauthausen Memorial - Melk - Dürnstein - Krems an der Donau - Sift Göttweig - Vienna Length: 2-4 days, 293 KM / 182 miles

If you’re looking for a short but vibrant summer trip, follow the Danube from Passau, Germany to the majestic Austrian capital of Vienna.

This magnificent river ripples with the reflections of forests, hilltop castles, and ribbons of vineyards, particularly on its prettiest stretch, the Wachau, between Melk and Krems an der Donau.

There are plenty of surprises too, including the cutting-edge city of Linz and two monasteries – Engelhartszell an der Donau and Stift Göttweig – producing respectively, sublime beer and wine.

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