I love road trips more than words can describe. There’s a particular feeling of freedom that only comes with picking up a car and heading down the road. It’s a fundamentally adventurous thing to say, even if you’ve already planned this an Europe road trip. On the road on a road trip in Portugal, you’ll experience a completely new way to see your destination. You’ll get the pulse of the region in a way you wouldn’t experience otherwise, with its people and landscapes. Or why not try out some of my personal favorites. A Florida road trip or the famous Big Sur road trip.
For a real travel with a silver lining experience, rent a convertible car and lower the hardtop. Let the breeze move your hair around! This is particularly cool on beachy summer destinations, like a Big Sur road trip or a road trip in Portugal. For the even more adventurous, renting a motorcycle should make you feel a little like Marlon Brando!
Enjoy my favorite car rides across the U.S., starting with a Florida road trip followed by some amazing Europe road trip!
2 Incredible & Very Different U.S. Road Trips
Comprising most of the North American country, United States is huge. As such, it offers a ridiculous amount of road trip options, and the two I took were very dear to my heart.
The Florida road trip revolves around the Caribbean colors and hippie vibes in the Key West. Meanwhile, California has a more luxurious and almost Mediterranean air to it. When on a Big Sur road trip, you’ll feel the Cali lifestyle, with its Napa wine and L.A. celebs. In short, two different versions of paradise!
Florida Road Trip: Hippie Vibes Across they Key West Bridges
|Key Stops||Miami, Islamorada, Marathon, Seven-Mile Bridge, Old Rail Bridge, Key West|
|Hotels||Little Palm Island Resort & Faro Alto Resort (both in Marathon), The Cabana Inn (Key West)|
Our Florida road trip was how we ended three months traveling in South & Central America. We didn’t just want to soak up the experience, but also turn it into a grand finale. And that we did!
I recommend that you take the same starting point we did during our Florida road trip: Miami. Rent a car (a convertible – we had a sweet black Mustang!) and head into the horizon. Don’t overwork yourself driving and plan a stop on your way down to Key West.
There are 42 different bridges between Miami and Key West, and a seemingly endless array of cute places. We were only supposed to take about 4 hours, but our Florida road trip ended up twice as long. There were too many cute places and we wanted to stay in all of them.
Our Florida Road Trip Stops
Our first stop was on Islamorada, a village comprised of five adorable islands. Here, we visited Robbies, a hippie activity center in the Keys, famous for being the “it” place for Tarpon feeding. For nature lovers, this is a must visit during their Florida road trip!
We had lunch at The Lighthouse Grill at Faro Blanco Resort, and then count of our stops. The huge Seven Mile Bridge quickly became a favorite, as did the Old Railroad Bridge. These bridges offer incredible photo ops!
Finally, we reached Key West. A gorgeous city by the sea, it feels more Caribbean. And, of course, it’s actually nearer Cuba than Miami! Architecturally, this is a fun mix of Americana, Bahamian and Cuban. Very laid-back, and perfect to disconnect after that long Florida road trip.
Our Cozy Cabana & Favorite Restaurants
Here, we stayed at a true gem: The Cabana Inn. A beautiful lodging with great staff, its décor was very minimalistic and Scandinavian. We felt at home!
When in Key West, explore the life of early 20th century Florida residents – including Ernest Hemingway. Our favorite hangouts and eateries were along Duval and Petronia St.
I can’t recommend enough to have dinner at Bagatelle, an old mansion that’s now a seafood restaurant. Hip eatery Thirsty Mermaid is another must for seafood lovers. And, for a big romantic sunset, you can’t go wrong with a table by the sea at Louie’s Backyard.
The Romantic End of our Florida Road Trip
A must stop the way back of your Florida road trip is a romantic dinner at the Little Palm Island Resort is highly recommended. An amazing small island with a luxury resort where you can enjoy a dinner under the stars on the beach!
Take about a week to really take in the wonders of this area. And read more about my Florida road trip on my travel story as well as my other Florida adventures check out my my Miami Adventure Post. For two great hotels check out my Delano post and the W South Beach Review.
Big Sur Road Trip: Delicious Wine, Magical Views & Celebs
|Duration||At least 3 weeks|
|Key Stops||San Francisco, Muir Woods, Napa, Santa Cruz, Carmel by the Sea, Big Sur, Malibu, Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Las Vegas|
|Hotels||Churchill Manor (Napa), Rose Hotel (Venice), Palihouse Melrose (Los Angeles)|
California: famous wines, the most important film city on Earth and the tech capital of the world. You’ll see lots on your Big Sur road trip, so take about three weeks here.
The City by the Bay
Get started in San Francisco, a hilly Pacific city full of contrasts. Take the tram to see some gorgeous views of the white houses on the hills. Get to Fisherman’s Wharf for a touristic yet satisfying experience, next to the sea lions and Alcatraz. Rent a bike and ride through the Golden Gate Bridge, and then take the ferry back. Climb Lombard Street to feel like you’re in a Dirty Harry movie.
Head to Haight-Ashbury, a hippie haven in the 60s where Jimi Hendrix once played. Then, explore the Mission District, with its incredible street art, bars, and cafés!
Wine Country Awaits!
Once you see SF, it’s time for your Big Sur road trip to begin. Nature lovers can stop at Muir Woods on the way to Napa Valley and see the huge sequoias.
Getting to the wine country will take between 2 and 3 hours. I’d recommend taking a couple of days off on your Big Sur road trip to really enjoy Napa. The village is really cozy, and we stayed at the lovely Churchill Manor, a near-perfect lodging. An old Napa manor turned into a gorgeous place of greens and delicious food and wine! There are so many wine yards to visit and I really liked the Sonoma district with a more boutique experience.
The Actual Big Sur Road Trip
After trying that Napa Valley wine, drive south. As we headed to Big Sur, we made a few stops. Monterey Bay had a lot of lovely spots, like Santa Cruz and Carmel by the Sea, our place for the night. A gorgeous upscale small town by the beach, it feels like France’s Côte d’Azur and I would recommend to stay here for more than one night to enjoy the vibe!
We did this whole stage in one day, but it took us between 12 and 14 hours. For a comfier experience, take two days.
The next stop is the crown jewel of the Big Sur road trip and Route 1. Big Sur is the most magical section of the whole stretch, with one-of-a-kind views. The wild Pacific, the mountains behind you. Pass through the Bixby Creek Bridge and grab a moment to take in the environment and take perfect pics!
Take photos into consideration when planning your trip, as you’ll want to stop often. And make sure you check ahead if the highway is open, as that can alter your Big Sur road trip.
The City of Angels
Now comes the final stop by the beach on your Big Sur road trip: L.A.! The second most populated city in the U.S., Los Angeles the kind of place where you’ll always find something to do. You can stay a week or two here and never get bored.
For a beachy experience, start at Venice Beach or Santa Monica. We stayed at the cute Rose Hotel Venice Beach B&B and loved it. Get on full foodie mood here by going through the hip eateries along Abbot Kinney St. Rent a bike and really take in local beach life!
Would you like to stay at The Rose Hotel. THEN BOOK IT HERE!
Getting Star Struck in Hollywood
No L.A. visit is complete without seeing Hollywood! Cruise among the impressive celebrity homes. Channel your inner Clueless character on Beverly Hills. Shop around Rodeo Drive and feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Visit the vintage shops at Melrose Avenue… and then head to the Walk of Fame. Walk the shoes of giants, and look for the stars of your favorite artists. Don’t forget to drive up to Griffith Conservatory for a magic L.A. sunset, La La Land style.
A visit at the famous Beverly Hills hotel is a must if just for a drink! There are lots of boutique hotels and we stayed at a cool hipster one, the Palihouse Melrose . Check it out and read my full review in my Palihouse Hotel Review Post.
Would you like to stay at Palihouse Melrose. THEN BOOK IT HERE!
And, Finally, Viva Las Vegas!
After L.A., it’s time to get wild at Las Vegas, which will take about five hours through the Mojave Desert. You’ll even see the tumbleweed from cowboy movies. The perfect end to a fantastic Big Sur road trip!
Vegas is like nothing you’ve ever seen: like Disneyland for grown-ups. Every hotel is a huge entertainment park, with casinos on the lobbies. All the major luxury hotels on The Strip are connected, like one huge hallway. It’s super peculiar to be walking from theme to theme, be it Medieval, jungle, Parisian or whatever. We loved staying at the Wynn Las Vegas, as it was luxurious but slightly away from the chaos.
Gamble away – but remember to keep enough cash to get back home!
Would you like to stay at Wynn Las Vegas. THEN BOOK IT HERE!
Europe Road Trip: Southern Atlantic & Mediterranean
Southern Europe has lots to offer, with completely different landscapes from end to end, for a perfect Europe road trip. From a road trip in Portugal, taking in the sights of the Algarve Coast, to the deep Amalfi blues.
Warm weather, unique colors, delicious food and wine: that’s what makes a perfect southern Europe road trip!
The Spectacular & Romantic Amalfi Coast
|Duration||8 to 14 days|
|Key Stops||Rome, Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello|
|Hotels||Le Sirenuse & Hotel Flavio Gioia (Positano), Amalfi Luxury House & Santa Catarina (Amalfi town), Gens Luxury Suites & Roma Luxus Hotel (Rome)|
When planning this incredible Europe road trip, start driving in Rome! Also, we took 6 days here, but in retrospect, I think 8 to 14 would have been better.
Head to your first stop in the early morning: the Pompeii ruins. A tragic but fascinating place, it has that layer of history present on every Europe road trip. Get your tickets online in advance, so you don’t lose precious time on queues and also recommend to book a guide for the best experience! The information inside is very scarce and with a guide you will get all the stories behind the place. We bought our tickets and guide at Get Your Guide Site.
My Europe Road Trip: From History to the Mediterranean Blue Gem
Just an hour away, you’ll find Positano. An enchanting village on the hills and next to the Mediterranean, every corner is like a postcard. A lovely stop during your Europe road trip! Walk around the village, up and down the hill, for gorgeous views. Get your tan at Fornillo or Spiaggia Grande beaches. If you have the time, take boat day trip to one of the nearby islands, like Capri or Ischia!
When in Positano, stay at Le Sirenuse or Hotel Flavio Gioia, two gorgeous boutique hotels. Le Sirenuse is the celebrity darling, the gem of the village; Flavio Gioia is more secluded, but also lovely.
Amalfi: The White Diamond
After a few nights, it’s time to continue this Europe road trip. A 40-minute drive away, you’ll find Amalfi village. More touristic, it can get really crowded during the day – but the nights are magic! With its labyrinthic alleys leading to cute houses and shops, it’s a town to fall in love. Stay at Amalfi Luxury House or Santa Catarina for a full boutique hotel experience!
Ravello: The Gem with a Spectacular View
After a couple of days, then head to the last stop of your Europe road trip: Ravello. It’s home to the most breathtaking views throughout the coast! Medieval streets, beautiful colors, art, and gardens, it’s a village to fall in love. A visit to Villa Rufolo is a must and this is where you will find the most magic views. We didn’t stay here because we didn’t know it’d be so beautiful, but I’d recommend you do before heading back to Rome!
If you’re looking for the best photo ops of this Europe road trip and on the Amalfi Coast, check out My Amalfi Instagram Post. And if you’re up for another voyage around southern Europe, get ready for a road trip in Portugal!
Road Trip in Portugal: Wild Nature & Sea at Algarve
|Key Stops||Silves, Ponta da Piedada, Sagres, Cape St. Vincent, Évora, Monsaraz|
Short but sweet, this road trip in Portugal can only take you a couple of days but I recommend you to book at least a week to enjoy all the beauty of the Algarve Coast. The wild nature, the dramatic rock formations and the never ending beaches. Algarve is a bit like Europe’s California, not only in terms of the nature and the wild sea but it also heaven for wine lovers.
An Energizing Road Trip in Portugal
Check in at one of the many hotels on the Algarve Coast or as we did rent a lovely little house by the sea and combine a road trip in Portugal with some lazy days by the beach or the pool. I can truly recommend the small town of Guia. Here we found a lovely little house that you can check out or book here here.
The Must Stops on Your Road Trip in Portugal
When you are ready to hit the road , head down to Sagres and St Vincent. A place that once thought to be the end of the world. The wild nature and the never ending sea is an amazing sight.
Another must visit is Ponta da Piedada. Often called one of the most beautiful spots for the road trip in Portugal. The rock formations are beautiful and this place is full of magic photo spots!
Portugal Village Vibes
Once you want a bit of village vibes at your road trip in Portugal. Head up to the mountains to Silves – one of the most instagramable villages I have seen. Cobble stoned streets with tiled buildings in the most amazing colors and the view from the castle is also a great photo spot!
Wine tasting and golf are other popular things you can do on your road trip in Portugal. If you got some time over I would head in lands towards the border of Spain and visit the impressive Roman city of Evora or the picturesque little village on the mountain top with magic views, Monsaraz. Very different but yet amazing and you can easily cover them in one day!
Read more about my road trip in Portugal in my full Algarve Travel Guide . Portugal is an amazing country and I am sure you will have an amazing time on this Europe road trip.
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