Just about nothing beats the fun and freedom of jumping behind the wheel of a car and dashing off on a well-planned adventure. You have probably enjoyed plenty of self-drive vacations around areas local to you, and now I invite you to see some of the world’s best sights through a windshield (of course, I recommend you get out the car from time to time for slower-paced, more personal experiences).
When you have decided to hit the road, let Travel by Darcy be your first pit stop: I will help you find the self-drive vacation destination that best matches your travel style and budget. In the countries recommended below, you can usually get from here to there via trains or planes or even ferries, but an expertly planned road-trip itinerary ensures that no stone goes unturned—and no terrific pub, road-side landmark, or must-see attraction goes unexplored. Ready for a vroom with a view?
The Emerald Isle is a gem of a destination throughout the year, especially if you are looking to experience a blend of boisterous cities and bucolic countryside. A self-drive vacation is easily the best, most rewarding way to explore the country (and between us, expect to take several wrong turns along the way, as road signs in Ireland are notoriously confusing . . . consider getting lost part of the adventure!). After a stay in Dublin, pick up a rental car and head north or south through country scenery to historic castles, hiking and fishing, and plenty of can’t-miss sights. With so much to see and do here, plan on a minimum duration of 10 days to maximize the fun.
Defined by its Highlands, valleys, lakes, and rugged coastline, Scotland is also known for its Scottish English, that oh-so-delightful dialect. From historic sites to vibrant cities, there is much to explore here, and a self-drive vacation allows you to wander from place to place, meeting friendly locals, eating in pubs, staying in castles, and taking on the mighty (and important) challenge of finding your new-favorite Scottish whiskey. After a stay in Edinburgh, pick up a rental car and start driving; in just about any direction you will find fairytale castles, rich history, and lots of distilleries. (If you are an Outlander fan, let me help you identify all the filming locations in Scotland you can visit.)
Just about everywhere you turn here, there is a sight that takes your breath away—a mountain of blue ice at Fox Glacier, emerald-colored lakes at Tongariro National Park, black sand beaches along the West Coast. Just as impressive? The country’s range of experiences, from outdoor adventures to historic sights, and the best way to make sure you do not miss a thing is a self-drive vacation. After a stay in Auckland, rent a car and explore the thermal mud baths in Rotorua and wine tasting in Hawk’s Bay; or, after a stay in Christchurch, crossover Arthurs Pass in your rental and travel along the west coast, exploring fjordlands before ending in Queenstown, the unofficial basecamp for New Zealand adventure-lovers. Whichever route you choose, make sure to set aside at least two weeks for a full experience.
Though this country is known for its political neutrality, Switzerland displays an obvious prejudice for striking natural beauty, like soaring Alpine passes, twinkling glaciers, almost a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and too many mountain-ringed lakes to count. You will not see nearly enough of Switzerland from the window of a speeding train or plane; you have got to put yourself in a car to be in the middle of all its glorious nature. After a summertime stay in Zurich, drive out to Lake Lucerne, Bern, and Interlaken, and beyond, following winding roads and stopping in charming villages along the way.
Much like the United States, Canada’s landscape is ever-changing as you head from coast to coast, including sandy beaches, glittering city skylines, and towering mountain ranges dotted with the densest parts of a wild wilderness. Just as most people do not drive across the USA on vacation, it is best to concentrate on a single part of Canada to get the most enriching, full experience. For instance, you might explore the Canadian Rockies with a round-trip adventure starting and ending in Calgary, or you might spend a week getting to know Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise, trying to see if you ever get tired of all those magnificent views of glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Finding it hard to choose your favorite? Let me match you with your just-right destination—it might even be a place not on this list! As a Travel Specialist, I have spent the last 20+ years helping people plan and enjoy their dream vacation, and I know the best places to visit.
Contact me today and let me know how I can help!