WHATEVER your opinion is of the European Union, there’s no doubt we belong to one of the most culturally rich and historically fascinating continents.
With so much to explore on our doorstep, there’s no need to guzzle thousands of jet miles to reach a holiday destination… another bonus if you’re hoping to reduce your carbon footprint in 2020.
Driving between different destinations not only gives you more freedom to explore, it also means you can be more spontaneous with your travel schedule and be your own timekeeper.
But if you plan to drive across borders, there are a few important points to note to ensure a smooth journey.
Familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions.
You’ll need to check that the car you’ve chosen is allowed to cross borders, as some car hire companies put restrictions on luxury and sports cars, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMWs and convertibles.
Keep the rental car company in the loop.
Neglecting to mention that you’ll be visiting several different countries during your rental could mean you accidentally void any protection that’s included in your rental agreement, as well as any extra insurance you buy.
You could also be fined if you go ahead without the rental company’s consent.
Budget properly, because it is really important to do so.
It is likely that you’ll be charged a fee by your rental car company for taking your hire car into another country.
That said, there is a chance they may have included cross-border fees in your agreement, so double check the terms and conditions just in case.
Read up on European driving laws.
Make sure to research the rules of the road in the countries you’re visiting before you go, and note down anything important because breaking any of those rules could lead you to be fined. It is particularly important to ensure you stay within the designated speed limits and also be aware that permitted levels of alcohol in your system when behind the wheel vary from country to country.
The best advice is not to drink any alcohol at all on the days you are planning to drive
In Switzerland for example, drivers are required to have a red warning triangle inside their car in case of a breakdown.
Although the rental company should have you covered for the country where you collect the car, they may not have factored in what’s needed in any other countries you want to visit.
Ready to get rolling? Here are three journeys to try…
France to Switzerland
Collect your rental car from Nice Cote d’Azur Airport and begin your trip in the French Riviera.
Explore the pebbly shores of Nice before driving to Monaco to visit the Prince’s Palace of Monaco (reopens April 2, 2020) and learn about the region’s aquatic life at the Oceanographic Museum.
Next, head north through the rolling hills of Manosque to arrive at Embrun, a medieval French town just outside Ecrins National Park.
Get your hiking boots on and explore the trails for the best views, before trying a spot of windsurfing on Serre-Poncon Lake.
Head across the border into Switzerland and admire the striking views of Mont Blanc, en route to Geneva.
Here, you can stroll to the Jet d’Eau and browse the independent boutiques of the old town.
Finish your trip in the Swiss town of lakeside Lucerne, and take the cableway up to Mount Pilatus for fantastic views before heading back down to the city for dinner at one of its traditional taverns where you will find a great array of food and drinks.
Austria to Italy
This itinerary starts in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.
Check out the musical instruments from his childhood at a local museum before enjoying a concert at St Peter’s Abbey.
Afterwards, drive through picturesque countryside to the southern city of Klagenfurt.
Here you can rent a bike and explore the trails which run alongside Lake Worthersee.
Try the local seafood before getting back into your car for a three-hour drive across the Italian border to Venice.
Indulge in a gondola ride or stroll along the serene canals.
Then head 95 miles north to Bologna.
Along the way, have a break in the beautiful town of Ravenna to pick up some of its famous mosaic tiles as souvenirs.
When you arrive in Bologna, go for an amble along the plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and Renaissance structures.
It’s the perfect place to indulge in a hearty bowl of pappardelle to finish your trip.
Germany to Poland
Begin your journey at Dusseldorf International Airport.
Then head into the city to explore its art museums and magnificent architecture.
Known as Germany’s fashion capital, it’s home to several luxury boutiques on the Ko.
Once you’ve had your dose of culture, drive east to Saxony, home to some glorious palaces and castles dating back to the Middle Ages.
Visit Leipziger and Bastei bridge to dive deeper into the region’s history.
Begin a three-hour drive further east through the countryside, with the option to stop off in the medieval hill-top town of Bautzen for refreshments, before you arrive in Wroclaw, Poland.
Visit the city’s astronomical clock and The Centennial Hall auditorium, to admire its giant dome and spire.
Finally, head southeast on the highway to Krakow.
Explore Planty Park, the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter, where you can hop between bohemian beer joints.
For more advice and car hire rates, visit rentalcars.com.
Theo The Argus