The Best Motorhome Holidays in Europe

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Find the Best Motorhome Holidays in Europe

Are you planning a motorhome holiday in Europe but don’t quite know where to go? With so many countries, cultures and even climates to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which destination in Europe is right for you.

Check out our destination ideas and plan your European road trip with our helpful guides and motorhome travel tips.

Hiring a van for your Europe trip?

If this is your first motorhome trip abroad, or you’re hiring a van to explore Europe, make sure that you have all the right documentation and read about the post-Brexit travel rules (if you’re from the UK).

Documentation You Need for a Campervan Road Trip in Europe

  • You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from Europe. Your passport is valid for travel until expiry in the Republic of Ireland. If you’re a Brit, you can no longer use the EU/EEA passport lanes.
  • You may be asked at the border or airport to provide evidence of a return or onward ticket and to prove you have enough money for your stay. If you can’t provide such evidence, border control are within their rights to refuse you entry to the country.
  • Update August 2021 – if you’re travelling from the UK to Europe by campervan (whether your own or hired), you no longer require a green card to prove you have motorhome insurance cover when travelling in Europe.
  • Non-EU citizens will require an International Drivers Permit to hire a vehicle in the UK and Europe. UK citizens who have a driving licence do not require an IDP for Europe unless the licence held is paper only, or was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
  • You will require an Animal Health Certificate to take your pet to the EU or Northern Ireland from Great Britain. Your pet must be microchipped and have received a rabies vaccination before the AHC can be issued by a vet.
  • From 28th September 2021, you will have to display a UK sticker on the rear of of your vehicle (if registered in the UK) instead of a GB sticker, unless you have a new style UK numberplate which displays the Union Jack flag.
  • Your headlights must be adapted for driving on the right when you travel Europe.
  • Medical insurance, travel insurance and breakdown cover are not mandatory, although highly advisable when you take a European motorhome trip. We recommend World Nomads and True Traveller for insurance purposes, alongside an existing EHIC, or new GHIC, for UK travellers.

Getting to Europe

If you’re flying in to Europe from elsewhere in the world, you can collect your motorhome rental and head off on your road trip.

Remember to let your hire company know if you’re planning on taking your motorhome or campervan out of the country in which you hired it – some hire companies won’t allow their vehicles to be driven across Europe, or may charge extra. 

Driving to Europe from UK

If you’re coming from the UK, then you have to get onto the continent – there’s no way round it!  There are a number of ways of getting to mainland Europe from the UK;

  • Dover to Calais ferry – the popular ferry takes around one hour thirty minutes to cross, chances are you’ll be through and on the road within a few hours.
  • Channel Tunnel – the train between Folkestone and Calais is probably the quickest and most regular route to Europe, but as with the ferries, the queue can be horrendous in peak season and at peak times. 
  • Check out the slightly more obscure motorhome and campervan travel routes, which may be a little longer but often have great special offers. Try departing from Newhaven for example or arriving at Dieppe or Le Havre.
  • The crossings from Portsmouth and Poole to St Malo and Cherbourg are convenient for western France, and there is a choice of the fast catamaran, which takes around three hours, or an overnight crossing which arrives early in the morning.
  • There are longer (and more expensive) crossings from Portsmouth to the northern Spanish ports of Bilbao and Santander, which should also be considered if you’re heading south. You may find that the added ferry costs are covered by the savings in fuel, tolls and less driving time.
  • For those living in on the island of Ireland, the ferries from Cork and Rosslare to Roscoff may be a good alternative, and mean only one crossing.

Driving a Motorhome in Europe

All European countries have their own driving laws and legislation covering motorway tolls, low emission zones and wild camping for motorhomes.

You can find specific information on these laws, what you need to carry in your vehicle, and what you should be aware of as a motorhomer in our motorhome touring guides, which are country specific.  

We would strongly advise either a specific motorhome sat nav when you’re travelling Europe in a large vehicle. Don’t hire one with the motorhome unless it’s capable of being configured for a large vehicle. If it’s not, then it’s a waste of money and you’re better using a free navigation app like Google Maps on your phone or tablet.

If it’s your first time driving abroad, it can feel a little daunting, especially if you’re in a right hand drive vehicle. Take your time and stick to motorways and A (national) roads until you find your feet. Try not to spend too many hours behind the wheel every day, or share the driving.   

Did you know… we have a series of one day city itineraries, perfect for road trippers. We also include recommended and secure motorhome stops for each city, with handy tips and info on how to get into the centre. Find them here.

France

Without doubt the most popular motorhome destination in Europe, France has really embraced the culture and has a fantastic network of municipal and commercial motorhome aires, as well as superb coastal and inland campsites, and some amazing wild camping opportunities.  

France is a great country for touring from place to place, but also has some of the best campsites in Europe, along both the south west wild and unspoilt Atlantic coast and the more gentle shores of the Mediterranean.

The latter will guarantee you good sunshine in the summer months, the former is perhaps a tad more exciting and perfect for families with teenagers.

Outside of the coasts, France is a huge and diverse country, offering something for everyone planning a French road trip. From hiking in the mighty Alps to the rolling countryside of Provence, and a handful of really iconic cities, whatever your holiday style you’ll find it in France.

If there are any downsides, it’s the high cost of fuel and toll roads, and the sometimes volatile nature of France’s population, who like to protest in the summer months and block roads and access to fuel.

Spain

Further away from the UK, but easily accessible via the Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao routes, Spain is a favourite of motorhomers looking for sun when northern Europe is suffering the cooler months.  

But there’s so much more than sun and beaches in Spain. It’s the second most mountainous country in Europe (after Switzerland), shares one half of the Pyrenees and is home to the small, but perfectly formed, Picos de Europa.

There’s a lot of culture here too, from the castles and religious palaces of the north to the the Moorish architecture and white towns of Andalucia, in the south.  

If it’s beaches and sun you’re after, stick to the eastern coasts of the Costa Brava and Costa Blanca for bearable summer heat (although air con would be advisable in July and August), lively resorts and cities, great campsites and friendly aires.

Or head inland for a taste of more authentic Spain, heart-pumping activities such as hiking and climbing, and free camping opportunities in abundance. 

Spain is one of the cheapest countries in Europe in which to take a campervan trip, with fuel and LPG around a third cheaper than France and most toll roads now free.

Sadly, the coastal areas are starting to restrict where motorhomes can park overnight making wild camping much harder, and pushing people taking motorhome holidays into fee-paying sites and aires.

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Italy

Head for Italy if you’re feeling a tad more adventurous. It will take at least 15 hours one way from Calais, whether you choose to head down through toll free Germany or more expensive scenic France, so in reality you probably need a few weeks to do this trip justice. 

But, it’s so worth it once you get there! You’ll be blown away by this sublimely beautiful country, with Renaissance cities, gorgeous landscapes and amazing gastronomy. Historic Florence, foodie Bologna, unique Venice, and even Rome are within reach.

Those with a few weeks will be able to explore the beautiful Italian lakes and dramatic Dolomites, the rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria, or the Italian Riviera to the east.

With even longer, Sicily and Puglia become attractive (and much quieter) spots for a motorhome road trip, making the most of the Italian sosta motorhome parking network as you travel.

The further south you go, the worse the roads become, so be mindful of this if you intend to move around a lot. Italy also has some of Europe’s most expensive fuel and campsites, which can be basic away from busy tourist areas, are expensive and you usually have to pay extra for your shower!

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Portugal

A perfect companion when visiting Spain, Portugal is also a wonderful country to visit in its own right. Tiny, but packing a punch, Portugal’s coasts are chock full of incredible beaches, from the sultry and sheltered south facing Algarve to the the huge seas of the Atlantic, where the biggest waves in the world have been surfed at Nazare.

Inland, you’ll find granite mountains, dark skies and huge lakes, alongside rolling swathes of countryside planted with vines to support the emerging world-class wine culture. With a fascinating history of sea faring and world exploration, and some of the best sea food in Europe, don’t pass Portugal by on your way south.

If there are any downsides to this tiny country, it is that all wild camping, unless in authorised motorhome places, is now banned, since a new law was passed in January 2021. This means sites and aires will become full more quickly, and camping prices will rise.

Germany

Germany is a wonderful country in which to tour. With a large network of stellplatz (aires) and superb roads, you’ll love the ease of road tripping here. The locals are friendly, the food wholesome and the beer is pretty good too!

Germany is a surprising country, full of fairy tale castles and half-timbered medieval villages, alongside cutting edge industrial cities. Avoid the middle bit and head for romantic Bavaria and the Alps, or go north for the sea city of Hamburg and the beguiling and beautifully quiet northern coast, with islands that will tempt you to stay.

More adventurous motorhomers will head east, for Berlin and the gateway to the lesser travelled, yet fascinating, countries of eastern Europe. The roads will certainly be quieter as you head east, away from the busy and densely populated industrial belt, which you need to suffer to get to anywhere of interest in the country!

Norway

A hugely popular destination with campervanning road trippers, Norway is simply stunning. But, it’s a huge country and you’ll need time to see even a fraction of it. If you want to go the whole hog to Nordkapp in the Arctic Circle, and visit the Lofoten Islands on route, you’ll need a minimum of four weeks.

The most beautiful part of Norway is without doubt the Western Fjords. The sheer scale of the fjords and the surrounding mountains and waterfalls is breathtaking. If you love adventure and being outdoors, this is the place for you. With hiking, cycling and water sports opportunities everywhere, Norway is a great destination for families with active teenagers.

Very different to most of Europe, road tripping in Norway can feel like being on another continent. Getting to Norway takes a bit of effort, and inevitably adds to the cost of your trip, in what is widely recognised as being one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Budget wisely though and you won’t regret motorhoming in Norway.

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