As part of our #WhatNext campaign, we’re encouraging travellers to explore the road less travelled. And what better way to do it than with a self-guided tour, where you’ll have the freedom to explore a city at your own pace? In the spirit of spontaneity, we’ve featured destinations that can be discovered on two feet or four wheels – whichever one you opt for is completely up to you. Read on for some of the best self-guided tours in Europe for both walkers and drivers.
Self-guided tours of France
Located in the heart of Western Europe, France is arguably one of the world’s most geographically diverse countries. With snowy mountain ranges, rolling country side and soft sand beaches, there’s plenty of options for all.
Walk: The Haute Route
Following a picturesque trail that cuts through the French and Swiss Alps, the monumental Haute Route links the two alpine towns of Zermatt and Chamonix. The walk starts under the shadow of the imposing Mont Blanc, taking you through charming villages along the way – which all offer plenty of gastronomical delights for sustenance.
Drive: The Route Napoléon
Starting at Grasse in the splendid French Riviera, the 200-mile Route Napoléon traces part of the same journey taken by its namesake in 1815 – an expedition which ended in defeat at the battle of Waterloo. The trail is marked by a series of eagle statues along the roadside, and makes its way through the Alps Maritimes, taking in stunning mountain scenes, alpine citadels and plenty of natural splendour all the way to Grenoble.
Self-guided tours of Belgium
Small and mighty Belgium is so compact that it’s easy to discover more than one iconic destination in a day. From the UNESCO world heritage site of Bruges town to the historic Flanders Fields, there’s plenty for people of all interests here – and that’s just to the north. Further south, you’ll find the idyllic region of Wallonia – which is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Walk: Take a city tour of Ghent
Bursting with museums, unique boutiques and traditional eateries, the cosmopolitan city of Ghent is a city that’s best appreciated on foot. You can cover many of its most famous landmarks in about two hours, and its tourism office has created a self-guided walking route which does just that. Starting (and ending) at the famous Belfort, the walk takes you past all of the city’s must-see sights. These include Sint-Michielsbrug (which offers unparalled views of old Ghent’s city skyline), the Design Museum and the decorative facade of De Gekroonde Hoofden.
Drive: Discover three cities in one day with a Belgian road trip
Just a half-hour drive from our Zeebrugge port, the medieval city of Bruges puts you in great stead to discover its neighbouring cities. After a whistle-stop tour of the city’s chocolate shops, famous Belfry and the bustling Markt, get back in your car and travel towards Brussels, home to countless world-class museums, the awe-inspiring Grand Place and the beautiful Le Botanique. The 1.5 hour drive will also take you past the aforementioned Ghent, a modern metropolis that still holds plenty of historical charm.
Self-guided tours of the Netherlands
Home to windmills, tulip fields and cycling fanatics, the Netherlands has a wonderful road infrastructure, making it very easy to navigate from city to city. As an added bonus, much of its beauty often lies in the journey alone.
Walk: Discover Leiden’s poetic murals
Possessing a charisma that’s reminiscent of capital city Amsterdam, Leiden, with its picture-perfect canals, colourful structures and 17th-century architecture truly has something for everyone. As well as plenty of self-guided and guided tours, literary fans should seek out the city’s poetic wall art. There are around 100 such murals dotted all over the city to form a walking route, all in differing dialects and formations.
Drive: Journey from Rotterdam to Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the canal-lined capital of the Netherlands, is renowned for its colourful facades, delicious street food and endless cycle routes. And better still, it’s just over an hour’s drive from our Rotterdam port, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t take the scenic route. The journey to Amsterdam cuts through two major Dutch towns – Delft (famous for its pottery) and the previously mentioned Leiden – so there’s no limit to what you can discover from your car. The Hague, the Netherland’s seaside resort, is also along the way, albeit with a slight detour.
Ready to embrace #WhatNext? Un-plan your trip with P&O Ferries.