For many people, hiring a car is a practical necessity for getting the most out of their sun holiday. But for those who love to drive, Europe’s sun destinations offer the chance to enjoy some of the best driving routes in the world, according to Thomas Cook Ireland, who have highlighted 5 breathtaking routes within easy reach of favourite sun resorts.
It doesn’t get better – or more challenging – than the famous Col de Turini in the South of France, a fear-filled mountain pass on the Cote d’Azur that hosts a stage of the Monte Carlo Rally. Staying at the 3-star Les Chenes Verts in Saint Raphael, 7 nights are available from €545 (based on 4 sharing) departing Dublin on 8 September, with car hire from €210 per week.
Altogether more leisurely is a tour of the Algarve, taking in historical Lagos, Sagres and moorish Silves. It’s an ideal road trip for the family, unearthing parts of the country which tourists generally don’t see, and the 4-star Marina Club in Lagos is the perfect base, with 7 nights from €599 per person departing from Dublin or Shannon on 2 September and car hire from €220.
Spain offers irresistible drives aplenty, among them the Carreterra de tossa, a spectacular hour-long coastal route on the Costa Brava from the town of Sant Feliu de Guixol to Tossa de Mar with endless twists and turns. Drivers can base themselves in the 4-star Hotel Estival Park in Pineda, where Thomas Cook offers 7 nights half board from €635 per person departing Dublin, Cork or Shannon on 31 August, and car hire from €125 per week. Further South, close to the Costa del Sol one can capture the essence of Spain along the Ruta de los pueblos blancos or “Route of the White Villages”, a scenic and historical voyage through towns and villages in the province of Andalucia. The resort of Estepona is a convenient location from which to undertake the drive, with 7 nights half board at the 4-star H10 Estepona Palace from €999 per person based on 2 people sharing (departing 15 September).
From the resort of Rethymnon in Crete, go west and try the four-hour journey from the waterfront city of Chania taking you past Samaria, Europe's longest gorge, featuring rugged mountainous landscape dotted with villages of traditional stone houses, and Byzantine churches. 7 nights B&B in the charming Palazzino di Corina is from €705 (departing Dublin 21 September), with car hire from €175.
“Car hire is great value in most destinations, and really enhances a holiday, especially if one takes time out to uncover great driving routes,” says Sharon Harney of Thomas Cook Ireland.
All prices are per person sharing unless otherwise stated and include return flights from Dublin.
Call the Thomas Cook team in Dublin on (01) 514 0328, log onto www.thomascook.ie or visit your travel agent.