Three years ago we set off on the Europe road trip that changed everything. We left home, started an Instagram to share photos with friends and family, and took off hit some undiscovered spots in Europe alongside a few favorites we’d made it to in the past. At the time, we had no idea this was the start to an adventure that would lead to a complete lifestyle change and ultimately fast-track my choice to become a travel blogger.
This road trip itinerary has sat in my blog drafts for three years now — so what better time to share it with you then with the new re-launch of my blog? Trying to plan this itinerary was what inspired me to create this fully customizable ‘Destinations’ page to help you plan your travels better.
There is no better way to see the Balkans (Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, etc.) then by car. The coastal views are incredible, and having the freedom to pull over when you want explore will lead to some amazing finds. We left in April and spent over two months traveling to the places listed below, finally adding a couple more weeks to drive north to our last destination: Amsterdam. I broke each segment up by days so you could easily portion off this trip and travel to the countries you’re most interested in. Let’s go!
Our 3 Month Europe Road Trip
Milan, Italy – arrive
Lake Como, Italy – 2 nights
Venice, Italy – 2 nights
Bled, Slovenia – 2 nights
Ljubljana, Slovenia – 2 nights
Zagreb, Croatia – 1 night
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia – day trip
Split, Croatia – 2 nights
Hvar Island, Croatia – 3 nights
Dubrovnik, Croatia – 2 nights
Kotor, Montenegro – 2 nights
Budva, Mongenegro – 3 nights
Albania – day trip
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia – 3 nights
Meteora, Greece – 1 night
Athens, Greece – 3 nights
Santorini, Greece – 4 nights
Galaxidi, Greece – 1 night
Positano, Italy – 1 night
Cinque Terre, Italy – 2 nights
Milan, Italy – depart
Top Photo: Positano, Italy edited with our ‘Udaipur’ preset. Preset collections used in this blog post: Europe Desktop Collection, India Desktop Collection.
Fly into Milan, Italy and pick up your rental car
Lake Como, Italy [2 nights] Straight out of a fairytale with cobblestone streets and quaint cafes around every turn. We opted for a lakeside property to have views over the water and an Italian balcony to ourselves. This hotel is the more affordable option (but still on the high end) if you’re looking for luxury like the iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo. For the budget-friendly stay we did, check out this cozy apartment or this one.
Venice, Italy [2 nights] Venice is beautiful but always crowded. I suggest wandering off the main paths to explore different areas of the old city. Book an Airbnb in the canals here, like this one with a view or this similar one.
Bled, Slovenia [2 nights] One of our favorite stops of the trip. Lake Bled is straight out of a magazine with an old castle perched on a hill, a cathedral in the middle of the lake, and breathtaking scenery. Don’t miss stopping over to Predjama castle and Postjama caves, both can be done on the same day. Stay at this breathtaking hotel on the lake (we couldn’t help taking a tour when we visited!) or this full home. Alternatively you can stay in the city center, our original Airbnb is no longer available so would book this apartment.
Ljubljana, Slovenia [2 nights] The capital of Slovenia is a colorful design-lover’s dream filled with boutiques and up-and-coming restaurants. It’s unassuming when you first enter, but the castle and river running through the old town center are postcard-worthy. Lolita’s has the best hot chocolate ever. Go for a hotel in Ljubljana, this one is my top choice (the Airbnb’s are hit or miss).
Zagreb, Croatia [1 night] Though this was the most convenient stopover from Ljubljana, it was our least favorite stop of the trip. It could be due to the place we stayed, but I found the city to be lacking charm. If you’re passing through, stay one night and make sure it’s a trusted hotel in a good area, like this one.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia [day trip] This national park is a must! Plitvice can be visited in a day, but if you want to spend more time here to hike I’d recommend spending the night. Hotels and homes for rent nearby are very basic — here’s where I’d stay on Airbnb and a similar hotel option.
Left: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia edited with our ‘Iceland’ preset; Right: Lolita Cafe, Ljubljana, Slovenia edited with our ‘Jaipur’ preset
Split, Croatia [2 nights] Split is small enough to explore in a day, but has enough to keep you preoccupied for a few. Enjoy the restaurants on the water and don’t miss the outdoor markets. If we went back, I’d stay at this boutique hotel with views of the old town.
Hvar Island, Croatia [3 nights] Charming, walkable, and still relatively undiscovered. The islands might be the best part of Croatia (plus, they’re easy to get to with a short ferry), so why not add Korçula and Vis too? I would definitely stay in an Airbnb here since there are a ton of unique options. It’s a toss up between this villa with a pool, this home in an eco-friendly village or this beachside apartment.
Dubrovnik [2 nights] Staying within the old walls of Dubrovnik is essential, otherwise you’ll just be looking out towards the highlight of this city. One of our all time favorite budget-friendly Airbnb stays is here, it has a window onto the old castle ramparts for sunset (we were the only ones there!). The perfect town to get lost wandering centuries-old streets and stumbling upon gelato shops…and take the Game of Thrones tour.
Kotor [2 nights] A lake town with an incredible mountainous backdrop and fresh seafood dishes, Kotor is up there for one of my favorite underrated towns in Europe. Make sure to get dinner at least one night at one of the local seaside restaurants. Hiring a small boat to row you to the middle of the lake is a must. The old-fashioned Airbnb we stayed in was steps from the best hike for views of Kotor.
Budva [3 nights] Budva is an inviting seaside town with a charming city center and plenty of nearby sites and beaches to visit. Sveti Stefan island is now owned by Aman hotels, but you can make a reservation for lunch by calling ahead (and you should, it’s the only way to see the island!). The beach in front is breathtaking and ideal for off season dips. If I went back, I would stay nearby the old town in this chic hotel.
Drive through Albania to Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Left: Kotor Bay, Montenegro edited with our ‘Udaipur’ preset; Right: View from our Kotor Airbnb, edited with our ‘Positano’ preset
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia [3 nights] Lake Ohrid is an ancient and sleepy town with easy walking streets and cheap yet delicious eats. We were stunned by how unknown Macedonia is as a destination, and how friendly the locals were. We chose a place to stay overlooking the water with a balcony. Though basic, it was arguably one of the cheapest Airbnbs we’ve ever stayed in.
Meteora, Greece [1 night] Meteora is known for its large rock formations with precariously perched monasteries on top. The sight leaves a long-lasting impression, and it’s the perfect overnight stay once you enter Greece’s northern region. You’ll only need one night in a local guesthouse. We stayed here. We had some delicious greek food at the local restaurants here! Make sure to ask a local for an authentic recommendation.
Athens, Greece [3 nights] The bustling streets of Athens have an endless amount of delicious restaurants if you know where to go. You could easily spend more time here, but a few nights will allow you to get a feel for Greece’s largest city and visit the Parthenon. Don’t miss grabbing Greek dessert at Lukumades and Davinci Gelateria for gelato — the passionfruit is my favorite. Here’s a recent Airbnb we stayed in, though I’ve been eyeing this hotel with a rooftop pool (it’s also in a more walkable neighborhood).
Leave your rental car at the airport and fly from Athens to Santorini
Santorini, Greece [4 nights] Though it’s received lots of hype (read: crowds) over the last few years, it’s for good reason. Santorini is an unforgettable, unique and romantic destination and home to perhaps our favorite Airbnb ever, as seen in our Santorini travel guide. Biggest piece of advice to avoid the crowds: Book a dinner at Sunsets restaurant, so you can watch a famous Santorini sunset without fighting your way through throngs of people.
Left: Oia, Santorini edited with our ‘Taj’ preset; Right: Our Airbnb in Santorini, edited with our ‘Jaipur’ preset
Fly from Santorini to Athens and pick up your rental car
Galaxidi, Greece [1 night] This quaint town is a welcome stopover to reset and the drive there is beautiful. Galaxidi is a hidden gem with local tavernas and picturesque views of the seaside. Here’s the hotel I’d stay in if we went back.
Take the ferry from Patras, Greece to Bari, Italy
Positano, Italy [1 night] Driving along Italy’s coast is not for the faint-hearted. There are hairpin turns, countless tour buses, and tourists on every lookout. But of course: it’s incredibly picturesque. Of course, the best place to stay is this famous cliffside hotel with the iconic view of Positano; here’s an Airbnb option that’s less than half the price, and another to consider here.
Cinque Terre, Italy [2 nights] While Cinque Terre can get packed, we had an amazing time staying in Monterosso, which is the only town that had an accessible beach. The train makes it easy to hop over to any of the five neighboring cities. We stayed in this cozy Airbnb in the center of town.
Return your rental car and fly out of Milan, Italy…or extend the trip! More destinations in Europe.
Cinque Terre, Italy edited with our ‘Udaipur’ preset
After a little over two months on the road, we decided to extend this road trip. Our original itinerary had us dropping our car back in Milan (we came full circle!), but we actually drove it to Amsterdam. Some add-on stops included: Annecy, France; Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg; Antwerp, Belgium; and of course: Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I hope this itinerary is a helpful template for you to plan your own Europe road trip! If you decide to go for it, I’d love for you to send me a DM on Instagram so I can follow along!