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The best countries in Europe for an EV road trip (and what to see when you’re there)

February 06, 2020 by

The increasing sales figures for electric cars also show that the transportation being used to reach those destinations is more and more likely to be an altogether more eco-friendly option.  If you already own or are thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) ahead of your next road trip, you may also find yourself thinking about which drivable destination could be best to visit. While there are countless benefits to holidaying in an EV, there are additional issues to consider, such as how likely you are to find charging spots – and that’s before you’ve considered which country actually has the most to offer in terms of sights to see and scenery to soak up. 

To find out for certain, we’ve done our research and crunched the numbers, to find out for sure which country in Europe is best for an EV road trip. 

The Clever Bit

To make our research as authoritative (and fancy) as possible, we created an EV Holiday Index Score for each drivable country in Europe (so unfortunately for them that means we’re not including Cyprus, Iceland or Malta). This score was made up of an ‘EV Factor’ and a ‘Tourism Factor’. 

The EV Factor focused on the ease of using an EV vehicle in the country, and included four components: 

  • EV ownership levels
  • Density of fast chargers (by area and population)
  • Density of all chargers (by area and population)
  • Highway network

The Tourism Factor concentrated on the attractiveness of the country to visitors, and included three components:

  • Density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
  • Popularity with tourists
  • Coverage of national parks

These factors generated a score out of 20 for each destination. We ordered these and figured out which countries came out on top. 

The Best European Countries for an Electric Vehicle Holiday 

And the results of our research were: 

  1. Norway – 10.6
  2. Netherlands – 9.5 
  3. Switzerland – 5.5
  4. Belgium – 5.5
  5. Denmark – 4.4
  6. United Kingdom – 4.3
  7. Croatia – 4.1
  8. Austria – 3.9
  9. Germany – 3.9
  10. Slovenia – 3.8
  11. France – 3.3
  12. Portugal – 3.2
  13. Spain – 3.1
  14. Italy – 2.7
  15. Slovakia – 2.4
  16. Greece – 2.4
  17. Estonia – 2.3
  18. Czech Republic – 2.2
  19. Hungary – 2.0
  20. Ireland – 1.7
  21. Sweden – 1.7
  22. Bulgaria – 1.1
  23. Finland – 1.1
  24. Lithuania – 1.1
  25. Latvia – 0.9
  26. Poland – 0.8
  27. Romania – 0.5

So, congratulations to Norway for being the country that perfectly blends beauty and tourism prowess with a travel system that works well for drivers of electric vehicles. We’ll go into more detail about how and why the top 10 of this list are so great for flight-free EV holidays a little later in the article, but in the meantime, we’d like to delve a little deeper into the EV element of this list. 

Which European Country has the most Electric Car Chargers? 

We know from a survey we ran last year, that 1/3 of people’s main concern about EVs is the risk of getting stranded without any power, making regular charging points a key issue for an EV road trip. 

So, from our research, we looked specifically at which countries offer the most charging points, specifically fast chargers. Fast chargers enable EV drivers to charge up and be back on the road quickly, rather than having to wait around in one place for a long time to power up; an ideal option when you’re keen to get on and explore. 

When looking at the number of fast charging points, the top 10 European countries were: 

  1. Germany – 5,074 fast chargers
  2. United Kingdom – 4,008 fast chargers
  3. Norway – 3,426 fast chargers
  4. France – 1,975 fast chargers
  5. Spain – 1,242 fast chargers
  6. Netherlands – 1,069 fast chargers
  7. Sweden – 1,023 fast chargers
  8. Switzerland – 846 fast chargers
  9. Italy – 833 fast chargers
  10. Austria – 575 fast chargers

We already knew the UK would rank highly – we have more charging points than petrol stations here. We’ve even put together a map of all the charging points across the UK for reference. But Germany’s top position for these stats shows that they’re doing even more to provide for EV drivers. 

What to see on a European EV road trip

So we know which countries are the best for a flight-free EV holiday and we also know which can provide the most charging options to keep you powered up. But what else is it that makes these countries so fantastic for a road trip? 

We’ve taken a look at the top three countries with the highest EV Holiday Index Score to show you why they’re such fantastic tourist destinations, as well as some ideas for road trips you could take yourself. 

1. Norway

Home to incredible landscapes featuring coastal fjords, icy glaciers and snow-peaked mountains, Norway also offers historic, cultural and metropolitan cities such as Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø. A drive from north to south would take you on an Arctic adventure surrounded by some of the world’s most spectacular nature and (if you’re lucky) a backdrop of the Northern Lights illuminating the sky. 

The breath-taking nature makes it almost impossible to have a bad road trip, although its vast size means it’s worth devoting plenty of time to exploring this stunning country. There’s so much to see in all areas, so we’ve pulled together a road trip which explores some of the highlights of the south – there’s plenty to see in the north, so still worth investigating to see the Northern Lights if you have time. 

Starting in Oslo take a few days to explore and soak up the turquoise fjords, colourful architecture and fascinating museums. From there head south-west to the charming seaside town of Sandefjord, which is packed to the brim with Viking history, and then head onwards along the coast to Risor with its quaint wooden buildings and pretty harbour. Cars aren’t allowed on the picturesque island of Kristiansand, but it’s worth a day trip to explore. Via Lindesnes Lighthouse (the country’s southernmost point) you can then head on to Stavanger to enjoy some culture (of course making many scenic stops along the way). If you’re keen for some action and adventure, from here you can enjoy the hike to photogenic Pulpit Rock and enjoy a boat trip along rugged Lysefjord. From here you can work your way back to Oslo while exploring some of Norway’s best ski areas, the Telemark Canal and the lovely cities of Kongsberg and Drammen, all in the county of Telemark. 

Depending on your timings, this round trip should take around a week, but could be expanded to head north to Bergen and the Hardangervidda National Park as well. 

2. Netherlands

The comparatively small country of The Netherlands is easy to experience in a relatively short amount of time. Its flat nature means you can drive for miles spotting windmills, tulips and visiting quaint towns and bustling cities without interruption. While the canals and museums of its capital Amsterdam draw the biggest crowds, nature lovers can enjoy exploring vast National Parks like Hoge Veluwe while foodies can feast on world-famous cheese in Edam. 

The Netherlands is a beautiful country brimming with history, architecture, landscapes, and nightlife. As it’s possible to see the majority of the sites in The Netherlands on a shorter timescale, we’ve put together a trip that begins in the north and travels south past various coastal cities, such as Lelystad and Almere, and over the beautiful Hollandse bridge. From there, we’ve mapped out various must-see southern cities including the Netherland’s most popular destination, Amsterdam. 

Start off in Groningen, where you can explore beautiful gardens, architecture, and take in the renowned Groninger Museum. From there head south, stopping at various beautiful landscapes on the way to Amsterdam and head to the famed Anne Frank house and enjoy some stand-up comedy in the open-air theatre in Vondelpark. A short drive away you’ll find Zaandam, mostly known for the quaint and picturesque Zaanse Schans, with its authentic wooden architecture and windmills. Here you can also enjoy a boat tour or delicious pancakes. 

Next up is Utrecht, which boasts an attractive inner canal wharf system and various cathedrals. From there, you can travel towards the authentic city of Leiden, where you can see tree-linked canals dotted with longstanding windmills and beautiful parks. Leiden is a great place to leave the car for a while and take a boat ride down one of the lovely canals.  

The entire trip should take around 5-7 days, depending on how long you spend at each location. In addition, you could extend the trip by heading further south to Rotterdam or visit the “Royal city by the Sea” known as The Hague. 

3. Switzerland

Home to the high peaks of the Alps, and bordered on all sides by Italy, France, Austria and Germany, Switzerland makes a great stop on a longer European road trip, or offers an abundance of fantastic sights and attractions to make it worthy of its own holiday. Home to Europe’s largest waterfall (the Rhine Falls), architecture ranging from the quaint through to mighty chateaus, any visitor to the country will spend their entire trip marveling at the spectacular scenery of soaring mountains and vast lakes. 

We’ve mapped out a picturesque road trip route, which allows you to see Switzerland’s iconic landscapes, mountains, and lakes, whilst stopping at beautiful historic towns and cities on the way. Our road trip runs through the centre of the country, from west to east, allowing you to truly get a feel for Switzerland’s atmosphere, culture, and natural beauty.

Start off by exploring the beautiful old town in Bern and exploring the capital city’s cathedral The Bern Minister and renowned clock tower named Zytglogge. The next stop is the medieval town of Gruyères which is surrounded by lush countryside. The town is best known for its 13th century castle, so be sure to spend time taking a tour. Nearby you can also enjoy sledding, mountain skiing and hiking on Moléson mountain. From here drive through Jaunpass mountain pass and you’ll come across a beautiful, historic village called Lauterbrunnen. You can take a break from driving at this point and take a train up to Jungfaucjoch, which is Europe’s highest train station situated between two mountains, Mount Jungfrau and Mount Mönch. This is one of the most breath-taking views in Europe, so well worth exploring. 

Next, it’s onto Lucerne, which is famous for its stunning bridges and Lion monument which is carved from rock. Lucerne is a popular destination as it offers both snow-capped mountains and Lake Lucerne. From there, you can head to Landquart which is near The Tamina river, where you can enjoy canyoning, hiking and hot springs. 

In total, this trip should take 5-7 days. You could extend this by driving onto Val Mustair or spending a few more days in the mountains enjoying snow sports. 

EV road trips in the UK 

With half-term fast approaching, we thought it would be useful to provide some EV road trips for those who want to travel within the UK.

1. England

England makes up the largest mass of land in the UK, and it’s capital London is a leading centre for business, culture and tourism, making it one of the best cities to visit in the world. 

However, we’ve chosen to head north to The Lake District, bustling with picturesque landscapes, majestic mountains, lakes and quaint towns. 

Starting off in Kendal, you can visit various museums and galleries, along with Kendal Castle which originates from the 12th century. You can also pick up a slice of famous Kendal mint cake whilst there, perfect for a car snack to keep the energy up en route. Head north and you’ll venture across Windermere where you can take a stroll along the Windermere Jetty or enjoy the Museum of Boards. If you’re taking children, you can head to Brockhole, which is an adventure park with a variety of activities available for the whole family. 

From there, head to Keswick, stopping at Ambleside and Grasmere en route. Ambleside features a stunning 70 ft waterfall and provides amazing hikes for those interested. Grasmere was home to William Wordsworth, and his house there, Dove Cottage, has been transformed into a historic museum which you can check out on your way. Then you’ll arrive at Keswick, where you can visit the Derwent Pencil Museum, head to the Puzzling Place to see optical illusions or visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle, an ancient monument built in 3000 BC. 

Final stops on this road trip are Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass. On your way there you can stop at Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, to take in panoramic views of the Lake District. 

This road trip should take 2-3 days to complete, although you can always extend the trip by hiking various mountains or enjoying water sports on the nearby lakes. 

2. Wales

With so much beautiful landscape to explore and plenty of authentic cultural cities to visit, we decided to create a road trip that runs alongside the Welsh coast from south to north, allowing you to take in the beautiful seaside locations whilst stopping at culturally rich towns and cities. 

Beginning in Cardiff, take a couple of days to soak up the capital and Wales’ largest city. You can enjoy Cardiff Castle, Castle Coch and various museums. The next stop is the Gower Peninsular, where you can explore the beautiful beaches, most of which are backdropped by stunning mountains. In fact, Gower is so picturesque, it was the first place in the UK to be named an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

From there, head north to Pembrokeshire where you can visit the fortress where Henry VII was born known as Pembroke Castle. You can also visit Oakwood theme park or Folly Farm adventure park, a thrilling adventure for the whole family. Continue north to Machynlleth and take in the beauty of Ynys Hir wildlife reserve (you can also enjoy a falconry experience nearby). Macynlleth is a charming, quaint town with a museum, centre for alternative technology and town clock which was built in 1874. 

The it’s on to your final destination – Conwy. Conwy is a town of extremes, as it offers a massive 13th-century fortress to explore, and is also home to the smallest house in the UK. There’s plenty of wonderful architecture and river Conwy to enjoy. 

This road trip should take about 10-14 days, depending on how long you spend at each location. 

3. Scotland

There are so many amazing locations to visit in Scotland that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Whether you’re interested in visiting major cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, or sites where Harry Potter was filmed, Scotland has something for everyone. 

Begin in Glasgow and take in the culture of one of Scotland’s biggest cities, home to various museums and the medieval Glasgow Cathedral. Next, head north to Loch Lomond and take in the beauty of Trossachs National Park. Wild camping isn’t allowed in the national park, so be wary of where you park if you’re sleeping in your vehicle overnight.

From there, continue north to Oban, which has a quaint harbour and a detour to Devil’s Pulpit which is a hidden waterfall between the rocks. Next, travel to Mallaig and take in various Harry Potter filming locations on the way, which will keep the kids happy if they’re in tow! You can also visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct which the Hogwarts Express travels on and Loch Shiel, the lake featured in the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Loch Eilt, which is home to Dumbledore’s grave. 

Continuing the adventure, next up is Loch Ness, famous for the Loch Ness Monster if you believe in such things? Heading right up to the most northern part of the UK, you can see the iconic Duncansby Stacks, beautiful rock formations in the sea, some of which are over 60m high. 

From there, head south to Aviemore national park, where you can walk through woodland estates or enjoy picnics near tranquil lakes. Finally, finish off your journey in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. Here you can see castles, enjoy underground ghost tours as well as refuelling at a vast array of award-winning bars and restaurants. 

Depending on timings, this road trip should take roughly 10 days.