The background: From the sky to a four wheeled drive

After the pandemic, the world began to gradually open again, which meant holidays were back on the menu. However, it hasn’t been without headlines and frustration.

Everywhere you looked, there was travel chaos, with Bankrate finding that 79% of air travellers in 2022 had encountered at least one problem affecting their travels.

Given the circumstances, we sat back and thought, how could we help? Well, by encouraging you to trade the stress of flying for the thrill of venturing through Europe on four wheels.

If you’ve ever wondered where the best places to put the pedal to the metal are, then look no further, as we’ve put together the ultimate guide to European road trips that’ll appeal to adventurers and thrill seekers alike.

What did we do?

To help you plan your adventure, we’ve analysed thousands of data points to create one all-encompassing travel index. We’ve categorised this data under three specific categories that are broken down below:

The purpose of this category is to discover which EU country performs the best from an environmental standpoint. To come to this conclusion, we factored in countries’ rankings across air pollution, CO2 emissions, Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and the number of UNESCO world heritage sites.

This category highlights which EU countries have the safest roads and most campsites available to travellers. This data takes into consideration the number of campsites per 10,000km, driving incidents per 100k people, and driving fatalities per million for each country.

We wanted to explore which EU countries offered the most choice for people who were seeking an adventure on their road trip. The index for this category is based on TripAdvisor metrics, including highest average reviews, activities per 1,000km and activities per 100k people.

Based on this, we’ll reveal the best performing EU nations as well as the crème de la crème of destinations for the most memorable adventure-themed road trip.

Best European destination for an adventure road trip?

Offering everything from stunning scenery and low emissions to impressive ancient heritage sites and a plethora of water sports, it’s no surprise to see Malta coming out on top of our rankings.

Malta earns the crown as the best destination to visit on any European road trip by placing the highest on our index with a ranking of 100, topping second place France by 24.75 points. Malta achieved a top 10 ranking in the environmental and adventure categories, with its highest ranking coming in the adventure sports category. 



Which country in Europe has the highest rated offering for lovers of extreme sports?

When it comes to extreme sports, Malta comes out as the clear winner for adrenaline junkies with a ranking of 98.10. This rating is driven by its smaller road network and population, which sees it achieving the highest average score of 100 for all TripAdvisor activities, with Malta offering 28 activities per 1,000km.

Portugal isn’t far behind with its impressive 97.35 average score for activities per 1,000km, the second highest average for this category. Ireland also performs well with adventure activities per 100k people, with an average of 80.39.

In terms of what highly rated sports these countries offer, when visiting Malta, you can find yourself experiencing the thrill of quad biking, or if you aren’t afraid of getting wet, there’s parasailing and the futuristic fun that flyboarding can bring.

In Portugal, there’s plenty of options too, as you can feel the adrenaline rush of a tandem skydive or the exploration a mountain excursion can offer. Whereas activities in Ireland bring a more rustic and rugged experience, with clay pigeon shooting and axe throwing.

As you can see, these countries have plenty to offer for those who love highly rated extreme sports, and they will undoubtedly make your ultimate road trip unforgettable.

Malta (data from Tripadvisor)


Our analysis began by collecting useable data from the following sources with all data being correct as of September 2022:

  • TripAdvisor
  • EEA
  • Yale EPI
  • OP Europa
  • Europa Camping’s
  • EC Europa

After collecting the data, the metrics e.g., air pollution, were categorised by Environment, Road Safety/Campsite Availability and Adventure. The countries were then ranked based on the combination of metrics and the lower the ranking, the worse the country performed in that category.

The data was then standardised to create a weighted index between 50 and 100 which highlights EU countries’ overall performance, with 50 being the worst and 100 being the best.

The following EU countries were not included due to a lack of comparable data: Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, North Macedonia, San Marino, Switzerland, Iceland, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.