Take a seat in a Seat and head out on great European roads

Spanish automaker offers 10 car journeys on uncrowded routes

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Troll's Path
'The Troll's Path' in Norway features 18 hairpin turns | Seat photos

Spanish car company Seat suggests “the post-Coronavirus summer is going to be different: car journeys through uncrowded areas will take precedence over air travel to tourist resort destinations.” With that in mind, the Volkswagen subsidiary offers up a list of 10 driving route “through the most striking locations in Europe… from the Picos de Europa in Spain to the Trolls’ Path in Norway.”

“With reduced mobility and air travel seen as a major risk of infection, traveling by car and local tourism to less crowded areas are expected to prevail,” the company said in its news release. “That’s why Seat has selected 10 driving routes around some of the most extraordinary areas of Europe. Alone, with a partner, with family or with friends, these routes guarantee an unforgettable experience on wheels while observing the rules of social distancing.”

Following are Seat’s suggestions, including what it thinks might be the ideal vehicle to drive on each route:

Spain: The Limestone landscape

Picos de Europa National Park

The Picos de Europa National Park, between the communities of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León in Spain, is a place of special natural interest all over the world. High, jagged peaks, crystal-clear lakes and different shades of green are the distinctive features of this earthly paradise. 

We suggest starting the route in Riaño and driving to the Covadonga Lakes, passing through Soto de Sajambre and Cangas de Onís, to scroll to Potes and visit the three communities. Among its most striking attractions are the Leonese Fjords, the Beyos Gorge and several lookouts. 

This is an ideal trip through nature for the family, which is why the Seat Tarraco, with its versatility and up to seven seats, is the most suitable vehicle.

Germany: Picturesque scenery and culture

Neuschwanstein Castle is among the highlights of Germany’s Romantic Road

The Romantische Strasse (“Romantic Road”) in Germany is one of the most charming places in Europe to visit and drive. The rich landscape, monuments and medieval castles of its villages are characteristic of this 460-kilometer route which runs from Füssen on the southern border of Germany with Austria to Würzburg between Frankfurt and Nuremberg. 

The entire route is indicated with brown roadsigns, making it easy to reach any of the 29 towns or villages that are found on the Romantische Strasse. 

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The SEAT Arona, because of its adaptability, is a versatile option when it comes to choosing a car to drive the many kilometers of asphalt from city to city.

Portugal: By road from north to south

Portugal has its own version of Route 66, Estrada Nacional 2

Portugal has one of the longest roads in the world, the Estrada Nacional 2. It’s 738 kilometers long and crosses the country from north to south, passing through 11 districts, 8 provinces, 4 mountain ranges, 11 rivers and 32 municipalities, starting in Chaves and ending in Faro. 

Along the way, hot springs, sanctuaries, castles and lookouts liven up a grey asphalt route that many people nickname “the Portuguese Route 66.” 

Driving pleasure, comfort, and safety on a road like this don’t have to be at odds; equipped with up to 190 horsepower and a large and spacious interior, the Ateca perfectly combines these qualities.

United Kingdom: From saddle to surfboard

Stonehenge

In the UK, a great option for a car journey starts in Horsham, a market town in the south of England famous for being a horse trading post in the Middle Ages. Once you have seen its castle, the road continues through the stunning South Downs National Park and on to Winchester, where you can visit its grand cathedral and the Great Hall, where a replica of King Arthur’s round table is hung on the walls. 

From there, the well-known A303 passes the imposing megalithic monument of Stonehenge and continues through Devon to the Cornish town of Newquay. Located in the far west of England, the sea merges with the land and surfing is the most popular sport. 

If you want to give it a go, the Seat Tarraco roof rack is the ideal place to carry your boards, and if you prefer other water sports, you can carry what you need in its up-to-760-liter boot.

Italy: The sea is your travel companion

Puglia

One of the most scenic, unfamiliar roads in the country runs through Puglia in the heel of Italy, the SP 81, a 47-kilometer coastal road from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca on the Adriatic coast. 

In Otranto you can see the Castello Aragonese, the cathedral and the Basilica di San Pietro and then continue along the coast past the lighthouse of Punta Palascia (the most eastern point of Italy), Porto Badisco and its turquoise waters, the centuries-old olive trees of Santa Cesarea Terme and the Zinzulusa de Castro grotto. 

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When you arrive at Santa Maria de Leuca, in the south of Italy’s heel, you will find a lighthouse and the Basilica of the Madonna di Finibus Terrae (“the end of the earth”), where the sea and the sky meet. 

The Seat Ibiza is the ultimate vehicle for this typically Mediterranean journey.

Switzerland: Cozy, rural atmosphere

A road near the Swiss capital of Bern

A good way to get around in Switzerland is by car, as you can easily take a break to enjoy the beautiful landscapes whenever you want. 

Starting from the capital, Bern, after visiting its city center surrounded by the waters of the Aar River, you can reach the green valley of Grindelwald, an alpine landscape with numerous trails and lookouts. 

From here, passing through Interlaken, a district that takes its name from the two lakes that surround it, you arrive at Lucerne, where you will find the Spreuerbrücke, a centuries-old wooden bridge, the Lion Monument, carved in marble, and the fascinating Transport Museum. 

Finally, the route ends in the small town of Stein am Rhein, with its medieval appeal, past the Rhine Falls. 

Its adaptability to both urban environments and more mountainous landscapes makes the Seat Ateca the perfect choice.

France: Wonders of water and sand 

Millau viaduct

In French Occitania, the route runs between the Lozère region and l’Aveyron. Leaving the town of Ispagnac and its 14th century bridge, we arrive at the medieval town of Gorges-du-Tarn-Causses, a mix of nature and history, and then move on to La Malène and the spectacular zigzagging and steep road from which you can see the Tarn river valley. 

Massegros-Causses-Gorges and Le Rozier are perfect spots to soak in their gorges. Finally, on the Millau viaduct you can enjoy an exceptional sunset. 

With the Seat Tarraco FR, sportsmanship and family space are not at odds, so adapting to the environment will not be difficult.  

Croatia: World Heritage sites

Piltvice National Park

Starting in Varazdin, also known as “little Vienna” for its Baroque and Rococo buildings, drive a short distance south to the current capital, Zagreb, a combination of tradition and modernity. 

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Continuing south is the Plitvice National Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its 16 lakes linked by waterfalls. 

Finally, the route ends in Sibenik, the city of fortresses, with its maze-like streets and two main attractions: the Cathedral of St. James and the Fort of St. Nicholas, two more World Heritage Sites. 

The best option for driving in a protected environment like this is the mild-hybrid version of the new Leon, which delivers up to 150 horsepower with reduced emissions figures.

Romania: Curves, green landscapes and adrenaline

Poineari Castle

The Transfăgărășan motorway (DN7C) in Romania, besides having a name that is impossible to pronounce, has 90 kilometers of curves and in some sections rises to an altitude of more than 2,000 meters. 

Summer is the best time to drive on it, as it can be snow covered until the middle of June. 

Leaving the city of Sibiu, a cultural reference with no fewer than 12 museums, the winding road passes by the Balea lake and waterfall. A few kilometers further south are Lake Vidraru and the Poineari Castle, which belonged to the real Vlad Tepes (on whom Bram Stoker’s character Dracula is based). 

At the end of the route we reach Curtea de Arges, one of the oldest cities in the country, with a uniquely shaped monastery set in a leafy garden. 

The new Leon’s DCC Slider adaptive chassis control system, which automatically adjusts the suspension, is the right vehicle for this high-altitude route.

Norway: The Troll’s Road

Fjords in Norway

Trollstigen (or the Trolls’ Path), is a 106 kilometer road that runs through western Norway, snaking over steep slopes, jagged hillsides, waterfalls and green valleys. 

Due to the complicated weather conditions in the region, it is only possible to drive on it in the summer months. 

With 18 hairpin bends, it enters the Norwegian fjords and has a panoramic lookout at its highest point. 

The new Leon Sportstourer, with its 4-Drive all-wheel drive, is the perfect car when it comes to adapting to the twists and turns of the road.

While Seat vehicles are not sold in the U.S., they likely can be rented upon arrival in Europe. For information about the brand and its vehicles, visit the Seat website.

Spanish automaker Seat produces not only vehicles such as the Ateca (above) but also its Mo range of electric scooters (below)


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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. Drove up to St Moritz from Lake Como. You could look down at the hairpins below . Only problem my new MINI Cooper S was back home, had a rental, and my sister in law was in the back seat. I scared her to death driving down to Cinq terre Italy the year before.

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