You might think of road trips and something uniquely American: the stuff of childhood fantasy that is widely considered a rite of passage into adulthood in the spirit of Kerouac or Steinberg among North Americans.

But with so many fascinating places within such easy reach of each other, a great system of well-maintained highways and a common currency across much of the continent, Europe may in fact be one of the best places to go road tripping.

Here are five alternative road trips in Europe with a gay twist to consider taking in 2017.

The Greek Mainland

Best known for its island life, Greece has a lot to offer on its mainland too that often gets overlooked. Starting out in Athens, home to a bustling gay scene and a growing annual pride event, drive down to the Peloponnese to visit the fortress at Kórinthos and the legendary city of Mycenae, home to some heroes of Homer’s work, some of whom were later used to symbolise homosexual desire.

From there, loop back to Athens via the historic ruined cities of Olympia and Delphi to see some more of how the ancient Greeks lived.

Delphi

Southern France into Northern Spain

Start off in Bordeaux, France, famous for its wine, and with a wide range of gay life available. From there, drive south to Biarritz and take in some of the glamour of this luxurious seaside retreat before crossing the boarder to Spain just after Saint-Jean-de-Luz and on to San Sebastián. Enjoy the diverse food and watersport offerings of this costal city, especially taking advantage of the surfing possibilities. End up in Bilbao for a bit of culture (including a compulsory visit to the Guggenheim Museum) and gay life.

Route One, Iceland

Fewer places are better suited to road trips than Iceland. With some of the most unique, varied and surreal scenery in the world, undoubtedly the best way to get around this island nation is by car. The Route One, which encircles the island and goes by highlights such as Thingvellir near the capital, the location of the world’s first parliament, Jökursárlón Glacier Lagoon in the south and numerous waterfalls and geysers in the north. Once you find yourself back in Reykavík at the end of the loop, make sure to check out this small city’s cute gay scene, with a few bars, hotels and other businesses aimed at gay clientele.

Fjaðrárgljúfur

The Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Having just introduced marriage equality last year, Ireland has proved itself to be a gay friendly destination. And with some stunning scenery, it begs to be explored by road, perhaps even by motorbike if you’re feeling adventurous! The Ring of Kerry, which encircles the Ivenagh peninsula in the South West of the island, boasts some of the most impressive coastal roads in the country. Once you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, head to nearby Cork for some city life, with highlights of the gay scene including Chambers Bar, a popular late night club, as well as Mykonos Sauna for some steamy fun.

Romantische Strasse, Germany

There’s nothing much gayer than Neuschwanstein Castle, built by (probably) gay monarch, Ludwig II of Bavaria, as a tribute to his crush, Richard Wagner. Visit this at the start of your roadtrip from Füssen in the far south of Germany along the Romantische Strasse up to Würzburg in the centre of the country. Along the way, you’ll pass through many picturesque medieval villages including Dinkelsbühl, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bad Mergentheim and Tauberbischofsheim.

Neuschwanstein

Title image: Harquail