When foreigners think of driving in Europe, they tend to picture ancient cities with cramped and crowded streets. The reality, however, is far more breath taking.

Europe is home to a mix of charming countryside, sweeping vistas and grand cities. With so much to see, the best way to take in Europe is from the seat of a comfortable, and preferably powerful, car. These are some of the best driving destinations in Europe, based on beauty and road quality.

The Black Forest, GermanyBlack Forest

Germany’s Black Forest is an area steeped in history. It served as the setting for many of Grimms’ Fairy Tails and is still home to quaint villages that seem removed from time. The forest itself is a mixture of black firs, meadows and snow-capped mountains in a region famed for its cuckoo clocks and tourism.

The roads of the Black Forest travel down river valleys and along mountainsides, offering both stunning views and magical backdrops straight from a children’s story. Jump in the BMW and head down the Hochstraße, which winds some 100 kilometres past many villages and inns along the way.

Amalfi Coast, Italy Amalfi

Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a dense tangle of cliffs and the houses that perch along them, overlooking the glittering Gulf of Salerno. The region smells faintly of the many lemon trees lining the roads, which twist and turn perilously over staggering drops. The risks of dodging buses and other tourists along the Amalfi Drive, which dates back to the Roman Era, are well worth the experience, but public transportation is a more relaxing experience for uncertain drivers.

Salzburg, AustriaSalzburg

Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning its historical centre and atmosphere has been preserved for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike. Nestled among the Alps, it is a popular skiing destination, as well as the birthplace of famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and home to many fine examples of Baroque architecture. Much of “The Sound of Music” was filmed in and around Salzburg.

The stunning Grossglockner High Alpine Road begins in Salzburg and is a twisting route that takes you past the Pasterze Glacier and Groblockner, Austria’s biggest mountain.

Bergen to Oslo, NorwayOslo

The rail line from Oslo to Bergen is one of the most popular in Europe, but taking the road can be just as rewarding. The drive lasts approximately seven hours of meandering through lush mountains, flowing waterfalls and snowy peaks. Although it can be done quickly in one continuous drive, it is better to take things slowly and stop in at the many villages along the way to absorb the scenery.

La Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Spain

Translating to “the route of the white villages,” la ruta de los pueblos blancos is a drive through the Cadiz province of Spain. The towns have gained their distinctive name because of the lime coating their walls to protect inhabitants from the hot sun. Standing out against the beautiful Spanish countryside, these former frontier outposts against the Moors are a step back in time to an older Spain. Many of the streets are so narrow that large cars have trouble driving down them, but exploring the plazas and marketplaces are worth the effort of finding a parking space.