European Car Hire

By: J Tillotson

It's been many years now since the Channel Tunnel was built, yet the novelty of driving to Europe hasn't worn off for many of us. But not everyone wants to drive halfway across Britain to keep on driving in a different country, which is where car hire firms come in useful. Hiring a car abroad is a great way of exploring a foreign country without being hassled by other tourists or holiday reps. This is a brief guide to some of the more popular driving destinations throughout Europe.

Austria
Mozart's birthplace offers a variety of landscapes from lush forests to warm sandy beaches and from snow-topped mountains to crystal clear lakes. The major towns and cities are all linked by an extensive road network. Vienna is the place to go if you want to absorb the local culture, and is an ideal starting point on your tour of Austria. Find the car hire bureau and be off!

From Vienna head south towards the Danube River Valley and check out the impressive castles, fortresses and medieval atmosphere. For classical music fans, Mozart was born in this region, in the town of Salzburg, and tourists can visit the house he was born in. Heading west brings you to the skiing region of Austria, and the Stubai Glacier where the Olympic Winter Games have been held. Going the other way, to the east, are the salt mines which can be explored with the assistance of tour guides. Not for the claustrophobic!

Belgium
The beautiful country of Belgium could be an advertisement for car hire. Wide open roads, rolling countryside and picturesque towns tucked away just begging to be discovered all make for an ideal setting to go cruising around at your own pace. Beginning in Brussels, the capital of Belgium - and indeed of Europe itself - head west to Bruges and feast your eyes on one of the best-preserved medieval cities on the continent. For a great souvenir, head to any of the lace-making shops and see skilled craftsmen creating beautiful pieces of art with a deftness that seems like magic.

In the north of Belgium - known as Flanders - Flemish and Dutch is spoken, and most locals will also speak excellent English too. If you head further south, to Wallonia, you'll encounter more French-speaking residents, in an area steeped in history. Fairy-tale castles, deep valleys and romantic country hotels add to the stunning scenery, and a winter visit to Wallonia wouldn't be complete without a trip to Liege and the Christmas Market. If you prefer the Flanders district, Ostend also runs a Christmas Market, which in full swing looks like something from a Christmas card.

Car hire is relatively cheap in Europe, and certain firms may let you drop off in a different place to your pick-up point. This is ideal if you don't plan on staying in one place for the whole of your trip. Check with the rental firm before booking.

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