In Europe By Car: What You Need To Know

In Europe By Car: What You Need To Know

Freedom, comfort, confidence – these are three words that can be characterized by auto travels. If, of course, you know in advance about all the possible surprises that wait for drivers on the other side of the border!

We have compiled a short guide for those who will have their first private car trip to Europe. From the rules of the road and safety tips, our Europe travel guide offers useful information to help you plan your upcoming journey.

Are you researching the driving tips for your next European trip? All great road trips start with a plan. Use the following tips as a starting point for your next trip to Europe. Wherever you’ll be traveling, let us help you to create a hassle-free auto travel.


Traveling by car


What to consider when planning a trip by private car to Europe

  1. When planning a route, make sure that your car is suitable for its implementation. For example, owners of SUVs can be difficult to find a parking space and move around the narrow streets of European cities. And small cars, indispensable in megacities, sometimes fail on difficult mountain roads.


  1. Good evaluation of your strength, especially if there is no second driver in the company. Do not drive a long distance (500-700 kilometers per day – maximum, optimally – about 300), schedule stops in advance and think over places for overnight: book a hotel room or find out where you can put a tent.


  1. If you are traveling on several cars, make sure that there is constant communication between the drivers. Experienced travelers claim that the best option – walkie-talkies (just do not forget to charge them) because to communicate by phone in Europe is quite expensive. Agree on what intermediate points you will meet if someone lingers on the road.


  1. Pass inspection and complete the machine with everything you need: spare, emergency stop signs, a first-aid kit and car seat for the child.


  1. Make sure that your car meets the “Euro-4” standard. This is a European environmental standard that regulates the content of harmful substances in the exhaust gases in a car or other vehicle.


  1. If you have a car on nominal numbers, you can cross the border only with ordinary state license plates.


  1. If you intend to travel abroad on a credit car, you need to get permission from the bank for this.


  1. The owner can go abroad by car. The car entry into another country is carried out on the basis of the application of the owner of the vehicle or documents confirming the right to use or dispose of vehicles. If the car is a service car, and you go on a business trip abroad, then, without fail, you will have to stock up with the usual set of documents with the current travel list, the order for a business trip on a business car and a business trip certificate.


Related: Travel from Krakow to Prague


Driving license and insurance

Just be careful if you have rights without a term, which are not now a driving license in European countries. In that case, you just need to replace your rights with the rights of the new sample.

To move by car across Malta, the Netherlands and other countries that have signed only the Geneva Convention, an international driver’s license (IDP) is formally required in addition to the national one. In practice, it is rarely checked, but it is better to arrange it to avoid trouble.

Be sure to buy an insurance policy on the car (“green card”). It operates on the territory of all European countries and is useful in case of an accident to compensate the injured party.

Related: Bike Rental in Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Krakow, Berlin, and Munich

Toll road


Toll roads

When planning the trip, check with the map of the toll roads of the countries you are interested in. In Austria, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, France, the Czech Republic and Switzerland will have to pay for the use of a number of autobahns. In Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Estonia, the fee is charged only for travel on certain sections of roads, bridges, and tunnels.

In Romania, the presence of a vignette (Roviniete) is required regardless of the type of roads, its cost is about € 3 per week. Travel on some bridges, for example, Giurgiu-Rousse on the border with Bulgaria, is paid additionally.

Those who are not in a hurry and want to enjoy the scenery, rather than the number plates of the cars ahead, try to avoid the autobahns and choose free roads. If you decide to follow suit, keep in mind that you will have to strictly adhere to the route. A sign warning that ahead is paid road section is often visible already when you can not turn off the road.

To travel on toll roads in Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, a so-called vignette is needed. Most often it is a sticker that is attached to the windshield on the inside. In some cases, it must specify the car number. You can purchase vignettes at border crossing points (around the clock) or at the gas station. The cost depends on the country (an average of € 10-15 per week), but the penalty for lack of or incorrect use (for example, if you did not glue it in accordance with the instruction and put it on the dashboard) is much more – from € 100.

In Hungary and Romania, there are “electronic vignettes” – payment information is entered in the database, and you receive a check. In this case, you need nothing to be fastened on the glass.


European road


Payment control is made by the employees of the transport inspection and by video surveillance cameras installed along the road.

In Poland, the system is different. Before entering the pay line, you need to get a ticket and keep it until the end of the trip. Leaving this section of the road, you will pay an amount that depends on the type of vehicle and the distance traveled.


Related: How to travel from Prague to Vienna by Private Car and have a Stop in Wachau Valley


Safety regulations

– Nearly all countries forbid using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

– Many European countries require you to have your headlights on anytime the car is running, even in broad daylight. And many require each car to carry a reflective safety vest or kit with a reflecting triangle (typically supplied by the rental company).

– Across Europe, it’s illegal to turn right on a red light, unless a sign or signal specifically authorizes it (most common in Germany).

– In many countries, traffic is monitored by automatic cameras that check car speed, click photos, and send speeders tickets by mail. You should know and follow the area speed limit.

– When you pass other drivers, be bold but careful. On winding, narrow roads, the slower car ahead of you may use turn-signal sign language to indicate when it’s OK to pass. This is used inconsistently, so don’t rely on it.

– Be sure you understand the lane markings — in France a single, solid, white line in the middle of the road means no passing in either direction; in Germany, it’s a double white line.

Please check road rules and safety before your trip here.


Driving in a tunnel in Europe

– First of all, check your fuel level, tune into the traffic radio station and take off your sunglasses

– Switch on your headlights

– Pay attention to traffic lights and other traffic signs

– Keep a good distance from the vehicle in front

– Observe speed limits

– Make a mental note of safety features – emergency exits and phones – as you pass

– In tunnels with two-way traffic, use the nearside carriageway edge for orientation

– Never cross the center line, never make a U-turn or reverse

– Don’t stop, except in an emergency


tunnel in Europe


Fines for violation of traffic rules

Suppose you are traveling through the Czech Republic and decided to try the famous beer, and then get behind the wheel. If you are stopped, you will pay € 100-750. In this country, zero tolerance to alcohol – in the blood of the driver it should not be. In Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia the situation is similar.

In Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Estonia, 0.2 ppm is allowed, in Lithuania – 0.4, in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Croatia, France, Switzerland and in Cyprus – 0.5. The most loyal in this regard are Liechtenstein and Malta with an index of 0.8 ppm. For drivers whose experience is less than two years, often more stringent requirements are applied.

Another common offense is speeding. On autobahns of the majority of the countries, it is authorized to be dispersed to 120-130 km / h, in settlements the admissible speed of 50 km / h, beyond their limits – 80-100 km / h. It is important to remember that sometimes not only the limiting but also the minimum speed is limited – on some roads it is prohibited to move more slowly than 60-70 km / h. The amounts of fines vary widely: in the Czech Republic it is € 40-400, in Poland – € 10-120, in Norway – from € 80.

Remember that in most countries in Europe those who talk on the phone at the wheel or are not fastened (this applies to passengers), as well as those who transport the child without a special car seat will pay fine.


Seat belts and driving with children

The use of seat belts and child restraint systems is mandatory.

Most countries require safety seats for children under age three, and a few — including Ireland and Germany — require booster seats for older kids. In nearly all countries, children under 12 aren’t allowed to ride in the front seat without a booster seat; a few ban kids from the front seat no matter what, and some have front-seat rules for kids up to age 18.

Children under the age of 3 must use an appropriate child restraint system, whether traveling on the front or the rear seat.

Children aged 3 or older and up to 135 cm in height or 12 years of age (whichever they reach first) must also use an appropriate child restraint system, whether traveling on the front or the rear seat.

Children aged 12 or 13 or over 135 cm in height must use an adult seat belt.


driving with children


Also worth paying attention to the following:

  • type of motion. In most countries of Europe it is right-handed, but in Malta, for example, you will have to restructure and get used to driving on the left lane;
  • presence on the route of dangerous areas like mountain “serpentines”;
  • requirements for the presence in the car of an emergency stop sign, a reflective waistcoat, first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher. As a rule, they apply only to residents, but it’s better to have it – who knows what situation may arise on the road.


Parking places

Foreign drivers often come across ignorance of parking rules and are forced to pay a fine. To prevent this from happening, we recommend that you find out about all options and find suitable parking in advance.

Marking in different countries is used the same, and memorizing the basic rules is easy: a yellow zigzag line designates areas where you can not park, white – those where you can leave the car for free from 18:00 to 8:00 and pay for the remaining hours, blue – those , where parking is paid from 8:00 to 18:00, the rest of the time it is only allowed to local residents with the appropriate permissions.


Parking in Europe


All the necessary information (in which days and times you can park, for example) you will find on the signs. Distributed underground parking, the availability of places there usually notifies the board above the entrance. Free parking with a limited stay time is often in the center, near major attractions and major shopping centers.

Park P & R (Park & Ride), located on the outskirts, are also of interest, close to public transport stops. They are free and paid (but even in this case are much cheaper than other parking lots) and, using them, you get tickets for public transport for free or at a discount. The idea is to unload the center and reduce the possibility of congestion on the roads.

Find parking of any type in most large cities you will help specialized sites like

Fines for incorrect parking are quite high: in the Czech Republic, for example, you will have to pay from € 40 to € 80 (or € 200-400 if you left the car in place for disabled people), in the Netherlands – from € 40. A weighty argument in favor of having to study in advance the legislation of the countries through which you plan to travel.

Related: Travel from Munich to Prague


With these helpful European driving guides, you’ll always find yourself perfectly placed to explore the continent and estimate travel time.

If you are looking forward to having a wonderful journey from one city to another, be sure that traveling in a private car, using our service, is an ideal solution for you.

We craft exceptional driving itineraries and strive to make driving in Europe simple, safe and enjoyable.

Observe the rules and travel with pleasure!


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