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Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Posted
3 AUGUST 2023
6 min read
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Best European cities to drive in as a tourist

While you can drive in most European countries with a valid UK driving licence, the thought of taking your car out onto unknown roads can seem daunting.

To put your mind at ease, we’ve looked at a number of the most popular cities in Europe to determine which are likely to cause the least amount of stress behind the wheel. We considered metrics that impacted driving ability, safety and cost, including traffic inefficiency, number of car parks, car density, road quality, road accidents and cost of petrol.

Rank City Country Traffic Inefficiency Score

Gasoline

(1 litre) (£)

Road Quality Road Accidents Involving Injuries (% Change from 2016-2021) Number of Car Parks Per 100,000 People Car Density
1 Prague Czech Republic 77.50 £1.38 3.9 -18% 168 569
2 Valencia Spain 87.10 £1.40 5.7 n/a 30 526
3 Vienna Austria 60.10 £1.43 6.0 -16% 36 574
4 Barcelona Spain 108.30 £1.56 5.7 n/a 65 526
5 Sofia Bulgaria 100.80 £1.18 3.4 -19% 4 412
6 Madrid Spain 123.00 £1.40 5.7 n/a 27 526
7 Birmingham United Kingdom 130.06 £1.58 4.9 -29% 60 476
8 Stockholm Sweden 114.50 £1.56 5.3 -15% 81 479
9 Bucharest Romania 150.30 £1.20 3.0 n/a 49 398
10 Krakow Poland 81.95 £1.31 4.3 -35% 24 678
11 Warsaw Poland 107.80 £1.31 4.3 -35% 39 678
12 Copenhagen Denmark 112.20 £1.68 5.6 n/a 22 476
13 Budapest Hungary 139.00 £1.43 4.0 -13% 42 414
14 Riga Latvia 125.20 £1.50 3.6 -14% 57 403
15 Munich Germany 112.70 £1.58 5.3 -19% 45 583
16 Liverpool United Kingdom 215.67 £1.56 4.9 -29% 37 476
17 Berlin Germany 112.20 £1.57 5.3 -19% 22 583
18 Lodz Poland 165.51 £1.34 4.3 -35% 24 678
19 Paris France 150.10 £1.68 5.4 -8% 124 568
20 Cologne Germany 159.63 £1.67 5.3 -19% 83 583
21 Milan Italy 130.00 £1.57 4.4 -18% 112 673
22 Hamburg Germany 137.60 £1.63 5.3 -19% 24 583
23 London United Kingdom 197.70 £1.71 4.9 -29% 17 476
24 Marseille France 112.38 £1.61 5.4 -8% 28 568
25 Brussels Belgium 182.30 £1.58 4.4 -18% 49 511
26 Turin Italy 103.00 £1.62 4.4 -18% 55 673
27 Dublin Ireland 185.50 £1.45 4.4 -2% 9 460
28 Belgrade Serbia 134.80 £1.34 3.5 -7% 11 n/a
29 Rome Italy 178.90 £1.53 4.4 -18% 61 673
30 Naples Italy 210.03 £1.67 4.4 -18% 64 673

Which cities in Europe are the best to drive in as a tourist?

Out of the 30 cities we researched, Prague, Czech Republic, came out on top. The city’s traffic inefficiency (77.50) made it the best place for tourists to drive in. Our research also showed Prague to have the highest number of car parks per 100,000 people (168), so you won't have to drive in circles trying to find a place to park before exploring the historical capital.

Valencia, Spain, was revealed to be the second-best city to drive in as a tourist. This is partly due to the high quality of the roads, boasting an overall rated score of 5.7/7.0.

With Vienna, Austria, seeing the lowest levels of traffic inefficiency (60.10), the city truly earned its place in third. Austrian roads appear to be some of the best to drive on as the city earned the highest road quality score (6.0/7.0).

Barcelona, Spain, was another city to score highly when it came to the quality of its roads (5.7/7.0), tying with Valencia as second-best.

Among the group of European cities, Sofia, Bulgaria, has the second lowest rate of cars per 1,000 inhabitants (412). This city will be one of the best to drive in, especially if you want time to get used to the roads without the stress of local drivers.

Which cities in Europe are the worst to drive in as a tourist?

Our research revealed Naples, Italy, to be the worst city to drive in as a tourist. Among the European destinations analysed, this city received the second-worst score for traffic inefficiency (210.03). With high chances of getting caught in traffic, you’ll need to think about how much petrol your car consumes. At £1.67 per litre, the price of petrol will push you further from an affordable trip.

Rome, Italy was another Italian city that found its way to the top of the ‘worst cities in Europe to drive in’. The city’s high traffic inefficiency score (178.90) and car rate per 1,000 inhabitants (673) tell us that the roads are unlikely to be quiet. This may cause your driving trips to last longer than you would hope, impacting your ability to roam around this incredible city.

Belgrade, Serbia has one of the lowest road quality scores among the 30 European cities (3.5/7.0). It also saw one of the lowest decreases in road accidents involving injuries between 2016 and 2021 (-7.26%), earning it the third worst city to drive in.

Dublin, Ireland was revealed to be the fourth worst city to drive in, with this particular city displaying the lowest decrease in accidents involving injuries between 2016 and 2021 (-2.30%). Driving trips around Dublin may also require some planning ahead. With a total of 96 car parks, Dublin can only offer nine car parks per 100,000 people.

Among the worst cities to drive in as a tourist, Italy finds another one of its cities in the top five. Similarly to the other Italian cities, Turin, Italy has a high car rate per 1,000 inhabitants (673), and the price of petrol is also quite high, just pennies away from Naples (£1.62 per litre).

Top tips for driving abroad

If you’ve been inspired to set off on an adventure to one of Europe’s beautiful cities, there are a few things that you can do to help you feel more confident behind the wheel abroad. Julie Daniels, from our car insurance team shares her top tips:

  • Check that your car insurance policy covers you for European travel

All UK-based car insurance policies offer third-party cover to drive in the EU but it’s important to check your policy to be sure. Try to find out what level of cover your policy gives you as you won’t always enjoy the same benefits abroad. You should also be aware of how long your policy covers you for. If you’re unsure about anything, we have a helpful guide on European car insurance, and you can get in touch with your insurance provider directly.

  • Pack your car with the required equipment, in line with local rules

Once you’ve made sure that you have all the necessary documents in order, find out what equipment you are required to drive with.

Depending on the country, you may need to carry a reflective jacket for each person in the vehicle, a warning triangle, headlight converter stickers, spare bulbs for your lights, first aid kit and suitable car seats for children. If you’re driving in alpine areas, you may also need to bring winter tyres, snow chains, anti-freeze for radiators and windscreen washers.

  • Remember that most European countries don’t drive on the left

Most countries in Europe drive on the right side of the road, which could feel uncomfortable. Countries in the continent that drive on the left include the Channel Islands (including Jersey and Guernsey), Cyprus, Ireland, Isle of Man, Malta and UK mainland. If you’re interested in travelling to a country on the right side, make sure that you upgrade to comprehensive cover for Europe for that extra protection.

  • Make sure you have all the required documents while travelling

In the unlikely case that an accident occurs during your travels, there are documents you need to show to get compensated for damages. Having a valid UK driving licence and insurance for driving in Europe are essential. You will also need to carry your V52 document, car insurance certificate, passports, travel insurance documents and DVLA check code.

For more information and tips for driving abroad, see our helpful guide here:

https://www.comparethemarket.com/car-insurance/content/driving-abroad/

Methodology & Sources

The study analysed and indexed a series of metrics against the 30 most populated cities in Europe, including:

All data is accurate as of July 2023.

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie