The essential European road trip guide
Driving holidays are the ultimate freedom. No more endless days by the same pool or crowded excursions to tourist traps. Just you and the open road, free to detour wherever you fancy. Make sure you’re all set for your road trip with our essential guide.
Whether you’re a nature lover or a thrill seeker, there’s something for everyone when you’re driving in Europe. Take a look at these journeys:
Gorges du Verdon: This route in the South of France is packed with natural wonders. You’ll find dizzying heights, hairpin bends and jaw-dropping views. And it’s so remote, you might need a spare petrol can.
Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse: Austria’s highest view follows winding Alpine roads up to 2504 metres. It’s easy to see why it’s one of Austria’s top destinations. Just remember you’ll need sturdy tyres and tip top brakes.
Amalfi Coast: Italy’s coastline is recognised by UNESCO for its vineyards, olive groves and picturesque villages. And it’s known for its tricky, single-lane roads that hug the cliffs, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Driving on the right isn’t the only rule you need to remember on the continent. You can’t use your mobile without a hands-free set anywhere. Your headlights have to be on at all times in countries including Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Serbia. And many countries let you turn right at a flashing red light. There’s a speeding fine of £640 in EU countries too, so keep an eye on local limits.
Then there are the laws that are unique to each country. If you’re driving in France, you need an unused breathalyser, and in Romania it’s illegal to drive a dirty vehicle. The list goes on, so it’s a good idea to read up before you set off.
If you’re in the EU, EEA and Switzerland, you’ll need your driving licence, insurance details, V5C and passport. If you’re renting a car, you’ll need all the rental documents too. And you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card and keep it with you, just in case.
You’ll need specific safety equipment in most European countries – a GB sticker, warning triangle, reflective jacket, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and headlamp adjustors. You can buy European driving packs that include all you need. And if you wear prescription glasses, you’ll need to keep a spare pair in the car.
Everything else is optional, but there are some sensible safety items you could consider. Tyre puncture repair kits, a jack and food or water supplies are a good idea if you’re travelling through remote areas. Sleeping bags and spare warm clothes will be vital if you break down and have to stay in the car overnight.
Breakdowns are never good news, especially when you don’t know the area. Make sure you do these checks before you leave:
- oil to keep everything running smoothly
- coolant levels to prevent freezing and overheating
- screen wash so you can enjoy the view
- tyre pressure to help you keep control
- tyre tread to maintain grip
- lights for night drives and in countries where it’s a legal requirement.
You’ll also need to let your insurer know that you’re going abroad and check what your cover protects against. O2 Drive insurance includes EU cover for 60 days as standard, and tools like our Car Assistant can help get your car road trip ready. So you can travel with confidence.
See more articles to help you to drive smarter and make the most of your car.