Driving on the continent can be both exhilarating and daunting. Learning new rules of the road is a challenge, not to mention remembering to drive on the other side of the road! Each country has different driving laws so be sure to check these before your journey. Preparation is key when driving in Europe, so here are a few essentials that all drivers should be equipped with before taking a vehicle out of the British Isles. We also pick out a few European driving highlights that are well worth the journey.
What to take
- GB Stickers – Displaying a GB sticker on your car is a compulsory measure when driving in other European countries, although exceptions are made if you have number plates displaying the GB symbol.
- Warning Triangles – Having a warning triangle is a legal requirement in the majority of EU countries. In Spain, motorists must carry two warning triangles.
- Headlamp Converters – When driving in Europe, the law states that you must carry headlamp converters. Headlights designed for UK vehicles are designed to direct away from oncoming traffic. When driving on the right, this can cause headlights to dazzle oncoming traffic. Fitting these converters repositions the angle of the headlight beam.
- High Visibility Jacket – Carrying a high visibility jacket for each car passenger is necessary in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Poland.
- Breathalysers – In July 2012 it became compulsory to have a breathalyser when driving in France. However, this sanction has not yet been fully implemented and drivers will not receive a fine until further notice. It may be worth investing in one to avoid any unnecessary issues with the French police.
- First Aid Kit – Having a first aid kit is compulsory when driving in Austria. When driving in Europe we would recommend you carry one anyway.
- Other essentials – When preparing for any long journey, check that you have a fully inflated spare tire with a car lift / jack. A fire extinguisher is also recommended.
And of course, no trip across Europe would be complete without a trusty road atlas! Use one to plan your route, find places of interest and to discover what hidden gems Europe has to offer. Get 20% off all European road atlases until the end of March at the A-Z online shop.
Where to go
These famous driving routes are all within a day or two’s drive of UK car ferry destinations:
- Mountain passes of The Alps – Many and varied, but expect hairpins and jaw-dropping views. Arguably the most famous crossing is from Switzerland to Italy over the Great St Bernard Pass; the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria is another renowned driving experience. Remember that mountain roads may not be open all year round.
- Atlantic Road, Norway – This very short coastal stretch is a famous engineering feat, and part of Norway’s spectacular network of National Tourist Routes.
- Alpine Road, Germany – A 300 mile scenic route starting on the shores of Lake Constance and meandering through the Bavarian Alps past Neuschwanstein castle.
- Bloemen Route, Netherlands – The Holland Flower Route is a riot of colour in the spring.
- Route des Vins, Alsace, France – A particularly picturesque French wine route.
- N152 in The Pyrenees, Spain – This road provides another spectacular mountain drive, near Andorra.
- Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, Andalusia, Spain – Classic white villages in the far south of Spain. You can bypass France by taking the ferry to Bilbao or Santander.