Traveling by car in Europe: what to take, what to save on, what cities to visit

Valery Toropov

Tour of Europe by car: Valery and his wife traveled 9,000 kilometers from Moscow to Barcelona in three weeks. What to take with you and what you can save on. Which cities to visit while traveling in Europe by car.

How much does it cost to travel around Europe by car

In May 2018, my wife and I went on a European tour by car.

For three weeks we visited the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, France and Spain. We also visited Disneyland, saw the Ligurian and Balearic Seas, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

This trip was for me a step towards one of the main goals in life – to travel around the world. When I'm driving and driving west, I feel really free. This feeling is incomparable to anything.

In three weeks we traveled from Moscow to Barcelona and back – 9,000 kilometers. Friends were traveling with us to Paris, so we shared the cost of gasoline and toll roads by four. Then our friends got tired of the trip and decided to return home by plane. My wife and I moved on.

If you have long wanted to ride in Europe, I will tell you how to prepare for the trip, what costs the most money and what you can save on.

Then we spent 260 thousand rubles, but since then the course has changed many times. The article will be prices at the current rate

Editorial

Yes, we know that now the Schengen zone cannot be entered due to the coronavirus. But anyway, we will publish this article to nostalgic about past trips and, perhaps, plan future ones.

Route

I love to travel by car. Previously, I often hitchhiked in Russia and the CIS countries.

Since 2015, we have been traveling by car with my wife. For several years we have visited France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Poland, Austria and other countries. This trip was the seventh on our list.

Usually we choose one main country and look at everything that comes along the way. We start preparing for the trip a couple of months in advance: we just sit down at the laptop and choose the direction. In 2018, my wife wanted to go to the fjords. We discussed and decided that the weather was uncomfortable there. Even for Norway and other Scandinavian countries, two weeks would be enough for us. Our vacation was longer – 21 days, so we decided to go to Western Europe.

We wanted to visit Paris, where the only Disneyland in Europe is located. At the same time, we decided to get to Barcelona, ​​because we had never been there.

When we decided on the two main cities, we built the shortest route to Spain in Google Maps. Then, on the map, we chose those cities that we want to see along the way, and allocated time for them.

As a result, we visited six countries and spent three weeks on the trip. During the day they walked around the cities, spent the night in a tent in the parking lot or rented rooms in hotels. Every day we spent on the track from two to eight hours and drove 100-700 kilometers. I was driving most of the time.In rare cases, he changed with his wife and another driver.

Traveling plan in Europe

Day We drove Route Where they spent the night
1 1257 km Moscow – Warsaw In the suburbs of Warsaw in the forest
2 688 km Warsaw – Prague In a hotel
3 Prague In a hotel
4 427 km Prague – Karlovy Vary – Munich In a hotel
5 511 km Munich – Bergamo On a special park on the track
6 207 km Bergamo – Milan – Genoa In a tent on the city beach
7 229 km Genoa – Nice – Cannes In the parking lot in the suburbs
8 639 km Cannes – Barcelona In hostel
9—11 Barcelona In hostel
12 574 km Barcelona – Toulouse – Bordeaux At the entrance to Bordeaux in the parking lot
13 593 km Bordeaux is Paris In a hotel
14—15 Paris In a hotel
16 30 km Paris is Disneyland In the parking lot next to the park
17 180 km Disneyland – border of Belgium In the parking lot
18 310 km Belgium border – Cologne In a hotel
19 573 km Cologne – Berlin In the parking lot
20 827 km Berlin – suburb of Grodno At a gas station
21 1001 km Suburb of Grodno – Moscow Houses

The route turned out to be long. For three weeks of traveling, we are tired. If you decide to repeat our experience, I recommend dividing the northwest and southwest Europe into different trips. For example, after Barcelona and Toulouse, you can go to Geneva and Zurich, and then go to Moscow through Vienna and Bratislava. But we wanted both the sea and Disneyland.

We drove from Moscow to Warsaw on the first day

For those who are ready to visit one or two countries for vacation, I advise you to get to Europe by plane and rent a car there. So it turns out faster and sometimes even cheaper. Last fall, we flew to Italy and rented a car for 10 days at Treviso Airport. It was cheaper than going to my car from Moscow, but I had to refuse to arrive in Prague.

How to prepare a car

Before the trip, you should definitely check the car. We did not do this before the last trip and paid: one morning we found that the battery and the car did not start. There were 30 kilometers to the nearest city.

We gave for recharging the battery

On this trip, we went to Mitsubishi Outlander XL and passed the inspection of the regulations.

How to defeat burnout

Money and insurance

For the past few years, we have been trying to change cash in Russia. This saves time: you do not need to look for a favorable exchange rate abroad. For our trip, the cost of one euro increased from 70.70 r to 76.12 p. When I wrote this article, the euro cost 85 p.

Usually I buy euros during the year, when I pay attention to a good course. According to statistics, in the long run, the ruble always falls in relation to the euro, so I do not lose anything.

Insurance. Before entering Europe, you need to buy insurance. It is also called a “green card” – this is an analogue of OSAGO, acting abroad. Insurance for European countries costs 3220 r, for Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine or Azerbaijan – 1100 p. We always buy a “green card” in kiosks in front of the border.

What to take with you

The trip will be much more comfortable if you have the following things.

Inverter – a device for converting current in a car to 220 V. You will need it to charge laptops, tablets and phones on the road. Such a gadget costs from 500 R to 20,000 R on Yandex Market. We use the model for 2000 R.

Tent. If you are traveling by car and do not book hotels in advance, there is always a chance that you will have to spend the night on the road. It is comfortable for two people to sleep in the car, for everyone else you need a tent. We spent the night in it at parking lots when we were not going to stop by the city along the way or wanted to save money on accommodation in expensive countries.

A set of fuses and spare low beam lamps for cars: sometimes they have to be changed on the road. Usually the fuse blows first, which is responsible for the operation of the cigarette lighter and USB connectors in the car. With a burned-out dipped beam lamp, they may not be allowed to cross the border.

Consumables are sold at gas stations or at an authorized car dealer. A set of fuses costs from 50 R, low beam lamps – from 100 R apiece.

Navigator. It is most convenient to navigate using Google Maps, but they do not work offline. We only use them in cities. On the tracks we are guided by Navitel maps.

All the rest depends on your individual needs: clothing, cosmetics, personal hygiene items. I decided that everything should fit in a 30-liter backpack. We don’t take too much: it’s more convenient.

Border

The shortest road to Western Europe is through Belarus. Usually we leave Moscow at 7:00 and reach Brest by 21:00. We spent an hour at the border last time. There were only three cars in line ahead of us. This is also a minus: out of boredom, border guards inspect cars more carefully in order to at least communicate with someone.

After Brest, one of the most difficult sections begins – 150 kilometers to Warsaw. There are many settlements there, so the speed is 50-70 km/h. Usually we drive through this section in three hours and almost always at night: then there are fewer cars on the road.

The road through Brest was the main one while the Bialystok-Warsaw highway was being built. Now it is more convenient to cross the border at Bobrovniki and go through Bialystok. The distance turns out to be a small detour, but you can win a whole hour: only locals and those who travel often know about Bialystok.

free roads

Despite the solid distance, the road is not exhausting. This is a separate attraction: you can see large farms where horses, storks and their nests graze, compare the features of the countryside in different countries.

About half of our route passed through the mountains. In the Czech Republic and Poland we passed through the Tatras, in Germany, Austria and Italy we crossed the Alps, and in France and Catalonia we crossed the Pyrenees. There are stunning views. We went to Europe in the spring, when meltwater flowed from the mountains and waterfalls formed everywhere. It is a pity that we were not able to photograph them: stopping on the track is allowed only in specially designated places.

Basically, we move along high -speed multi -band highways. There is no serpentine on such roads, bridges and tunnels alternate along the way. The height difference along the road from Munich to Verona can only be seen by beautiful alpine species.

But there are exceptions. For example, at the entrance to Genoa on the A7 highway and on the site between Barcelona and Toulouse, we drove 500 kilometers along narrow mountain roads with steep turns and sharp changes in heights. This is the shortest but difficult on a mountain serpentine route. Instead of him, I advise you to go along the A9 highway from Barcelona to Toulouse: so faster and safer.

The road surface in Europe is ideal: without irregularities, pits and with bright markings. The speed in the trunk areas is limited to 130-140 km/h. The exception is Germany. It is recommended that German autobahns go 130 km/h, but there are no strict restrictions. Once in the suburbs of Munich, I accelerated in the middle row to 180 km/h. Cars in the left row drove much faster.

Toll roads

Sometimes a paid road has a free understudy through settlements with speed limit up to 30-50 km/h. The driver has a choice: pay for movement along the highway and save on fuel consumption or move on a free understudy, having lost comfort and parking for an overnight stay. We have chosen the first option. In general, we never use the option “exclude paid sections of roads” in the navigator. We do not think about the cost of travel, but just go. You can pay for good roads.

Turnstile – The most familiar way to pay for the fare on a paid highway. This is an automatic machine that stands in front of a barrier. These are in parking lots in shopping centers. When you enter a paid section, the machine gives out a special card. At the exit, the fare will be calculated along it.

Vignettes. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland and Austria, it is necessary to pay for the road training camp for traveling through the highways. After that, the driver is given a vignette – a sticker on the glass.

It will be possible to pay for the fee at gas stations or in special kiosks at the entrance to the paid section of the road. You can see the list of all countries where vignette required on the Autotraveler.ru website. The presence of a vignette is checked at police posts.

Czech currency – Czech crown

How much we spent on paid roads

There is a list of green areas on the official website or in applications for iOS and Android

Petrol

We will learn in advance the cost of gasoline in different countries and look where you can season the full tank and save. At the same time, it is important to consider the fuel consumption, the amount of gasoline remaining and the distance to the nearest refueling.

We spent on gasoline for the whole trip

Parking and public transport

To save, you can leave the car in the Park and Ride (P+R) intercepting parking lot and transfer to the subway, bus or tram. Such parking is specially created to unload city traffic and transplant people to public transport. Typically, such parking lots are located on the outskirts of cities near stops.Park and Ride work only in the afternoon.

In some countries, Park and Ride (P+R) are called differently – it is better to find out in advance where they are

We always use P+R and go to the center by public transport, if there is such an opportunity. In cities where there are no intercepting parking lots, we arrive as close to the center as possible and leave the car there. It turns out more expensive, but nowhere to go.

Housing

We spent ten nights in hotels and hostels, the rest of the time we spent the night in a car or in a tent.

Hotels and hostels. Usually we are looking for hotels through Bucking on the day of arrival even during the season. We have never encountered a situation where there were no free places in the whole city.

Before choosing a housing, I advise you to read reviews. We often became convinced that the rating at the Bucking is not always objective. It happens that the hotel has the highest rating, and nightmare things write in the reviews.

I am ready to recommend all hotels and hostels from this list, except for Inout in Barcelona. He looks like a hostel.

Usually parking lots are found every 20-50 kilometers. We never look for them in advance. If you are traveling along a paid line, you can always find such a parking lot.

At some parking lots there are separate areas for trucks and cars, wifi, toilet and even shower. All this is free. There are often shops where they boil coffee and sell croissants.

We put a tent on the grass or even on the asphalt, if there is no suitable place. Recently, more and more often began to sleep right in the car. This is comfortable for us: my wife and I were engaged in sports tourism and got used to camping conditions.

Food and alcohol

All our trips to the southern European countries pass through Prague and Bratislava, and to Northern Europe through Tallinn. In the first days of vacation, I want to walk around, and in these cities, inexpensive delicious food and alcohol. Portations are large – you can take one for two. In order not to waste time searching for a cafe on a trip, we choose several establishments in each city through the Trypadwizer.

We spent on a cafe for the whole trip

Cities and attractions

We prefer hiking around the city, rarely go to museums. In Europe in most cities, expensive excursions. Guides are replaced by audio guide application. As a rule, they are paid or with built -in purchases, but prices are much lower than for a real tour. On different trips, we bought the “My Vienna” applications for 229 r, the Azbo + Berlin audio guide for 149 r, the Azbo + Amsterdam audio guide for 149 r, “Rome: Guide and map” for 459 p.

Using applications is very simple. The main thing is that the smartphone can determine geolocation. This is necessary because the stories about the attractions in most applications begin at the moment when you approach the desired object.

Also, audio guides are convenient in that you are moving at your pace, you can stop and take a walk longer at the attractions that attracted or have a bite. The excursion group will not wait for you.

Having traveled along this route, we noted for ourselves several cities that we want to return to.

Prague became our second home. For a long European tour, we went there twice: for a few days at the beginning of the trip and for a few days at the end. We will never get tired of the city.

The next day is worth a visit to Prague Castle – the largest fortress in the city. It can be seen from the banks of the Vltava. From there you have a wonderful view of Prague. Here are several palaces, museums, the famous Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus. During the day you can catch the changing of the guard of honor.

Zlata Lane is a small lane with tiny houses, as if for gnomes. Goldsmiths lived there. During the day, the entrance to this street is paid, and in the evening – vice versa.

A wonderful place for walking is the Vysehrad fortress. There are several viewing platforms on the walls, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, a children's park.

We did not plan a route for the walk, but simply walked along the streets we liked in the center. In general, Munich is a city for a couple of days. It's worth a visit, but I wouldn't spend much time there.

Barcelona – a city that has everything: the sea, palm trees, mountains. We walked along the Rambla. It starts from Plaza Catalunya, and ends at the monument to Columbus and goes to the beaches. On the same boulevard is the Boqueria market, which is worth a visit. Back in Barcelona, ​​we went to the labyrinth of Horta, where they filmed the film Perfume. We were not impressed by the labyrinth because of its size and ease of passage, but if you have time, you can visit it.

Bordeaux – Big City. I advise you to take a walk there. The main attraction is the fountain, built right into the tile, from which jets periodically beat.

Remember

  1. Bring a tent and a flashlight, car fuses, and spare low beams.
  2. It is best to start a trip by car in Europe from Prague or Tallinn.
  3. In cities, travel by public transport: it is cheaper and more convenient.
  4. It is worth spending the night on the track on specially equipped sites with a toilet, shower and free Wi-Fi.
  5. Do not forget to pay environmental fees and tolls on the highways.

Valery Toropov

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Victoria T

We plan to travel around Europe, but we traveled a bit around Asia, yes 🙂
On May 22, 2019, we left the Moscow region, until the end of May we rested at a campsite on the Bugaz Spit, then through Astrakhan we entered Kazakhstan, where we slowly drove around the remains of the Aral Sea, found abandoned ships, stood at the entrance to Baikonur, crossed the whole country and at the end June we went to Kyrgyzstan. There we again met spring, climbed all the passes, from 2 to 4 thousand, drove Kyrgyzstan from north to south to the border with China, spent the night at the foot of Lenin Peak, “felt” the Tien Shan a little, rested on Issyk-Kul, climbed again into the most beautiful mountain gorges, then again conquered the furious roads of southeastern Kazakhstan, went to Russia through Barnaul, by mid-July they were in Altai, lived on the banks of the Katun, drove along the Chuisky tract, the Katu-Yaryk pass, to the Aktru glacier.On July 24, we drove into a completely unfamiliar Mongolia, where even the alphabet is impossible to read, despite the similarity of letters, where they spent 3 more crazy weeks, riding a “random” in a semicircle, absorbing mountain lakes and sands of the goby desert (which is not quite a desert in the standard idea of ​​about ), walked along the Ulan-Bator with his mega-fish, and in mid-August returned to Russia to Baikal. Where they slowly studied the Buryat, and then the Irkutsk part, certainly Olkhon, looked at the Barguzinsky sable, walked around Irkutsk, the Krasnoyarsk pillars reserve, and somewhere the summer ended sharply. I didn’t want to go home, there were two options: east to Vladivostok or west and to the sea. The chance to extend the summer won, and with a 10-day throw from Krasnoyarsk to Grozny, we reached the border with Georgia. Having a little resting at the Ureki, on September 15 we moved to Turkey, where, finally, the rest began 🙂 In 5 weeks we traveled to Turkey in a circle, the TRABZON-Mersin-Kappadox-Sweet coast to Bodrum, Kanions Kepruil and Tazi, Pamukkale, Ankara, and Finally returned to Batumi on the 20th of October. It is impossible to be in Georgia and not to call in Svaneti, so they still lingered for several days, and, as a result, on November 3, they rolled into the gate of their native dacha near Moscow.
The money was spent a little more than 400 thousand rubles, in 5.5 months, mainly for fuel and products, souvenirs and so on were not counted. The car is an all -wheel drive gazelle converted in a car, with a 190×120 berth, a kitchen, a refrigerator and a bio -dutile. On the way in Irkutsk, a camping bath was still purchased, washing issues were resolved in laundry self-service, in Ulan-Ude even managed to visit the salon and refresh the haircut and color, so they did not run wild, but completely rested. Of course, this trip is not for every year, and there should have been a lot of factors, but the main thing is desire, you can travel to anything (we met a cyclist from Switzerland on the Kyrgyz -Kazakh border)).
Let's already defeat the pandemic and go somewhere again!

Victoria, very cool! And how did it happen to break out of the routine, work on the remote? Although by moving it seems that you did not work happily)
MB Do you write an article? For example, about the re -equipment of the Gazelle)

Victoria T

Ivan, thanks. It was such a Subbatic in Russian: at first we quit, and upon returning we were called back, our company has a very small “turnover”. A husband writes about a gazelle on Drive2, Nick Grommoff, and in Institute on tag #beautiful red gazel something.

Victoria, envy))) Thank you, read. I would also like something like that, I don’t understand the cars. But you have your impressions for life, you can probably learn to change the bar for this)

Victoria T

Ivan, Shrus did not change))) for all 33 thousand km. Only pierced wheels on Altai changed and repaired the air conditioner.

Valery Toropov

Victoria, this is directly cool with you =) We have not yet grown up yet, but everything is ahead =)

Pavel Brazhnikov

Eeeee, it's like this, the rating on the buging is not objective.Everything is just the opposite, but the reviews also need to be read. I have never disappointed me with a rating of at least 8ki. It is clear that 0 stars and 4 stars with such a rating are different.
But the essence of the rating has always worked on the scanty Thai island in Singapore and Vienna and anywhere. This rule works for me, and sometimes better expectations

And so the article is excellent. Well done. I also want that, but with small children it will be a little more complicated))

Anton Yushkov

IVAN, two small at 7 months, we left home and returned home a year. We wound 15,000 km $
You just need a larger trunk and getting better.

Anton, it's cool.
Only 7 months are such a period when there is minimal activity, sleep and eat)))
But entertaining older children in the road and without using tablets/phones is a different class of tasks. It became clear to us, when comparing long flights to Asia with transfers for 5-10 hours)
And here we need some kind of load for the brain on the way or to break the path into many small areas.

You need to target such love for driving over long distances on a long distances, no longer as they say, as they say, there is still no.

Anton Yushkov

IVAN, we, when they were a little over a year, flew to the winter in Sri. There and by car they rolled with already more adult children. There is a performance.
There were plans to America, but only to the southern one, though with the course of our currency, these plans smoothly go into the category of dreams.
So far, it is more realistic to go around average Asia.

Valery Toropov

IVAN, well, here it means that you should not look at only one rating. You also need to read reviews.

A couple with a 5-year-old child went to one of the first trips with us, there were no problems. But here everything is individual.

Great article, thanks for sharing!

In 2019, we went with a family and a dog to Norway. The total mileage without ferries is about 6700 km. We visited Finland, Norway, Sweden and returned through Estonia. Faced in two and small weeks. There are a lot of impressions, in a nutshell it is difficult to describe, it is a pity that now such trips are only in dreams.

Elka, for about six months prepared for the trip. The main goal was the Norwegian fjords. They compiled a route, issued a passport and the rest of the documents to the dog, received a visa, bought tickets for steam from Stockholm to Tallinn, booked camps on the first few nights, then gradually bought things necessary for the trip – a new tent, chairs, a camping table, etc.

Natalia Yanova

Your travels are interesting, I read about them with pleasure. But the total cost of 4088 euros for two in 3 weeks, in my opinion, is very high. We traveled to Europe every year. The car was rented on the spot, in tents and hostels never lived, individual excursions were taken in new cities for themselves. Also, we are not fools to drink and go to cafes and bars. At the same time, the price tag came out much lower. Everyone, of course, has a different budget, but with such a rather ascetic way of traveling, which is described in the article, you still wait for more modest expenses.

Valery Toropov

Natalia, well, we love to eat and drink =) Plus, Disneyland, etc. We never had a goal to save as much money as possible

Great article. Thank you. We had a similar experience in 2019. Traveled as a family of 6. By minibus.

Image by Denis Uralov

Great article, thanks. We also love to travel by car both in Russia and abroad, I will share my experience.

– take a car refrigerator with you or at least a thermal bag with cold accumulators, then you will always have fresh dairy products and eggs. well, on the way back you can fill the refrigerator with delicious sanctioned cheese
– I use Waze for navigation, there, like in Yandex Navigator, there is information about cameras, traffic events and speed limits, it works, unfortunately, only online. And it is very good at building routes around toll roads – you will go slower, but for free and usually through beautiful places and villages :), it helped a lot in Portugal, where I was just tired of paying for all roads
– if you are going to Moscow through Poland, then from experience the worst section is the Minsk highway to the border of Belarus, it is better to skip it quickly in the morning or late in the evening, the highway in Belarus is excellent, in Poland there are two options: a good road through Warsaw (I recommend setting aside a day to this city, there is excellent ice cream and waffles) and further to Germany, or a rather bad road down near Ukraine, where you can go to Krakow, Lublin and Auschwitz (if you have strong nerves). Further, in general, everything is ok
– I was impressed by such long driving distances from the author, for myself I deduced the optimal distance up to 300 km per day at a time, or a little more, but be sure to break it into two parts with a 1.5-2 hour stop in some beautiful town or area. Otherwise, the driver is exhausted so that there is no pleasure from the rest.
– There are eco-labels in many European countries, and green zones are expanding. There is no single system, everywhere there are some nuances. In Paris, in theory, such a sticker is also needed, but you need to buy it via the Internet and it is sent by mail in a couple of weeks, I just printed out a check from the site and drove it in the glove compartment :). In general, if you are on Russian numbers or speak broken English, then the police will scold you and let you go, but it’s better not to risk
– It is better to save on gasoline in a car with mechanics, driving in Europe is much easier and calmer than in Russia

To be honest, I didn’t fully understand how the author spent so much money for two in such a savings mode. A week-long trip in 2019 from Moscow to Berlin with a stop at a bunch of places along the way with an adult child cost me about 1.5k euros, and we did not limit ourselves in anything – we ate in cafes, slept in normal hotels in the center or close to the center, and I took either two-room suites or two rooms, in Berlin we lived for 3 days in an apartment rented through Airbnb.A 20-day trip around Western Europe on a rented Audi A3 (Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg), without much savings – we ate in cafes, sometimes had picnics, normal hotels, in France we rented a two-story house on the banks of the Loire, we went to Bruges to a Michelin restaurant, the same 4k euros came out with air tickets 🤷‍♂️

I also remembered life hacks.

– if possible, I take a hotel with breakfast, as a rule it is cheaper and more satisfying than in a cafe, while saving a lot of precious time. And in family hotels you can also try delicious homemade food. But again, look at the reviews.
– if possible, I choose a hotel with its own parking, albeit not in the very center, but within walking distance (1-2 km to the center), this saves time and money
– Europe is different, so do not leave valuables, backpacks and handbags in plain sight in a parked car. Even if there is nothing valuable in the backpack, broken glass will cause a lot of unpleasant trouble.
– you should always have a few coins of 1-2 euros with you, in interesting places there are often ancient parking meters that accept nothing but iron
– there is always a swiss knife and a multitool in the glove compartment, they helped out many times, especially the corkscrew in a swiss knife 😉