Where are the cheapest places to drive in Europe?

From Portugal’s Atlantic coast to the NC500 in Scotland and the winding foothills of the Alps, Europe is full of epic road trips. The continent offers hundreds of scenic journeys that millions of tourists take advantage of every year.

But with fuel, insurance and vehicle hire costs currently at some of their highest ever levels, the opportunity to experience one of these classic routes is becoming less and less attainable.

Fortunately, though, some European countries do still offer good value when it comes to those once-in-a-lifetime road trips. We decided to investigate this in more detail while providing some inspiration along the way. 

We took six key measures of cost-effective motoring: car hire, toll roads, parking, fuel (Diesel and Petrol) and EV charging costs. We then researched the average price of each across 35 different European countries. From there, we crunched the numbers and, using a weighted rank, have defined the five cheapest and five most expensive places to drive on the continent in 2024.

Read on to find out more.

 

Romania is the cheapest place to drive in Europe

Firstly, we looked at the five cheapest places to drive in Europe.

1. Romania

Coming top of our list of cheapest European road trip destinations is Romania. While it may not be considered a traditional holiday hotspot, the Eastern European country has some truly stunning locations and road trips. What’s more, Romania is home to the Hoia-Baciu Forest in Transylvania – the so-called World’s Most Haunted Forest and setting for Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale, Dracula.

With a week’s car hire starting from just £36.85 and an average tank of Petrol coming in at under £70, Romania offers excellent value for money (whether you’re a Dracula tourist or not).

2. Malta

The beautiful Mediterranean isle of Malta, situated to the south of Sicily, came in second place for the cheapest place to drive in Europe. Of course, at just nine miles in width, you may not be driving for long! Must-visit sights include the walled city of Valletta, a Unesco World Heritage Site, home to St John’s Co-Cathedral and Upper Barrakka Gardens.

Malta’s low fuel costs – just £56.57 to fill up an average size car with Diesel - and a week’s car hire for less than £85. Unlike many of its European neighbours, Malta is also free of paid toll roads, bringing the cost down even further.

3. Poland

In third place is another Eastern European destination, Poland. The country has several beautiful cities to explore, such as Warsaw, Gdansk and Krakow. The latter is a Unesco Heritage Site, with its classic Renaissance architecture, cobbled streets and even a city beach. Further afield, the Polish mountains offer opportunities for dramatic landscapes and walking holidays. 

Poland offers excellent value when it comes to charging an electric vehicle – just £10.30 for a full charge. The cheapest car hire also starts from just £49.85 for a full week of driving.

4. Bulgaria 

Bulgaria has become more well-known amongst western travellers over the last few decades, not least for its sunny and value-for-money resorts along the Black Sea coastline. The country also offers some of the cheapest driving experiences in Europe, coming fourth on our list. Beyond popular spots such as Sunny Beach, the capital Sofia offers a walkable centre through medieval architecture and in the winter months, Bulgaria’s numerous ski resorts come alive.

With reasonable fuel costs of under £65 for a full tank of Petrol or Diesel and a week’s car hire starting from £88.87, Bulgaria is a perfect option for cheap European driving.

5. Spain

Spain is by far the most visited country by British tourists – and you may be surprised to find that it is amongst the cheapest when it comes to driving costs, too. The classic holiday hotspot offers everything from beautiful beaches along its many coastlines to historic cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. All with a feast of excellent food and cultural icons, too.

Budget car hire in Spain starts at just £62.86 for a week during the summer holidays, and its fuel costs are also low relative to the rest of the continent, making it an ideal choice for a trip behind the wheel.

 

Norway is the most expensive place to drive in Europe

At the other end of the price spectrum, we also looked at the five most expensive places to drive in Europe.

1. Norway

Norway came top of the list of the most expensive places to drive in Europe by some margin – mirroring its general reputation for being one of the priciest destinations for tourists on the continent. If money is no object, however, Norway has lots to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes – from the famous fjords to northernmost routes into the Arctic circle, the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

A week’s car hire in Norway starts from £286.11 – almost seven times higher than its cheapest European counterpart in Romania. Fuel and electricity costs have also been soaring in recent years, with a full tank of Petrol setting you back around £92.10.

2. Switzerland

The home of picture-perfect Alpine mountains, which provide a backdrop for summer hikes and winter ski trips alike, Switzerland came second in the most expensive places for a European road trip. The country’s watches, cheese and chocolate are also iconic emblems, with fondue considered the national dish. Walking holidays are hugely popular but if you have the budget to spare, a driving holiday could be just as rewarding.

Swiss car hire for a week will set you back at least £223.25 for a week, with toll roads through the mountains also adding to the cost of a trip. The most expensive of these is the Grand St Barnard Tunnel, costing a whopping £26.35.

3. Iceland

Another Nordic country to feature in the list, Iceland comes in third in the most expensive places to drive in Europe. The rewards are significant if you can afford to splash out on a road trip to Iceland, though. From the capital city Reykjavik, with its fascinating Viking heritage, to the wide-open landscapes of the country’s National Parks and geysers - natural hot springs – of the Golden Circle.

Fuel costs are particularly expensive in Iceland, where it costs £101.92 to fill up an average sized car with a full tank of Petrol – the only European country in our list to break the £100 barrier. Car hire costs will also set you back, with the cheapest weekly deal coming in at £225.42.

4. Sweden

In fourth place on our list is Sweden, another destination that is famed for its hefty price tag. The country is synonymous with minimalist design, a host of many islands – all of which offer beautiful landscapes to explore – and, of course, a certain 1970s pop group. A road trip around Sweden could be your perfect holiday location, but only if budget allows.

Toll bridges in Sweden contribute a significant portion of the potential cost of driving there, with the most expensive – the Øresund between Malmø and Denmark - setting you back £45.90 one way.

5. France

Finally, one of the most well-trodden paths for British tourists, France comes fifth on our list of the most expensive places to drive in Europe. However, road trips in France are popular for a reason – the country offers the ideal mix of glamorous coastline, picture-perfect countryside, world-renowned cities like Paris and mountainous regions for hiking or winter activities like Alpine skiing.

The high cost of driving in France is mainly due to the country’s motorway toll network which would be almost impossible to bypass as a foreign traveller. The most expensive of these is the A6, A7 route between Paris and Marseille which costs a noteworthy £56.19 one way.

 

Additional methodology

  • All fuel prices correct as of 27th May 2024. Fuel costs were based on filling up an average-sized 55 litre tank.
  • EV charging costs were based on charging a Nissan Leaf model to 80% charge.
  • Car hire prices were ascertained by selecting one week hire between 27th July – 3rd August 2024 from each country’s capital city or main airport. The cheapest car option was chosen for the research.
  • Car parking costs were taken as an average for a two-hour parking spot in each country.
  • The most expensive toll road, toll bridge or EU vignette cost was taken to calculate the toll costs.
  • All costs were originally collected in Euros, before being converted to Pounds Sterling via the exchange rate of 0.85 (correct as of 27th May 2024).

Sources

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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