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Hitting the road on holiday: driving around Europe

Planning on a little trip on the continent? Before you set out, it pays to know the local rules and regulations, as each European country has its own speed limits and alcohol restrictions.

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Hitting the road on holiday: driving around Europe

Planning to hit the road on your summer holiday this year? Depending on what European country you’re driving in, the rules and regulations of the road can vary. 

Use this guide to find out a country’s speed limit, drinking limit, and other traveller essentials behind the wheel.

Mind your speed

Top speed limits in many European countries average 130 kilometres per hour. But the legal speed changes depending on what kind of road you’re on, how many lanes, and other environmental variables.


Designated speed limits by country and environment (in km/hour)

 Country Motorways Urban roads Rural roads 

Belgium

120

90

50

Bulgaria

130

90

50

Czech Republic

130

90

50

Denmark

130

80

50

Finland

100

80

40

France

130

90/110 (depending on environment)

50

Germany

130

100

50/30 (depending on environment)

Ireland

N/A

90

50

Italy

130

90

50

Luxembourg

130

90

50

Netherlands

120

80

70/50/30 (depending on environment)

Norway

100

80

70/50/30 (depending on environment)

Poland

130

90

50

Portugal

120

90

50

Slovenia

130

90

50

Spain

120

90/100 (depending on environment)

50

Sweden

110

70

50

United Kingdom

112

97/112 (depending on environment)

32/48 (depending on environment)

*Speed limits for various countries according to the European Commission


Know your limits

It’s never alright to drink and drive, but the UK’s 0.8 blood alcohol limit is relatively high compared to other countries around the continent. In other places it’s as low as 0.2.


Drink Driving Legal Limits Around Europe

 Country

Standard blood alcohol content legal limit (mg/mL)

Austria

0.5

Belgium

0.5

Estonia

0.2

Finland

0.5

France

0.5

Germany

0.5

Greece

0.5

Ireland

0.5

Latvia

0.5

Lithuania

0.4

Italy

0.5

Luxembourg

0.5

Netherlands

0.5

Norway

0.2

Poland

0.2

Portugal

0.5

Slovenia

0.5

Spain

0.5

Sweden

0.2

United Kingdom

0.8

 

Take necessary cargo

As of 1 July, 2012, all Brits driving through France are required to carry a portable breathalyser, but that’s not all they’ll have to carry. Some countries require vehicles to carry a variety of safety equipment as well.


Required Safety Equipment for Cars

 Country

Reflective jacket

Warning triangle

First-aid kit

Fire extinguisher

Austria

X

X

X

 

Belgium

X

X

X

X

Czech Republic

X

X

X

 

France

X

X

 

 

Germany

 

X

X

 

Greece

 

X

X

X

Hungary

X

X

X

 

Ireland

 

 

 

 

Italy

X

X

 

 

Luxembourg

X

X

 

 

Netherlands

 

X

 

 

Poland

 

X

 

X

Portugal

X

X

 

 

Romania

 

X

X

X

Slovakia

X

X

X

 

Slovenia

X

X

X

 

Spain

X

X

 

 

United Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

Run the lights

Many countries in Europe also require drivers to run their lights during daylight hours for safety. Don’t get caught in the dark!


Countries that mandate daytime running lights

Bulgaria

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Hungary

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Romania

Slovenia

Slovakia           

Sweden

 

Source: European Commission