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Ten Of The Most Surprising Road Rules In Europe

surprising road rules in Europe


Holidaymakers and prospective expats have been urged to get to grips with some of Europe’s most surprising road rules if they’re planning to spend any length of time abroad this year.  Overseas property experts at Property Guides have researched and revealed the strangest road rules to help motorists stay on the right side of the law when driving in various European countries including Spain, Cyprus, France and Italy. 



Many of the same driving laws that Brits are used to in the UK apply to wider Europe, but there are often additional rules that apply – and some are quite surprising.

Whilst all European countries except Cyprus and Malta drive on the right-hand side of the road, some countries require drivers to carry extra equipment in their vehicles, whilst others have stricter limits on drink-driving and even rules on operating a dirty vehicle!

Christopher Nye, senior content editor at Property Guides said:

“Whether you’re visiting another European country short-term or planning on moving abroad permanently, it’s wise to get the lay of the land before you jet off – including any weird and wonderful laws specific to the place you’re going.”


Here are ten of the most surprising road rules in Europe:

  1. Keep spare glasses in your car (France, Spain and Switzerland)

If you need to wear glasses for driving then you are required to carry a spare pair in the car with you in France, Spain and Switzerland. Drivers caught without a spare pair could be fined, but it’s unclear how robustly this rule is actually enforced.


  1. No drinks or food at the wheel (Cyprus)

Cyprus has completely banned drivers from eating or drinking while driving – and this includes drinking water. If you are caught having a snack or a quick sip behind the wheel you may face a hefty fine.


  1. Don’t drink and drive – at all! (Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary)

In Europe, drink and drive thresholds can vary greatly between countries, with some even forbidding you from drinking entirely if you are to get behind the wheel. For example, Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary all fine or sentence anyone with a blood alcohol level above zero.

So, rather than assuming that you’ll be ok having a small glass of wine or a beer with dinner, you should double-check the drink-driving rules of the country you’re in.


  1. No headphones while driving (France)

In 2015, France placed a ban on all hands-free headsets and wearing any devices emitting sound in the ear while driving. Those caught out can face a hefty fine and even points on their licence.


  1. Keep your car clean (Belarus)

In Belarus, driving a dirty car is punishable by law. That means you could get a ticket if you drive a car that has soiled windows and grimy licence plates.


  1. Don’t break down on the motorway (Germany)

Breaking down on the German Autobahn is illegal, purely because your car is expected to be in good condition while it’s running at top speeds.


  1. Don’t drive in flip-flops (Spain)

In Spain, you can be fined €200 for driving barefoot or wearing a pair of flip-flops. Similarly, you’re also not allowed to drive around without wearing a shirt!


  1. Pack rope and a tow bar (Serbia)

Long-distance drivers might carry some essentials in their vehicles with them, including things like tyre inflators, ice scrapers, a torch and jump leads. But in Serbia, you’re also expected to carry a rope measuring at least three metres and a tow bar at all times.


  1. Don’t store bikes on the back of your car (Portugal)

Keen cyclists may struggle in Portugal because you are not allowed to fix anything with two wheels onto the back of your car. That means no bike racks. You are allowed to fix them to the roof, however.


  1. Don’t drive through Limited Traffic Zones (Italy)

Italy has a rich architectural history that they are intent on preserving. That’s why some parts of the country have been designated ‘Zona Traffico Limitato’ – Limited Traffic Zones. If you happen to drive through any of these zones found in Rome, Florence, Pisa and Milan without a permit, you could be fined.