Tips for driving in Europe

Taking your car abroad, by ferry or Eurotunnel, lets you travel long distances in comfort, and explore places you might not be able to reach otherwise. However, the idea of driving in Europe can be daunting, particularly if you haven’t done it before.

Before you go
If your car is due a service, get this out of the way before your holiday. Check the condition and pressure of the tyres, and make sure fluids are topped up.

If you have breakdown cover, check whether European travel is included. If not, you will need to take out a separate policy covering the period when you’ll be away. You should also inform your insurer that you will be taking your car abroad.

Some countries require you to carry certain items, so be sure to check the specific requirements for each of the countries you will be passing through on the way to your final destination. In Spain, for example, motorists must carry a warning triangle, hi viz jacket, and spare wheel. If you need glasses to drive, you should take a spare pair.

You will also need to take your driving licence, insurance certificate, V5, and MOT certificate if applicable.

Invest in a European road atlas. If you have a sat nav, there may be a European map pack already installed or available for download.

Be aware that in France, it is illegal to carry a device that can warn you of speed cameras, so turn this feature off if your sat nav has it.

On the road
It’s easy to forget to drive on the right when you leave a motorway or set off after a break. A sticky note on the dash will remind you. Roundabouts can be confusing, so follow the arrows.

Be aware that while you are driving abroad in a UK right-hand drive car, you will be further from the centre of the road than normal, making it more difficult to see ahead.

Motorways are a fast way to cover long distances, but you may incur tolls for using them. Toll booths are usually automated. When approaching a toll, make sure you select a lane marked as taking cash or card payments, rather than a payment tag.

In some countries, including Switzerland and Slovenia, you will need to buy and display a motorway pass. Alternatively, choose a non-motorway route and enjoy the sights along the way.

With some advance preparation, you can enjoy a safe and worry free driving tour filled with memorable stops and spectacular scenery.

Useful links

UK Government advice on driving abroad 

AA European Driving Advice

RAC Driving Abroad 

Compulsory Equipment when driving abroad

Brno: Czech culture without the crowds

Prague may take the lion’s share of coverage when it comes to tourism in the Czech Republic, but it’s far from the only option. An increasingly popular choice for a city break is Brno, the country’s second-largest city, which offers as much beautiful architecture, fascinating history, and good food as the capital – but without the stag parties!

What to see in Brno
Brno’s brightest architectural jewel is the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in the city centre, which stands in a commanding position on the Petrov Hill. The twin 250-foot Gothic Revival towers offer an interesting contrast with the Baroque architecture of the church’s interior. Its bells ring at eleven, rather than noon, in commemoration of the 17th century Siege of Brno.

The city has a strong and vibrant artistic culture: Brno’s Moravian Museum is the second-largest in the country, containing around six million items, while the nearby Moravian Gallery is home to the Museum of Decorative Arts. Under the vegetable market is Labirinto sotto Zelny, a medieval warren of passageways and cellars once used to hold everything from grain to condemned criminals.

Caves and canyons
Just to the north of Brno itself is the vast, extraordinary complex of caves and canyons at the Moravian Karst. There are more than a thousand of these, many of which can be safely explored on guided tours. The protected area around the Karst is a popular spot for walking and cycling along smooth, well-maintained paths.

Where to stay
Brno’s hotels can be extremely good value, meaning that even the grandest are within reach for a short break. The luxurious Barcelo Brno Palace, with its vast atrium, is perfectly located in the heart of the historic city. Even in June, you can stay here for around £80 a night. An alternative at a similar price is the smaller Hotel Royal Ricc, which features traditional Czech décor and is close to several good restaurants.

When to go
The ideal time to visit Brno is in the early summer, when sunshine levels are at their peak but before the crowds arrive during the school holiday season. In June, you can expect daytime temperatures of around 22C (72F), falling to 11C (52F) at night. Even in late July, afternoons tend to be comfortably warm rather than baking, with the average day peaking at 25C (77F). There are usually around nine days with rain each month.

Discover North Jutland, Denmark

With over seven thousand kilometres of sandy coastline to explore, Denmark is an alluring destination for a beach holiday for those who are attracted to the cooler climes of the north.

Endless skies, wild seas, and wide open spaces: perfect for walking, relaxing and simply embracing the open air lifestyle.

The coast of North Jutland has an undeniable beauty, with its white beaches, endless sand dunes, heathland, and trees bent by the wind into strange shapes. The unique quality of its light has attracted many artists over the years. North Jutland is where many Danish families holiday, and is the location of the best beaches with accompanying resorts, campsites, and holiday villages. The region is known for its charmingly snug wooden summer houses, where you can enjoy breakfast on the terrace in the morning and barbecue in the evening; ideal for experiencing ‘hygge’ the Danish sense of warmth and cosiness.

Skagen and other coastal towns of North Jutland
Skagen is an interesting town to visit – it was popular with Bohemian painters and has a museum which describes itself like this: “Originally opened in 1928, Skagens Museum became renowned for showcasing the works of the many painters who, attracted by the unique quality of light and sun-kissed coastal setting, flocked to the aptly coined ‘Land of Light’ at the turn of 19th century.”

Grenen Skagen is a particularly wonderful windswept beach at the tip of Denmark, where one can see the meeting of the North and Baltic seas and watch the waves crashing in from different directions. The remains of bunkers and ships dotted about from the Second World War are also of interest.

Food
Foodies may be interested in visiting Frederikshavn where there are many notable restaurants, such as the Cafe Staehr, which serves delicious food such as seafood pasta and Danish open sandwiches. Ice-cream from the Blue Ice Cream House in Tversted is renowned for being a Danish institution that is not to be missed!

Activities in North Jutland
As well as many watersports, such as surfing and kayaking, there are numerous scenic hiking and cycle trails following the coastline. There are also plenty of interesting events for days out throughout the summer season, such as the Aalborg Carnival and Skagen Bird Festival in May; the Mors Shell Fish Festival which is held each June; and the Logstor Clam Festival in July.

When to go
The warmer summer months are the best time to visit North Jutland, when you can hopefully enjoy long hours of sunshine. August is usually the hottest month with typical temperatures of 15.7C(60F). Sunshine, however, cannot be guaranteed and the water is likely to be chilly at best! But whatever the weather, North Jutland is the perfect destination for a Danish beach holiday with a difference!