Tips for traveling by car in Europe (France, Germany and Austria)


At the end of September this great little adventure started that led us to travel by car for a good part of central Europe. From Granada to Vienna we were separated by roads of all colors, landscapes of the most varied and cities with a long historical legacy.

Some 3000 kilometers of travel by car crossing Spain, France, Germany and Austria that we try to cover in a week of travel by car.

We started our route by car departing from Granada and headed to the Basque Country. It was a pleasant route without many things to highlight. Of course, we do not hesitate to avoid the Madrid radio stations at all costs.

The next day, very soon in the morning, we set off with the objective of touring the eastern part of the coast of the Basque Country and in the afternoon we arrive at Bordeaux.

Pay attention to the long lines at the French border

Sometimes, crossing the French border can take you the whole day. To avoid long lines, I recommend crossing the border at lunchtime as the gendarmes also eat and before arriving, check the traffic status through the official website of the Department of Security of the Basque Government.

If there are large retentions the best is exit the highway at Irún tollbooth and cross the border either through Hendaye or Behobia.

Tolls in France do not accept debit card

The Water Mirror in Bordeaux

Once in France it is necessary to keep in mind that toll booths are still used on French motorways. It is very important to remember that only accept cash or credit cards. Debit cards such as Visa Electron do not work.

And by the way, except for the most frequented departures, you will not find staff working in the cabins, so if you make the mistake of trying to pay with a debit card you will have to wait and wait until someone comes to help you.

Try to take metallic when traveling by car, you never know when it will be your only option.

In Bordeaux we made a small stop in the center and decided to park as close as possible. We did it in Gare Saint-Jean-Tauzia which was well priced, about 3 euros for 2 hours of parking.

We take the opportunity to move our legs and explore the city a little while walking along the riverbank.

Bordeaux is a very beautiful city. I think it's time to stop dragging the nickname "Sleeping Beauty" (in reference to its historic center and its monuments that were not sufficiently highlighted before) and renamed "the pearl of Aquitaine”For the exceptional urban complex it represents.

The next day we headed to Volesvres, a town in the interior of Burgundy. Before arriving we decided to make a stop at Paray-Le-Monial.

Gas stations in France and freedom of prices

Regarding gas stations in France, unlike in Spain, price freedom is a palpable reality and the differences between gas stations can be very large. So we left the highway (whose gas stations are more expensive) and tried to go to supermarkets or towns where they were cheaper.

Throughout the tour we use the application of ViaMichelin. After the experience he became one of our favorite apps to travel by car as it warns of speed limits, the price of each route or the location of gas stations. A very complete app.

How are the highways in Germany

The next day we woke up very soon as we had almost 800 km ahead. It was time to leave France behind and enter Germany.

The highways in Germany are free and have no speed limit. In addition, in busy areas they force trucks to go in a row, slowly and down the right lane. We spent most of the day on the road, as well as being the longest day behind the wheel there were retentions.

Our goal was to arrive in Munich before the 30th as we were going to go to Oktoberfest with some friends, so we just drove and stopped at a service station to eat something until we arrived in Augsburg.

Attention:If you want to travel through the big cities of Germany like Berlin, Cologne or Hanover. To enter them by car it is necessary to wear the sticker of Umweltzonen -related to the levels of low emissions of pollution- and from what I have been told, only the stickers issued by Germany serve you.

Before traveling, look if you need it and if so, inform yourself well.

The gas stations in Germany are self-service

Most gas stations (Tankstellen) are self-service and payment methods are like in Spain, with money or credit card. Usually if you pay with a card first they charge you the maximum (more or less 100 euros) and then (in less than a week) they return what you have not used. It also happens at some gas stations in France and Austria.

On the 30th in the morning I put on Dirndl (the traditional Bavarian costume) and we went to Oktoberfest. If anyone needs any advice on how to get to Munich or when it is the best time to go to Oktoberfest, you already know that you can ask me anything.

La Vignette: essential for driving in Austria and other European countries

Celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich