The difference between traveling around Europe and traveling, let’s say around the United States are the many different options when navigating Europe. Train travel is always a great way to go between major cities and inside almost all cities public transportation is excellent. But there may be times when the best option is to rent a car and drive. There are plenty of options for rentals, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you decide on car travel.
1. Driving in the major cities. Negotiating cities like Rome, Paris or London, as well as others can be very nerve-racking. These cities are not laid out like most cities in the United States, especially those in the Midwest or West that are really built for auto travel. European inner cities can be a real nightmare, as the streets often cut off; you really have to know where you’re going. I would always recommend in the major cities of Europe to forget about the car and take public transportation.
2. Traveling between major cities. If your objective is just to go from one city to another, going shorter distances by rail is the way to go. You’ll almost always save a lot of time because the rail stations are located in city centers. Over longer distances air travel is the way to go, although airports are usually located quite a distance from the centers of town.
3. Certain countries are better for driving than others. When you visit cities in far northern Europe such as Denmark, Sweden or Norway will find them more driver-friendly. And others such as Amsterdam will have enormous amounts of bikers that you will have to be aware of. But since people travel by bike at least it will keep some of the cars from the road.
4. When a car will work. There is some beautiful countryside to be experienced in Europe, and seeing it by car can be a great way to go. Also, smaller cities are usually quite easy to navigate. As with anywhere you must know where you’re going, and often in these cities they are excellent for walking, so always keep that option open.
5. Understand the obstacles of driving in the British Isles. Unlike all of continental Europe where everyone drives on the right side similar to America, in the British Isles everyone drives on the left side (or as we used to say, the wrong side). You should never be intimidated by this, but you’ll also have to be aware at all times. In time, believe it or not, you will get used to it.