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Scenic route

How much does a European driving holiday cost?

One of the many question marks looming over the UK since the EU referendum is how Brexit will affect British travellers, especially when it comes to holidaying in Europe.

Right now, it’s simply a question of waiting to see what the consequences or benefits to our future holidays may be.

So, looking at right now - how much would a family holiday in Europe during peak season roughly cost if you were to book it today and drive there in your own car?

Let’s look five favourite destinations…

Driving to The Netherlands

Most people who head to Holland tend to visit Amsterdam for a few days before heading back home. Yet those who venture through the country’s forests, fens and meadows to reach the superb beaches stretched along the cost, will find it an excellent destination for a road trip.

With good road conditions, clear signage and courteous drivers, The Netherlands also offers relatively stress-free driving, provided you avoid the cities during rush hour. And unless you plan to use tunnels to cross the border, you don’t need to worry about toll charges.

  • Return ferry: from £281 per family of four – Harwich to Hook of Holland
  • Fuel prices: £1.09 per litre (Natural 95) or £1.01 per litre (diesel)
  • Toll booths: none, unless using tunnels Kil or Westerschelde to cross the border
  • Accommodation: from £42 per night (one room, two people) or from £90 per night (for a family of four)
  • Average meal: approx. £100, three courses for four people

Total cost for a family of four

Approx. £1,622 (plus fuel) per one week holiday

Driving to Spain

Spain is often cited as one of the cheapest European destinations for a driving holiday, partly thanks to its low fuel prices. Most are tempted by the reliable weather and enticing beaches down in Andalucia, especially as there’s a popular circular drive that also takes in Malaga, Cadiz, Sevilla and Granada.

It’s a long journey if you’re planning to get there in your own car (approx. 1,340 miles) and the road trip not only covers the length of Spain, but also France. That’s why we advise you make this trip at least two weeks long.

  • Return ferry: from £160 per family of four – Dover to Calais
  • Fuel prices: £1.00 per litre (Natural 95) or £0.90 per litre (diesel)
  • Toll booths: 38 roads, two bridges/tunnels (highest individual charge approx. £24)
  • French/Spanish border: approx. £10 each way
  • Accommodation: from £60 per night (one room, two people) or from £85 per night (for a family of four)
  • Average meal: approx. £50, three courses for four people

Total cost for a family of four

Approx. £2,100 (plus fuel and toll charges) per two week holiday

Driving to Ireland

It might not necessarily be considered the most adventurous road trip on our list, yet Ireland has several scenic drives that are well worth investigating. In fact, the Wild Atlantic Way is a world-famous coastal route that spans seven counties and soaks up some of Ireland’s most dramatic scenery.

There’s also the shared benefit of speaking the same language and driving on the left-hand side of the road. And the country is small enough to have a good crack at exploring it over seven days.

  • Return ferry: from £382pp per family of four – Liverpool to Dublin
  • Fuel prices: £1.09 per litre (Natural 95) or £0.90 per litre (diesel)
  • Toll booths: six roads, additional tolls for six bridges/tunnels (highest individual charge approx. £8.50)
  • Accommodation: from £79 per night (one room, two people) or from £100 per night (for a family of four)
  • Average meal: approx. £52, three courses for four people

Total cost for a family of four

Approx. £1,446 (plus fuel and tolls) per one week holiday

Driving to Italy (Amalfi Coast)

There are countless drives to enjoy in Italy, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time on the Italian roads then you should definitely consider a journey to the Amalfi Coast.

These narrow cliff-edged roads can seem a little scary at times, yet it’s widely considered Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline. And although a family road trip during peak season isn’t going to be cheap, it’s hard to disagree with UNESCO which calls it ‘an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape’.

  • Return ferry: from £160 per family of four – Dover to Calais
  • Fuel prices: £1.27 per litre (Natural 95) or £1.14 per litre (diesel)
  • Toll booths: 63 roads, five bridges/tunnels (highest individual charge approx. £47)
  • France/Italy Border: approx. £38 return at Mont Blanc tunnel
  • Accommodation: from £28 per night (one room, two people) or from £53 per night (for a family of four)
  • Average meal: approx. £80, three courses for four people

Total cost for a family of four

Approx. £2,022 (plus fuel and toll charges) per two week holiday

Driving in Norway

If you thought a family holiday in Europe during peak season was already looking expensive, then prepare yourself for our most costly option yet.

Norway is far from cheap. But those who can afford to visit are rewarded with quiet coastal roads that pass breath-taking scenery, particularly when exploring the fjords. So, although it comes at a price, you can expect to find a remarkably rich driving experience here.

However, with plans for a direct ferry service from Newcastle still in progress, the only way to currently visit Norway in your own car is by crossing The Channel to France, driving through Belgium, Germany and Denmark, and then crossing the North Sea. And that’s just one way. So unless you have plenty of time on your hands, we suggest a flight and car hire option instead.

  • Return ferry: from £131pp to Bergen with Norwegian
  • Car hire: from £290 with Europcar
  • Fuel prices: £1.37 per litre (Natural 95) or £1.23 per litre (diesel)
  • Toll booths: 30 roads, 16 bridges/tunnels (highest individual charge approx. £20 per driver)
  • Accommodation: from £82 per night (one room, two people) or from £113 per night (for a family of four)
  • Average meal: approx. £140, three courses for four people

Total cost for a family of four

Approx. £2,585 (plus fuel and toll charges) per one week holiday

Things to note

Our calculations are based on recent searches and data that can change on a daily basis, so should be used as guidance only. And of course, no matter where you decide to go, the cost of your holiday can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it.

  • All calculations are based on a week or two week holiday in August
  • Return ferry prices based on two adults and two children (under 12) in an average car, without trailer or caravan
  • Fuel calculations based on 12 July 2016 prices
  • Tolls based on 2016 information
  • Accommodation based on 3* hotel in stated destination
  • Meals based on mid-range restaurants in stated destination

If you’re thinking about a road trip in Europe, make sure you’re covered in case of a breakdown.

And for more information about European rules and regulations, be sure to check out these articles: Driving in Europe and European Driving Laws.


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