preloadAerial view of the car on a picturesque road.

Road Trip Index

Welcome to your source for analysing the best countries to go on a road trip in. See ratings divided into six categories and based on 17 different factors.

Best countries for road trips

When travellers consider taking a road trip, especially in a lesser-known country, they have many factors to take into account. Plenty of questions come to mind, the answers of which can make the road trip smooth or bumpy. To make these considerations more manageable, we’ve analysed 31 countries in Europe and ranked them according to 17 factors in six categories.

The index below gives a ranking of how well-suited the countries are for a road trip. Each country’s final score was derived from the weighted average of all the factors and is presented on a scale from 1-100. However, we’re using each factor’s original values below for better clarity.

You can see how countries rank on the individual factors by clicking on the factor icons.

* Tolls policy has been categorised 1-4 with: 1 – denoting toll-free roads, 2 – payment required only for certain bridges/tunnels, 3 – some paid motorways, 4 – time-based vignettes
** As there is no official speed limit in Germany, 160 km/h was used for the sake of comparison with other countries

The factors presented are in the original data values but the total score is presented on a 1-100 scale, with 100 being the best, based on the normalisation calculations. For more information, please see the full Methodology.

Weather

rain drops – Precipitation (mm/year)

sun – Sunshine (hours/year)

Safety & Infrastructure

odometer – Speed limits (km/h)

warning sign – Car accidents (per 1,000,000 inhabitants)

safety – Road quality (1 (low) – 7 (high) scale)

Pricing

fuel policy – Fuel (price per litre)

tolls – Tolls policy (categories 1-4)

hotel – Hotels (avg. price/night)

parking – Parking (2h, on street)

Traffic & Sustainability

ev charger – EV stations (per 100 km2)

air pollution – Air pollution (avg. annual exposure)

congestion Road congestion (avg. in major cities)

car key – Passenger cars (per 1,000 inhabitants)

Car Hire

– Ratings (avg. all hire companies)

car hire – Prices (avg. per day)

Nature & Landmarks

point of interest – Heritage sites (per 100 km²)

nature – Attractiveness of natural assets

            (1 (low) – 7 (high) scale)

Insights from the study

The rankings from this study are divided into six distinct categories: Weather, Safety & infrastructure, Pricing, Traffic & sustainability, Car hire and Nature & landmarks. Each of these categories uses multiple factors that each have different weights, depending on their impact on the attractiveness of a road trip.

The countries that are ranked the best for a road trip are likely countries with attractive pricing, great road conditions, plenty of nature to explore, competitive car hire rates and low traffic congestion. Subsequently, the countries that are ranked less attractive for a road trip likely have higher prices, unfavourable road conditions and/or don’t have as much nature.

Why Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg are the Top 3

Portugal landed the coveted No. 1 spot as the best country in Europe for a road trip. This is because Portugal scored well in several impactful factors, including road quality, amount of attractive nature and landmarks, and pricing of car hires. It also scored well in amount of sunshine, and has very little air pollution or road congestion.

Spain came in No. 2 for many of the same reasons as Portugal: good road conditions, good nature and landmarks, and lots of sunshine with little rain. It also has very few car accidents and reasonably-priced car hires.

While Luxembourg didn’t score high on weather, it came in No. 3 due to its amazing yet often-overlooked nature and landmarks. Reasonable car hire, accommodation and petrol prices plus toll-free roads also make it less expensive to explore.

Methodology

Portugal cityscape on the Douro River and Dom Luis I Bridge.

Category winners

Deep dive into the six categories below to see the strengths and weaknesses of individual countries. Here too, you can see how countries are ranked by specific factors by clicking on the factor icons.

Weather

#1 Spain

It’s no surprise that Spain has fantastic weather. A combination of low precipitation and the most hours of sunshine makes Spain the ideal country to enjoy a sunny road trip.

A beautiful view over the cliffs during a road trip in Spain.

 

Search cars in Spain

Safety & Infrastructure

#1 Switzerland

Switzerland is a very safe country to drive in. It comes in first place as the country with fewest annual car accidents, and it also has the best road conditions. Generally, the countries that scored well here have fewer car accidents and good road conditions.

Search cars in Switzerland

A family in car, enjoying the road trip.

Pricing

#1 Ukraine

This category ranks a country based on its petrol, accommodation and parking prices and its toll policies. Ukraine comes in first place because it has cheap petrol, very competitively-priced accommodation, great prices on parking and toll-free roads.

Friends having fun during a road trip.

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Traffic & Sustainability

#1 Netherlands

This category encompasses factors that affect traffic conditions like air pollution, congestion and number of cars per 1,000 inhabitants. It also takes into account the number of EV charging stations for those hiring an eco-friendly car. The Netherlands has an extremely high density of EV stations compared to its total land mass, plus relatively few cars for its population. Generally, countries that scored well here have less congestion compared to other countries.

 

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A girl charging an electric car

Car Hire

#1 Slovakia

This category ranks countries based not only on how much it costs to hire a car but also car hire company ratings. Slovakia came in first with a winning combination of the second-cheapest car hire prices coupled with excellent car hire company ratings.

An elderly couple driving a hire car.

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Nature & Landmarks

#1 Switzerland

This category comprises two factors that can often come to mind when considering a road trip in particular: the attractiveness of the country’s nature and the number of Heritage Sites. Switzerland takes the prize here with its majestic mountains, lakes and forests, but it also has the third-most Heritage Sites in Europe in relation to its land mass.

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An impressive view over Swiss landscape.

Methodology

Data in six categories has been collected in order to rank European countries in terms of their road trip-friendliness: Weather, Safety & Infrastructure, Pricing, Traffic & Sustainability, Car Hire and Nature & Landmarks.

Within these categories, a total of 17 factors have been defined to reach a comprehensive overview of aspects that travellers may encounter and care about when deciding on the destination of their road trip.

A total of 31 European countries have been included in this analysis. The remaining European countries have been excluded due to incomplete data.

All sources have been accessed and data retrieved between 22 February – 10 March 2021. The numbers collected are based on the latest available data. See the full list of data sources.

  1. For each of the 17 factors, a weight indicating its importance has been assigned (1 – lowest, 5 – highest). Attractiveness of natural assets is considered to be the main driver for tourism, hence it has been assigned the highest weight. It is followed by Heritage Sites, road quality and a range of pricing factors influencing a decision for a road trip holiday. Lower weights have been assigned to factors in the weather category as well as others that are not considered the main decision drivers for road trip destinations (e.g. number of passenger cars per capita).
  2. Values within each factor were firstly normalised using formulas: score = 10 * (x – min(X)) / (max(X) – min(X)) and score = 10 – 10 * (x – min(X)) / (max(X) – min(X)) for inverted values (e.g. car accidents where the lower value is better).
  3. The weighted average score of the factors has been calculated for each country.
  4. Lastly, the weighted average score of the factors has been normalised using the formula score = 99 * ( ( (x – min(x) ) / ( (max(x) – min(x) ) ) + 1 to reach the final score on a scale between 1 and 100 (with 1 being the lowest and 100 the highest score).

The same procedure has been applied separately for rankings within individual categories to determine category winners.

Data sources & factor definitions

Weather:

The Weather category comprises two factors:

Sunshine
Avg. sunshine hours per year in a country, based on avg. in major cities.
Source: Wikipedia

Precipitation
Avg. precipitation in depth (mm per year).
Source: The World Bank


Safety & infrastructure:

The Safety & infrastructure category comprises three factors:

Speed limits
The highest possible speed limit has been taken into calculation (i.e. on motorways or the next highest speed limit in a country if no motorways exist). Since no official speed limit is in force in Germany, the value of “160 km/h” has been used for the sake of comparison with other countries.
Source: Wikipedia

Car accidents
Car accidents resulting in injuries and deaths per 1,000,000 inhabitants.
Source: OECD (2021), Road accidents (indicator). doi: 10.1787/2fe1b899-en (Accessed on 10 March 2021)

Road quality
The road quality factor is measured on a scale of 1(low) – 7(high).
Source: World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018


Pricing:

The Pricing category comprises four factors:

Tolls policy
The countries have been divided into four groups based on their method of toll charging:

1 – toll-free motorways
2 – tolls only for certain bridges/tunnels
3 – toll collection at toll gates (fixed price or distance-based)
4 – motorway charged by vignette (time-based)

These four groups have been weighted with 1 ranked the best and 4 the worst. Due to the difficulty in comparing distance vs. time-based payment methods, the simplification has been made here that vignette as the unavoidable cost should be rated the lowest.
Source: Tolls.eu

Fuel prices
Euro-super 95, Price (USD) for 1 litre.
Source: GlobalPetrolPrices.com (Data from Feb 8- Feb 14 2021)

Hotel prices
Avg. hotel price per night in USD for standard double room across all hotel types. Prices based on the search period 01/01/2021 – 23/02/2021 for the travel period: 01/04/2021 – 31/12/2021.
Source: KAYAK internal data

Parking prices
Avg. prices in USD for 2-hour on-street parking. Data from 2019 (Global Parking Index) or latest available (calculated as an avg. from big cities in a country).
Source: Parkopedia Global Parking Index 2019 & Website (Accessed on 22 February 2021)


Traffic & Sustainability:

The Traffic & sustainability category comprises four factors:

EV charging stations
Calculated as the total number of EV charging stations per 100 km².
Source: Open Charge Map

Cars per capita
Passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants
Sources: Eurostat, Statice.is, Wikipedia

Congestion level

Avg. congestion level (2020) expressed as a percentage, calculated as an avg. from major cities.

Source: TomTom Traffic Index 2020

Air pollution exposure
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the air pollutant that poses the greatest risk to health globally. Data refers to population exposure of more than 10 micrograms/m3 and is expressed as annual averages.
Source: OECD (2021), Air pollution exposure (indicator). doi: 10.1787/8d9dcc33-en (Accessed on 10 March 2021)


Car Rental:

Car rental category comprises of 2 factors:

Car rental companies

Avg. ratings of all car hire companies in a country on a scale of 1-100, where 100 is the best.

Source: KAYAK internal data

Car rental prices

Avg. prices for a car hire per day in USD and across all vehicle classes. Prices based on the search period 01/01/2021 – 24/02/2021 for the travel period: 01/04/2021 – 31/12/2021.

Source: KAYAK internal data


Nature & Landmarks:

The Nature & landmarks category comprises two factors:

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Calculated is the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a country per 100 km², based on the total number of Sites in a country.

Source: UNESCO Heritage List

Attractiveness of natural assets

The extent to which international tourists visit a country mainly for its natural assets (i.e. parks, beaches, mountains, wildlife, etc.) (1 = Not at all; 7 = To a great extent).

Source: World Economic Forum, “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019”