The Best and Worst Cities to Drive In as a Tourist

By Lewis on 18th November 2019 - View Comments

Here on the WrightStart blog, we’ve talked before about driving in Europe, specifically when it comes to the green card system that might come into force post-Brexit [link to article here]. However, politics aside, there’s a lot that can make one city harder to drive in as a tourist than another.

Insurance site Compare the Market ranked 24 cities from across Europe, considering things like the cost of parking, price of fuel, congestion and road safety.

Our own capital city London came second-to-last  in the rankings, a decision that won’t surprise anyone who’s driven there before. Though it did well on road safety, with a relatively low 27.7 road fatalities per million residents, its charges for two hours parking were among the most expensive at an eye-watering £12. It also ranked 21st for congestion, with drivers having to deal with 227 hours of it every year.

The spot for the worst place to drive as a tourist goes to Rome, who scored low for their cost of fuel (just over £6 a gallon), car density (625 cars per 1,000 residents) and congestion (254 hours a year). Given how hectic and sometimes narrow the roads are over there, this shouldn’t be too much of a shock either.

Dublin, the only other British city in the study, found itself scraping through in 20th place. It managed a top 5 spot for car density, with 446 cars per 1,000 residents, and had just under 39 road fatalities per million residents. It did less well when it came to congestion and road quality, though; it only had a little less congestion than Rome at 246 hours, and its road quality rating was a disappointing 4.6/7.

Another country whose cities didn’t fare as well was Russia. They had two in the study – Moscow and St Petersburg. Though both cities took the top two spots for car density, with just over 300 passengers cars per 1,000 residents, paradoxically their fortunes reversed when looking at road safety and quality. Both cities had the same dismal road quality rating of 2.9/7, and they also shared the frightening statistic of almost 141 road fatalities per 1,000 residents.

Clearly, Russia is not the place to go if you value your life.

As for who came out on top, that honour goes to the German metropolis Frankfurt. It finished top of the rankings for congestion, with only 107 hours, and was in second place for the cost of parking, with a two-hour stay only costing you £1.70. Frankfurt also did well when it came to road quality, just missing out on the top 5 with a respectable 5.5/7 rating.

Other cities that did well included Nice in France, which came second in the overall rankings and third for its road quality with a 6/7 rating; Vienna in Austria, which had only 2 hours more congestion than Frankfurt; Madrid in Spain; and Portuguese capital Lisbon, where parking costs a miniscule £2.10 for two hours.

Notably, the rankings for road safety, parking prices and road quality were all topped by cities that fell outside of the top 5. Stockholm, Sweden had only 27 road fatalities per 1000 residents. In Warsaw, the capital of Poland, you pay just £1.30 for a two-hour parking stay, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands had the nearest to a perfect road quality rating at 6.1/7.

If this research tells us anything, it’s that no city is objectively the best when it comes to a tourist’s experience of it. Frankfurt may be the overall winner, but it did fall short in some things, as did every other city. In the end, your decision about where you go this summer willbe informed by your expected driving experience, but also much more than that. To end on a famous proverb, the world is your oyster…except for Russia, maybe.

If you want to see the rankings in full, click here.

Have you driven in any of the places mentioned? What were your experiences of them? Let us know in the comments!

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