What Is the Cost of Driving Abroad On Holiday This Summer?

What Is the Cost of Driving Abroad On Holiday This Summer?

Heading on holidays this summer? With August right around the corner and school holidays upon us, many people will be igniting holiday fever and hitting the roads abroad this summer ... but what are the major expenses of driving in Europe this year? Our guide reveals everything you need to know about the prices of diesel, unleaded petrol, diesel and car hire in EU countries.

According to a new study by Post Office Travel Money, more than 1-in-5 holidaymakers plan to drive while in Europe this year. It surveyed and found that selecting the right car, route and insurance can help keep your travel costs down.

Read more: Guide to driving in Europe!

Cost of unleaded petrol in EU countries

France and Spain are considered to be the most popular holiday destinations, where fuel prices have remained fairly consistent. 46 per cent of those surveyed said that they have driven or will drive in France this year, while 39 per cent has driven or will drive in Spain.

In Spain, unleaded petrol costs £1.19 a litre and diesel £1.12 a litre - 22p and 18p less than in France. Over 1,000 miles of motoring that makes a difference of £32 for unleaded petrol and £27 for diesel.

The study found that the price of unleaded petrol in Cyprus is 98p per litre, 11.7 % down from last years fuel price. That is around 12p a litre cheaper compared to other EU countries. Car rental costs in the country are the lowest too. Five other countries - Luxembourg (£1.09), Austria (£1.10), Belgium (£1.32), Greece (£1.43) and Italy (£1.50) - also registered year-on-year falls of between 1-5p per litre despite the recent drop in sterling’s value.

The EU countries surveyed where pump prices have increased compared to last year is Sweden (£1.38, + 15%), Croatia (£1.32, +12.8%), Germany (£1.43, +7.5%) and Slovenia (£1.21, +7.1%), while other countries surveyed were either similar to 2018 or rises were no greater than 2.4 per cent. Most expensive of all in the 12 EU countries surveyed was Norway, where a litre of unleaded petrol costs £1.62, and the Netherlands at £1.60.

Petrol (Price per litre of unleaded)

1. Cyprus 98p

2. Austria £1.10

3. Spain £1.19

4. Switzerland £1.28

5. Belgium £1.32

5= Ireland £1.32




7. France £1.41

8. Germany £1.43

9. Portugal £1.49

9= Greece £1.49

11. Italy £1.50

12. Netherlands £!.60

(UK: £1.28)


Cost of car hire abroad?

If you’re planning on renting a car abroad and you opt for a basic rental package, it is possible that you could face heavy excess charges. You can avoid this by adding a “zero percent excess insurance” to your policy. This ultimately means that you will pay no excess fee, but bear in mind this can also sometimes double the price of your package.

Post Office Travel Money found that a basic £157 rental cost increases to £394 in Belgium when the extras are added on. Prices also double in Cyprus, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France. Post Office Travel Money also found that holidaymakers renting cars in Europe risk excess charges of up to £1,434 if they damage the car or the vehicle is stolen.

Furthermore, their research shows that half of motorists who opt for a car rental abroad fail to take out Excess Waiver Insurance (EWI) which reduces their excess to zero in case of any damage incurred to the vehicle. Only a third of people surveyed protect themselves against tyre, undercarriage and window damage.

Drivers that damage their car rentals or have their vehicles stolen can end up paying excesses between £534 in Corfu (hiring from Corfu International Airport) and £1,434 in Switzerland (hiring from Zurich Airport).

Renting a car in spain could mean that holidaymakers face an excess of £872, and in the Algarve in Portugal it’s in excess of £974. As for renting a car for nice drive along the Amalfi coast – excess fees can start from £1,409 in Italy!

'Remember that many extras must be paid in local currency when collecting the hire car. Change pounds into foreign currency before leaving home to cover this cost rather than incur charges for paying on plastic.' - Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money

Below is a table showing the cost of car hire in 13 destinations across Europe;

 Collection airportTotal cost Basic car hire (advanced) 0% Excess Waiver Insurance  Additional driver  40 litres unleaded petrol
 Larnaca, Cyprus  £368.97  £154.37  £143.31  £32.09  £39.20
 Brussel, Belgium  £394.32  £157.40  £147.47  £36.65  £52.80
 Palma, Majorca  £432.65  £227.82  £87.34  £69.89  £47.60
 Vienna, Austria  £452.59  £228.96  £138.72  £40.90  £44.00
 Berlin, Germany  £458.88  £198.63  £144.84  £58.21  £57.20
 Amsterdam, Netherlands  £498.26  £198.59  £204.92  £30.75  £64.00
 Malaga, Spain  £505.43  £237.91  £145.47  £74.46  £47.60
 Pisa, Italy  £509.09  £222.48  £173.19  £53.43  £60.00
 Faro, Portugal  £550.25  £312.74  £132.16  £45.76  £59.60
 Corfu, Greece  £581.61  £353.09  £140.25  £28.67  £59.60
 Zurich, Greece  £594.98  £342.95  £120.04  £78.39  £59.60
 Nice, France  £609.72  £296.22  £186.98  £70.13  £56.40
 Dublin, Ireland  £651.00  £352.10  £184.11  £62.00  £52.80

Diesel VS Petrol - which is cheaper?

According to the study, diesel is perhaps the most affordable option, as it is was cheaper than unleaded petrol in three quarters of the countries surveyed. In both France and Spain the diesel prices per litre was relatively similar - 11p and 7p per litre less than unleaded petrol. Belgium, Switzerland and Cyprus were the only countries were it cost 8p or more.

If you opt for diesel, you can save up to 32p per litre in a country like the Netherlands, for example, as it costs £1.28p per litre, while the cost for unleaded petrol accounts to a staggering £1.60 per litre.

Diesel (Price per litre of fuel)

1. Austria £1.02

2. Cyprus £1.06

3. Spain £1.12

4. Germany £1.20

5. Ireland £1.23

6. Netherlands £1.28



7. France £1.30

7= Portugal £1.30

9. Greece £1.32

10. Switzerland £1.34

11. Belgium £1.35

12. Italy £1.40

(UK: £1.33)


Why it pays to fill up before you travel

For instance, if you’re driving from the UK to France, It makes sense to fill up your car with unleaded in the UK first before setting off, as pump prices are lower - £1.28 to be exact. Doing this will help you save around £5 before you need to refuel. Contrarily, diesel users have to pay £1.32 per litre, which is more than most EU countries.

Taking Your Car to France? Don't Forget Your Crit'Air Sticker!

To avoid expensive fuel prices, you should specifically look out for hypermarkets and supermarket fuel stations like Carrefour, E.Leclerc or Intermarche, as these places can save you about 20p a litre on motor-way pump prices. In a nutshell, Smart travel plans need to be made long before you even leave your home so that you don’t get get caught out with unexpected extra holiday costs on fuel and car hire abroad.

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