Vignettes, tolls, and electronic toll collector systems – the methods and rates differ, but the necessity of paying for highways and tunnels is common for many European countries. Before you get on the road, see how much you can expect to pay.
By making a web of highways available to drivers, Germany does not pose the only exception in Europe. However, during the holiday trips that usually go from the colder North to the hotter South, one needs to take additional costs into consideration.
The days when only filling up your tank dictated travelling costs are long gone. The standard of the roads has improved, new highways, tunnels through mountains and long bridges have been built. These amenities shorten the time spent on the road and have improved road safety, but have caused certain driving inconveniences. Both drivers and passengers participant in road investments, and one-time fees or vignettes purchased for a certain amount of time increase the cost of travelling.
Let’s assume that a tourist from Poland decides to vacation by a warmer sea than the Baltic. They choose the Adriatic by the coast of Croatia and take the road through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. Apart from driving on the roads in Poland, it is worth looking into the charges for using highways and tunnels in the four other countries. The most important factor is how long you will stay. Finding out about gas prices across these countries will also come in handy.
If your trip won’t be more than 7 days, then the cheapest vignettes are necessary. If you are planning a two-week-vacation, you need to purchase a vignette for one or two months, and the difference in price is quite significant. Starting in the Czech Republic, where a permit to use payable roads for 10 days (if bought in Poland) costs 68.50 PLN, and for a whole month – 89.50 PLN; through Austria, where a 10-day-permit is 37.50 PLN and for two months – 75 PLN; then through Slovenia, where a vignette for 7 days is 88.50 PLN, and for a month – 153.50 PLN; to Croatia, where road fares are collected at toll booths. A trip from the north Croatian border to Dubrovnik by car will cost the equivalent of around 130 PLN paid either in kuna or euros. In total, assuming that our stay is more than 10 days, we will have to add 500-600 PLN to the cost of fuel and whatever we have to pay for highways in the country we set off from.
It’s worth filling your car up before you cross the first border. Some extra fuel will come in handy in the Czech Republic, as the prices go up the further South you go. The highest prices you will see on the road are not in Austria, as one could suspect, but in Slovenia and Croatia.
A different holiday option? Imagine, a tourist from Poland wants to see the fjords by the Norwegian Sea. If they don’t want to use ferryboats, they will drive through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The beginning of the journey seems promising as it is unnecessary to pay for German and Danish roads. However, going over the enormous Storebaelt bridge, which joins two Danish islands, and through another huge construction – Oresund, which connects Denmark to Sweden – costs approximately 140 and 240 PLN. Thanks to the fact that the highways in Sweden are free, we will be able to take a break from road charges. In Norway, there is a high chance payable roads, bridges and tunnels will be used. Charges for entering a city centre can also be expected. They have been implemented to encourage drivers to leave their vehicles before entering downtown.
The most popular way to collect payments for using the roads in Norway is an electronic system Auto Pass. “…the most convenient way is to open a free account at autopass.no and use the pre-paid system. You need to enter your car information. After setting up the account you can use all paid roads without stopping at the tollbooths,” – advocates norwegofil.pl.
If these formalities are not fulfilled, nothing bad will happen – you can still go. However, after returning home, the owner of the car will receive a demand for payment. “If that is the case, within six months you will get an invoice from the Euro Parking Collection (EPC) from London. There are no additional payments connected to this way of settling the liabilities for using the roads. However, you will have to cover your bank’s charges for money transfer and currency exchange…” – described norwegofil.pl. While this is all true, it’s easy to avoid unfavorable currency conversion. All it takes is the use of Conotoxia’s services. One can quickly and conveniently open an account, exchange currencies at profitable rates and then send the money to a specified bank account.
Where will you miss Polish prices
The gas prices in Norway compared to the salaries in Poland can encourage you to travel by bike. After conversion, one litre of gasoline costs 7 PLN. It is also unprofitable to tank gas in Denmark. Gas and oil in Germany and Sweden are cheaper, but still more expensive than in Poland. The peak of the European pyramid of gas prices, apart from Germany, lies also in the Netherlands, Italy and Greece – the price of a litre of gasoline exceeds 6.5 PLN there. A breakdown of gasoline prices all over the world is published on Bloomberg at https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/gas-prices/#20171:United-States:PLN:l.
It’s hard to find a gas station, where you can tank LPG in Scandinavian countries. Additional problems ensue the fact that the fillers installed in Poland for LPG tanks differ from the plugs used at the stations in Norway. Drivers can bypass this by using the adapters, that are sometimes available at the Norwegian gas station.
Surprise at the end of the world’s longest road tunnel
Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, which are also popular holiday destinations (more and more flights available for Poles) – do not indulge drivers too much and have implemented tolls for using highways. Like Poland, the toll system is based on in and out gateways, and the fares are based on the distance driven on the highways. Apart from Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, which we have already covered, vignettes are also required in Switzerland, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary. A complete list of the conditions and fees can be found at pzmtravel.com.pl. Information can be found and vignettes can be purchased at the Polish Motorized Association facilities in the largest Polish cities. Vignettes can also be bought for instance at the gas stations in the countries you will be driving through, although cheaper, it can be more hassle.
Driving without putting a vignette on the windshield of the car can be very risky. The fines for forgetting or trying to avoid paying tolls can cost up to 16-17 thousand PLN. This is why it is better to remember about these additional costs or plan your trip through countries like Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, where roads and highways are usually free of charge. The only exceptions in these countries are the tunnels. However, not all tunnels in Europe charge. The world’s longest car tunnel, which connects two Norwegian cities: Lardal and Aurland, is over 24.5 km long. Driving through this tunnel, which saves a lot of time, generates no additional costs.