Foreign Drivers Report

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Sep 06, 2022

The best and worst countries to drive in as a tourist

One of the best ways to truly experience a new country is by car, allowing you to explore your destination at your own pace, and go wherever your curiosity takes you.

However, driving abroad can be intimidating, trying to find your way around unfamiliar roads, all while remembering to stick to a whole new set of rules and regulations and sharing the road with fellow road users who might not be quite as considerate as you’re used to back home.

So, if you’ve recently passed your driving test and are looking to hit the open road on the holiday of a lifetime, which are the best (and worst) countries for foreign drivers?

To find out, we’ve analyzed a number of countries around the world on factors such as road safety and quality, as well as the cost of hiring and filling up a car.

The best countries for foreign drivers

1. Spain

Up from third place in February, Spain is one of the most visited European nations and has lots to offer, from the gorgeous beaches to the mountains further inland, as well as historic and vibrant cities such as Barcelona and Madrid. If you choose to road trip your way through Spain, you’ll enjoy a low level of congestion (17.44% increasing from 14.40% over the last six months), relatively cheap car hire ($44 per day up 28.7% from $26 in February 2022), and safe roads (3.9 traffic deaths per 100,000 people).

2. Slovenia

Slovenia is the perfect destination for a road trip as its small size and diverse landscape, ranging from the Adriatic coast to national parks full of natural wonders, make it wonderful to explore on four wheels. Travelers in Slovenia can enjoy cheap off-street parking and a high number of attractions too (151 per 100,000 people up from 147 in February 2022). Up three places from over the last six months, Slovenia now ranks second.

3. Portugal

Rising from fourth place six months ago, Portugal is one of the world’s most visited destinations thanks to its mild climate and hundreds of kilometers of beaches and its packed full of unique attractions, including UNESCO world heritage sites too. If you’re planning a road trip through Portugal, you’ll find low levels of congestion (17.60%, an increase of 4.7% since February 2022) high-quality roads (5.99/7), and many attractions (167 per 100,000 people, up from 160 since our last report) along your way.

The best country for…

Congestion – Norway (14.75%)

When you’re trying to get to grips with driving in a new country, the last thing that you want is to be stuck in traffic. In this sense, Norway was the best-performing country, up from second place over the last six months, with its cities averaging a congestion score of just 14.75% (a drop of 3.6% since February), meaning that journeys take an average of 14.75% longer in rush hour. Of course, this percentage will be far higher in major cities such as Oslo and Bergen, but if you’re embarking on a scenic road trip to explore Norway’s fjords, lakes and quaint coastal towns, you won’t need to worry too much about traffic.

Safety – Singapore (2.09 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people)

When you take into account the unfamiliarity of driving abroad, and potentially driving on a different side of the road, if you’re not careful you could find yourself in an accident. Thankfully though that’s unlikely to be the case in Singapore which tops the ranking again this year, where there are just 2.05 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people, making it one of the safest countries to drive in in the world.

Road quality – Singapore (6.45)

When driving in a new country, you may find that not all of the roads are kept to the same condition as you’re used to back home, which can present a number of challenges. However, Singapore has the best-kept roads, keeping its title from February and scoring 6.45 out of 7. In fact, the roads on the streets of Singapore are so good that they host the Singapore Grand Prix each year.

Car hire cost – Brazil ($23 per day)

If you’re driving abroad, you’ll probably be hiring a car, but doing so can be a big drain on your expenses throughout your trip. However, that won’t be such an issue in Brazil, which has shot up from 20th place in February, knocking Slovakia off the top spot, although car hire in Slovenia was in fact cheaper six months ago, at $21. A day’s car hire in Brazil costs just $23 on average, which is less than half its price of $52 in February.

Fuel price – Malaysia ($0.46 per liter)

Another expense that you’ll have to contend with while road tripping abroad is that of fuel, and the cheapest country for a liter of gasoline is Malaysia, keeping its poll position from February. Malaysia’s fuel is so cheap due to a lack of taxation from the government and costs just $0.46 per liter on average, a decrease of 3 cents six months ago.

Parking – Lithuania ($1.23 for two hours)

Parking is a cost that can add up very quickly, especially when you’re not a local and don’t know all the best places. When looking at the cost of two hours of off-street parking, Lithuania was the cheapest country on average, at a cost of just $1.23.

Attractions – Italy (212 per 100,000 people)

While exploring the open road is an adventure in itself, it’s the things to see and do that really draw you to a country, so we also took a look at which nations have the highest concentration of attractions to explore on your road trip. Italy has the most, continuing February’s trend, with 212 for every 100,000 people, including cathedrals, galleries, ruins, palaces, and more. Thanks to its increasing population, Italy’s number of attractions per 100,000 people has decreased by 2.5% over the last six months, although it’s still far ahead of the competition.

Instagrammability – United States (452,134 posts)

Social media is a major source of travel inspiration these days and the country that saw the most people showing off their road trips was the USA, with just over a million posts using the hashtag #USAroadtrip. This is up from 430,000 in February 2022, an increase of 34.8% keeping the USA in the top spot.

TikTok views – United States (36,400,000 views)

The USA also tops the rankings for TikTok views, with more than 46 million views for posts hashtagged #USAroadtrip. This comes as no surprise with it being home to one of the most famous road trips in the world, Route 66.

Road trip searches – United States (113,800 annual searches)

Similarly, the US is still the most searched country when it comes to people researching where to go for their next road trip using Google. Over 113,000 people searched for “USA road trip” in the last twelve months, a decrease of 23.8% from February’s 159,200.

Six-month changes

Congestion – Luxembourg (25.0% decrease)

Luxembourg has the biggest decrease in congestion, with its traffic decreasing by a quarter over the last six months. The government of this tiny nation has offered its citizens free public transport since 2020 in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on cars and cut down on its congestion problems.

Car hire cost – Brazil (55.5% decrease)

With its car rental price dropping by over half since February, Brazil has the biggest decrease for this factor. This decrease is thanks to two of Brazil’s biggest car hire firms merging, resulting in a price drop for customers.

Fuel price – Estonia (15.4% decrease)

Estonia has seen the biggest decrease in fuel costs, dropping by more than 15% since February. Gas stations in Estonia have had to lower their prices in the country recently in response to the fear of a global recession.

Attractions – Brazil (7.7% increase)

Taking the top spot with the biggest increase in attractions is Brazil, rising by 7% to 16 per 100,000 people over the last six months. These attractions include natural wonders such as the beaches and islands that line its Atlantic coast that can be found on the popular road trip route from Santos to Rio de Janeiro.

Instagrammability – Czechia (130.4% increase)

In terms of Instagram posts, Czechia has seen the biggest increase, more than doubling its total since February. This isn’t surprising as the country is home to some of the most picturesque locations in Europe, including Krkonoše National Park, Rešov Waterfalls, and Karlstejn Castle.

Road trip searches – Luxembourg (119.9% increase)

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has seen the biggest increase in road trip searches, over double that of February’s 1,410 searches. Thanks to its small size, Luxembourg is ideal for road trips, with such short distances between beauty spots.

The best and worst countries to drive in as a tourist

Methodology

We looked at the 41 countries around the world for which data was available for each of the following factors. We gave each country a normalized score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across all nine for our final overall score.

Congestion

An average of all the cities from each country in TomTom’s 2021 Traffic Index. This score shows how much longer a 30-minute trip would take compared to the city’s baseline uncongested conditions.

Safety

Estimated road traffic death rate per 100,000 people according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory.

Road quality

The quality of road infrastructure in the country, scored out of seven according to the World Bank.

Car hire cost

The average cost of hiring a car for one day according to Kayak.

Fuel price

The average cost of a liter of gasoline according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com, as of August 1st, 2022.

Parking

The average cost of two hours of parking in an off-street space according to Parkopedia’s Global Parking Index.

Attractions

The number of things to do listed on Tripadvisor, calculated per 100,000 people using population data from the World Bank.

Instagrammability

The number of Instagram posts mentioning the country using the hashtag “[Country] road trip”, correct as of August 1st 2022

Google searches

The number of global Google searches for the term “[Country] road trip” between July 2021 and June 2022 according to Google Ads Keyword Planner.

Tiktok views

The number of Tiktok posts mentioning the country using the hashtag “[Country] road trip”, correct as of August 1st 2022

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