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Motorway ranking in Europe – prices, regulations, payment methods

How do motorways in Poland differ from European standards? Which motorways in Europe are the best? Read on to gain practical information about prices and rules on the most picturesque routes on our continent.

Motorways in Poland: standards and development

Although Poland is not a leader in Europe in terms of the length of its motorways, it can boast ambitious plans to expand the national system of expressways and motorways. Currently, according to the GDDKiA, our country has 1,849.2 km of motorways, which puts us in the middle position in the European ranking. Most motorways in Poland are free. The only exception are sections belonging to private concessionaires: A1 Rusocin – Nowa Wieś, A2 Konin – Świecko and A4 Katowice – Kraków.

The quality of Polish highways

In terms of quality, Polish highways are on par with Western standards. Modern road surfaces, safety systems and convenient passenger service points are elements appreciated by both domestic and foreign drivers. Polish roads rank 20th in Europe in terms of quality, so we have a long way to go if we want to catch up with the ranking leaders, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Payment for motorways in various European countries

When traveling around Europe, it is worth paying attention to the variety of toll systems for using motorways. In the vast majority of European countries, tolls are collected at toll plazas. An alternative solution, i.e. vignettes, can be found, among others, in the Czech Republic, Austria and Romania. In Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, highways are free for passenger cars, which is rare on the Old Continent.

Toll rates on motorways in Europe

Highway prices vary depending on the country and payment method. Vignettes often have time variants (10 or 60 days) that authorize you to drive on expressways and motorways. A vignette for 10 days in Austria costs less than 10 Euro. In other countries, rates are based on the route travelled. In Spain, the average price is 10 Euro per 100 kilometres travelled. As you can see, the longest motorway network in Europe comes at a price!

Motorways in Germany: driving without speed limits?

German motorways, known all over the world for their lack of speed limits, are considered an icon of the European automotive sector. However, in reality there are local speed limits on many sections of roads, and every driver should remember to adjust their speed to the prevailing road conditions. The quality of German and Dutch roads is a benchmark for other countries. All thanks to the use of high-quality materials and regular monitoring of the technical condition of the surface. 

Road ranking: the best routes in Europe

When it comes to motorways in Europe, it is impossible not to mention Spain, which with over 17,000 km of highways, is the undisputed leader on our continent. However, length is not the only indicator of quality. Let’s take into account the motorways in France – 11,612 km of well-maintained routes in the so-called “Hexagon” (l’Hexagone), which ensure smooth and safe travel between cities of strategic importance for the country. There is also an extensive motorway network in Italy and Great Britain. Italian highways, although not the cheapest, have great connections between important parts of the country. 

An interesting “almost highway” in Poland

For those fascinated by roads and forgotten routes, we also recommend the unfinished Gdynia – Katowice highway (Kuyavian-Pomeranian / Pomeranian Voivodeship), which, before World War II, was supposed to connect Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Łódź and Katowice, bypassing the Free City of Gdańsk. This route is located on the voivoideship road from Warlubie to Skórcz and, despite the passage of time, it is still in impeccable condition.

Motorway ranking in Europe

We ranked European route E40, commonly called “the longest highway in Europe”, in first place. It connects highways and national roads in 11 countries, from France to Kazakhstan.

PlaceNameCountryAre they paid?Fee AmountSpeed limitLength (km)Route
FR: A16
BE: A18, A10, A3
DE: A44, A4, A45, A5, A7, A4
PL: A4
France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine  dependsdependsFR: 130
BE: 120
DE: 😉
PL: 140
About 8500Calais – Dunkirk – Brugge – Brussels – Cologne –Dresden – Zgorzelec – Krakow – Lviv – Kiev – Ridder
 A7Denmark – Germany – Austria  NONot applicableNot applicableAbout 962 kmFrederikshavn – Hannover – Imst
 A1FranceYES€14.10130 km/hAbout 211 (130 paid)Paris – Lille
 A1Netherlands – Germany  NONot applicable120 km/hAbout 158Amsterdam – Bad Bentheim
 A1ItalyYES€55130 km/hAbout 757Milan – Rome – Naples
 A2Netherlands – BelgiumNONot applicable120 km/hAbout 213Amterdam – Vise
 A4 – A12Poland GermanyNONot applicable140 km/h in PolandAbout 260Poznań – Berlin
 A1SwitzerlandYESdepends120 km/hAbout 410Saint-Julien-en-Genevois – Geneva – Zurich – Wil

 The longest motorway networks in Europe

PlaceCountryAre they paid?Fee systemSpeed LimitLimit (km)
 SpainYESToll plazas120 km/h17.228
 GermanyNONot applicableNone, suggested 140 km/h15.306
 FranceYESToll plazas130 km/h11.664
 ItalyYESToll plazas130 km/h7.016
 Great BritainNO **Toll plazas112 km/h3.649
 PortugalYESToll plazas or gas stations120 km/h3.065
 NetherlandsNONot applicable120 km/h2.790
 SwedenNONot applicable110-120 km/h2.185
 HungaryYESVignettes  130 km/h1.860
 PolandNO*Toll plazas140 km/h1.849

*only three sections**with a few paid exceptions

Summary: in search of the best route

It is difficult to objectively choose the best motorway in Europe, so our ranking should be seen as based on our subjective observations. We took into account the quality, condition of the road surface, the development of infrastructure around the road, as well as, its strategic importance on the map of Europe. Some transport hubs, such as the Poland-Germany route, are crucial for European transport. We belong to the Schengen zone, so we are free to explore all the European countries. It’s best to form your own opinion by enjoying some amazing adventures and journeys. Or maybe you already have your favourite highway in Europe?

FAQ: Motorways in Europe

What is the average motorway toll in Europe?

The average motorway toll in Europe varies from country to country. In Poland, the rate is 20-30 groszy per kilometre while in Spain it is 10 Euros per 100 kilometres.

Are there plans to build new motorway sections in Poland?

Yes, work is underway to expand the motorway network in Poland, including the construction of new sections, all with the aim of improving communication and accessibility of various regions of the country. 

What are the main differences in motorway regulations between European countries?

The biggest differences concern speed limits, fee systems and safety regulations.  

Are there free motorways in Europe? 

Yes, there are countries in Europe where motorways are free. Politicians promised that Polish highways were also going to be free, but this has only been partially achieved.