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Parking Safely in Europe

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 26 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Parking Safely In Europe

Parking in Europe is generally an easy and fairly painless process if you know the right locations to park. In some of the larger cities, you will find that you’re unable to park during certain peak hours and will be forced to either remain outside the city with your vehicle or leave it there and take public transport to the city centre. Many countries employ similar systems when it comes to parking and familiarising yourself with them before you venture out is a great idea.

General Tips for Parking in Europe

There are some common sense aspects to parking in Europe that apply to many countries there, similar to how they’d apply in the UK. If you’re planning to take your car into a city where you know you’ll need to look for parking:
  • Carry loose change – Many cities require exact change in parking meters and some shops won’t provide change for parking
  • Learn the signs – Read nearby parking signs and ensure that you know what they mean and how long you’re allowed to stay parked there
  • Check other cars nearby – If they are all displaying tickets then it’s likely you will also have to display a ticket
  • Look for parking areas that are well-lit, legal and close to amenities

Blue Zone Parking in Europe

Many countries throughout Europe have cities that operate a system known as ‘blue zone’ parking. Countries such as Italy, Holland, France, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain all have Blue Zone parking. What this means is that you are only allowed to park there for a minimal number of hours – generally around 2 hours at most.

Blue Zones are usually marked differently depending on the city you’re in, however they are well signed and you should be able to easily identify them. Most Blue Zones require you to purchase a parking ticket or disk from a nearby shop, police station or tourist office. They may charge at times, but in most cases they are free. These are then placed in the window of your car to show when you arrived.

Pay Parking in Europe

A large number of parking garages throughout Europe now simply give you a ticket when you enter the parking area and then you need to pay on the way out. Similar to NCP car parks in the UK, these parking garages are usually manned and you can pay either an attendant or a machine. In some countries, there are special ‘Women Only’ spaces that are located right next to the exit and in the best lit areas. These are particularly common in Germany and are great for extra piece of mind should you be travelling alone through Europe as a female driver.

Unusual Parking Areas in Europe

Many parking garages throughout Europe are worth visiting simply to see how different they are from the UK. In Barcelona, due to lack of space for car parks, they have employed a high tech solution to help ensure people are parked safely. In some cases, you simply drive into a ‘chamber’ and then exit your vehicle and chamber. At this stage, the car will hydraulically be moved to another area, often below the ground. You’ll then simply remember your number and when you return your car will be brought back from the ground so you can be on your way.

Points to Remember

As with parking in the UK, remember that you can be fined or wheel clamped in Europe. There are ways that you can pay your fines – ranging from paying over the counter at a tobacconist, to sending the fine via credit card when you get home.

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