Europe by auto

Old Jan 10th, 2022, 04:54 PM
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Europe by auto

Planning a spring trip to Europe, but with that I do have some concerns with ease of travel. My main question today is crossing borders by automobile. From the way it sounds every time you enter a new country itís a negative Covid test along with vaccination card. Does anyone know how strictly that is enforced. We will be starting in Amsterdam, then on to Belgium, France, finishing up in Italy. May also pass through Switzerland. Thank you in advance for any input!
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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 06:20 PM
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Hi MsNelly, welcome to Fodor's. Yes, I think you are right to worry about moving between countries. I don't know what country you come from but different countries have different capacities for acceptance depending on what kind of vaccine certificates they wield. I am Australian and it is harder to get a vaccine pass accepted in Europe than some other countries - I am starting a thread about this elsewhere in the Europe forum. It is possible but cumbersome to produce all the right tests and paperwork, so you would be better advised to just stick to a minimal number of countries (one being optimal, you will still have to get tests and show paperwork). It's not just by car, but by train, plane or bus as well.

Another concern about this is that some of your countries are currently in lockdown (Netherlands is shut down, and parts of Belgium have tight restrictions). Now is basically not a great time to travel there, and no-one knows how long it will go on for. You might be OK by spring, a month or two can be quite a long time.

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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 06:31 PM
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Hi, I left a response but it is in moderation - stay tuned !

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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 06:43 PM
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It seems to me that anything anyone knows now will be irrelevant by the time of your trip. Rules and conditions will have changed and I'd always count on rules being enforced, to be prepared, whether they end up being so or not.

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Old Jan 10th, 2022, 07:53 PM
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Unfortunately the rules aren't heavily enforced. We've had some pretty outrageous episodes the last few years.

Also considering how long your trip is likely to be the rules could easily change mid drive.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 03:19 AM
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There is no way of knowing what, if any restrictions will be in place by the spring but at the moment you cannot get a vaccine pass/app QR code in the Netherlands. There are plans to introduce one for tourists but no idea when.
Some non EU passes are recognised but I don't know which ones. The normal CDC certificate is not recognised. It has to be a QR code with ID. You will probably still need an EU approved QR code, either printed or in an app in order to travel and gain admittance to some places. in most countries the spring.
The theory behind the EU QR codes was that there wouldn't be a need for extra tests and checks for intra EU travel, but some countries have added extra requirements. Whether they will remain depends on how the virus develops over the next few months.
There is a time limit on the validity of double vaccines - 9 months, but a booster extends that.

Closer to your planned departure you need to review what is needed and how to obtain the documentation for it. All countries have websites with info in English on their requirements.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 06:48 AM
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Have you driven in Europe before? How many days do you have? Amsterdam to Rome through Belgium, France and Switzerland is a LOT of driving.

You'll need proof of vaccination for more than just entering countries.

Besides Covid rules, I assume you're investigating the cost of a one-way car rental and whether some point-to-point train rides with a couple of short car rentals might make more budget sense.

If you haven't driven in Italy before, you need to learn all about ZTLs... zona traffico limitato. These are areas established in almost every Italian town of any size into which you can't drive during certain hours on certain days. If the Italian part of your itinerary leans toward the big cities, having a car would be more hindrance than help.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 07:32 AM
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"Spring" is at least two months in the future. Just about anything can happen by then. In any case, for people driving, the spot checks are very sparse and in the Schengen zone, you often do not even notice when you have crossed a border. However, when you get to a new foreign city it will be important to know what rules are in place.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 08:53 AM
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In response to Jean, we are leasing a car so the rental fees are not a concern. As far as Rome we have no intentions of going there or any large cities. But your points were very valid. Our trip at this point is 6 weeks so we will travel short distances per day. Rather than staying in Amsterdam we will be in Leiden, near the tulip fields. From there to Bruges, just because we liked it when we were there before. From Bruges into France with Colmar as a destination. As for Italy we will be staying in the Lake Como area doing side trips from there.
Also I tend to agree with kerouac or itís just wishful thinking!

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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 08:59 AM
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I have friends who do this sort of journey, they tend to be young and just unaware how boring and tiring the roads are with often high levels of high speed density. In normal years I will do Bruges to Colmar every couple of years and try and stay on the Belgium motorways as much as possible. But, and it is a big but, I time the Brussels Ring to avoid rush hour. It can be terrifying.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 10:24 AM
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You will also need to be aware of low emission zones around some cities and in some areas of France. Without the right badge on your car you could get stuck being unable to move if the air quality is low. Brussels also has a LEZ. For Switzerland you will need a toll badge.
If you have six weeks you can have a good trip. My sort of holiday tbh.

Basically at the moment we have no idea of what things will be like at tulip time. Omicron is causing havoc right now, but hopefully things will have improved by then.

https://www.lez-belgium.be/en.html
https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 02:21 PM
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bilboburgler, fun to hear you do the Bruges to Colmar run. I would welcome any suggestions you may have of favorite places as well as things to do.
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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MsNelly View Post
In response to Jean, we are leasing a car so the rental fees are not a concern. As far as Rome we have no intentions of going there or any large cities. But your points were very valid. Our trip at this point is 6 weeks so we will travel short distances per day. Rather than staying in Amsterdam we will be in Leiden, near the tulip fields. From there to Bruges, just because we liked it when we were there before. From Bruges into France with Colmar as a destination. As for Italy we will be staying in the Lake Como area doing side trips from there.
Also I tend to agree with kerouac or itís just wishful thinking!
This is where we stayed in the Lake Como area when driving in northern Italy:

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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 02:37 PM
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This is where we stayed whiel driving around Lake Como:

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Old Jan 11th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Thank you for the links, I was not aware of it.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 12:22 AM
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IF you decide to come to Switzerland you will need to prove your vaccine status and file a Passenger Locator Form. AND right now to eat in any restaurant, go to a museum etc etc requires the vaccine passport. The Swiss one is 100% EU compatible and can be obtained via the internet. See this site for information:
​​​​​​https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home...ml#-1428730671

You will also need to buy a vignette (sticker) to put on your windscreen when you enter Switzerland. Cost is 40frs and this represents tolls for our autoroutes/autobahns. You can buy that at the border crossing (presumably Basel since you say you will be in Colmar).

At the moment Italy has about the strictest COVID rules in Europe so be very sure you know what those are before you get there. The poster who mentioned the limited traffic zones in Italy was right to do so - almost every town of any size has these and they enforce them with cameras. I got a €100 fine in Lucca once just because I took the wrong turn out of a parking lot and ended up in the Limited Traffic zone. I stopped a policewoman and asked how to get out of it and she was very helpful but I got the fine anyway. In Italy and Switzerland it is a good idea to find a hotel on the outskirts of a town that has parking for its guests and then leave the car there. Take local transit to get around.
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 01:28 AM
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Bruges to Colmar

depending on routes

Trier has some amazing buildings
The Mosel is a lovely river with some of my favorite wineries along its length including Trier
The Saar bend is a good photo op
Somewhere in there (sorry details lost) is a massive Roman camp you can visit
The Lalique museum is a nice visit
The Belgium space centre is dull, as is much of southern Belgium, but the countryside is good for walking and I've stayed for the odd night near the space centre as the accom is easy to get to fro the motorway. You will find the towns pretty run-down though.
Strasbourg centre is very pretty
Alsace has some great wineries
People tell me Nancy is pretty, I've just never been.
Luxembourg (the cheapest fuel in the area) is a great place to fill up the tank, the second best bit is the wineries along the Mosel and finally the fortress remnants in the city.

If in doubt I'll pop into France at Givet to eat, no real reason just prejudice (plus the fortress is impressive)
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 11:17 PM
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The centre of Nancy is extraordinarily beautiful. Area around the Place Stanislaus. And there are a lot of Art Nouveau buildings in Nancy too if you like those ? I love them!
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Old Jan 12th, 2022, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by MsNelly View Post
In response to Jean, we are leasing a car so the rental fees are not a concern. As far as Rome we have no intentions of going there or any large cities. But your points were very valid. Our trip at this point is 6 weeks so we will travel short distances per day. Rather than staying in Amsterdam we will be in Leiden, near the tulip fields. From there to Bruges, just because we liked it when we were there before. From Bruges into France with Colmar as a destination. As for Italy we will be staying in the Lake Como area doing side trips from there.
Also I tend to agree with kerouac or itís just wishful thinking!
Leiden has very scarce parking in the city centre.
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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 12:38 AM
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Do please at least consider touring by train:. It might well be faster and more comfortable than you expect, and less stressful than driving:
https://www.seat61.com/european-train-travel.htm

That's if Covid developments allow, of course.
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