How to Tour Europe in a Motorhome – Your Complete Guide

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we earn an income.

Campervan & Motorhome in Touring Europe

Do you want to explore Europe in your motorhome or campervan? There is enough culture, nature and diversity to last a lifetime. Taking a motorhome across Europe seems like an awesome idea, especially with our ultimate guide to help you work it all out!

We’re Phil and Izzy and we’ve been touring and travelling in a motorhome in Europe for over four years. Find out how you can travel Europe in a motorhome with practical motorhome advice, Europe motorhoming itineraries, travel tips and hints about living in a motorhome full time and loads of other useful stuff!  

tour europe in a motorhome

Basic Requirements for Europe Motorhome Travel

This section has been updated to reflect the post-Brexit agreement between the UK and EU on 24th December 2020. It’s boring, but spend just one day doing the research before you head off, and you’ll be glad you did. If you do get stopped you’ll have all the correct equipment and documentation to show. Follow our advice and travel tips covers the basics;

  • You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from Europe. If you’re traveling in a motorhome in Ireland, you passport only needs to be valid for your stay (UK citizens do not need a passport to travel to Ireland which is in the Common Travel Area).
  • From November 2023, all visa-free travellers to the European Union will need to register online with ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), pre-screen travellers from visa-exempt countries before they enter the Schengen Area.
  • A UK driving licence is needed for touring in a camper van in Europe. Your UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit.
  • You must have at least 3rd party motorhome insurance for your vehicle. Update August 2021 – you no longer require a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance cover when travelling in Europe.
  • From 28th September 2021, you will have to display a UK sticker on the rear of of your vehicle, instead of a GB sticker, unless you have a new style UK numberplate which displays the Union Jack flag. If you’re travelling in Spain you will need a UK sticker even if you have the new style UK number plates.
  • Headlights adapted for driving on the right.
  • You may need evidence of a return ticket and that you have enough funds to cover your stay – there is no fixed amount that a customs official might ask for, but you need to be able to show that you can maintain your motorhome lifestyle. Having said that, in the two years since Brexit, we don’t know anyone who has been asked to produce either a ticket of evidence of their financial position.
  • Brits should get a GHIC or EHIC (Global or European Health Insurance Card) – not a legal requirement, but free so why not?
  • We would also recommend your own travel insurance and Europe motorhome or campervan breakdown cover, but these are not legal requirements. We like True Traveller backpacking insurance if you need cover for more than three months. American’s traveling and RVing in Europe should look at World Nomads for cover.
  • Any country specific requirements for your vehicle – the AA’s country by country guides contains for up-to-date information about what you need to carry in Europe. 

Motorhome Europe After Brexit

Now the UK is no longer part of the EU, you also need to be aware of legislation that limits your freedom of movement in the EU, specifically the Schengen Area, if you’re planning a long motorhome tour of Europe. 

The Schengen agreement means you may only stay in this area for 90 days out of 180 days – overstaying your welcome can result in fines, refusal to re-enter and even deportation.

So, is long-term traveling by motorhome in Europe still possible? Absolutely it is – you just need to be organised and have a plan to ensure you don’t overstay. This comprehensive post about motorhome travel in Europe post Brexit explains all the details and offers advice and insight into how long-term motorhome touring in Europe is still possible.

RELATED POST: Motorhoming in Europe After Brexit

Europe Campervan Hire or Taking Your Own?

Taking your own motorhome to Europe is relatively simple. There’s no need to temporarily import your vehicle, even if you’re touring and you don’t need to have a left hand drive van. Just make sure you have the right documentation and required safety equipment, and you’re good to go.

If you’re new to motorhoming, or campervanning on the continent for the first time, then a two week holiday in western Europe is a great way to start, especially if you rent a motorhome.

Your rental company will ensure your campervan hire for Europe will come equipped with everything you need to enjoy a few weeks across the channel in July or August, and you’ll enjoy a great taste of European motorhome life.

For campervan Europe hire check out Indie Campers and for motorhome rentals in Europe go to Motorhome Republic, both reputable rental companies who get consistently good reviews.

If you’re coming from across the pond and used to traveling in an RV, motorhomes in Europe are a little different from RV’s in the States. Styled differently and significantly smaller (even if it feels large to us Brits!), we generally don’t have slide outs, full sized appliances or beds in our motorhomes. Most European motorhomes use cassette toilets, rather than having a black or black and grey waste tank, but you’ll be please to know that European motorhomes are usually left-hand drive, so just like traveling in an RV at home 🙂

RELATED POST: Everything You Need to Know About Motorhome Hire

motorhome on a road surrounded by sunflowers
Taking the slow road in northern France

Preparing Your Van for Europe

When planning and taking a motorhome or campervan road trip across Europe you’ll need to consider whether you have the right accessories in and on your motorhome for touring.

If you’re heading off on a short two week campervan trip in Europe, then you may already be well set up for this type of holiday and won’t need any special preparations to have a fantastic trip. 

New motorhome owners or those planning a longer tour may want to make some changes or additions. What you change or add will depend on how you want to travel Europe in a motorhome.

  1. Which countries will you visit?
  1. Will you wild camp or stay on sites? How off-the beaten track do you want to be?
  1. Will you be travelling Europe in a campervan across seasons, or sticking to summer or winter?
  1. Are you intending to leave Europe and/or the Schengen area for different regions of the continent?
  1. What’s your budget?

RELATED POST: Motorhome Accessories, Equipment & Options

For us, we have found the additions below to be invaluable when spending more than a month or so on the continent. If you intend to travel long-term or regularly in Europe, then these extras will pay for themselves.

Heating

If you’re planning on spending winter in mainland Europe then you may need heating in your motorhome. Some areas in countries like Spain and Portugal are warm enough year round for you to not need heating, but if you head into the mountains, then you could well be facing freezing temperatures.

RELATED POST: Winter in a Motorhome – Tips, Tricks & Essentials

Gas and LPG

You can’t take a UK gas bottle to Europe and exchange it. This means if you run out of gas, you’ll have to carry your empty bottle and buy a bottle in whichever country you are, as well as a suitable regulator. This is not difficult, but it is a hassle and an added expense.

Disposing of your empty bottle is illegal, and it’s also illegal to re-fill Calor gas type bottles at the pump, so there really is no easy way round getting gas if you’re not prepared.

If you’re touring for more than a month or so, we would highly recommend a refillable Gaslow or Gasit system which can be filled in any EU country (including the United Kingdom) at the pump using a set of special adaptors.

You’ll save money every time you fill, LPG (called GPL in Europe) from the pump is around 70% cheaper than buying it in a bottle.

The down-side with a refillable system is that in the UK lots of garages have stopped selling LPG at the pump as the take-up of gas driven vehicles has ben surpassed by electric technology. A good compromise is to have one bottle on a refillable system and one UK bottle, and we hear about more and more people doing this.

If you’re planning to visit Morocco in your motorhome, gas at the pump isn’t available (nor in Finland) so this does need careful planning.

RELATED POST: An Easy Guide to Motorhome Gas & LP in Europe

Solar

If you are planning on free camping in aires or wild camping in Europe (if you’ve a wild camping newbie, it’s the ideal place to start) then you will need equipment to ensure you have electricity when you’re overnight parking off grid.

This might include a solar panel and you may want to upgrade your leisure batteries. You could also consider a solar generator, which is totally portable and will provide you with enough power to wild camp as much as you like, as long as the sun is shining!

RELATED POST: An Easy Guide to Motorhome Electrics

Air Conditioning

With summer temperatures regularly getting into the early 40s in Europe, air conditioning can literally be a life saver. One summer in France, despite being dyed in the wool wild campers, we spent every night in a campsite or aire, just so we could plug in and have air con!

If a roof mounted a/c unit is too expensive, take a look at portable air conditioning solutions – the technology has advanced in recent years, and some of them are pretty good. Make sure to check the size though, as they can be large!

Awning

If you’re travelling in summer, then an awning of some description is an absolute must. Having one fitted retrospectively can be expensive, but a drive away awning, simple gazebo or even a collapsible umbrella can do the trick.

Sat Nav

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of motorhome routes through Europe. Make sure you have a motorhome sat nav that has European mapping, or use a satellite navigation app such as Google Maps.

Yes, it’s possible to use a paper map but ideally you want up to date information and be able to set your dimensions in the sat nav if you’re in a larger van. This helps to avoid routes with weight or height constraints, like low bridges, and allows you to set your route to miss toll roads, if you prefer to take the more scenic route.

RELATED POST: Top 16: Best Motorhome Sat Navs

Water Filter

If you’re planning on visiting countries where the quality of potable water is questionable, or you don’t want to drink de-salinated water (common in southern Spain), then a water filter is a great option. We have a Nature Pure filter fitted, a job a competent DIY’er could manage. We love not having to buy bottled water and then having to cart the empty bottles around until we find a recycling point.

motorhome parked on the beach by blue sea and mountains
Wild camping in Sicily Italy

What Kit Do You Need In Your Motorhome?

Are you taking a 2 week campervan trip in Europe or longer? Will you be travelling Europe in a camper van across seasons and into different regions of the continent?

Packing List

Have a look at our essential motorhome kit list for an idea of what kit and gear we think is important when taking a motorhome to Europe. You’ll also find links to a free motorhome packing list covering kitchen, garage, gadgets, safety equipment and personal essentials.

RELATED POST: 101+ Motorhome Essentials You Need + Packing Checklist

Motorhome Internet & Wifi

Connectivity is important if you want to stay in touch with loved ones, post on social media and keep up with what’s happening in the world.

We know that information regarding European roaming on a UK contract changes frequently so we keep our post about motorhome internet and wifi up to date, so you can check the best equipment and sim card options for your needs.

RELATED POST: An Easy Guide to Motorhome Wifi & Internet

Motorhome TV

We all like a bit of tv, and being in Europe doesn’t change that. There are lots of ways of getting tv in a motorhome, and when you’re abroad there are a few things to be aware of if you want to watch UK television.

RELATED POST: Motorhome TV – Five Ways to Watch in Your Van

Bikes

You also need to consider how you’ll get out and about, especially if you intend to remain static on a site or an aire for more than a few days.

If you’re in an urban area, the public transport may work, it’s defiantly the best way to get into cities. More remote and you’ll want to be able to get to the nearest village or head off for a day out.  

We take bikes and a scooter in our garage, some people use e-bikes and others tow a car or motorbike. If you’re touring Europe in a VW campervan or similar pop up camper, then you can use this vehicle to get out and about too. 

RELATED POST: The Best Motorhome Bike Racks & Bikes

Make sure you research thoroughly if you want to tow a car – the law regarding A-frames in Europe is often mis-quoted and not always clear. You may find some helpful information on various Facebook forums for motorhome owners, and on the UK Government website.

Gross Vehicle Weight

What and how much you pack will also depend the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of your motorhome and how much storage space you have.

As a general observation, if you fill your storage space you are likely to be overweight – just because you have loads of cupboards doesn’t mean you should fill them all!

Read our guide to understand how motorhome weights work and don’t forget to include your toys – bikes, kayaks, gadgets and so on when thinking about weight.

RELATED POST: An Easy Motorhome Weight Guide

Europe Motorhome Destinations

How on earth do you choose where to go when touring Europe by campervan? How do you fit it all in?  

You could spend literally years in a camper in Europe and not see it all. If you don’t have years, you need to decide what to prioritise when route planning.

Is this a break from work to chase the sun and chill? Are you a culture vulture looking for Roman ruins and ancient worlds? Do you love hiking in the amazing national parks of Europe? Or, like most of us, looking for a bit of both? 

Check out our motorhome touring guides for the most popular European countries, where you’ll find information about driving, motorhome services, camp sites, wild camping spots and top destinations. Be inspired by stunning landscapes, mountains and coasts and incredible road trips.

Europe is your oyster, you just need to go and grab it!

Motorhome Touring Guides

Motorhome Germany – A Complete Touring Guide

motorhome Germany
A motorhome tour of Germany offers incredible adventures. From the stunning Alps, the Black Forest with it’s gorgeous romantic road, to medieval cities, fairytale castles and magical Christmas markets this surprising and interesting country is a must-see road trip destination for campervans and motorhomes.
Read More Motorhome Germany – Your Complete Touring Guide

The Complete Guide to Motorhome Touring in France

motorhome travel in France
Motorhome touring in the beautiful and varied country of France is a pleasure, you will be welcomed with open arms. From the Cote d’Azur with stunning views of the Mediterranean to the deserted and tranquil interior and twisting crystal clear rivers, France is the perfect place to spend a summer in your motorhome. Read this complete guide to motorhome touring in France and go prepared!
Read More The Complete Guide to Motorhome Touring in France

How to Tour Spain in a Motorhome – A Complete Guide

motorhoming in Spain
With one of the best winter climates in Europe and friendly locals, Spain is a perfect country for a motorhome road trip. With the colourful traditions, good food and wine and fabulous architecture, you have all the ingredients for an amazing tour. We share all you need to know about touring Spain in a motorhome or campervan here.
Read More Motorhoming in Spain – Your Complete Guide

Top Tips for Touring Portugal in a Campervan & Motorhome

How to Tour Norway by Campervan

campervan Norway
Norway is one of the most beautiful countries we have ever visited and a real bucket list destination. Mountains, glaciers and waterfalls appear around every corner, with vast areas of wilderness waiting to be explored. If you love adventure and raw nature, then Norway is for you! Campervans touring Norway are welcomed; wide, empty roads and great facilities beckon. Our essential guide to visiting Norway in a motorhome will provide you with all the information you need…what are you waiting for?
Read More Motorhome & Campervan Norway – Tips, Routes & Destinations

The Complete Guide to Touring Italy by Motorhome

motorhome Italy
Taking a motorhome to Italy is an experience not to be missed. This gorgeous country, full of beautiful light, fabulous food and landscapes straight from a film set, will not disappoint. In this post, you’ll find all you need to know about touring Italy by motorhome.
Read More The Complete Guide to Touring Italy by Motorhome

Motorhome & Campervan Greece – Complete Guide

motorhome campervan Greece
Greece is a wonderful country to tour in a campervan if you like the road less travelled. Packed with ancient sites, beautiful beaches and turquoise seas, historic towns and cities, and majestic mountains, Greece is a country just waiting to be explored. Get our complete guide to motorhoming in Greece here.
Read More Motorhome & Campervan Greece – Complete Guide

Planning Your Morocco Motorhome Adventure

Motorhoming in Morocco
Morocco is the perfect post-Brexit escape if you’re looking to spend three months out of the Schengen area. To enjoy your motorhome or campervan tour, planning and preparation is critical. Read on to find out all you need to know.
Read More Planning Your Morocco Motorhome Adventure

Motorhome Stopovers & Travel in Belgium

A motorhome road trip to Belgium is ideal for a quick get away from the UK and is a tiny yet fascinating country. Belgium is often overlooked and passed through en-route to elsewhere but if you make Belgium a motorhome destination, you’ll be glad you did!
Read More Motorhome Stopovers & Travel in Belgium

Motorhoming in Ireland – A Complete Guide

red campervan on a road with Irish mountains in the background
Ireland is a fantastic non-Schengen option for motorhome travel. Easily accessible from the UK or Northern Ireland, this understated country packs a punch of lush rolling hills, dramatic coastlines, rich heritage and entertaining cities. Find out all you need to know in our campervan and motorhome Ireland travel guide.
Read More Motorhoming in Ireland – A Complete Guide

The Best Motorhome Holidays in Europe

motorhome holidays in europe
Are you planning a motorhome holiday in Europe? With so many countries, cultures and even climates to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which destination in Europe is right for you. Check out our destination ideas and plan your European road trip with our helpful guides and motorhome travel tips.
Read More The Best Motorhome Holidays in Europe

Motorhome Route Planner Europe

Ok, so now you’ve got some ideas about where to go on your motorhome trip of Europe, you need to actually plan your Europe travel route.

RELATED POST: How to Plan a Europe Road Trip – The Complete Guide

Planning a route for touring Europe in a campervan can be as complex or as simple as you want. Some people like a clear plan and a short amount of driving time per day with overnight stops booked or planned in advance, others like to just go with the flow and see what happens. 

It’s why we fall out every time we look at a map or start any road trip planning!

Do you want access to our FREE resource library packed with travel resources & motorhome checklists?

Overnight Stops for Motorhomes in Europe

When it comes to where to stay overnight in a motorhome or campervan, Europe has lots of great options;

Motorhome Campsites

Campsites are a great option if you have a family or you like to stay out for more than a few days at a time. They also make great pit-stops if you’ve been on the road for a while, and facilitate things like clothes washing and cleaning your van.

We love a good campsite after a month off-grid. Suddenly, everything seems effortless – no worries about whether there will be enough sun to top-up the leisure batteries and no issues about how long it takes to rinse the conditioner from my hair in the shower! If there’s also a bar, we look forward to meeting fellow motorhomers for a good chinwag!

One way to save money on your trip is to get an ACSI card. This discount card is invaluable if you’re planning to use campsites, with the scheme giving you up to 60% off per night prices out of high season. This can mean a site for as low as €12 a night.

It’s worth getting this sorted before your camping trip to Europe as ACSI need a couple of weeks to post out the card and books to you.

RELATED POSTS

Motorhome Aires

Motorhome aires are a great way to stay overnight for very little money, often in out of the way spots. Motorhome aires in France have paved the way for other countries to set up similar schemes, where the aire is funded by the local municipality to encourage motorhome visitors into the area. There are now in excess of 10,000 aires across Europe.

The costs and arrangements at each aire differ, so make sure to read the rules when you arrive. Aires cannot be booked and work on a first come, first served basis, so you need to make sure you have a back-up plan in case the aire if full.

Use Park4Night or All The Aires books to identify where you want to stay.

RELATED POSTS 

Wild Camping

Another popular option, motorhome wild camping is widely accepted across Europe (with the exception of Portugal, who have really cracked down on this in 2021).

If you’ve only ever motorhomes in the UK, you might be surprised at the ease of which you can wild camp your way across the continent, without raising eyebrows or upsetting the locals. Much of Europe is much less densely populated than the UK and there are vast areas of land which are not populated at all.

There are some rules (and a few unwritten ones too) which will help you find the right spot and stay safe when wild camping – enjoy the freedom and hopefully a stunning view!

RELATED POST:

Alternatives to Wild Camping

If you’re not a wild camper at heart but don’t always want to stay on a site, there are lots of schemes to help motorhomers stay overnight in interesting places, and are easy to build into your road trip itinerary if you want to get off the beaten path.

From France Passion to Portugal Easycamp, In Camper Con Gusto in Italy and Espana Discovery, all these schemes offer a place to stay overnight in a motorhome.

motorhome parked amongst vines in Portugal
Staying in a vinyard in Alentejo Portugal

Motorhome Services in Europe

Another surprise to UK motorhomers is just how easy it is to find services in Europe. Right across western Europe you’ll find services on a regular basis, almost in every town.

Many are free, some have to be paid for, but it’s usually no more than a few euros to empty your toilet cassette and grey waste, and fill up with fresh water. This makes the idea of camping off-grid so much easier.

Services can be found in aires, fuel stations, motorway services, supermarkets and on the outskirts of towns and villages. Use Park4Night to find services near you.

Van Life Europe

You’ve done it… you’re on the road and starting your European motorhome tour, although adventure is probably a better word!

RELATED POST: Living in a Motorhome in Europe – Your Complete Guide

Frequently Asked Questions 

Whilst we all have views about van life in Europe, there are some topics that crop up time and time again. See our post about the questions we always get asked – if your burning question is not there then feel free to email us. We’re always happy to give an honest answer if we can and we love questions.

What do you do if something goes wrong?

Things can, and do, go wrong. At the time, it can be very anxiety provoking, especially if you don’t speak the language. We drove around France for three weeks (it was August and EVERYWHERE was close) with our over-cab bed held up with acro props and it was really stressful.

A good first place to ask for help is our Facebook group – remember to share the make and model of your vehicle plus when asking for help.

Search in Google for a motorhome workshop near you. Most of these places are run by motorhomers themselves and they will help if they possibly can.

You will also find a list of top 20 motorhoming FAQ’s here – from why your fridge isn’t cooling to why you tap doesn’t work.

How much does it really cost to tour Europe in a motorhome?

Lots of people ask us how much it costs to live in a motorhome in Europe. Our answer is always the same – it depends on how you want to live.

Make sure you have emergency funds accessible to you, whether that’s cash stashed in a secret place (not our recommendation) or an emergency credit card. Read more about general safety in our motorhome security guide.

RELATED POST: What Is the True Cost of Touring Europe in a Motorhome – A breakdown of weekly, monthly and annual costs + tips to help save money on the road

How do you manage preventative maintenance on the road?

Prevention is always better than cure as far as motorhomes are concerned. In our experience, water and condensation are the two areas where people have most problems.

Often it’s a simple issue, but the first time something goes wrong can be challenging and if you don’t know, you don’t know. 

RELATED POSTS

How do you make sure your relationship survives?

Being with your other half 24/7 in a small tin box may not be quite as romantic as you imagine! Motorhome life may come as a shock if you’re both used to rushing in from work at 6pm, collapsing in front of the tv before bed and then repeating for five days of the week.  

RELATED POST: Ten Truths of Travelling Together

Wherever you decide to go in Europe, happy and safe motorhome travels!

Are you looking for more useful motorhome advice? Check out these top posts…

motorhome tips for beginners

Motorhome Tips for Beginners – Essential Know How for Motorhome Life

Being a first time motorhomer can be daunting, so we’re sharing our top motorhome tips and hints for beginners so you can learn how to motorhome with confidence. This guide includes tips for new motorhome owners, practical motorhome advice and easy guides, top travel tips from years in a van and free downloadable checklists to get you motorhoming like a pro!
Read More Motorhome Tips for Beginners – Essential Know How for Motorhome Life

Love it? Pin it!

touring Europe in a motorhome
campervanning in Europe