Europe, this word carries many emotions and some of the fondest memories for local people and wanderlusts alike.
Europe is home to some of the breathtaking landscapes, meticulously preserved cultural heritage sites, flourishing wildlife, verdant countrysides, heavenly cuisines, and the kindest strangers on earth.
It is no wonder that European countries consistently rank amongst the best tourist destinations in the world. From the bustling streets of Paris to the peaceful valleys of the Swiss Alps, Europe has got everything for every kind of traveller.
There is no better way to explore the beauty of Europe in all its glory than hitchhiking. Hitchhiking in Europe is fun, easy, a great travel option for people on a tight budget.
With so many countries to choose from, making a list of the best European countries for hitchhiking was indeed a difficult task. We have restricted our post to the absolute best countries that offer the best hitchhiking experience.
Now that you here, let us see the best European countries that offer the best hitchhiking experience in the world.
What factors did we determine to choose the best European hitchhiking countries?
Safety– Safety is the topmost priority before you land at your destination for your dream vacation. How can you enjoy your journey when you find yourself always concerned about your safety while travelling?
Based on our experience and intensive research, we have chosen the safest countries for hitchhiking in Europe. These countries have the lowest crime rates and have the best tourist infrastructure in place for travelling.
Suggested read: 11 Safety Tips for an Amazing Hitchhiking Experience
Average time to get a ride– Time to hitch a ride plays a vital role in determining how smooth, enjoyable and fun your journey will be.
It also determines how much you will get to explore your travel destination. The longer it takes for you to hitch a ride, the less time you have to explore and the more exhausted and frustrated you become.
So we made sure to narrow down the list to countries where the average waiting time to hitch a ride does not exceed 20min.
Affordability– Hitchhiking is travelling on a tight budget. Sure, you want to explore more places and popular tourist attractions but, that might put a strain on your travel budget.
To make sure you get the most out of your money, we have chosen destinations that do not put a strain on your pocket.
People– As a hitchhiker, you depend a lot on the kindness of strangers. So, it helps to know what kind of attitude the local folks have towards tourists especially, hitchhikers.
Some countries have a culture of hitchhiking, which makes it easy to hitch a ride by sticking out your thumb.
Here are the 10 best European countries for Hitchhiking
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Well, how can we drop France from our list? The most popular travel destination in the world also happens to be one of the best countries for hitchhiking.
Hitchhiking in France is great fun and easy. Most truck and car drivers will stop their cars to help you out in the best way possible. Usually, once they get to know you, they are very generous with their time.
The best way to hitch a ride is by standing at toll stations (known as barrières de péage in French). As every vehicle slows down near the entrance to a tollbooth, the driver can easily spot you from a distance.
Although hitchhiking on highways is illegal, you can easily hitch a ride from the on-ramps and gas stations.
Knowing a little French is a bit of help. The French people appreciate you making an effort to talk in French. Most people will invite you to their homes for a brunch or even offer you some money.
Beautiful countryside, breathtaking landscapes, majestic castles, and cheerful French folks make France one of the best European countries to hitchhike.
Germany’s longstanding culture of hitchhiking makes it one of the best hitchhiking destinations in the world. Thanks to the super-efficient Autobahn system, you can travel long distances within no time.
Zee Germans are a reserved bunch of people, but once they get to know you they always go the extra mile to help you out. The average time to get a ride rarely exceeds 15min, unless you are hitching closer to highways where cars can’t easily pull over.
Hitchhiking in Germany is fun and easy and safe (even for solo travelers) and if you can speak some German, things become easy altogether. The lush green valleys, verdant countryside, tall and magnificent castles and the company of Germans folks with a pint of German beer makes it a dream destination for hitchhikers.
This free-spirited country has always been on the list of wanderlusts as a must-visit destination. The Netherlands boasts of some of the best tourist attractions in the world. From the bustling streets of Amsterdam to the dream-like tranquil village of Giethoorn, Netherlands has got everything for you.
Hitchhiking in the Netherlands has gained momentum in recent years due to encouragement from the government. Hitchhiking is legal throughout the Netherlands, except on some highways. There are designated spots for hitching rides called ‘Liftershaltes‘ where you can get a ride if you are ready to wait a bit longer.
The best way to hitch a ride fast and easy is to stand at spots leading to highways where the car can safely pull over. Another way is to approach people at bus stations, on-ramps or gas stations. Using a signboard would certainly help as it lets the driver know where you are planning to go.
The Netherlands is a great place to begin hitchhiking. The beautiful and mesmerizing landscapes and kind people make it a fun and memorable experience.
If you want to begin your hitchhiking journey and have apprehensions about doing so, start with Ireland. Ireland is said to one of the easiest countries to hitchhike by most hitchhikers (also for solo hitchhiking).
The Irish people are very kind towards hitchhikers and are always willing to help you out in the best way possible. Most drivers will ask if you need any help even if they see you standing on the road.
The average time to hitch a ride rarely exceeds 20min, except for in the remotest of villages where public and private cars are few in numbers. Apart from hitching, it is great fun to hang out with the locals who are kind enough to host you for a friendly chat on an appetizing lunch or dinner.
Ireland is a place where apart from experiencing its scenic beauty you will also leave the place with some fond memories of your time with the locals.
Georgia, located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, is home to the oldest wineries, picturesque landscapes, ancient churches and kindest souls on earth.
Hitchhiking in Georgia is an adventure in itself. Georgians drive like crazy! Once you are in the car, you feel like you are part of a thrilling police chase sequence. It feels like the Georgians are really living the ‘Fast and Furious’ life .
Hitching a ride is easy and your waiting time hardly exceeds more than 10min. Almost every car will stop for you when you put out your thumb.
Crazy as they are on the road, Georgians are the kindest souls on earth when it comes to hospitality. Their kindness and generosity will fill your hearts with gratitude and your stomach with delicious Georgian food and wine- lots and lots of wine!
So, “Buckle up” and get ready for one of the most adventurous and memorable experiences of your life.
Romania is one of the most underrated European countries. This Transylvanian country is home to some of the most scenic landscapes and beautiful roads in the world making it a perfect destination for hitchhiking.
The best thing about hitchhiking in Romania is that it is legal throughout the country. The government has also asked the drivers not to charge money from hitchhikers and offer rides to strangers.
The average time to get a ride in Romania rarely exceeds 15min and almost every second car will stop for you when you put out your thumb. Making a cardboard sign in Russian will make it easy for drivers to know where you are heading. Knowing a bit of Russian is a big help as most people do not know English.
Just like Georgia, the Romanians are very kind and generous when it comes to hospitality. Romanians make sure that you leave the country with the fondest memories and delightful stories from the Romanian culture.
This southeastern country located in the Balkan region is one of the hidden gems of Europe. Albania is home to some of the most gorgeous lesser-known beaches, ancient towns, UNESCO heritage sites, scenic landscapes and to-die-for Mediterranean cuisine.
Hitchhiking has gained momentum in the country in recent years contributing to its rise as one of the best hitchhiking friendly countries in the world. Following the countries improved Police infrastructure, hitchhiking across the country has become safer than ever.
The average time to hitch a ride is between 15-20 min which rarely exceeds that number. Most drivers will pull over to offer you a ride or help you out in some way. Putting out a cardboard sign of your desired destination helps, as it will make it easy for the driver to decide to offer you a ride or not.
Albania is a great option for people who want to explore the beauty of Europe on a tight budget. You can also further cut down on your accommodation expenses by staying at a local’s house through ‘Couchsurfing‘.
Belgium, famously known as the ‘Land of Waffles’ and the ‘Land of Chocolate’, has been one of the best tourist attractions in Europe for a long time. With its beautiful landscapes, verdant cities and cultural festivals, Belgium is a host to thousands of tourists every year.
Hitchhiking in Belgium is easy and fun. Thanks to the initiative taken by the government to control traffic, hitchhiking has gained momentum as a way of travelling. So, a driver pulling over his car to offer you a ride is not unusual in Belgium, especially since truck drivers do so often.
In Belgium, hitchhiking is done by putting out your thumb (or a cardboard sign)on roads leading to highways, or on on-ramps and gas stations. As most of the cafes, gas stations and internet cafes are open 24/7 you can also hitchhike in the night (if you really have to).
This beautiful small country located in Eastern Europe is a hitchhiker’s paradise. Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe and is also known for its hitchhiking culture which began in the socialist regime. So, it’s no wonder that hitchhiking in Bulgaria is super-fun and easy than taking public transport.
Almost everyone hitchhikes in Bulgaria. Don’t be surprised if you see yourself competing with other hitchhikers on the road. Most drivers will stop to offer you a ride as a way of paying back the favour they got when they hitchhiked in their past days.
Bulgaria has one of the lowest waiting times to hitch a ride between 10-15min. Most of the times, you will get a ride within seconds after putting out your thumb.
Bulgaria is a great option to explore the beauty of Eastern Europe, learn about the ancient culture and make new friends for people on a tight budget.
One of the happiest countries on earth also happens to be amongst the best to hitchhike. Hitchhiking in Denmark is legal throughout the country except on a few motorways. The people are very welcoming towards strangers and don’t mind offering you a ride.
Hitchhiking is a fun and cheap way to explore the colourful architecture, scenic landscapes and cultural sites in Denmark. The best thing about hitchhiking in Denmark is that you can get around with English as most people understand the language.
Denmark is a great place to start exploring Europe if you have already had some hitchhiking experience behind you.
Hitchhiking is a slow but an adventurous and exhilarating journey nonetheless. If you are new to hitchhiking, I would recommend starting with Ireland or Denmark and slowly working up your way up to other countries on this list. Take your time, as you rush through this list. Explore a country as much as you can before you move on to the next.
So, pack your backpack, pull up your socks, build up some courage and go hitchhiking!