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Winter driving in Europe, snow chains

I'm organizing a family trip to Europe next winter. We are used to travel to US or Canada during that time, and we are no strangers to driving in winter conditions. Our doubts for the moment are: 1> How can we guarantee a 4-wheel powered car? Me and husband have been puzzled by lack of this information on Hertz, Sixt, Auto-Europe or Renault Drive websites... 2> Do they salt scenic roads often when it snows like the Amalfi Coast road, or the Pueblos Blancos road in Spain? 3> If we manage to rent a car with winter tires, does any of the following countries still mandate carrying snow chains: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands? 4> In your personal opinion, which category of car is enough for winter travelling in Europe? Is there any trick or hint for not having to pay 5-7 times the rate for a small car to get an SUV?

Posted by
12040 posts

"If we manage to rent a car with winter tires, does any of the following countries still mandate carrying snow chains: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands?" I can only answer for Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. The answer is "no", although some high mountain roads mandate snow chains when the conditions are bad enough. "How can we guarantee a 4-wheel powered car?" Unless you plan to spend the entire time in the mountains, you won't need it. Except in certain high elevation areas, heavy sustained snow fall isn't that common in western Europe. What snow does fall usually doesn't accumulate very much and melts quickly.

Posted by
956 posts

Hi Fabbiana, We had a BMW coupe( seats 4 if short people in the back)and drove it with winter tires in Dec. 2010 around Munich, over passes, & into Italy. This was the time period when arctic winds snowed in London's airport for days, & it was quite cold. Even with snow swirling and the temperature below freezing, the roads were fine. The Brenner Pass was muddy with dirty snow but full of cars and trucks driving at usual speeds. Winter tires would probably be sufficient. We aren't used to winter condition driving but did not find chains necessary, nor did the tire store say we'd need them ( and they sold them, so it would have been an easy sale).