Parking: the hidden cost of motoring holidays

There was a narrow window in the middle of the twentieth century when drivers could blithely drive into towns and cities and park with nary a second thought. Otherwise ‘twas ever thus for independent travellers: before relaxing at the end of the day you have to make sure your steed is bedded down safely for the night.

There’s something quite nice about it. Walking away from your gently ticking, fly-splattered motor is a poignant part of the day. It‘s the moment you can really start to reflect on a successful day behind the wheel.

Increasingly though that warm fuzzy feeling comes at a significant cost, one that most people cannot afford to ignore.

Mike Rutherford moans about the £49 per day it costs to park in the Adam Street car park in Mayfair, but you can park in the central London for much less than that. The Abingdon Street car park, round the corner from the House of Commons, charges £30. Bargain.

The €90 it cost us to park in Amsterdam for 36 hours recently was however the regulated price set by the city council. The Dutch capital might revel in its expensive car parking but Rome is not far behind. We paid €42 per day in April 2010.

In Paris a year later our choice of hotel was largely dictated by the one with a free car park. This was after paying €22.50 per day in Maastricht, €23 in Trieste and €32 in Vienna.

Happily not everywhere is the same. Parking in Bruges city centre is a maximum €8.70 per 24 hours while you can stay at the end of Unter den Linden in Berlin for €18.

If you find anywhere half decent in Europe for much less than €20 a day then you’ve got yourself a bargain.

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