All told, we drove about 4000 Km in three weeks, in Germany, Switzerland (just for a couple of hours), Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The latter three countries require a “vignette”, or special sticker, for vehicles that wish to use the highways.

Here they are; Czech, Hungarian and Austrian stickers (from the left). They’re available for different periods from a few days to a year; the short-term ones we bought cost between 6 and 9 Euros each. Fines are supposed to be stiff, and they’re available at every border location, and most gas stations near the borders, so there’s no excuse not to have one.

Fuel prices were a surprise. In Germany we found prices ranging from 1.02 to 1.08 Euros/liter (around US$4/gallon at the current exchange rates)! Here in Brazil I’m paying around R$1.90/liter, which works out to about US$2.30 per gallon. In contrast, Austrian gasoline was a little less expensive at 0.85 Euros/liter (US$3.35/gallon); as we drove quite a bit in Austria and along the Austrian border, I made sure to never leave Austria with less than a full tank. Czech gasoline was slightly less expensive than in Austria; I didn’t need to fill up in Hungary, but seem to remember prices as being around the Austrian level.

Anyway, the fuel was of much higher quality than we get here – Brazilian gasoline has 10 to 20% of ethanol mixed in to keep the price down, but you get worse mileage. Both cars we drove averaged about 6.5 liters/100 Km – this works out to 15.4 Km/liter or 34.8 miles/gallon, so fuel costs were lower than I had expected. Nevertheless, it usually pays to ask the rental company for a diesel car; they get even better mileage, and diesel costs less than gasoline in most countries (Germany is an exception here). Not all brands offer diesel models, though.

To drive into Eastern Europe, you’ll need some extra equipment not usually necessary in Germany: a red warning triangle and a first-aid kit. Some countries also require a fire extinguisher and a set of replacement bulbs. So if you rent a car in Germany, be sure to ask for those items.