Toggle Menu
  1. Home/
  2. Life/
  3. Travel/

How Europeans travel and how many nights they spend on their vacations

More than half of the European Union’s residents travel by car and their holidays usually last for three nights.

A recent report released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the majority, respectively 58%, of the tourism trips that EU residents made in 2015 consisted of short breaks of maximum three nights away. Only in four Member States, the number of long trips exceeded the number of short trips. It’s about Greece (with 69 % of trips of at least 4 nights), Belgium (57%), Luxembourg (56%) and Malta (54%).

EU Commission: 7,000 school students will receive free tickets to travel across Europe


When it comes to the countries which had the most tourism trips in the EU, Germany is the first place with almost 248 million trips for one night or over, 132.6 million trips from one to three nights and more than 115 million trips for four nights or over. The second in ranking is France, with over 199 million trips for one night or over, 105 million trips from one to three nights and almost 94 million trips for four nights or over. Spain comes third in the ranking with 136 million trips for one night or over, almost 97 million trips from one to three nights and nearly 40 million trips for four nights or over, followed by Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.

Russia’s recommendations for its citizens when travelling abroad

“Three-quarters of all trips were spent in the country of residence. This was mainly the case for residents of Romania, Spain, Portugal, France and Greece, where more than 85% of all trips were domestic. Meanwhile, the majority of residents in Luxembourg, Belgium, Malta and Slovenia opted for going abroad,” Eurostat reports.

Next travel boom. Top 10 fastest-growing destination aren’t where you think

According to the same source, given that Europeans tend to prefer domestic tourism, private or rented vehicles were by far the main means of transport, used for nearly two-thirds (65%) of all trips. Cars were particularly predominant in Slovenia (84%), Portugal (80%), the Czech Republic (79%), Spain (77%), Bulgaria (75%), Hungary and France (both 74%).

These countries are the safest to travel to

“Well behind motor vehicles, air transport accounted for 16% of all trips, railway for 11%, bus for 6% and waterways for 2%. The pattern can however be very different at Member State level. For instance, waterways were used by 39% of residents in Malta and 17% in Greece, while in Romania and Croatia residents took buses for at least 20% of their trips. When looking at outbound trips only, the ranking is quite different, with air transport on top (used for 53% of outbound trips), ahead of motor vehicles (31%), bus (6%), waterways (5%) and railway (4%),” Eurostat’s data also reveal.

Tourism trips by means of transport in the EU, according to Eurostat

When you can travel by train from London to the south of France at lower costs than a flight

The EU countries with the highest increases regarding overnight tourist stays

Tourist accommodation sector in the European Union registered in 2015 a medium increase with 4 percent against the previous year, reaching to 2.8 billion nights, according to a previous report published by Eurostat.

The overall increase of 4% for nights spent in 2015 was equally due to the increase of nights spent by foreign visitors (+4.1%) and of nights spent by residents (tourists travelling inside their own country) (+4.0%).

The largest growth of the number of nights spent in hotels or pensions was registered in Romania, which had in 2015 the best evolution compared to the previous year – 15,9%, followed by Slovakia – with a 12,9% increase, Czech Republic – 9,7%, Portugal – 8,1% and Slovenia – with an 8% increase.

On the other hand, four countries registered lower percentages compared to 2014 – Cyprus had a 2,5% decrease, Bulgaria – 1,4%, Estonia – 0,5% and Finland – 0,2%. “The increase at EU level reflected national developments,” according to Eurostat.

The countries that experienced the highest increase of nights spent in establishments by foreign tourists were Ireland (+19,4%), Romania (+18,5%), Slovakia (+13,8%) and Sweden (+11%).

At the opposite end are Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Cyprus, Lithuania and France, which attracted shorter overnight stays from tourists compared to the previous year. Bulgaria also registered a decrease of 5,2%, while Estonia experienced a 3,8% drop and France with 0,3% fewer overnight stays than the previous year.

Regarding the evolution of internal tourism, Romania leads in this aspect as well, with a 15,3% increase, followed by the Czech Republic with 14,3%, Slovakia – with 12,5% and Croatia, with 12%. At the opposite end are Ireland (-9,2%), Luxembourg (-8,6%), Cyprus (-0,8%) and Greece (-0,4%).

Less than a third of tourists stick to holiday budget, study shows

Hotels and similar accommodation were clearly the most popular type of accommodation (65%), followed by holiday and other short-stay accommodation such as rented apartments (22%) and camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks (13%).

In the European Union, the net occupancy rate of bed places in hotels was 44.4% in 2015. The highest occupancy rates were recorded in Cyprus (65.3%), Malta (64.3%), Spain (58.1%), Croatia (53.5%) and Ireland (52.0%). Meanwhile, in terms of bedroom occupancy (regardless of how many guests stayed in the room), hotels in Malta recorded an occupancy rate of 74.0%, followed by the Netherlands and Ireland (with 68.1% and 68.0% respectively).

Almost half of the nights spent in accommodation units in the EU (47%) were spent in coastal areas, with a maximum of over 90%, registered in Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Denmark, Romania and Germany are at the bottom of the ranking regarding this aspect, each having 18% of overnight stays in these areas.

According to Eurostat, even though Romania is making huge progress, more than two-thirds from the total of overnight stays in 2015 were registered in five countries – Spain (15%), France (15%), Italy (15%), Germany (14%) and Great Britain (11%).

More than half (54%) of nights in tourist accommodation were spent, in 2015, by residents travelling inside their own country.

The most of the 46% of nights spent by non-residents were by tourists coming from other EU Member States (75%), while 10% was spent by tourists coming from other European countries. Only 15% of non-resident nights were spent by tourists from other continents.

German residents accounted for over 21.2% of the total non-resident nights in EU tourist accommodation, followed by British (12.9%) and Dutch (6.6 %) tourists. Excluding the German domestic market, in other 9 out of 26 Member States where data are available, the greatest number of tourists came from Germany.

Madeline Gorthon