The Most Congested Cities in Europe

A traffic jam in Moscow, Russia.
A traffic jam in Moscow, Russia.

What Is Traffic Congestion?

Traffic congestion refers to a particular roadway condition in which traffic slows down, causing increased waiting and longer travel times. It is caused by an increase in the number of motor vehicles on the road, which often exceeds the road’s capacity. Traffic jams refer to traffic congestion that results in complete stops. Both conditions can lead to frustration, anxiety, and road rage. In addition to these effects, it also causes more fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions. Some countries around the world experience more traffic congestion than others. This article takes a look at the traffic congestion found across cities in Europe.

Calculating Traffic Congestion

In traffic congestion studies, cities are given a percentage to indicate congestion levels. Additionally, the following factors are often calculated: extra waiting time for every hour driven during peak traffic times, the worst times to travel, the best times to travel, and the amount of extra waiting time for a 30-minute commute annually.

The Most Congested Cities Of Europe

Of the top 10 most congested cities in Europe, half are located in Russia.


Moscow, Russia is at the top of the list of most congested cities in Europe. In fact, it was also considered the most congested city in the world in 2015, although that distinction has since gone to Los Angeles in the US. As of 2016, drivers in this city spend approximately 91 hours fighting rush hour traffic every year. The problem here began in 1991, at the end of the Soviet-era, when car ownership began to increase. In response, the government attempted to expand the roadways and add bridges and overpasses, but the development has not been fast enough to keep up with car ownership trends. Faced with this unsuccessful plan, the government decided to dedicate $117.8 billion to improving and increasing public transportation and park-and-ride services. Unfortunately, driving a personal vehicle is still viewed as a symbol of success (an attitude left over from the Soviet-era, when less individuals owned cars) and drivers have not been willing to switch to public transportation. Currently, there are approximately 380 vehicles for every 1,000 residents and that number increases by between 8 and 10% every year.


London, England is number 2 on this list with drivers spending around 73 extra hours in rush hour traffic on an annual basis. This city has experienced significant population growth which has brought with it a number of additional vehicles on the roads. The 2015-2016 performance report by Traffic for London has indicated that this traffic growth has slowed down, however driving speeds have also been reduced by 7.7%. Some of the factors leading to this include: an increased number of construction projects, an increased use of private hire vehicles, and an increase in delivery vans on the roads.


The 3rd worst traffic congestion in Europe can be found in Paris, France, where motorists spend an extra 65 hours every year during peak traffic time. In order to fight these traffic times and to reduce air pollution in the city, the government has been working toward banning the use of vehicles on certain roads and days. The Left Bank of the Seine River has been completely closed to motor vehicles, a move that has allowed cafes, restaurants, and shops to open up. Additionally, the city planned to close the Right Bank in the summer of 2016, as well as close some historic streets in the downtown area. This not only helps free up space for businesses and pedestrians but also forces motorists to turn to public transportation to get around.

The chart published below contains a complete list of the 10 most congested cities in Europe.

The Most Congested Cities Of Europe

RankCityCountryAverage time (in hours) spent by drivers in traffic congestion at peak hours, 2016
7Saint PetersburgRussia53
10Nizhny NovgorodRussia47

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