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Hotel/restaurant/gas station names (or lack thereof) on European freeway signage


I was just looking at the signage near an exit on a freeway in Spain (the A-7 near the town of Nerja in Andalucia, along the south coast, to be exact), in anticipation of an upcoming trip to that country in March, and I noticed that there was a sign with some generic symbols for gas, lodging, and what appears to mean "café" (a coffee cup icon), as well as one that I don't know the meaning of (what looks like a telephone pole). Here is the Street View for the sign I refer to:,-3.8810442,3a,37.5y,284.4h,87.97t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sxaGNOLLnRzvHtvdtTSdLBQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

That sign, with those various pictograms, reminds me of similar signs I remember seeing on a trip to France and Italy in 2015. Notably absent from these signs is a feature very commonly seen on American freeways: namely, signs that actually show the names of the gas stations, restaurants, hotels, or whatever other businesses there may be at or near the exit. In addition, freeways in Europe (at least, the ones I remember driving in France and Italy, as well as the Street View from Spain) also largely lack another common feature of American freeways - that is to say, billboards.

That made me wonder: without signs that identify the names (rather than just the type) of nearby businesses, and without billboards, how do the restaurants and lodgings in towns near the freeways manage to advertise their services to travelers driving by on the freeway? Or is that just not a thing in Europe, at least to the same extent as it is here in the States? Anyway - I'm just eager to find out more info on the subject.

Maybe that's a wrench, indicating there's a repair place at the exit?

Yes, it indicates a garage / repair shop.

As Europe consists of several dozen countries, practices vary wildly. In some countries they do sign the brand of the fuel station or services on the signage. Otherwise, the owners have to put up a very tall mast with a logo or name (McDonald's is readily identifyable along major highways across Europe).

It also varies by country how many services are offered near exits. For example on toll roads, there are often no services near an exit, because that traditionally meant having to leave the 'closed' toll system. All services are on motorway service areas (typically overpriced).

The number of billboards varies substantially, generally in Central/Eastern Europe you see more of them, as regulations tend to have been relaxed during the 1990s, until they decided it was too much and started removing billboards on highway right-of-ways (for example in the Czech Republic). In the Netherlands there are enormous LED screens with moving images here and there, which can be highly distracting and even blinding at night.

In case of Spain, they are one of the few countries where services are mostly located at exits. They put up tall masts (typically of the fuel station). If I'm in Spain and want to know what to expect from a 'vía de servicio', the more logos and longer opening hours indicated, the better it generally is.

Here's an example from Czechia. The rest area signage only features generic logos, but there are tall masts for McDonald's and Benzina.

D11 Jaroměř - Praha 22 by European Roads, on Flickr

In Slovenia, there are also generic logos on the sigange, but a large Petrol brand logo. Most fuel stations in Slovenia are from the same brand.

A5 Lendava - Maribor 39 by European Roads, on Flickr

In Austria, they do sign brand logos

A13-28 by European Roads, on Flickr

Germany signs brand logos as well, in this case Tank+Rast, Aral, Nordsee and Burger King.

A3 Würzburg 07 by European Roads, on Flickr

France signs nothing, only 'aire' (rest area).

A65-16 by European Roads, on Flickr

And in England, they're signed pretty much the same as they are in the US:,-1.0654243,3a,75y,279.92h,96.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1siAR_hz7zs6V9zc4Zp6-y1A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192


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