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So you’re vacationing in Europe… And itching to get arrested? Hit with a hefty fine? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Nonetheless, weird laws abound here, as elsewhere. In fact, committing an illegal activity in the EU might be as simple as wearing high heels at the wrong place or smooching your honey while waiting for the train (get a room!). To help you keep your crazy law breaking to a minimum—and not looking like a total newbie—we’ve compiled this cautionary list of weird ways to get arrested. Call it what not to do on your European vacay:

German Autobahn.700

Running out of fuel is verboten.

1. Run out of gas on the German autobahn
Driving on a highway in Germany? Better fill ’er up. As if it weren’t annoying enough to deal with the repercussions of an empty fuel tank—including smugness from the passenger seat: “See, I told you to pull over 10 kilometers ago!”—running out of gas on the autobahn means you’re also breaking the law…breaking the law (insert Judas Priest guitar riff here).


Swiss clotheline.700

Never on Sunday.

2. Hang clothes out to dry on a Sunday in Switzerland
Ah, Switzerland: Land of snow-capped peaks, magnificent wildflower meadows and…So. Many. Rules. Like, you know, not drying your laundry outside on a Sunday. Online mag Newly Swissed put it (cheekily) this way: “Because who wants to see your white socks waving in the wind during their Sunday stroll?”


France Train Kiss.700

Break it up, break it up.

3. Kiss on train platforms in France
You’re not starring in a French New Wave film. The world is not in black and white. And there’s no quirky voice-over narration rhapsodizing on the beauty and melancholy of your every move. But, hey, if you find yourself in France and you want to give your boo a quick kiss before he/she boards a train at the Gare du Nord, we doubt you’ll face much of a penalty—even though, by some accounts, a 1910 ban on kissing on train platforms (to help prevent rail delays) is still on the books.

 Plus: Here’s how to spend three perfect days in Barcelona.

Netherlands Canal.700

Clearly not a toilet, people.

4. Urinate in a canal in the Netherlands (unless you’re pregnant)
Sorry if you’ve had one too many, fellas, and can’t find a public WC in Amsterdam — or don’t have enough euro to pay to use one: You’ll be slapped with a fine if you’re caught urinating into a canal. Let’s keep it classy and let only the pregnant women relieve themselves there, mmmkay? (In all seriousness, several people die per year attempting to pee into an Amsterdam canal while inebriated. So literally: let’s not go there!)


Portugal Ocean.700

Just don’t.

5. While you’re at it, don’t pee in the ocean while in Portugal
It’s illegal, see. Not sure if anyone in Portugal has ever actually been busted for this, though. I mean, the ocean’s pretty big.


Italy man in skirt.700

Not in Italy, guys.

6. Wear a skirt in Italy if you’re a man
Attention, Scotsmen and any guys who like to don the occasional skirt: If you’re wearing one in public in Italy, you can be arrested. Way to put a damper on self-expression, Italy! (Not that we recommend you skirt around the law.)


Greek monuments stilettos.700

These ladies got thememo.

7. Wear stilettos while visiting Greek monuments
Ladies: Your six-inch Louboutins are wounding the ancient monuments. Given Greece’s crazy-amazing and crazy-old archaeological sites, this is a big deal. Which is why at many of these landmarks, heels are banned. Why not slip on some more marble-friendly sandals or tennis shoes for your tour of the Odeon?

So, what can you do legally in Europe, if anything?!

York Scotland.700

Nope, nothingillegal to see here.

8. Murder someone with the ancient city walls of York, England—but only if carrying a bow and arrow

This archaic law is allegedly still on the books, though fortunately, no one has gone on all Katniss Everdeen and taken advantage of it. But maybe don’t make it the aim of your UK vacation?

With the Euro low and hundreds of hotels on sale across the continent, now is the perfect time for Europe!

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Tagged: Europe

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Laura Pearson

Laura Pearson

Laura is a travel-loving Chicago-based journalist who writes about art and culture. Follow her on Twitter at @tislaurapearson.

4 thoughts on “7 totally weird ways to get arrested in Europe”

  1. I’m traveling to Scotland August 31, 2015. It seems the weather can be this or that. Any feedback. Trying hard to travel lightly.

  2. I was assaulted by police and nearly arrested in Bari, Italy where I got off the ferry from Greece. I was taking the bus to get to the train station. I purchased my ticket from the driver. When I went to get off the bus, I was notified that I hadn’t validated my ticket (at a kiosk located just inside the bus door before you get to the driver). Within minutes I was surrounded by Italian and military police with their guns all pointed at me. As I was just passing thru and didn’t speak Italian, no one could speak to me on English and I was treated like a criminal. They took my passport and basically made me feel that I was going to jail. Eventually I found a passerby who spoke English. She helped me work out a $200 payoff. Government sanctioned tourist Scams like this are all over Europe.

  3. Re: Weird Laws –
    I saw the same sort of law on a street sign in Florida, at a bridge crossing.
    Another “Criminal” offence in Germany, I read, is to deny that “The Holocaust ” took place !

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