51 Crazy Stupid Laws in Europe

A friend recently asked me “What is the weirdest European law you’ve ever heard of?” The question caught me a little off guard, but I started to research into it right away.

What I found is that Europe has more than its fair share of bizarre laws, though many are hopefully just urban legends and hardly enforced. While it’s true that a few years back a couple was arrested for wearing noisy footwear on the Italian island of Ischia, it’s hard to believe that you can get a fine for reciting poetry while skiing down a mountain in Switzerland.

Although I suspect that most of these crazy laws are more myth than fact, I do agree that they tell a lot about life in those countries.

Below are 51 absurdly ridiculous laws to keep in mind next time you travel to Europe. You’d better take it as a fun read instead of a history lesson!

1. In France it’s illegal to name your pig Napoleon.

Cute piglet

2. Driving a dirty car in Chelyabinsk, Russia can get you fined up to 2,000 rubles (about 62 USD).

3. In Milan it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except for funerals or hospital visits.

4. An English law prohibits people to die in the House of Parliament.

5. Heels are banned at certain Greek archaeological sites, including the Acropolis.

6. Between 3:29 PM and 6:47 PM, people in Madrid cannot ask one another what time it is.

7. Men wearing a skirt in public in Italy can be arrested.

8. In Denmark, if a person finds a lost child, they can claim the child as their own if a parent does not turn up within 2 hours.

9. It’s illegal to flag down a taxi in England if you have the plague.

10. Any man carrying onions in Paris must be given right of way in the streets.

11. During Munich’s Oktoberfest, no person is ever legally drunk, no matter how much alcohol they have consumed.

Girls at Oktoberfest

12. No one is allowed to play electronic games in Greece.

13. If you challenge a man to a fist fight to the death in Norway, he must accept or pay a penalty of 4 deer.

14. In Russia it is illegal to say any sentence containing more than 4 words in English.

15. Any child born in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales must be able to spell the town name by the age of six and pronounce it by the age of thirty-four.

16. In Turkey it is against the law to fall in love with a neighbor’s son, daughter, wife, servant, or animals.

17. During Sweden’s long hours of winter darkness, it is illegal to complain that you wish it were sunny.

18. Pinching a girl’s bottom is permitted by law in Italy.

19. Any Scotsman found to be wearing underwear beneath his kilt can be fined two cans of beer.

20. If someone knocks on your door in Scotland and requests the use of your toilet, you must allow them access.

21. It is illegal to ski down a mountain in Switzerland while reciting poetry.

Skiing in Switzerland

22. Divorce is still illegal in the Vatican. In Malta it was legalized in 2011.

23. Noisy sandals are forbidden on the Isle of Capri, Italy.

24. In Denmark it’s not against the law to escape from prison.

25. Driving while wearing flip-flops or sandals is a criminal offense in Spain, and comes with a fine of 200 EUR.

26. You can get a fine for spitting in Barcelona.

27. In Turin, Italy dog owners can be fined up to 600 EUR for not taking their dogs on a walk at least 3 times a day.

Best friends

28. In Belgium, girls must have written permission from their fathers to wear a mini skirt that is more than 4 inch above the knee.

29. It is illegal for a woman to wear wigs in Denmark.

30. It is against the law to mention the date 1966 in any football ground in Germany. This is when England won the World Cup at Wembley against West Germany (4-2).

31. An ancient Norwegian law (still in use) states that males must go off on expeditions of rape and plunder to nearby countries at least once every 5 years.

32. The citizens of Monaco are prohibited from playing in the Monte Carlo Casino.

Building in Monte Carlo

33. As bizarre as it may sound, it’s illegal to be drunk in a pub in Britain.

34. In Eraclea, a town near Venice, it’s illegal to build sandcastles on the beach.

35. You could be fined if caught eating and drinking near churches and public buildings in Florence.

36. In Cyprus, you are not allowed to eat or drink anything while driving.

37. It’s legal to marry a dead person in France.

38. It is legal to murder someone within the ancient city walls of York, England, but only if he carries a bow and arrow.

39. In Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, it is strictly forbidden to play chess during sex.

40. It is illegal to fly over or land flying saucers in the southern French town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This odd anti-UFO legislation has gained the town international popularity.

Landing UFO in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

41. Telling a man in Italy he has “no balls” is a crime punishable with a fine.

42. A 1910 ban on kissing on train platforms in France (to help prevent rail delays) is still on the books.

43. Sex is only allowed in the dark in Budapest.

44. In Seville, it’s illegal to hang your underwear on a line, with fines reaching up to 3,000 EUR for serious offenses.

45. In Denmark, the penalty for a man saying to his wife that she is “uglier than her mother” is up to 1 year in prison.

46. In France, drivers (tourists included) are legally required to carry a portable Breathalyzer in their vehicle.

47. In Finland, your traffic fine is calculated according to your income.

48. It is against the law in Germany to address a policeman with the informal “du” rather than the formal “Sie”, and could cost you a substantial fine of up to 600 EUR.

49. In Danish restaurants you don’t have to pay for your food unless, by your own opinion, you are ‘full’ at the end of your meal. If not, you can proceed without paying the bill at all.

50. Domestic violence is legal in London as long as it’s before 9 PM and does not disturb the neighbors.

51. In Switzerland, it is illegal to flush the toilet after 10 PM, if you live in an apartment.

Do you know any other weird laws from around Europe?

  1. Waqas Haider Waqas Haider says:

    I will knock and ask to use the toilet once I go to Scotland 😉

    1. Dr Funkenstein Dr Funkenstein says:

      I’m a UK citizen and I believe that only the law about being drunk in pubs is true. Many citizens also find this law to be silly. Fun read though!

  2. Liggliluff Liggliluff says:

    It’s legal to escape the jail in Sweden too, but not in Finland.

    Sweden also calculate the traffic fines, and other fines, based on your income. It’s not stupid at all, it’s perfectly sound. Currently in most countries, fines are nothing to rich people and can severely hurt poor people. But in Sweden, it would be an equal punishment for everyone committing the crime. This means that poor people will have it better, and rich people are actually deterred from committing these crimes.

  3. brendan hickey brendan hickey says:

    in the UK pregnant women are allowed to pee anywhere and if a policeman is nearby she can use his hat!

    york is in northern England and its legal to kill a Scots man within its walls if he is carrying a bow.

    1. Hi Brendan,

      Wow, these really are some weird laws! Thanks for stopping by! You're right about York, my bad.

  4. Loved this. But just so you know York is not in Scotland.

    Another cool one, we don't have many trespassing laws, most we do have cover things like farms and private car parks. So it is perfectly legal to walk into someone else's house in Scotland, even if it is a stranger, as long as the door is unlocked and you do not take anything, legally someone can come just come in and chill.

    1. Hi T,

      Thanks for letting me know about the York mistake, I've just updated the article. Anyway, you guys have some pretty cool laws in Scotland! Can't wait to visit!

  5. I will turn up in Italy with a tutu and see how it goes!

  6. Neil Bethell Neil Bethell says:

    It is illegal in Knutsford England to ride a penny farthing, unless you are ringing a bell. This was because the mayor was freaked out by the tall bikes. Police were exempt, only if using a siren at the time.

  7. Dan Hewett Dan Hewett says:


  8. Hi from Denmark. It is true that breaking out of prison is not illegal. However I really doubt the rest of the quoted Danish laws, never heard of any of them. Hilarious reading though.

    I can add another one: Using any narcotic drug is not illegal. Buying or selling narcotics however, is illegal

  9. Susanna Viljanen Susanna Viljanen says:

    Many of those laws actually make perfect sense – when taking the context into account.

    1. It is defamation.
    5. Heels damage the marble of the monuments. Moreover, many of the stairs and steps are extremely steep, and you risk stumbling and spraining your ankles if you wear heels.
    6. That is the siesta time, and most people prefer to sleep during the siesta and not be disturbed. It is assumed you either have your own watch, or can check a public clock.
    7. It is considered as masquerading, and it belongs in the anti-terrorist laws.
    9. Makes perfect sense. You should take an ambulance instead.
    12. In public places. This law is intended to curb illegal gambling.
    16. Prohibition of incestuous relationships.
    20. It is also good manners to grant access.
    21. Skiing is a potentially dangerous activity, and requires concentration. Reciting poetry whilst skiing impairs your concentration.
    24. It is not subject to prosecution, but you must return voluntarily to prison if you do – otherwise you may be returned there forcefully. You are still bound to the rules of the prison, subject to disciplinary punishments, and those days which you have been on the lam are not subtracted from your sentence.
    25. Makes perfect sense. It is endangering the traffic. Most cars in Spain have stick gears, and require use of feet. It is suggestable you have decent shoes to do it safely.
    26. Makes also perfect sense. Spitting is transmitting diseases.
    27. Dogs need outing. The law is aimed against abuse of animals
    29. Another anti-masquerading and anti-terrorist law.
    33. Drunk and disorderly, to be exact. If you are drunk, you are subject to antisocial behaviour and fights. There is a similar law in Finland.
    34. It is to prevent erosion at the beach. You cannot take the sand as a souvernir with you either.
    35. It is anti-polluting and anti-littering law.
    36. Makes perfect sense. Eating whilst driving, especially a stick drive car, impairs your concentration and endangers the traffic.
    41. It is a slander.
    43. No shtuping in public in clear daylight.
    45. It is a slander.
    46. Makes perfect sense. France is a wine country, and wine is an everyday drink.
    47. Makes perfect sense. Fines graded by your income hurt both the rich and the poor equally in proportion.
    51. Makes perfect sense. Many of the apartments can be centuries old, and the plumbing can be noisy and the sound of the flushing may echo around the building.

    1. Andrew Livingston Andrew Livingston says:

      Thanks Susanna! That’s well thought out 🙂

    2. The way you conceal the bullshit arguments with the reasonable ones is quite artistic 🙂

  10. Interesting collection! 🙂

    But the “43. Sex is only allowed in the dark in Budapest” law doesn’t exist anymore, it was valid in 19. century. Of course having sex on the street and public places is not allowed.

  11. These are some of the weirdest laws ever. You should do this for the US.

  12. I live in Denmark and only a few (if any) of those are true so…

  13. I come from the UK, where eight of these “laws” allegedly exist. Five of them (#s 4, 15, 19, 20, 38) are pure urban legends.

    Two of them are not true, but are wildly garbled versions of something that is or was true:
    – #9: Flagging down the taxi isn’t illegal; the offence is not warning the driver that you are suffering from a “notifiable disease” – an infectious disease so serious that cases of it must by law be notified to the public health authorities – so that the driver can decide whether or not he is prepared to take you in his cab. (But he probably won’t, because if he does he can’t accept another fare until he has had his cab and himself disinfected.) Plague is on the list of notifiable diseases, along with cholera, typhoid, viral hepatitis, dysentery, anthrax, COVID-19 and quite a few more. Nothing weird or dumb about that. Would you like to step into a taxi whose last passenger could legally have been suffering from any of those?
    -#50. In 1895 it was generally still legal for a husband to beat his wife, provided only that he didn’t kill or permanently maim her. However, a bylaw in the *City of London* (which btw is only the tiny site of the original ancient walled city, not the metropolis of London in general) made it illegal for him to do so between the hours of 10PM and 7AM, when her shrieks might disturb the neighbours’ sleep. However, wife-beating has long been criminalised in the UK.

    Which leaves just one true one: #33. Section 12 of the 1872 Licensing Act stipulates that ‘every person found drunk… on any licensed premises shall be liable to a penalty’. This Act actually applies to ‘any highway or other public place, whether a building or not’, and the specific mention of pubs was inserted to make clear that being dead drunk or disorderly drunk (not just merry) was as illegal in a pub as any other place. It also helps enforce another law which is that it’s illegal for a publican to serve any more drink to someone who’s already had to many, or for anyone else to buy it for them.

  14. UK Laws

    If you are a taxi cab driver in London you must carry bale of hay in the back at all times.

    A male driver who needs the toilet while driving can stop and do so without penalty. That is provided he aims for the right rear tyre and keep his right hand on top of his car at all times.

    A Taxicab driver in London can do the same and if requested, any policeman nearby must use his own coat to cover them while in the act.

  15. it is not alowed to ware winnie the pooh shirts in poland because he wares no pants

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