Urbanisation increases household carbon footprints in developing economies. However, the results from developed countries have varied, particularly in Europe. This study provides a coherent comparison of the impact of the degree of urbanisation on income, expenditure and carbon footprints in Europe. On average, carbon footprints are 7% lower in cities than in rural areas when income and household characteristics are controlled. However, this is compensated by the 6% higher average income in cities. The patterns are not uniform in all countries. In Eastern Europe, the pattern is similar to other developing regions. In some Western European countries, both the income level and the carbon footprints are lower in urban areas than in rural areas. In the rest of Europe, the differences in income level between rural and urban areas are small, but they still largely compensate for the efficiency benefits of urban areas. We call for more systemic emissions accounting and climate strategies.