This paper presents a meta-analysis of forest recreation in Europe based on studies that have applied the travel cost method covering 26 studies in nine countries since 1979. We conduct the meta-regression with an increasing number of variables where level I includes only data available from the studies, level II aggregate socio-economic variables and level III site-specific characteristics such as diversity, fraction of open land and location. Data shows that consumer surplus varies between €0.66 per trip to €112 with a median of €4.52 per trip. Results of the model with the best overall summary indicate that the application of the individual travel cost method, inclusion of opportunity cost of time and average distance travelled lead to increasing benefits whereas the year of the study and estimations from theses and dissertations reduce welfare estimates. Including exogenous variables shows that site attributes, GDP per capita and population density play a significant role. © 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.