Driving in Greece
Practical Information

Driving in Greece can seem daunting, especially in the big cities like Athens, but having some practical information helps. Out in rural areas it is much more pleasant, and if you want to explore the best bits of the Greek mainland or get off-the-beaten-track on large islands like Crete, a car is essential. 

We are big fans of bus travel, and Greece has a good bus network, but you simply can’t get to some of the more remote archaeological sites by bus, or into some of the wilder and most beautiful regions. Going by bus is also a way to experience real life in Greece, but when driving we’ve also picked up many hitchhikers and got to know people personally, even being invited into their homes to thank us for the lift. And we certainly had a lot of fun when we rented a car in Crete!

Watch Out for Occasional Road Hazards
Photo by Donna Dailey

Driving in Greece is a lot more pleasant, though, if you know the rules and conventions. Here is some practical information to help you on your way. The information is accurate at the time of writing, but we can take no responsibility of the rules change before we can change them on the website. If something is important, double-check with one of the sources listed near the end.

A Long and Winding Road in Crete
Photo by Donna Dailey

Driving Accidents

Greece has one of the worst driving records in Europe. There are more deaths on the road here than almost anywhere else. Usually only Portugal has a worse safety record. You should therefore always drive with caution. Greeks have a liking for driving down the middle of the road, even when coming around blind corners.

Passing Lanes

On many major roads you will see a solid white line on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. When driving normally you should stay outside the line, but you should pull in over the line if someone wishes to overtake you.

Driving Licence

You need a full European driving licence to drive in Greece, and if you plan to rent a car the minimum age requirement varies from company to company, but is usually from about 21 to 25. If you don’t have an EU licence then technically you need an international driving licence, but in practice this is seldom asked for. If bringing in your own car, then you only need to be 17 and hold a full licence in order to drive, but some of the remote archaeological sites and beautiful places simply can’t be reached by bus.

Target Practice on Crete
Photo by Donna Dailey

Drink-driving

A very small amount of alcohol in the blood (currently 0.05%) is a criminal offence, for which you could be jailed. For motorcyclists and those whose licence is less than two years old, there must be no alcohol in the blood whatsoever. Take no chances: don’t drink at all.

Speed limits

Speed signs are usually easy to spot. The official limits are: In built-up areas 31mph (50kph) for cars, 24mph (40kph) for motorcycles; outside built-up areas 55mph (90kph) or 68mph (110kph) for cars, 43mph (70kph) for motorcycles; motorways 80mph (130kph) for cars and 55mph (90kph) for motorcycles. Speed limits on the same road can change, so abide by the signs, and also watch for minimum speed limits on some stretches of major roads.

Crash Helmets

Crash helmets are compulsory for motor cycles, even though you will see many Greeks ignoring the law.

Fines

Police can levy on-the-spot fines for driving offences such as speeding, but they are not allowed to collect the money there and then. You must pay at the nearest Public Treasury office within ten days.

Petrol

Only in more remote places might you struggle to find a petrol station, although be sure to have a full tank before setting off on any of the drives described. Only unleaded petrol is available, along with a lead replacement petrol for older cars using leaded fuel. All rental cars will take unleaded petrol. Most filling stations will take credit cards, but always have enough cash with you too if driving off the beaten track. Many petrol stations close on Sundays, and some on Saturdays too, so always be aware of this. You should also note that it is illegal in Greece to carry petrol in a can in the car.

Car Insurance

You must have at least third-party insurance, and if hiring a car check what insurance is included. You should consider adding CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance if you don’t want to be charged for damage in the case of an accident or another car or person damaging your vehicle.

When the End Is in Sight
Photo by Donna Dailey

Children

Children under the age of ten cannot travel in the front seat without a suitable seat restraint. Children aged five and under must use an appropriate seat restraint at all times. The subject of children in cars is highly regulated in Greece, and if you plan to travel with a child check in advance that your car will have the right seat restraints, and check with your car rental company when collecting the car too.

Flashing Headlights

In many European countries, including the UK, if another driver flashes his lights at you it is normally a sign that he is kindly giving way to you and you should proceed. In Greece it is the opposite. Flashing headlights means ‘I’m coming through, get out of the way’.


More Information
Both the AA and RAC have travel information on their websites about driving in other countries, and offer overseas travel insurance deals.

AA: www.theAA.com.
The current advice on driving in Greece can be downloaded from here.

RAC: www.rac.co.uk.
The current page on driving in Greece is here:
http://www.rac.co.uk/travel/driving-abroad/countries/greece/

Driving Abroad by Robert Davies (Haynes Publishing) covers Driving in Greece and other major European countries, including Turkey. You can buy it on the Amazon UK website and the Amazon USA website.

Latest Posts

  1. Travel Restrictions Keep Celestyal from Cruising Until July 30

    Celestyal Cruises, which sails to the Greek islands and the Mediterranean, recently announced that it is further extending the suspension of its operations until July 30. The cruise line said it took…

    Read More

  2. AEGEAN Restarts Flights from Thessaloniki to 6 Int’l Destinations as of June 15

    AEGEAN Airlines on Wednesday announced that it will be restarting direct operations to/from Thessaloniki with six European destinations as of June 15. The Greek company’s announcement follows the grad…

    Read More

  3. Greece Still Attractive Tourist Destination Despite Covid-19

    Potential travelers appear to be eager to visit Greece in the next three months despite the Covid-19 crisis, according to a study on attitudes and intentions regarding international leisure trips join…

    Read More

  4. Greece in Discussions with Egypt to Resume Tourist Flows

    Greece and Egypt on Tuesday discussed laying the ground for gradual resumption of flights between the two countries in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis, d…

    Read More

  5. EASA Updates List of Airports in Covid-19 High Risk Areas

    The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday updated the list of airports located in affected areas with high risk of transmission of the Covid-19 infection. EASA determined that a li…

    Read More

  6. Study: Greeks Not Keen on Eating Out after Covid-19

    The coronavirus (Covid-19) scare is making Greeks reluctant to travel and to eat out, according to the latest study released this week by the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA). More…

    Read More

  7. Covid-19: List of Nationalities Allowed Entry in Greece for Summer 2020 Coming Soon

    A list of countries from which visitors will be able to arrive and holiday in Greece as of June 15 is expected to be announced by the end of May, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis recently said…

    Read More

  8. Ryanair: Athens is Open to Holidaymakers from June 15 – Video

    Irish low cost carrier Ryanair on Tuesday posted a video about Athens on Twitter, promoting the Greek capital as an ideal destination this summer. The carrier gives its followers “a glimpse of the anc…

    Read More

  9. Yachting in Greece Restarts post-Covid-19

    Private yachts and boats, catering up to 12 passengers, as of May 25 are allowed to set sail in Greece, according to a government decision announced as the coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions ease. Τh…

    Read More

  10. Thessaloniki Airport, Northern Greece Land Borders Open for Tourists from June 15

    International flights to Greece will be able to land at Thessaloniki Airport, in Northern Greece, as of June 15 instead if July 1 as originally planned, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said o…

    Read More