Island hopping around Greece on board a smoky 1950s boat isn’t the only way to see the country. Hire a car instead.
With this guide to driving in Greece, as well as some trusty travel insurance, you’ll see the sights safely, and parking-fine free!
Taking to the road is the perfect way to enjoy the Mediterranean climate and the rich history of Greece. Thankfully, the quality of the roads has improved somewhat since the Romans took over in 146 BC. Now a good quality network of National Roads (motorways) makes it easy to criss-cross the country in search of ancient attractions.
Hit the road
The Greek approach to driving is best described as relaxed. You won’t find too much tailgating or horn-honking, but neither can you expect fastidious attention to signalling or priority signs. Keep your wits about you, both hands on the wheel and just go with the flow. You can also expect big differences in speeds between vehicles. On the new highways in particular, some local drivers have been known to simply stop, so be careful.
The drink-drive level is strict, with a 50mg limit per 100ml of blood compared to 80mg in the UK, so go easy on the Ouzo.
Service stations are few and far between once you’re out of town so fill up when you see one. Always carry a first-aid kit and warning triangle, as well as a fire extinguisher – all cars are required to have one.
Take a trip across the Rio-Antirio Bridge, which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with mainland Greece. It’s the longest cable suspension bridge in Europe at just under 1.4 miles, and takes you straight into the town of Rio and its delightful beaches.
Best of the rest
As well as being the capital, Athens is also the location for most of the stages of the World Rally Championship. Head up into the mountains to enjoy the sinewy roads and spectacular views, and pretend you’re Sebastian Loeb for the day.
Laws of the land
· Front seat passengers must wear seatbelts if fitted
· Children over three, or under 1.5m tall, are not allowed to travel in the front seat of a car
· Children under five must use an appropriate restraint
· Those over 1.35m can use a seat belt
· It’s illegal to use full-beam headlights in built-up areas
· Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets. This applies for passengers too
If you get fined by the police, they’re not allowed to collect the money on the spot. Instead you must pay at a public office within 10 days of the offence.
Park illegally, and instead of getting a ticket you may have your number plates removed. This generally applies to Greek-registered vehicles, but you can imagine how difficult it would be to trek back across Europe without any plates, or how awkward to explain when returning that hire car.
Standard speed limits
Residential areas 50km/h
Outside built up areas 90km/h
Dual carriageways 110km/h
Did you know?
Street parking laws are very strict: you can’t park facing traffic, close to a bus stop or near a fire hydrant. Use a proper car park wherever possible.
Always ensure you have sufficient car insurance .