Driving in Greece – Your Complete Guide

Ingrid & Alex

Embarking on a road trip through Greece unveils a unique and enchanting experience that combines ancient history, breathtaking landscapes, and the warm hospitality of its people. How about driving in Greece? Is it challenging?

Navigating the diverse terrain of this Mediterranean gem is a journey in itself as you traverse winding coastal roads, ascend mountainous landscapes, and discover hidden villages steeped in tradition.

This post will try to answer all your questions about driving in Greece, whether you are planning a trip along the roads of the Peloponnese or on the Greek islands.

This post contains affiliate links to products and services that I may be compensated for, at no extra cost to you. Read more about this on our disclosure page here.

Driving in Greece – everything you must know

Key Takeaways of Driving in Greece

Like most European countries, Greece is a right-side driving country.

You won’t need additional documents if an EU/EEC state issued your driving license. However, you might want to get an International Driving License if you are from the UK, USA, Australia, or Canada.

If you plan to rent a car, do it beforehand, especially when traveling in peak season. Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you save up to 70% on your car rental.

The most crucial driving rule in Greece is that the locals don’t follow any rules. That’s why you will want to pay extra attention to others while you make sure you respect the rules.

Is it challenging to drive in Greece?

Driving in the Balkans is an experience, and Greece is no exception. Roads, other than highways, are not in the best shape. Many traffic signs are damaged, the paint on the road is missing more often than not, and there are places where the road becomes so narrow that two cars can’t pass each other.

To add to the adventure, standard traffic rules do not seem to bind Greek drivers.

This being said, driving is much easier than it sounds. However, you’ll be well advised to focus on the other participants. It is common to be overtaken on sections where this isn’t allowed or for drivers to ignore the STOP sign in intersections.

As for speeding, well…the signs seem to be interpreted as guidance rather than strict limits. Lastly, as the evening turns into night, some drivers are under the influence of alcohol, not only in Athens but also in smaller towns.

Despite the more chaotic driving culture, exploring Greece by car can be very rewarding. The vistas are breathtaking, and many unique places are accessible only by car.

My two cents: avoid driving after dark and always respect the rules as you would in your country. Take these precautions, and you’ll be just fine.

Driving in Greece

On which side do they drive in Greece?

Like most European countries, Greece is a right-side driving country.

Can tourists drive in Greece?

The short answer is: yes, tourists can drive in Greece.

You won’t need any additional documents if your driving license was issued by an EU/EEC state or an International Driving License if you are from the UK, USA, Australia, or Canada.

The legal age for driving in Greece

The legal age for driving in Greece is 18 years old.

However, many rental companies might impose a different age requirement, so check before booking.

Can I bring my own car?

Yes, you can; make sure you have all your car documents in order.

Road tolls

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of roads in Greece: highways and regular roads.

Highways are not free, and you’ll pay as you go at the different toll booths. You can pay by card and cash at the manned booths and coins at the automated ones. The price can be between 1 and 4 euros per segment, but I must warn you that the segments are annoyingly short.

For instance, when driving from the Bulgarian border in the north to the Peloponnese in the south, we had to stop at more than 10 booths— the bills added up to around 40 euros, not to mention the time we wasted at every stop.

Regular roads (national and municipal) are toll-free.

Driving Regulations

The speed limit on highways is 130 km/hour. However, some areas have further restrictions, so please pay attention to the signs.

On regular roads, the speed limit varies between 90 and 110 km/ hour, while in localities between 30 and 70 km/hour.

Fines for speeding can go from 40 euros to 350 euros, plus a driving ban.

Speed cameras are not always operational. Still, it is better to be careful than sorry.

The traffic signs are mainly in Greek, but they look the same as in the rest of Europe, so you shouldn’t have problems recognizing them.

Scooters in Greece

Can you turn right when the red light is on?

No, you can’t unless a blinking green light allows you to turn right.

What do yellow flashing lights mean in Greece?

If you encounter yellow flashing lights, follow the signs instead of the traffic lights. For instance, you should yield if there is a YIELD sign in addition to the lights.

Why do they beep so much in Greece?

Greek people’s preference for a slow life doesn’t extend to traffic. Everybody is in a hurry, as if they are late for the next meeting of the UN Security Council. So don’t mind the beeping and focus on driving.

Parking in Greece

Parking in Greece can be challenging, especially in large cities.

In Athens or Thessaloniki, there are many paid parking spots operated by local entrepreneurs, which are a kind of valet parking. You can also find more modern parking lots where you take a ticket at the entrance and pay at the machine when you leave. I always google a parking spot at my destination before the journey.

Parking is less regulated in smaller towns and rural areas, to put it lightly. Just park where the locals park, but try not to block the road or somebody’s alley.

Driving in Athens

Athens is a large metropolis with vast distances and crowded traffic. There are several cross-city highways that you can use to get from one area to another in a speedy fashion. Still, driving through the labyrinthine secondary streets can be confusing.

I advise using public transportation when possible; it will save you a lot of headaches when navigating the narrow streets and looking for parking spaces.

Mountain road_Leonidio Greece

Driving on the Greek islands and rural areas

I enjoy driving on the islands and in the rural areas. For one, you’ll be entertained by many breathtaking vistas, be they sea, mountain, or both.

One piece of advice: apart from not-so-great roads and reckless drivers, the path can narrow suddenly, and your car might barely fit through. This is most common when passing through villages or high-altitude mountain roads, but you can encounter situations where bridges are not very wide either.

Driving with children in Greece

We recently crisscrossed Greece with our 11-month-old baby girl.

Apart from the usual precautions (extra diapers, baby formula, pacifier, and so on), I would only add that there are not many modern gas stations and public toilets outside of highways.

Naturally, having a baby seat is mandatory, so if you rent a car while traveling with a child, request one.

Is it safe to rent a car in Greece?

Yes, it is.

Greece is a global tourist destination, so you can find various car rentals, from international names to local companies.

However, if you are traveling during the peak season, we strongly encourage you to book in advance, especially if you want a specific type of car.

Discover Cars is a great aggregator with a flexible cancellation policy. Rent your car here!

Scooters in Greece

What about scooters and ATVs?

You can rent scooters and ATVs, and many adventurous tourists do that. I also did a few times in my younger days, but I value my safety and comfort above thrills nowadays.

Unless you are experienced in riding a motorbike, I suggest you stick to cars even if they are a tad more expensive. Although I used to have a scooter many years ago, I still managed to land on my head while renting one in Rhodos. Luckily, the damage was minimal, but it could have ended much worse.

Our experience with driving in Greece and on the islands

Over the years, we covered much of Greece and its main islands by car. We even spent a leg of our honeymoon driving around Crete. In a nutshell, we liked it and recommend it to tourists who want to explore.

Outside the few dozen world-famous destinations covered by guided tours, countless equally beautiful but less-known places can be reached only by car. Furthermore, to experience an authentic Greek adventure, you must go out of the main cities and the crowded resorts.

Because I used to travel to Greece on business a dozen times a year in my earlier life, I thought I knew the country well. Only when a Greek colleague invited us to his parent’s place in a village for the weekend did I realize the error of my ways.

Whether you stay for a week or a month, I suggest you drive around the countryside for at least one day—it’s worth it.

Driving in Greece: Manual vs Automatic?

Choosing between a manual or automatic car in Greece largely depends on your preferences and driving comfort.

If you are used to driving an automatic car, book in advance to secure such a car.

A manual car may be a suitable choice if you are comfortable driving a manual transmission and enjoy having more control over the gears, especially on hilly or winding roads.

Additionally, rental cars in Greece often come with manual transmissions, and you may find a more comprehensive selection and potentially more budget-friendly options.

Use of mobile phones when driving in Greece

Greek traffic laws prohibited using handheld mobile phones while operating a vehicle, imposing fines for violations.

However, they allow driving while using a hands-free device.

Can you drink and drive in Greece?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a severe offense, and the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers is typically 0.05%. Penalties for violating these regulations include fines, license suspension, and other legal consequences.

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Driving in Greece tips and tricks

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