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Driving in Greece

Other than the issue of traffic around Athens, has anyone had problems with car rentals, driving in Greece in general, police, or whatever else you can think of? My husband and I want to spend time in Athens, then pick up a car at the airport and head out around the Peloponnese peninsula.

Thanks

Posted by
2934 posts

Be sure to go to your local AAA office to pick up an International Driving Permit, no test or membership required. Bring 2 passport photos with you and save a few dollars.

Posted by
4535 posts

Outside of Athens, driving in Greece is pretty easy. You must have the IDP and I would get the full CDW insurance or make sure your CC completely covers you.

Road signs are almost always in Greek and English and roads are pretty well marked. Traffic is relatively light on most rural highways but there can be a lot of treacherous twists and turns.

Always be alert to animals. Always keep to the far right side of the highway - the middle is for passing and turning (lanes are not always well marked). A GPS is not necessary for the most part if you have a good map. There simply aren't that many highways and roads where you are going.

Posted by
1005 posts

The Greeks are pretty wild drivers. They love to tailgate. They use the shoulder as another lane. Be sure to pull over into the shoulder if they are passing you on a two-lane road. They also ignore the speed limits and think that stop signs are like yield signs. I was uneasy at first, but later found this style of driving rather liberating (if still rather dangerous). The good news is that because of the economic crisis, the roads will be relatively traffic-free. Also the "national road"--their version of a toll road--is now open all the way between Athens and Kalamata in the Peloponnese. My friends tell me Kalamata is now just two and a half hours from Athens Airport (it used to take all day).

The majority of gas stations in Greece are "full service." Pull up to the pump, and within a few minutes someone will come to fill your tank with gas. Hand them the keys if the gas tank is locked, and tell them how much gas you wish to purchase. I'd use broken Greek to say "30 euros" and the gas station attendant would answer in English--"Oh, you mean 30 euros?" Very rarely does the gas station attendant provide more service than filling your tank.

I'd read some of the websites and blogs about driving in Greece, but don't panic. It will be fine as long as you drive defensively.

Posted by
1291 posts

You don't mention what month you are going. We were there in September 2012 and spent almost 2 weeks driving around the Peloponnese. There was not much traffic until we started getting close to Athens to return our car at the airport. There are often 2 sets of signs on the highway one after the other: one in Ancient Greek and Modern Greek, another in either of the first 2 and English. We had a gps, printed directions from google for backup, and a map. We generally used the gps and I had the map open to see where we were. Of course, the highway signs and street signs in towns helped. We had no problem finding our hotels and the sights we wanted to see.

Posted by
21 posts

Dear Bobby:
My information may be dated since I last drove around Greece nearly 10 years ago but I found it easy to get around and that was before we had the GPS! I didn't find the drivers to be "wild" and the roads were well marked. I didn't need an international drivers license but your rental company can tell you if one is now needed. I have driven all over Europe for 45 years and never needed anything other than my state issued license. If possible, rent your car away from the airport for the best price.

Have fun.

John F.