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Driving alone?

I’ll be visiting Greece in September, traveling solo, and considering renting a car in Piraeus to go to Meteora and Nafplio. My uninformed question is this: Are the road signs in Greek and English, or only in Greek alphabet? Since I’ll have no one with me to navigate, would you feel confident navigating alone with your GPS? Also mentioning I’m a woman traveling solo.

Posted by
1397 posts

Driving in Greece is a bit of a challenge. Greek drivers are aggressive, drive very fast and the centre line on the road is just a suggestion. Honestly they cut every corner. They expect slower vehicles to stay over on the right lane and make room for the fast cars. I only write this to give you advance knowledge of what to expect.
The road to Meteora is a major 4 lane divided highway. Toll road Until you turn off to get to Meteora. No problem with this route.

Road signs are in Greek then about a half kilometre further same signs are in English.
Gps is quite helpful. However programming the GPS is important. Many places in Greece have the same names but they are in different Municipalities. You should have a paper map just to check where you are going before you program the GPS. On our trip to Meteora the GPS took us to Thessalonica. Who knew there are 7 places called Meteora in Greece.

We took the same major highway back to Athens then the National highway to Corinth. National highway is a large highway and toll road to Corinth. No problem driving to there. After Corinth you turn south on a good secondary road that meanders through wine county. It is a two lane highway and here is where the cutting corners will happen. Just keep over to the right, let faster traffic pass and expect oncoming traffic to be in your lane for a moment. Don't panic, they always get back into the proper lane when there is oncoming traffic. You will get used to it. Speeds are slow on secondary roads so there is time for drivers to react.
You might want to make a stop in Corinth where you can visit Ancient Corinth and right next door the amazing fortress at Acrocorinth. It has a 360 degree view over the whole area. Caesar once visited during the Roman period.

Is there a specific reason to pick up the car in the port?
If I had a choice I would pick up at the airport. You do not have to drive in Athens traffic from the airport you will already be on the major highway. Makes pick up and drop off much easier.

Posted by
2595 posts

My son drove from airport to Meteora and back by himself. He did fine but found it stressful. He said the drivers drove very fast and aggressively and passed in places he thought were dangerous.

That said we are driving to Delphi and then to Meteora next month. There are two of us which should help with directions but won’t change the Greek driving.

One thing to be aware of is that there are not multiple signs for same location as in US. And they are right before you need to turn off. I missed airport first time coming back from Nafplio because I wasn’t expecting the sign and didn’t react quickly enough. But, of course, I got there anyway so no need to panic if you miss an exit.

Posted by
93 posts

Is there a specific Greece road map (paper) that you recommend? My husband and I will be in Greece in a few weeks and will be doing a fair amount of driving while there.

Posted by
27 posts

Stanbr, I’ll be getting off a ferry around 4PM on a Sunday from Sifnos. My thought was if I just pick up a car at Piraeus, then I wouldn’t have to check into a hotel in Athens for a night, then take the metro to pick a car up at the airport the next morning. (I want to avoid driving in the dark.). I hope that makes sense. Then my plan is 4 nights in Nafplio and 1-2 nights in Kalambaka… I’m open to suggestions on which to do first. Or any other suggestions! Thanks!

Posted by
27 posts

After reading through some other threads, I’m wondering if I should save Meteora for a future trip and spend my remaining week in the Peleponnese. Interested in some antiquity and lots of local Greek character and culture. Again, traveling solo. Here’s my full itinerary for your comments:

  • Days 1-4: Transatlantic flight, then two nights in Athens. I’ve been here before so no need for Acropolis but I will definitely revisit the fabulous national archaeological museum.
  • Days 4-8: Ferry to Serifos for 4 nights for hikes and beaches and relaxing
  • Days 8-13: Ferry to Sifnos for 5 nights - more hikes, beaches and food
  • Day 13: Ferry to Piraeus, then ???
  • Days 13-19: Open to suggestions
  • Day 19: Overnight in Athens
  • Day 20: Fly to Jordan for 12 days
Posted by
4338 posts

What stanbr said. I did not find driving Athens to Nafplio or Nafplio to Meteora to really be a problem. Driving to Delphi without a navigator might have caused me some trouble. Yes to the way Greeks drive but it wasn’t hard to adjust. I used Google Maps direction for my 2 week trip and it worked well. I would suggest previewing the directions first, though. I didn’t use a paper map (and probably couldn’t have) but did look at everything ahead.

Edit: just got back from Jordan - don’t drive yourself there…..

Posted by
26 posts

Me too - traveling the peninsula on my own. Thanks to all for the info - I am sure it will be of great help for this older woman. Am picking my car up at the airport and will pull over for greek folks to pass I can tell. Wish me luck. Busses make me lose my lunch. Oberlin Jean

Posted by
2595 posts

I just wanted to add for the last poster that I drove to Nafplio and all around there and did not find the drivers to be as aggressive as my son said they were going to Meteora. My brother in law who went to Delphi and Meteora had the same comments on the aggressiveness of Greek drivers.

Posted by
15690 posts

I left Greece yesterday and this is what I observed...

--tailgating is a national sport in Greece. The larger the vehicle, the closer they want to be. I was on a bus who got so close to the vehicle in front you couldn't see the license plate on that vehicle.

--if a car wants to pass you, you will be expected to move to the area on the right we might call the shoulder. The passing car will then return to the lane in front of you so close you will think they will hit the left front off your car. They won't.

--greek toll booth signs take a moment to try to figure out what they mean. You won't have the time.

--some Greek roads are very windy and it will be impossible to take your eyes off the road to look at the amazing scenery

--at roundabouts, vehicles entering seem to have the right of way rather than those already in the roundabout.

Posted by
2039 posts

To confirm Frank II's supposition: Drivers entering a roundabout have priority.
And unless otherwise indicated, at crossroads priority is given to vehicles coming from the right

It is in principle forbidden but the hard shoulder is often used to let faster vehicles passing you. Then you have to go back to the normal way

Posted by
212 posts

It's pretty easy driving. The only time you need to keep a close eye on the map is when you're getting out of Athens. Have you found a car to rent that is actually in Piraeus? I could not find any there last summer and had to go from the ferry port to a really remote part of the city to pick up at Enterprise. Point being, everything is easier from the airport, navigation perhaps most of all.

Posted by
3362 posts

Answer to Yophilly -- YES! I totally agree with your new idea about spending that time in the Pelopponese ... SO much to see, so much beauty, history ... treasures all around. Five days would let you sample so many things... Just a afew examples (and here's a great online map to follow along- (clilck & it gets Huuuge; navigate with side-slides):

• ANCIENT CORINTH - Both the Hellenic ruins, and ... high above, ACroCorinth, for a lofty view
• The CANAL - Outbound OR inbound - exit at "ISthmus" for 20-30 mins just to walk across "old Bridge" and experience/photograph Corinth Canal (SO Deep! SO Skinny!) at one place alongside u can find grooves worn by ancient Greeks dragging their boats..
• ANCIENT NEMEA - About 10 Mi past canal, exit 5 mi to - amazing "Olympia runner-up" Sacred Games Site... temple ruins, stunning stadium, with race starting-blocks 2500 years old. (NOw site of Revived Nemea Games attracting worldwide competitors)
• VINEYARDS - NEMEA is center of top Wine Country; many vineyards for visits/samplling - in Nemea village we found a teeny bottling plant right on main street with huge casks, for sampling (luckliy the driver in our group was abstinent).
• NAFPLIO - u may already know the superb NONcommercial website- -- click every link!! Not only best tips on where to stay-eat-explore IN Nafplio but also nearby ancient sites AND best walks, beaches etc. Also. thanks to ace photog & top RS contributor Stanbr, are photos of Nafplio beauties & highlights of surrounding major landmarks -
• ANCIENT SITES -- Mycenae, Tiryns, Asine (a hidden gem), Epidaurus ... if u can spare 2 days, visits to Mystra & Monemvasia, medieval wonders. Going farther, there's Messine -- but I'd advise spending your time on all the above. I've visited Nafplio & surroundings at least 7 times and haven't yet explored the whole Argolid (the territory around NAfplio).

• SWIMS - all kinds of beaches... and the sea is splendid in September!

Posted by
31 posts

We just got back from Greece last week. We rented a car to drive to Delphi, Meteora and around the Peloponnese for 11 days. The Greek drivers were not as bad as I had been led to believe (we drive in the Seattle area). We were driving the first two weeks in April and traffic seemed light except at Nafplio. We always had Google Maps up and the passenger did the navagating. When someone wanted to ride my bumper on a two lane road I pulled over where possible so they could pass. We didn't have issues with signage identifying the town in English. I can see as a solo driver it would be harder but in my opinion no harder than navigating in the US in unfamiliar teritory using Google Maps (cell coverage was generally very good for our TMobile). We always used credit cards at the toll booths and just looked for the figure of the man with his hand out (I believe usually blue signage but it did change). Only once was there a booth not manned and we had to toss in a euro to proceed.
Nafplio was very crowded but we were there on a weekend. The roads in town are narrow and cars park on both sides so only one car can get through. There are huge parking lots at the port that would be easy to drive to and just leave your car without trying to navigate town.
We used Athens Car Rental and picked up and dropped off the car at the Athens airport. We were very happy with the car and their service.
Good luck and have fun!