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Maps and driving in Greece

We are headed to Greece in 3 weeks! We will be picking up a rental car from the Athens airport and driving to Nafplio/Nafplion, Mycenea, Delphi, Volos, and Skiathos Island. I confirmed with the car rental company we can take the car on the ferry to Skiathos, we just need to let them know when we pick it up and pay extra insurance of $75. We plan on using our iPhone for GPS but want to have paper maps to fall back on in case we don't have service or otherwise find ourselves lost. Any recommendations? And, is it fairly easy to drive around Greece for Americans who don't speak/read Greek?

Posted by
2562 posts

In our experience driving twice in Greece, signs are in English as well as Greek. The main challenge is that we are used to multiple signs to guide us while in Greece there usually is only one. So you have to pay attention. I would recommend having a navigator. I missed the exit to the airport driving back for example.

Posted by
4555 posts

We drove from ATH to Nafplio and across to Kardamyli, over to Messene, and then back to ATH via Stemnitsa. We used iphone as well. The main highway was excellent. On some lesser rural roads, it was a little sketchy, but nothing to worry about. An overall fantastic experience!
I hope to go to Volos on my return trip, but that was postponed. Looks like a great trip.

Posted by
1172 posts

I rely solely on Google Maps for driving directions/instructions.

For the most part it works very well with a few "hiccups" here and there. It will let you know how far in advance you need to make a turn or exit.

If you are on smaller islands then paper maps may be helpful but I still feel some navigation system will help but for the mainland, they are can be confusing as they can be very cumbersome and have a combination of Greek/English language.

If you have another person along with you then they can serve as a navigator but I travel solo so Google Maps was a life saver.

Most signs will be in Greek/English but not always especially in more rural areas.

Driving in Greece is relatively easy but beware of some drivers who tend to speed and occasionally pass when they shouldn't.

If you have vehicles behind you pull over when you can and let them pass.

Posted by
266 posts

Google Maps, Here We Go and other nav programs are good for step by step instructions. I (an admitted map freak) like to have a large area map for planning and picking suitable trip routes. For Europe, the Michelin Guides. And, yes the signs away from the main highways/toll roads are sparse. Too often noticed as you pass them by. Newer rental cars usually have a speed warning - sometimes noisy. The Greek drivers have obviously disabled those warnings.

Posted by
803 posts

I am driving Greece right now. My rental car has no speed warning system. I never heard of that.
I am using maps.me for navigation. No paper maps. Google maps is fine but even with a Greek SIM card there is spotty reception. Download anything you may want to use.
Hardly any traffic on most roads. Good thing as sometimes the route is quite narrow and switchbacks over mountains. You may be on roads that you think, “what the heck?”.but eventually you will figure it out.
It is no big deal. Put in your route and go. You will have a learning curve because this is not the US.
Maps.me
Google maps.

Forget paper maps. A waste of time to try and find and will most likely not show the roads you may need.
Disclaimer. This is my opinion only and not meant to offend.

Posted by
1382 posts

While we have always used GPS to guide us in Greece I always make sure that we have a paper map to double check where we are going. Who knew that there are 7 places in Greece called Meteora. GPS took us 250 km past our destination.

Posted by
803 posts

We just drove Elafonisos island to Kardamyli today. Using google maps. I cannot imagine any paper map that would have served well in this drive. One abrupt turn took us between a stone wall and a house the width of the car. Regular road either side, but the turn was so obscure we overshot it but went back due to google maps. Also main highway routes take you through various narrow streets left and right to get you from the enter the town to leaving the town. No paper map would have done it. Too much detail to be on paper.

Posted by
388 posts

Newer rental cars usually have a speed warning - sometimes noisy. The Greek drivers have obviously disabled those warnings.

When did you encounter this? I've never seen a speed warning in a rental car (or non-rental). Maybe it's an aftermarket thing

Posted by
266 posts

edwardius:
Rented 2022/2023 Kia and Nissan in Greece and Italy. Both had many "advanced driver assistance systems": anti-collision braking; forward safe distance speed adjustment; blind spot alarm; lane alignment warning; lane steering assist (IMHO, deadly on mountain roads); driver awareness warning; traffic sign recognition including speed limit signs (with audible warning at 20km/hr over limit); traction control; headlight dimming; etc; etc. The list of cars with some or all of these features includes most if not all of EU manufacturers/importers. The names and details vary by make & model but each year more features are added aiming toward self-driving status. Google "traffic sign recognition cars".