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Renting & Driving a car in Mainland Greece

My husband and I usually rent a car for our travels. We had heard the driving in Greece is more difficult. Any thoughts?

Any problems with the rental companies?

We would be starting in Athens, then to Meteora, Delphi, Olympia, and back to Athens.

Will take a ferry to Hydra. Spend several days in Athens (no car needed here) and probably visit a few of the islands by ferry.

We thank you in advance for any replies.

Posted by
5625 posts

Our trip a year and a half ago (at Eastertime) involved a twice-delayed ferry because of rough waves to Hydra, and then a shared taxi to another port for a less turbulent water crossing. So some flexibility and an extra taxi fare got us to Hydra.

After crossing from Hydra to the Peloponnese, we picked up our rental car. Driving wasn’t technically more difficult than in France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Spain, or Portugal. And driving on the right, as in the USA, it was easier for us than in Ireland and Scotland. The one Greek issue was so many people cutting across corners, even on blind curves, and heading at us in our lane. Everyone moved back onto their side of the road in time, but it was disconcerting, time after time. Just anticipate it, and leave extra room. Oh, also some signs were in Greek only, which took extra time for us non-Greek-readers to try to figure out, including names of towns.

We didn’t venture north of Delphi, and maybe things are different farther north? Compared to some parts of the world, though, there seemed to be less speeding or tailgating.

Posted by
999 posts

Just another thought. We used our phone and Google maps for navigation. It worked well in Greece. Having said that it is a good idea to have a paper map just to check and confirm your progress. We didn't realize it but there are 7 GPS choices for Meteora in Greece. They are all in different parts of the country. The GPS was happily taking us to Meteora in the far north. A paper map would have been handy that day.

You may want to consider renting the car at Athens airport. That way you do not have to drive in central Athens. We have had good experience with ACR Athens car rentals. If you plan to rent from some other company be sure to read the reviews before signing up.

Here is what you are going to see on your trip.
Olympia Delphi Meteora

Posted by
2646 posts

We found it a breeze -- used Hertz, drove through the Peloponnese in May. Highways were excellent, mountain roads were as mountain roads are everywhere. If you have driven in Italy for example, it is much easier as there are not ZTLs everywhere. Don't know about ferry logistics though.

Posted by
7752 posts

Greeks tend to regard two lane roads as four lane. And because Greece is mountainous, drive times may take longer than you think. Rent a car with enough power for the mountains.
Surprised that you didn’t mention staying in Napflio in the Peloponnesus as it is one of Greece’s most beautiful small cities and it’s surrounded by major antiquities’ sites. It was one of our favorite places in Greece.

Posted by
255 posts

I'd recommend reserving a car with one of the major rental companies. I've found them to be more dependable. Pick it up at the airport and drive to Meteora or Delphi. I've never been to Meteora so I'm not sure of the best itinerary. Delphi is small and the only attraction is the archeological site, which is wonderful!! I generally arrive one day, tour the museum then be at the gate of the archeological site when it opens the next morning, avoiding most crowds. I then drive to Olympia, stopping off at Nafpaktos for lunch. Go into the town and eat on the town square with it's view of the sea and the small dock where the fishing boats are moored. At Olympia I always stay at the Hotel Kronio. The owner is a great host, exhibiting the best of Greek xenia. Same schedule as Delphi, museum in the afternoon and archeological site in the morning. Have dinner at the Taverna Orestis, great fresh fish! I'd try to fit in a few days in Nafplio, too. It's a great place to relax, shop, eat, drink, go to the beach. And it's within a 1/2 drive of both Mycaenae and Epidaurus. The drive from Olympia to Athens is a bit long. Doable in a day but long. I've never been to Hydra but my friends in Greece told me that it's nice for a relaxing stay but there's not a lot to see there. I go to Aegina (45 minute hydrofoil cruise from Pireaus) which has a wonderful Greek temple to see on the top of a hill and you can see Athens from the temple. A taxi will take you up to the temple and wait for you to take you back to town. Nice food there, too, and the best pistachios in Greece!

Posted by
321 posts

Hi Suki!

I wanted to tell you that we did spend 2 days in Napflio. I was a vacation from our vacation. We did climb up to the Fortress for a beautiful view.

Thanks for all the info.

Posted by
172 posts

We just returned from Greece and used George's Taxi for four days three nights tour of the places you mentioned .We were picked up and dropped off at our Athens hotel. It was a dream! Not having to worry about directions, parking, tolls etc. was great. Our driver, though not allowed to guide us at the sites, had an i pad and prepped us with all the tips for each site. The cost was 1360 euros, not including entrance fees , hotels and meals. Alex, our driver, gave us incites to life in Greece we would never have had, otherwise . We stopped at places we never would have known about. I am usually the world's most frugal traveler, but consider this the best money I have ever spent during 9 trips to Europe.. You can find George's and another such service in Rock's Greece guidebook. Loved Greece! Hank,Novato Ca.

Posted by
172 posts

I meant Rick's guide, not technology!!!

Posted by
1 posts

Let me preface this by saying it's been nearly 50 years (1972) since I lived in northern Greece! One thing to know is that (at least in the north) they use marble as part of the road base. It's no problem when dry, but can become quite slippery in the rain!

In spite of that, the roads were decent, even the 2-lane ones. I'll be going back next year, and have no concerns about driving there.

But I suspect the drivers are as "carefree" as others have reported. I've driven in many parts of the world, and can only say "drive defensively - VERY defensively!

Posted by
2187 posts

Yikes, we just returned from Greece and I, for one am so glad I did not have to drive. Could I have done it? Yes, but with a lot of stress due to twisty, windy roads and signs not always in english.