If you’re planning a road trip through Greece, you’re in for a treat! This country is renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and picturesque coastal roads. However, it’s important to be aware of the nuances of driving in Greece before embarking on your adventure.
We have driven in Italy, Spain and Portugal so this is our 4th European country we are driving in.
In this blog post, we’ll answer frequently asked questions about driving in Greece, covering topics such as license requirements, road rules, and the overall driving experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned driver or a newbie, read on to learn everything you need to know before hitting the road in
Is driving difficult in Greece?
Driving in Greece can be challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the country’s road conditions and driving habits. I would not dare drive there, even if the car were automatic.
My husband drove for us, and I will share our experience. Keep in mind that Greek drivers are known for their assertiveness and occasional disregard for traffic regulations.
Narrow roads, winding mountainous routes, and congested city streets can also add to the difficulty. Finding parking can also be a big headache.
Driving in Greece is sometimes necessary, as it was for my Nothern Greece press trip, but with some preparation and caution, it can be an enjoyable experience.
We have driven in Italy, Spain and Portugal so this is our 4th European country we are driving in.
Can you drive a car in Greece with a US license?
Yes, visitors from the United States can drive in Greece with a valid US driver’s license. The license must be in English or accompanied by an International Driving Permit (IDP) if it’s in a non-Roman alphabet.
My husband has the international driving permit which we got for him to drive in Italy, but he actually left it at home.
He wasn’t asked for this license, but his regular US license instead.
Renting a Car in Greece
Can Americans rent cars in Greece?
Yes, Americans can rent cars in Greece. Numerous car rental agencies operate in major cities and popular tourist destinations.
It is advisable to book a rental vehicle in advance and ensure that you meet the age requirements and have the necessary documents, including a valid driver’s license and IDP if required.
We opted to go with a local car rental company called Avance, and they have been my favorite car rental in all of Europe thus far. We ended up booking for the wrong airport, and I freaked out, but they totally helped us.
They were super chill, greeted us with water after fully inspecting the car, they took photos with their Ipad, which I thought was super helpful.
We opted to get the full insurance coverage which costs $12 a day, instead of paying an expensive deposit. Be aware of that when booking.
Is driving in Greece like in the US?
Driving in Greece differs from driving in the United States in several ways. Greece follows the right-hand driving system, and road conditions, signage, and traffic rules may vary.
Greek drivers tend to be more aggressive, and traffic congestion is common in cities. Familiarizing yourself with the local driving culture and road rules is crucial to navigating the Greek roadways safely.
There are many winding roads and it can be scary driving up the mountains as we did. So drive carefully and watch the signs.
Is it easy to self-drive in Greece?
Self-driving in Greece can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the country. However, it’s essential to be prepared for narrow roads, varying road conditions, and different driving habits.
Some things to consider:
- Make sure you check if there is parking at your hotels or ask where to park
- Also, check where to park in the destinations you plan to visit
- The signs are in Greek, which makes it difficult at times, so use the GPS system that will give you the most step-by-step directions in your language
- There will be tools depending on where you go, but you can pay with a card
- Prioritize defensive driving, stay alert, and familiarize yourself with local traffic regulations
Which side of the road do you drive on in Greece?
Driving in Greece, like in many other European countries, follows the right-hand side of the road. Correspondingly, the driver’s seat is positioned on the left side of the vehicle.
Can you turn right on red in Greece?
No, in Greece, you cannot turn right on red unless there is a sign indicating otherwise. You must wait for a green light before making a right turn.
Can you use your phone while driving in Greece?
Using a mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited in Greece. It is essential to keep your phone in hands-free mode or use a Bluetooth device if necessary.
Violating this rule can result in fines and penalties.
What is the speed limit in Greece?
The general speed limits in Greece are as follows:
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas
- 90 km/h (56 mph) on rural roads
- 110 km/h (68 mph) on expressways
- 130 km/h (81 mph) on highways
We didn’t see many cops on highways, but we would still not go over the speed limit, especially given the way they drive.
Driving in Halkidiki
We did a self-guided press trip in Northern Greece, and here were our routes.
- Thessaloniki Airport to Halkidiki area ( Blue Bay Hotel)
- Halkidi to Sithonia Beach ( Stopped at Polygryos)
- Sithonia to Polygryos then back
- Sithonia to Veria Greece
- Veria to Thessaloniki
We had a scary mini-event when we had to visit Nea Skioni. The GPS cut through the mountains but it ended up taking us to a closed road. Then it took us through a very scary path.
I wish I had the 360 Camera to fully show you our experience. You can see a little about it in this TikTok Video.
@fusetravels Day 5- ate breakfast at Blue Bay Hotel admiring the views then checked out. On our way to Sinthonia we atopped by the village of Nea Fokea. St Paul’s Tower was built in 1407 and still stands on the top of the hill overlooking the Aegean Sea. Next to it is the chapel of 12 Apostles (1868). Opposite the hill, from the other side of the road is the spring of St Paul’s holy water. On the way to Sithonia, you will pass by the Potidea Canal. It is worthy to enter the village of Nea Potidea and take some photos from the canal, the ruins of the ancient fortification. We done arrived at the fabulous acro. Tell where we had lunch and then I started my birthday after a few hours working I finally went outside, but it’s kind of too late to swim, so I just admire the amenities and walked over to view the private beach which is so gorgeous then it was back to the hotel room for more work than later. We enjoyed dinner at the buffet, then it was time for bed. #visithalkidiki #northerngreece #neafokeachalkidiki #neafokea #viaitgreece #greecevlogs #greecevlog #mainlandgreece #halkidikigreece #sithoniagreece #sithoniabeaches #eliabeach ♬ American Beauty – Thomas Newman
Driving in Thessaloniki
When considering driving in Thessaloniki, one cannot help but think of the phrase “brace yourself.” We had half a day to spare before our flight, but were unaware of the risk involved in parking our vehicle in the city.
I have never seen so many cars in all of my life. Cramped cars like sardines in cans. So we kept driving.
We had inquired about pricing for a parking lot closer to Aristotle Square, but they wanted 5 Euros an hour which was too much money, so we kept driving.
We ended up parking near Ole Tower, which cost way less. It cost $4 euros for the first 2 hours then $1 Euro an hour after. Here is the address for parking.
Even in the parking lot, it was a bit tight to park again with so many cars. I confess that driving in Thessaloniki gave me a lot of anxiety.
Driving In Athens
Athens, the vibrant capital of Greece, presents a unique set of challenges for drivers. With its bustling streets, heavy traffic, and limited parking options, it’s essential to be well-prepared before embarking on a driving adventure in this historic city.
Here are some key points to consider when driving in Athens:
Traffic Congestion: Be prepared for heavy traffic, especially during peak hours and in popular tourist areas. Athens has a high volume of vehicles, and traffic congestion is a common occurrence. Plan your routes accordingly and allow extra time for potential delays.
Narrow Streets: Many streets in Athens, particularly in the city center and older neighborhoods, are narrow and winding. Take extra caution when maneuvering through these roads, especially when encountering oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
Watch out for Motorbikes: Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in Athens, and they can weave through traffic and occupy narrow spaces. Keep a careful eye out for motorbikes and give them adequate space when sharing the road.
Parking Challenges: Finding parking in Athens can be quite challenging, particularly in crowded areas. It is recommended to use public transportation whenever possible or utilize paid parking lots and garages. Be cautious when parking on the streets and ensure that you comply with parking regulations to avoid fines or towing.
Avoid Rush Hours: To minimize traffic congestion, it’s advisable to avoid driving during peak hours, typically between 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Opt for off-peak hours if possible to have a smoother driving experience.
Pedestrian Zones: Be aware of pedestrian-only zones in the city center, such as the popular Plaka neighborhood and parts of Ermou Street. These areas are closed to vehicle traffic during specific hours. Pay attention to signage and respect these restrictions to avoid penalties.
Use GPS Navigation: Utilize GPS navigation systems or mobile apps to help you navigate through the city. They can provide real-time traffic updates, suggest alternate routes, and guide you to your destination efficiently. Since the road signs are difficult to understand, watch the GPS closely.
Be Alert and Patient: Athens’ driving culture can be assertive, and drivers may display more aggressive behavior compared to other places. Stay focused, exercise defensive driving techniques, and remain patient to ensure a safe and stress-free journey.
Explore Public Transportation: Consider utilizing Athens’ extensive public transportation network, including metro, buses, and trams. They offer a convenient and efficient way to get around the city and avoid the challenges of driving and parking.
Park-and-Ride Facilities: If you decide to drive into Athens, consider utilizing the park-and-ride facilities located on the outskirts of the city. These facilities provide secure parking and easy access to public transportation, allowing you to continue your journey without the hassle of driving in congested areas.
Remember, while driving in Athens can be demanding, it also offers the opportunity to explore the city at your own pace.
By staying vigilant, following traffic rules, and being considerate of other road users, you can have a much better driving experience.
Driving in Veria Greece
We were surprised at how big Veria was as we thought it would be a small town. It is crowded and parking is not as easy but luckily our hotel had parking spaces in an alley, so they had to keep the car keys in case they needed to move the car.
The super interesting thing in Veria was how the cars really stop for the pedestrians. There aren’t a lot of traffic lights in the city center, and there are lots of cars but they are super respectful of pedestrians which was nice to see.
Overall according to my husband, driving in Greece wasn’t an issue, but you do need to be extra cautious.