Greece is more than the Acropolis, Greek islands, and sandy beaches. There are so many ancient sites scattered around the country, pretty middle size towns and forgotten villages. Greece is also a country with amazing landscapes; Greece is general mountainous (80% of the country are mountains and hills) but there is also flat land. There are wetlands, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes too. Taking a road trip with your family in Greece will give you the opportunity to discover all these. The itineraries are endless. And a combination of car and road is possible too. This article will share some important information regarding your car adventure in Greece.
Driving in Greece
I have been driving in Greece for more than 20 years. I have driven on islands, through the mountainous mainland and the last 18 years I have been in busy city life Athens. I currently make 4 school runs per day. And I love taking the care for small road trips on the weekends. I believe that I am a good driver and have much experience. Yet, I cannot get used to some aspects of driving in Greece. Although I would definitely recommend hiring a car to explore Greece, I would also like to give you some advice.
Greece has a rate of car accidents. This has several reasons. One of the reasons is the road condition. The Greek roads vary in their quality. In recent years, many have been repaired and improved. There is a good network of nice wide highways connecting the major cities. Most have multiple lanes but not all do. Such as the roads around the smaller cities and villages. Here you can find narrow poor quality one-lane roads with potholes that may turn into gravel (or worse) for some parts. You may encounter tractors, motorcycles, old pick up cars, all driving at different speeds. The major highways have excellent lights but the rural roads not. Road signs are easy to understand, they usually are in both English and Greek. Be extra careful on the rural roads and the one-lane per direction roads, where one has to cross over to the opposite direction lane to overpass a slower vehicle. I personally try not to pass someone else on these one-lane roads. But this means that you can get stuck behind a slow-moving farm trailer or any other slower car for a long time. Other drivers behind you may want to pass you and may get anxious. My personal experience is that Greek drivers generally take a lot of risks and they will do anything to go faster. Try to stay calm and stay as far to the right as possible.
The first thing that you will notice on the highways during your road trip in Greece are the many toll stations. It seems that there are just too many. (Leaving Athens on my way to any nearby city I encounter a minimum of 5 tolls stations!) The Greek motorways are built and managed by about 6 different companies and this makes road tolls in Greece more complicated than in other European countries. Tolls are collected during each pass at the toll gates. Besides fees for highways, there are also charges for passing some bridges and tunnels. If you travel in Greece often or if you live in Greece you can use any of the automatic toll payment systems.
A valid driving license is required to drive in Greece. This is what I found online about the driving license: The license must always be carried and must be presented on demand by law enforcement officials. Citizens of the EU can use their own licenses for driving in Greece. USA driving licenses but must be accompanied by an International drivers license. Other nationals should have an International Drivers License. This International Driving Permit is an official verification and translation of your valid drivers license into 10 different languages, and they are valid for one year from the date issued. The minimum age to drive a car on the roads is 18 years.
Gas stations in Greece are efficient and save. They often sell more than just gas and some have a minimarket or restaurant. By law, at least one gas station must remain open in each area at night and on Sundays. So you will always find gas, even in the remoter areas. My car uses LPG and this is more difficult to find in the more remote areas. I always plan well when making a road trip. At the majority of gas stations in Greece, someone will come to fill your tank for you. Hand them the keys if the gas tank is locked, and tell them how much fuel you need. No need to leave the car, I find this very praktikal with the kids on board. The gas station can also help you with a free air pump and they will wash your windshield.
Greece is a mountainous country and driving here offers some amazing views. But this can also be a cause for carsickness. My daughter gets sick even if we drive through the Athens hills nearby our home. Although I have tried several medications for motion sickness, it seems that none of them really helped her. I have stopped buying those. I now make frequent stops and allow extra time to get to our destination. I make sure that there is plenty of fresh air. I also give her a lot of popsicles, somehow the sugar and the sucking on the cold ice cream seems to help her a bit. Other tips that can help with motion sickness are eating some dry soda crackers or sip on fizzy drinks such as ginger ale.
Renting a car
For tips and advice regarding rental cars, please check my post Tips for renting a car in Greece with kids.