Driving in Greece

Greeks are known for their aggressive style of driving. They drive very, very fast and seem not to obey any of the speed limits. It is common to see them driving even with 120 km/h in cities with speed limits to 50 km/h. However, they are skilled and generally polite, so they won’t be upset if you drive legally.

The speed limits are 50 km/h in cities, 110 km/h outside cities and 120 km/h on motorways. Road signs may instruct you to other speed limits. The alcohol tolerance is 50 mg of alcohol for 100 ml of blood.

The main issue when driving in Greece is speeding. Radars and speed cameras do not discourage Greek drivers, so they only rarely bother to slow down. The reasons are not very clear. It seems that local police is very tolerant with speeding, only fining those that are over the speed limit with a very high margin. Speeding takes place anywhere, in cities, on national roads or on motorways. The good part is that Greeks are not bothered if you actually obey the limits. They will wait and overtake when possible. This is another good part, they overtake only when it is safe to do so. When a car is flashing on you, this means “please allow me to pass when possible”. This means you have to go to the right side of the road, so you can be easily overtaken. In Greece it is not considered impolite to flash other drivers. Take care on motorways, because Greeks not only drive too fast, they also drive very close to each other. If anyone needs to brake, many other drivers from behind may not have enough time to brake too.

Roads in Greece are pretty good. Motorways are very good and keep on expanding. You have to pay at toll stations. It is cheaper than Italy or Croatia, but more expensive than countries that use vignettes. Toll stations are placed at about 50 km from one another and the toll varies from €1.20 to €2.50 or even more. Greece also has some good highways, but most highways have only one lane on each side. Besides this lane, there is a hard shoulder on each side. This hard shoulder is used when you want to allow other cars to overtake. You will see some slow cars that move permanently on the outside smaller lane. It’s easier to do this way than to move right each time a car is passing by. You will see that Greeks often overtake in curves. You are not supposed to move right until you consider it safe, they will wait. The hard shoulder is also used as an emergency lane, so it is dangerous to drive on it in curves. There might be stopped cars on this lane.

In many remote areas or on the islands, the roads are very narrow. Nothing will scare you more than a curve on a narrow road in a mountain area. Drivers are generally cautious on these roads, but it is good that you take extra care.

Greece has many islands and they are linked to the continent by many ferries. It is easy to take your car from one side to another. This will cost you some money, depending on the length you have to travel by ferry.

Even if Greece has good public transport, a car is needed if you want to explore remote areas or to travel freely on an island.

Petrol prices are lower than in many other European countries. In stations on motorways, the price is €1.10 – €1.20 per liter. Petrol stations are plentiful in Greece, both on motorways or in remote areas. Most of them accept credit cards. Stations placed in low traffic locations may close at night or during weekends.

Parking is forbidden 3 meters from a fire hydrant, 5 meters from a intersection and 14 meters from a bus stop. This rules must be obeyed even if the road is not marked accordingly.

When you come from a more “organized” country, you will find surprising that Greeks stop their cars wherever they wish, often making it difficult for other cars to pass. Many cars are stopped with the yellow emergency lights blinking almost in the middle of the road if the driver does not find parking. This problem does not happen so often in big cities. In cities you will find many motorbikes or scooters that tend to be everywhere. As a driver, you are the one to take care of them. They usually do not wear safety helmets.

To sum up, driving in Greece requires practice and attention, but is not a very hard or unpleasant thing to do. In many scenic areas it is quite pleasant.