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Guide to driving in Greece – the essentials for rental car drivers

Greece is known for its beautiful landscapes and scenic roads, but it’s also known for its reckless drivers and high rates of accidents. If you’re planning to visit this country, there is much you can do to make sure you stay safe.

Greece road sign

Driving in Greece can be a fun experience if you plan well ahead of time.

There are some topics you should keep in mind, while driving a car in Greek territory:

  • Always drive defensively, be aware of the distance to other vehicles
  • Driving lane is on the right, with overtaking from the left
  • Avoid sudden stops, especially when the traffic lights turn yellow
  • Be very attentive to traffic signs, since they’re not always obvious

Important tips on local road rules

  • In Greece, there are heavy penalties for driving without a seatbelt on (350 euros per passenger), running a red light or failing to notice a stop sign (700 euros),  and drinking and driving (from 200 to 1200 euros fine, plus a chance of losing driver’s license and even going to jail).
  • Get familiar with local shopping hours and working periods; traffic can be extremely aggressive in these periods, so you will do best to avoid the road entirely during critical times.
  • You should be also be mindful where you park the car – in major cities there is no street parking, so make sure to find a car park.
  • If you get a fine in Greece, you should pay as quickly as possible; if you pay within 5 days of getting fined, you will only have to pay half of the amount.

When renting a car in Greece, remember this:

  • If you’re planning to visit different islands, it’s most comfortable (and less expensive) renting a car in each island, rather than driving the same car through the ferries.
  • Make sure you have the contact to the car rental company at hand, and immediately call them if you notice something is wrong with the car.
  • Unless you’re from the EU, you should get an international driver’s license. You can rent a car without one, but penalty fees will apply and you won’t get insurance.

Additional thoughts on toll roads and gas

  • There are several toll roads in Greece, but prices are usually lower than $3. The Greek expression for toll road is “odos me diodia”.
  • The main toll roads run to the capital Athens, from two other big cities: Thessaloniki and Peloponnesus.
  • There are several gas stations throughout Greece, but mostly they’re only open between 7AM and 7PM. As such, it’s wise keeping a full tank, so you don’t end up having to hunt for a gas station that’s open after-hours.

Book online before arriving

  • Rates offered at the airport or other points of entry are often not as competitive as those you can find by booking in advance online, due to the captive market and lack of competition that typically exists in the arrivals hall. For competitively priced Greece car hire, we recommend booking in advance with AnyCarHire.com, who offer best in class prices from top suppliers such as Hertz, Thrifty and Sixt.

Image Credits:

Gallery image: Courtesy of flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/5130114939/
Road sign image: Courtesy of flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilakast/2826921051/