Driving rules and their peculiarities in Greece
A lot of different rumors and legends about driving in Greece have been in the air for a long time, and the Greek drivers have acquired a reputation as inveterate road slobs. Of course, rumors do not appear from nowhere. But, in fact, not everything is worth believing, and some car myths need to be refuted. If you decided to rent a car in Greece, you'll find a lot of useful information in our article.
Driving in Greece Requirements
To legally drive in Greece, the driver must be at least 18 years old. However, it’s worth noting that many car rental companies impose their own age restrictions, typically requiring drivers to be at least 21, and often charging an additional fee for drivers under 25.
A valid driving licence is mandatory for anyone operating a vehicle in Greece. Greek authorities accept driving licences issued by EU member states. For drivers from non-EU countries, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required in addition to their national driving licence.
In Greece, traffic operates on the right-hand side of the road, which is standard across continental Europe. This means that the driver's seat and controls are on the left side of the vehicle. Drivers should be particularly vigilant when overtaking and at intersections, ensuring they stay on the correct side of the road.
At roundabouts in Greece, drivers should give way to traffic already on the roundabout, which is coming from their left. The vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way, contrasting with some countries where entering traffic has priority. It’s crucial to indicate your intended exit from the roundabout to inform other drivers.
Driving in Greece for Foreigners
Driving in Greece with UK Licence
UK drivers can use their driving licence in Greece for short visits or holidays without requiring an IDP. For longer stays or residency, it’s advisable to check the latest requirements due to changes in regulations post-Brexit.
Driving in Greece as an American
American drivers are required to have an International Driving Permit along with their valid US driving licence to drive legally in Greece. The IDP serves as a translation of your national licence and is a requirement enforced by car rental companies and traffic authorities alike. It is essential to obtain your IDP before leaving the US as they are not issued outside the country.
The State of Greek Roads
- Greek roads are generally in good condition, making driving in Greece safe and pleasurable.
- Drivers tend to be courteous, though there might be occasional exceptions.
- In quaint mountain towns, be prepared for one-way streets and congested, narrow roads.
- Mountainous areas feature long, winding roads; it’s advisable to use engine braking rather than relying solely on brakes.
- Motorway rest areas are signposted with a "P" for parking.
- In rural regions, signs might be placed directly at turns or sometimes not present at all.
- Be cautious: road signs might be small, unclear, or vandalised.
- Oftentimes, the road shoulder becomes an additional lane for overtaking or slow-moving traffic.
- Many petrol stations shut between 7-10 p.m.
- In cities, keep an eye out for unpredictable motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles.
- Brief double-parking is generally tolerated, provided you don't obstruct traffic.
- Traffic Rules Unique to Greece
- Greece observes European traffic regulations, but with some local nuances.
- Speed limits: 50 km/h in cities, 90 km/h outside city bounds, 130 km/h on highways, and 110 km/h on designated motorways.
- Speed cameras are accurate and do not allow for overspeeding. Stay within limits!
- Local drivers might seem to disregard numerous speed limit signs, but hefty fines are imposed on those caught speeding.
- Signage might not always be in English, but it is generally intuitive.
- Roundabouts: Typically, vehicles entering have the right of way, but always check for priority signs.
- Some traffic lights feature yellow arrows, indicating a right turn even when the main light is red. Yield to those with a green signal.
- Flashing headlights by oncoming cars could indicate a road hazard. If a car behind you flashes, they're requesting to overtake.
- Ensure no one's jumping a red light before you move on to green.
Penalties for Traffic Violations
Driving in Greece demands adherence to rules. Fines have been on the rise:
Up to 20 km/h over €40
20-30 km/h over €50
above 30 km/h €175 and possible 2-month driving ban.
|€80, with severe cases resulting in licence plate confiscation.
|Not wearing seat belts
|Running a red light
|Not yielding to pedestrians
|Mobile phone usage while driving
Drink & Driving in Greece
Greece enforces stringent drink-driving laws. Permitted alcohol limit is up to 0.5 ppm:
|0.5 to 0.8 ppm
|0.8 to 1.1 ppm
|Above 1.1 ppm
|€1,200, potential driving disqualification, and possible 2-month arrest
Never try to bribe! Pay fines at banks or post offices using the issued ticket. Previously, early payments had discounts, but as of 2018, full fines are imposed.
Interacting with Greek Traffic Police
Generally, police are helpful to tourists. Rural officers might be more lenient, while city officers are stricter due to heavier workloads.
Helpful Resources for drivers in Greece
Emergency numbers to remember:
|Emergency Phone Number
For driving in Greece, these apps can be beneficial:
- Waze: Features real-time traffic updates and police patrol alerts.
- Google Maps: Comprehensive and detailed maps of Greece.
- MapsMe: Offline maps for those venturing to remote areas.
With the right information and a cautious approach, driving in Greece is a pleasant experience. The Greek hospitality makes it even more memorable, cementing Greece's reputation as one of Europe’s top destinations.
FAQ for Driving in Greece
1. What do I need to drive in Greece?
To drive in Greece, you'll need a valid driving licence from your home country. If it's not in the EU/EEA, it's advised to have an International Driving Permit (IDP). You'll also need car insurance and vehicle registration documents.
2. Is it safe to drive in Greece?
Yes, Greece is generally safe for driving. However, roads can be narrow and winding, especially in rural and mountainous areas. It's essential to drive attentively and familiarise yourself with local traffic rules.
3. Do I drive on the left or right side of the road in Greece?
In Greece, you drive on the right-hand side of the road.
4. What is the legal blood alcohol limit when driving in Greece?
The legal blood alcohol limit in Greece is 0.05%. However, for new drivers with less than two years of experience and professional drivers, it's 0.02%.
5. Are there any specific driving rules in Greece I should be aware of?
Yes, using a mobile phone without a hands-free system is illegal. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. Also, you must always give way to buses and trams.
6. What are the speed limits in Greece?
In urban areas, the limit is 50km/h. On open roads, it's 90km/h, and on motorways, it's 120km/h.
7. Can I use my UK driving licence in Greece?
Yes, a UK driving licence is valid in Greece, but it's advisable to carry an International Driving Permit alongside if you plan to drive for an extended period. For other countries, as long as you have an official driving licence from EU country, you should not encounter any problems with the Greek authorities. For third countries, you should have an International Licence.
8. How are the road conditions in Greece?
In major cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as along the primary national highways, roads are generally well-maintained. They are paved, well-marked, and can be compared to those in other European countries.
As you move away from the urban centres and delve into the rural parts of mainland Greece or smaller towns, road conditions can become more challenging. While many roads are paved, others might be narrower, winding, and sometimes laden with potholes. Especially in mountainous regions, drivers might encounter steep inclines and sharp turns.
9. Is it customary to tip at petrol stations in Greece?
No, it's not customary to tip at petrol stations in Greece. However, you can do so if you've received exceptional service.
10. What should I do in case of a car accident in Greece?
Firstly, ensure everyone's safety. Call the police (phone number 100), especially if there are injuries or significant damage. Exchange details with the other party and contact your car insurance provider. If possible, take photographs of the scene. For a rented car, the type of insurance on the rented vehicle determines the liabilities and responsibilities
11. Are parking facilities readily available in Greece?
In major cities, you might find parking challenging due to high demand. It's advisable to use designated parking areas or garages. In rural areas and smaller towns, parking is generally more accessible. You can read our detailed article about parking in Greece here.
12. Are there any toll roads when driving in Greece?
Yes, there are several toll roads, especially on major highways. Ensure you have cash or an electronic toll payment system to cover the fees.
13. What about driving in Crete? Is there anything else I should know?
Many individuals neglect to use their indicators when necessary or halt abruptly without notice. Always exercise caution.
Self-service and card-operated pumps aren't universally accepted. Some remote petrol stations don't accept cards at all, so it's advisable to always have cash on hand.
Give particular care to pedestrians on the road. In some areas, pavements are scarce, leaving them with no option but to walk on the carriageway. Discover more Cretes Destinations here
So don’t be afraid to rent a car and explore Greece!
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