Is it a good idea to drive in Greece? YES. And here are tips you need for hiring a car in Greece to get started.
Greece is undoubtedly a popular country, whether you choose to explore the mainland and head to the historic capital, Athens, or you head to the idyllic summer islands further south. Of course, you might not want to stick with public transport; in that case, you’ll want to fly by the seat of your pants and possibly drive a hire car.
Is it a good idea to drive in Greece?
Yes! Provided you listen to the rules, you take your time, bear in mind that locals sometimes drive a little more erratically than you might be used to, and you hire the correct type of car for your needs; driving is a beautiful way to check out the passing landscapes.
The driving experience will ultimately depend on the time of year you choose. You will probably see a lot of rain or snow during the late autumn and winter months. Remember, Greece is a country full of mountains, whether on the mainland or the islands, so you need to be cautious of bends and be even more prepared during wet or cold weather.
If you’re heading to Athens (great choice), beware that traffic can be terrible sometimes and that parking can be difficult at best. Every large city is the same, so if you prepare, you won’t have any surprises.
To help you navigate (pardon the pun) your driving experience in Greece, we’ve put together a handy guide that tells you all you need to know about the rules of the road, the anomalies you might otherwise miss, as well as telling you where to hire your car from.
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Things You Should Know When Renting a Car in Greece
When hiring a car in any Greek city or on an island, it’s a good idea to pre-book it before you arrive. If you’re traveling during the winter months, you probably won’t have too much of an issue; however, not pre-booking during the summer months will lead to inevitable disappointment! Remember that Greece is one of the most visited countries during the summer. If even half of those people also decide to rent a car in Greece and explore by road, you’re going to have a problem finding a vehicle to rent for yourself!
You need to be 21 years of age to hire a car in Greece, and you will need to have held your license for at least a year, regardless of age. If you are under 25 years of age, you may end up paying a young driver surcharge, which will increase the cost of your car rental by a fair amount. For older drivers, there may be a maximum age of 70 for renting a car, depending upon the company you’re hiring from.
To drive a rental car, you will need an international driver’s license, and you will need to carry this at all times, alongside your regular license (paper and card), with your passport and insurance documents.
Most car rental companies will ask for a credit card to secure the booking and to take a provisional deposit in case of any damage or problems upon return. Provided you return the car in complete working order, with no scratches or issues, your card will not be charged.
If you are planning on crossing borders into any of Greece’s neighboring countries, you need to be aware that there are visa requirements for every single one. The borders are Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Although Greece is part of the Schengen Zone, which allows you to travel freely, the countries which border it are not within this arrangement. This means you must ensure you have the correct visa paperwork in hand if you want to travel, but you will also need to check with your car rental company whether you are allowed to cross borders as part of your rental agreement. You will probably run into issues if you attempt to cross into Turkey.
In this case, perhaps it’s better to stick to exploring the many destinations in Greece instead. Remember, there are countless idyllic islands to check out, and car ferry services are plentiful.
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Rental Car Companies That Service Greece
Greece is a large country, so it stands to reason that countless car rental companies offer services for visitors, no matter what the time of year. This means you won’t have any nasty surprises when you arrive! As we mentioned before, pre-booking your car hire, and finding the best deals, before you come is a good idea, and you can do that at Discover Car Hire.
Overall, the following rental car companies serve Greece:
- Sixt Greece
- Thrifty Rent a Car In Greece
- Hertz Greece
- Enterprise Car Hire Greece
- Alamo Greece Car Hire
- Avis Car Rental Greece
- Budget Greece Car Hire
There are countless smaller car hire companies in various locations. We’re talking about an entire country here, so the list is quite extensive in Athens alone! However, if you want to ensure peace of mind and the best deals, sticking with the big hitters in the car rental game, as listed above, is probably the best way forward.
The Ins And Outs of Driving in Greece
Every country on the planet has slightly different driving rules, and it’s essential to be in the know before jumping into your hire car in Greece. If you’re hiring a car in Greece, you’ll need to be aware of the following information:
- To drive in Greece (and get a hire car Greece), you need to be 21 years of age minimum and hold a valid license. The checklist for paperwork you need when driving in Greece includes your full valid driving license (paper and card), international driving license, insurance paperwork, passport, and car rental paperwork. You will also need an international driving license, which should be carried with you at all times.
- The law is to carry headlamp beam deflectors, a warning triangle, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher, and all motorcyclists must wear helmets. Spot fines are given for cars not carrying these items, which can be expensive.
- In Greece, you drive on the right and overtake on the left. Never overtake on a bend, and always remember that Greece is quite mountainous and that locals can drive erratically. For this reason, keep overtaking to a minimum if at all possible.
- If you are outside a main town or city, traffic traveling along the main road is prioritized when arriving at intersections. If you are within a town or city, you have priority if you travel from the right.
- Never use your horn in the center of a town or city unless you attempt to avoid an accident.
- You are required by law to wear a seatbelt at all times except on medical grounds. If this is the case, you will need to have a certificate stating this from your doctor, and it must have been translated into Greek.
- Children under three years of age need to be within child restraint when traveling by car. Children aged between 3-11 years and under 1.35m in height must be seated in an appropriate restraint concerning their size.
- Children over 12 years of age (provided they are over 1.35m in height) can sit with just an adult seatbelt as a restraint.
Rear-facing child restraints are not allowed in the passenger seat unless the airbag has been deactivated.
- Current car speed limits are 90km/h on ordinary roads, 130km/h on motorways, and 50km/h in built-up/residential areas. If you see a sign that tells you to drive at a reduced limit on any of these roads, it should take precedence.
- Parking can be difficult in Athens, in particular. Cars parked in prohibited areas will be towed away, and you will need to pay a hefty charge for its release. Still, regardless of the location, you should only park in marked bays and adhere to any instructions displayed within the area.
- The legal alcohol limits for driving in Greece are very low, at 0.05% (0.25mg per liter of your breath), so it’s simply best to avoid alcohol when driving. The limit is lower for drivers who have held their license for under two years, at 0.02% (0.10mg per liter of your breath). Police are allowed to stop any driver they suspect to have been drinking. If found guilty, penalties can be substantial, with danger to your license and the possibility of criminal proceedings.
- Petrol stations are plentiful in large towns and cities; however, you may struggle to find a local station in rural areas, including on the smaller islands. In this case, keep your tank topped up. Most petrol stations accept credit cards, but not all. You will need to pay in Euros if you choose to pay in cash.
- Always return your car with a full tank of fuel.
- If you plan to explore the islands and the mainland, you can do so via very plentiful car ferries, especially during summer. Blue Star, SeaJets, Golden Star, and Anek Likes are the main ferry lines operating between the mainland and the larger islands in the archipelago. Be aware that reduced services operate during winter and may be canceled at short notice due to adverse weather. It is best to book your ferry ticket beforehand if traveling in the summer to avoid queues and having to wait for too long.
Hiring a car and driving in Greece is a beautiful way to explore the country in more detail. The countryside changes from place to place, and as you head to the islands, you’ll see a far more laid-back, touristic way of life versus the rural towns you will experience on the mainland.
So, tell us, is car hire in Greece now a part of your travel plans?