This year I went on my very first ever road trip around the Balkans. When I started planning the trip, I was searching for the information online about what should I know before I depart but I did not find much that would prepare me for the road ahead. So here are all the information you need and if you have any other question, please ask me and I will be glad to help if I can.

On the road: All you need to know about driving in Greece

 

Emergency Numbers

Police – 100.
Fire department – 199.
Ambulance – 166.
Road Emergency – the number changes but it is written on street signs.

 

Speed Limits

50 km/h (31 mph) within Inhabited Places.
90 km/h (56 mph) outside Inhabited Places.
110 km/h (68 mph) on Expressways.
130 km/h (81 mph) on Motorways (Highways).

There are no expressways or motorways on the islands.

 

Road Signs & Language

Their official alphabet is Greek so if you know any physics, you should not have any problems reading the letters. Most of the road signs are written in both, Greek and Latin alphabets.

 

Special Road Signs and Rules

I really loved the traffic light system in Greece. When you are approaching the crossroads, there are yellow blinking lights around 200 metres before the traffic lights on your way. If the yellow lights blink, you should start slowing down because whether there is a red light on or there is a green light which is soon going to turn red and you will not make it through safely. If the yellow lights do not blink, you may continue driving with the legal speed limit through the green light that is on or will soon be. Hope this makes any sense.

Driving in Greece
The yellow lights are blinking because the red light is on and it is still going to be when you reach the crossroads.

 

Someone has told me that in Greece, traffic entering the roundabout has a priority which is the opposite of a common rule. I can now for sure say that this is only true if there is no other sign that would tell you the opposite (and there almost always is).

 

Road Conditions

Most of the roads in Greece are in good condition although I think they are better in central and south Greece. I did see 2 collapsed bridges on my way so they scared me a bit and I did not feel quite comfortable while crossing others.

Driving in Greece
This bridge in Kavala collapsed in November 2018 while 2 vehicles were crossing it. You can find photos from that day online.
Driving in Greece
The worst roads can be found in Thessaloniki.

 

Pay Toll

Greek’s highways are one of the most expensive ones in Europe. You can easily trick the system and avoid paying the toll if you leave the highway one exit before the pay toll stops. There is no entrance so you do not get a ticket and you do not pay how much you have actually used the road. The pay toll stops are approximately every 15 minutes of driving.

Driving in Greece
The road from the land border with Turkey to Thessaloniki is bumpy and not worth paying the toll.

 

Petrol/Gas Stations

In the cities, you do not have to worry about running out of gas because petrol stations are everywhere to be found. There are not many of them on the highway so be careful that you always have a quite a full tank. Most of the gas stations are smaller ones and you do not even see them far in advance.

Greek’s gas is one of the most expensive ones in Europe. You cannot find it cheaper than 1,60€ per litre although the average cost per litre is around 1,67€. The most expensive price I have seen was 1,79€ per litre. The cheapest gas stations can be found in the cities which are not on the islands and not on the main roads that lead to the centre. If you are coming from/heading to Bulgaria, Turkey or Albania you will save a few Euros if you fill your tank there.

What I really hated is that the gas station employees “attack” you as soon as you turn to the station before you even stop your car. They try to open your tank door while you are still in the car driving it, trying to find the right pump to stop next to it. You cannot tank by yourself and you have to tell them how much of gas do you want to buy beforehand. I find this really annoying.

 

What Kind of Drivers Are Greeks?

In my opinion, they are quite aggressive and impatient drivers. Although they do keep a kind of a safety distance, they honk the car horn to all the time and they try to force you to drive faster than the speed limits allow you.

Rio Antirrio Bridge
Just drive carefully.

 

Parking System in the Cities

Parking is free in almost every city but only on streets that are not reserved for locals (and there are many of them). The reserved streets have something written in the Greek language under the parking sign. Find a street with no such sign and you are good to go. In Greece, nobody cares about what you do so unless you block someone from parking where they want to, nobody is going to call the police on you.

 

Radars

As long as you drive in Europe you do not have to be afraid of radars because the law says that people should be informed about them in advance. Whenever you are approaching one, there is going to be a road sign which has a picture of a radar way before it can spot you so you will have enough time to slow down.

But be careful because this does not apply for the police patrol that can stop you whenever they see you are going too fast. They will usually write you a fine ticket right on spot and if you pay it immediately, you get 50% off.

 

Ferries

Ferries are not worth it. You really do not need a car on a small crowded island. 2 plane tickets can be cheaper than a ferry ride for only one passenger. But if you have to choose between going by ferry or crossing the bridge, always take a ferry. The price depends on your vehicle, passengers get to travel for free. For example, the price per car crossing the Rion-Antirion bridge is 13,50€ but a ferry costs only 6,50€.

Greece Ferry
Greek ferries are overpriced. Unless, when they are not.

 

Other Things to Take Care About

For pedestrians, crossing the road on a green light is more like a recommendation than a rule so be careful if you see a person crossing the street even if you have a green light on.

Stopping at the red light outside of a city can be dangerous. The whole country is flooded by homeless starving dogs that often attack cars and people in hope to get some food. DO NOT open your car door and/or windows. These are not friendly dogs who want to play with you.

Driving in Greece
Those abandoned dogs are used to cars and they do not run away. Quite the opposite, they often run after cars or they just stand in the middle of the road and try to block them from passing by.

 

More than 90% of Greece is hilly and driving around the country is very gas consuming. One would think that because of all of those mountains, the air above Greece is very fresh. Wrong! There are many factories and refineries in the country so driving around can be really smelly at times.

In a week of driving around, 1 frog, 2 turtles, 2 lizards, many cats and countless dogs crossed my way (even the highway!). So please drive very carefully and slowly because I have never seen more dead animals along the road before.

Driving in Greece
Not only dogs are starving… Can you spot two cats?

 

There are small Orthodox chapels along any road you take in Greece every few metres. Locals often stop to pray and kiss the picture in the chapel. A local told me, the chapels were built on places where a car or motorbike accident had happened so they are mostly visited by a family of a deceased.

Orthodox chappels along the roads in Greece
Orthodox chapels along the roads in Greece.

 

My Opinion About Driving in Greece

Besides being very expensive, driving is Greece is not very demanding so I can say that I recommend it. Make sure to have enough time to stop on some stop points along the way and enjoy the view.

 

Have you ever been to Greece by car or are you planning to go? Let me know in the comment section below! If you liked this blog, make sure to check out 48 Random Facts About Greeks and Greece.

 

Check out the photos from my trips on my Instagram or follow me on Twitter. Feel free to subscribe to my blog to get an e-mail when I publish something new. You can find the subscribe button under the comment section if you are on your phone or on the right side of your computer screen.

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