Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Greece?
In Greece you'll drive on the right with overtaking on the left. You must always give way to the right when you approach a junction. Care should be taken especially on left turns as following vehicles may be trying to overtake you at the same time! Driving defensively is also a good idea. Watch out for people who cut lanes and cut corners.
On the three lane highways the middle lane is used for passing. Don't obstruct the fast lane. Take car when driving on Greek roads as the quality can vary greatly. In some of the most beautiful places paved roads will give way to gravel roads and so your speed should be adjusted accordingly. Greece also has a high proportion of accidents compared to other European countries. Some of the most dangerous areas are the single lane mountain roads where you have to pass into the oncoming lane of traffic to overtake. Most petrol stations are open for twelve hours between 7am and 7pm but closed on Sundays.
By law one petrol station per area should remain open at night and on Sundays so if you are low on gas out of hours get a local to direct you to that petrol station. In Greece there is a system of heavy fines of hundreds and even thousands of Euros for the following offences: running a red light, crossing a double white line, not stopping at a stop sign, talking on a mobile and parking illegally on a national road so it pays to follow the rules meticulously.
Seat Belt Laws
The driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts at all times whilst the car is moving. Failure to do so will see you fined 350 euros.
Drinking and Driving
The legal limit for blood alcohol in Greece is 25mg per 100ml of blood – much less than in the UK. For drivers with less than two years experience the limit drops to 10mg. Both these figures are much less than you'll find in a standard drink so if you're driving, stick to soft drinks.
Must Have Documents
All you need is your UK licence. Greece used to insist on an international licence but under EU laws, all they require now are the paper and photo parts.
The speed limits in Greece are as follows:
50 kilometres per hour in built up areas.
110 kilometres per hour on open roads.
120 kilometres per hour on motorways.
Lower local limits often apply near schools.
Minimum Driving Age
The minimum driving age in Greece is 18 but you won't be able to hire a car until you are 21 or 23 depending on the hire car company. Be aware that you may also be liable for a young drivers' excess.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are illegal in Greece and it will be confiscated if you are caught using one and you'll also risk a big fine. You can also be fined if the device is in your car but not switched on. The law applies to the warning facility on sat-navs too – make sure the function is disabled.
On the Spot Fines
Due to historic cases of corruption, there are now no on the spot fines levied in Greece. You'll receive a ticket with instructions on where to pay it – usually at a bank, online or at a police station.
Child Safety Rules
Children under the age of four cannot sit in the front of the car and must have an EU approved appropriate child restraint system fitted. Children from 5 to 10 can sit in the front but, once again, only with an appropriate restraint system.
You must have a minimum of third party insurance cover to drive in Greece.
Rules of the Road
You'll need to have a GB sticker unless your car has EU number plates
You must carry a warning triangle
You'll also need a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher
Many roads have three lanes, the middle one being used by both directions for overtaking
You must only use your horn in an emergency
There are no restrictions on towing a car in Greece – just make sure that your intentions are clear to other road users.
You'll find the use of both mobile and fixed speed cameras in Greece. At mobile traps you'll be pulled over and given a ticket, from fixed cameras you'll get sent a ticket in the post or via your car hire company.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
The use of mobile phones without a hands free kit whilst driving in Greece is illegal although it's prevalent. If caught you will face a large fine.
You must not park within three metres of a fire hydrant, five metres of a pedestrian crossing or fiteen metres from a bus stop. stop or park next to kerbs painted with yellow lines.
Parking is also forbidden in streets where a market is to be held that day.
You should use hazard warning lights like the locals to show intention of parking.
In Athens, look out for coloured parking spaces which mean they are reserved for locals.
In major cities you'll find parking meters and ticket machines close to the centre. There are also numerous private and municipal car parks, usually with attendants where you can park safely.
Cars can be towed away or, rather bizarrely, have their licence plates removed. You'll get a stiff fine before you can claim your car back. Traffic police or municipal police can enforce the laws. Fines can be paid at post offices. If your licenec plates are taken you are only allowed to drive your car home or you'll face a huge fine.
The EU Blue Badge scheme gives all disabled drivers free parking in Greece but check local rules first, just in case!
Motor Way Signs
Motorways show a picture of a motorway on a blue background. A highway is known as ethniki odos in Greek. Other signs are standard as you would expect to find in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
Motor oil - ladi michanis
Gas station - venzinadiko
Car rental agency - grafio eniciaseos aftokiniton
Parking - choros stathmefis
Exit - exodos
Entrance - isodos
Hospital - nosokomio
Police - astinomia
Police station - astinomiko tmiha
Embassy - presvia
Diesel – Petreleo
I have broken down – Eho katanemimenes
Where is the police station? - Poo inay to astinomico dmima?
I have a flat tyre – Eho ena skasmeno lastika
I have been in an accident – Eho pie say ena atiheema
Where is? - Poo eenay?
Where can I buy petrol? - Poo boro na agorazo venzini
Traffic lights follow the standard Vienna Convention rules but you cannot turn right on a red light unless indicated that you may do so. You need to be aware that many drivers continue through lights long after they've changed to red so remain watchful when setting off on green.
There are several long distance motorways criss-crossing Greece which are very useful as distances are deceptively big. Almost all charge tolls which are payable in cash so make sure you have plenty of change with you if using them.
The emergency number in Greece is the European standard 112 for the police, fire and ambulance
The United States Embassy in Greece is located at
91 Vasilissis Sophias Blvd, GR-101-60 Athens. You can call 30 01 721 2951 or 721 8401. The after hours number is 30 01 722 3652.
What to do in an emergency
For breakdowns, call the number given to you by your car hire company. If driving your own car, ask your breakdown assistance company for a number of a partner Greek organisation before you go.
In an accident, call the police then photograph the scene including all those involved in the accident together with any witnesses. If safe to do so, leave the vehicles in position until the police arrive.
As of April 2014, the price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Greece is £1.43 whilst diesel is £1.37.