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Driving around the Greek Islands

Driving around the Greek Islands can be a little daunting as the Greeks are renowned as crazy drivers. Knowing what to expect is part of the battle to driving safely on Greek roads as is knowing what documentation you need to carry with you.


General Driving Conditions

Some of the roads on the islands are in poor condition and will severely test your vehicle. Many roads lack good markings and the lack of lanes means that many Greek drivers actually use the hard shoulder as a second lane for slow vehicles like trucks and buses; there is also little consideration for other road users. Greek drivers give no indication of their intention to stop or to turn left or right. They will undertake as much as they overtake and they rarely adhere to speed limits.

Greek Driving Laws

There are a number of laws in Greece that may differ to those in your home country. Drivers must be 17 years or over to drive a vehicle above 50 cc. Seat belts are obligatory but seldom worn by local drivers. Children are allowed to ride in the front seat from 10 years of age. Children under five years of age need a car seat except when they are traveling in the rear of a taxi. It is against the law to use a mobile phone whilst driving and the police have been cracking down on this. Greek legislation dictates that if an alcohol reading of 0.05% is detected in the blood then you are in breach of a criminal offence. If you have held your driving licence for less than two years then you can not have more than 0.02% alcohol in the blood before you are charged with a criminal offence. The police will write a penalty document for you, but you should not pay them any money at the roadside. Fines have to be paid at a Public Treasury office within 10 days of receiving them. Fines are administered for such offences as unnecessary use of the horn, speeding and illegal parking; the police have the power to remove the licence plates of any vehicle parked illegally. Speed limits will be denoted by signs, but if not then you must obey these limits; in built up areas 50 km/h for cars, 40 km/h for motorcycles.   Outside of built-up areas the speed limits are 90 km/h for cars and 70 km/h for motorcycles.  The motorway speed limit is 130 km/h for cars and 90 km/h for motorcycles. You must carry the following equipment with you in your car otherwise you will face a fine and your insurance could be rendered useless; a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit, a warning triangle and a luminous jacket. There is no leaded fuel on sale in Greece and only registered taxis are allowed to use LPG. You are also not allowed to carry petrol in a can in your vehicle. Dipped headlights must be on if visibility is poor during daytime and motorcycles and mopeds must have dipped headlights at all times.

Moving to the Greek Islands

You can continue to use your UK licence even if you move to Greece permanently, however, you need to ensure that you have the new photo card as opposed to just the green paper document and you need to carry it with you every time you drive your car. You do not have to let the DVLA know of your change of address if you move abroad, but you need to inform them if you take your vehicle out of the country permanently by filling in the purple section (V5C/4) of your vehicle registration certificate. You need to take the rest of the certificate with you to hand over to the Greek authorities when you register the vehicle there. If for some reason you don’t have a registration certificate you will have to get a certificate of permanent export (V561), which can be downloaded from the DVLA website at

Car Hire

All of the key islands have a variety of car hire companies offering competitive rates. You will need to show your driving licence and adhere to any rules on drivers’ age – some companies will only hire to drivers aged 25 and over. You should ensure that the company offers fully comprehensive insurance and also ensure that the company has recorded all marks and dents already on the vehicle before you take it. You should be aware that Greek hire companies don’t usually include tire damage or the underside of the car as part of their insurance policy. Petrol stations usually close at 7 pm and will expect you to pay cash. A pump attendant will fill your car for you, so there is no reason for you to worry about how the pump works.  

Motorbikes and Mopeds

One of the best and cheapest ways to get about your Greek Island home is to buy or hire a motorbike or moped and whilst everyone may appear to be doing it, it is worth bearing in mind that you are more at risk than you would be in a car. You need to ensure that you have adequate insurance. Whilst the locals will ride around without helmets in no more than shorts, flip-flops and a T shirt, you should take more care and always wear a helmet and sensible footwear. If you are not experienced at riding motorbikes or mopeds then there is a strong possibility that you will come off and if you are not wearing a helmet your insurance will be negated. Common sense should prevail when driving a bike; don’t carry more than one passenger and never drive under the influence of alcohol.